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Sauces for Quick Gourmet Cooking

The saying goes that "The French have a hundred sauces to disguise a few foods - and the Americans have a hundred foods disguised only by white sauce!" It is true that many great gourmet dishes involve a special sauce, which used to take hours to prepare. For the quick gourmet chef, there's a way around this: 1. Hollandaise and Béarnaise: Both are available in glass jars. You should be able to find them in your local gourmet shop or supermarket. 2.

Madeira, Armoricaine, Newburg, Supreme, et al: These, too, are available in jars or frozen, and will transform the humble hamburger or leftover into a gourmet's dream. 3. Bottled Meat Sauces: Diable, Robert or Cumberland sauce, Worcestershire, and a wide range of mustards from Devilled to Bahamian to Dijon. Wash your hands thoroughly, use a judicious few tablespoons of whatever you fancy, and rub it thoroughly into chops and steaks. This replaces the marinades which used to take hours. 4.

Dessert Sauces: Be cautious about these! There are lots of edible varieties - but very few that come up to a gourmet's standard! . . . as you will see in our gourmet dessert section, there are innumerable quick tricks with liqueurs and fresh fruit for presenting gourmet desserts in a minute. ( http://www.easy-gourmet-cooking.

com/gourmet-desserts/ ) 5. Basting Sauces: Here you begin to be a gourmet chef, for a basting sauce is largely invention based on experience as you grow proficient with recipes. Basting sauces are used with fish, meat and poultry.

Generally, they are melted butter blended with herbs - or spices - or fruit and fruit peels - with or without a dash of cooking wine. The precise ingredients depend upon the final flavor desired: tangy, sultry, or sweetish. The basting sauce should be made at the start of the cooking operation, placed over the lowest possible heat, allowed to sit and grow acquainted with itself. A quarter pound of butter makes an adequate basting sauce; half a pound is sometimes better-if you can bring yourself to it! The basic procedure is to combine butter chunks and desired seasonings or flavorings in a small saucepot (a stainless steel one-cup measure with a handle is satisfactory), and to obtain the full savory blend by simmering gently during the first steps of searing meat or poultry, firming the fish flesh, etc. A basting sauce is used to moisten and flavor a dish during its cooking; it is brushed directly onto roasting meat or poultry with a pastry brush at 10 or 15 minute intervals, or poured over fish and broiled dishes every 5 minutes for quick cookery.

For long cooking roasts, when the basting sauce has all been used, a roaster baster will pick up pan juices for moistening the dish. 6. Wine & Wine Sauces: "The better the wine, the better the dish" is the gourmet standard . although it's not necessary to buy fine vintage drinking wines for use in the kitchen.

If you have good local wine, do use it for cooking. Never buy cooking wine or liquor purely on a price basis; the cheap brands do not have sufficient alcoholic content to create a flambee dish - and will not have enough flavor to remain in the sauce. White wines can be used for any recipes, but red wines can only be used for dark meats . . . when they will not discolor the dish.

At table, the only standard today is flavor, and red or white wines are served interchangeably. Traditionally, red is for meat and white is for chicken or fish - but these days, you can do as you please! When wine is added directly to a dish during cooking, lower the heat immediately or the meat will toughen. 7.

Fats and Oils: For true gourmet cooking, there is no substitute for butter unless particularly specified. Sweet butter is preferable, because the amount of salt varies in commercial brands; if salt butter is used, decrease the amount of salt in a recipe and check seasoning just before you serve. Butter is absolutely essential for sauces and basting, but cannot be used for frying; at high temperatures, it decomposes chemically and burns. For Deep-Fat Frying, use liquid or hydrogenated oils such as Crisco. These can be re-used once or twice, if you allow sediment to settle and decant (pour off) the clear top fat after each frying. Once frying fat has been used for fish, it cannot be used for anything else! If you enjoy fried foods, it's wise to have two fat kettles - one for fish, and one for everything else.

For all Italian, Spanish or Latin-American dishes, a tablespoon of olive oil should replace butter in starting the dish. Lard is excellent for greasing baking potatoes or pan-frying fish. It cannot be re-used, but is inexpensive enough to discard and start fresh next time. Bacon grease is equally good for baking potatoes or to saute fish, and can be smeared thickly over chicken breasts or squab before roasting. Because of its positive flavor, only tangy herbs will combine with it for added taste.

No gourmet cook ever uses margarine for anything. 8. Meat Glazes: For a handsome browned surface to meat or poultry, mix a tablespoon of commercial gravy coloring with two table spoons of water. Paint all exposed parts of the poultry or meat before placing in the oven. 9. Shallots are a small onion bulb resembling garlic in formation of cloves, but very mild in flavor.

Typically French, they are not always available but make all the difference in a sauce if they can be had. Minced scallions (spring onions) are an acceptable substitute - and in moments of stress, a tablespoon of grated white onion will equal 2 minced shallots. 10. Grated orange and lemon peel are readily available in jars; a teaspoon equals the grated rind of a whole medium- sized fruit. 11.

Garlic can be bought powdered (a quarter teaspon equals a fresh clove), but a garlic press will produce a much better flavor from a peeled garlic clove. Onion and garlic juice are also available; use them purely for flavoring, as many dishes are better with sauteed pieces of onion. Onion flakes are good for home-cooking, but not sufficient for gourmet results. Good luck with your quick gourmet sauces! .

By: Alannah Moore


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