March 20, 2010
I need your help! We need more questions for Chef Todd for my Monday kitchen video interview with him…what are your cooking questions you'd like me to ask him? Please leave them in the comment box below this post!
If you're like me, you're avoiding making sauces!
Well, probably out of fear.
I know that's what's stopped me!
You always hear the horror stories of sauces “breaking” or”burning” or “separating” or just plain old not tasting good!
So I decided I wanted to overcome my fear, and I did what I've been doing quite a bit of lately. I asked my colleague Chef Todd Mohr for his advice on sauce-making.
My “a-ha” moment came pretty quickly because Chef Todd explained sauces to me in such an easy format, even I couldn't miss it! Here's what he said:
Sauces are all made up of 3 components:
Provides the body of the sauce. There are five liquids or bases on which sauces are built, resulting in the five “mother sauces” (leading sauces). Most frequently used sauces are based on stocks.
Sauce must cling to food, needs a thickening agent, must not leave a puddle on the plate and must not be too thick and pasty. Starches are the most commonly used thickeners. Fat is also used.
Sauce is built in stages and flavors are added at the end if appropriate.
This one clarification sent me straight to my kitchen to start experimenting with different Liquid, Thickening Agent, Flavor Combinations. And I hope it does for you.
As for making sauces healthy? Try these options,
- Slowly cook chopped onions and minced garlic over low heat, then blend in a blender with tofu, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk for a rich, creamy texture. When you cook the onions slowly, they release a lot of flavor that enriches the flavor of the milk . For even more flavor, add fresh herbs to the onions while cooking.
- If you want a thicker sauce, then prior to adding the garlic and onions, blend cooked white beans, sweet potatoes or yams with any of these same types of milk.
- For something more like the vegetable stock that Chef Todd used to cook the quinoa in video #5 of this series, simply simmer vegetables, such as carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and spices, for about 30 minutes, starting with cold water. Strain the vegetables from the broth and return the broth to your pan. Continue to simmer the broth on a high temperature to reduce the sauce to about half the quantity, which will intensify the flavor. If you are serving meat or fish, pour this sauce into the pan in which you just cooked the meat or fish, and it will add even more flavor.
- If you want to thicken a sauce without adding flour, and you want an alternative to the potatoes or beans I mentioned earlier, then a good alternative is to mix a little arrowroot with water. You can get arrowroot powder at most natural foods stores, and some grocery store chains. Add it your sauce at the end just a pinch at a time and continue to cook for just about 3-4 more minutes, giving it time to thicken.
- Finally, pesto and salsas are fantastic lower-calorie alternatives to sauce.
If you need more help with “sauce-making”, check out Chef Todd's website “Web Cooking Classes” by clicking here. At the site, he goes into explicit detail about how to make all kinds of sauces for various types of cooking situations.
Great news – not only has Chef Todd agreed to be on a podcast, but it's going to be a video podcast straight from his kitchen, so he can demonstrate all his tips and tricks, and answer your questions. So if you have a special technique you'd like to see (ok, maybe he's not going to make an entire Julia Childs recipe, but I'll be he sure can impress us), then simply leave your comments and questions below, and I'll ask Chef Todd during the video podcast!