Saturday, May 16, 2009

A great sauce makes the meal and turns it memorable.....

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for the delay in posting, been having a challenging time here in Puebla just trying to get all the services working and performing the way they should, especially the broad band internet service. Seems along with the larger and more tech savy population comes the saturation of available services and the local giant, MegaCable, can no longer handle the loads generated by everyone using their internet after work, which makes the network go down leaving you stuck. So, we've needed to change provider now to MaxCable, a new outfit tryin to make it's mark in this area and as a result, promising better services and improve speeds..... I can say it seems to be settling down and we haven't had the same problems as with the first company but then the installation was more than challenging..... one day at a time I guess.

Anyway, this post was about cooking in general and "Sauces" in particular so let's switch to a more positive vein shall we? I happen to love sauces of all kinds from all places in the world and truly believe a great sauce makes the meal memorable. This is my specialty and I'm always trying to come up with new and creative sauces to finish a dish. Here are some old favorites you might find "tasty" to try:


Fish in Mustard Sauce:

Fish Fillets, almost any kind will do, your choice
2 eggs, beaten
bread crumbs
1 cup flour with some salt, pepper and a tsp of cayenne or paprika, mixed
4-5 tbl butter
4-5 tbl flour
1 cup milk
1/4 - 1/3 cup Dijon mustard (or your preferred type)
salt and white pepper, to taste
2 med potatoes, sliced extra thin and looking like potato chips
oil for frying

For sauce:
Put butter in sauce pan to melt slightly, don't burn. Add flour (could be more or less) but should be enough to absorb the butter and make a paste. Use med heat. Continue stirring until the paste starts (STARTS) to turn golden (so you won't taste the flour) and then add the milk (a little at a time) to obtain a thick sauce. Keep stirring all the time with a whisk preferably. Add the mustard, some salt and the white pepper. Taste. You can add more mustard and spices until it tastes to your liking and the consistency is nice and thick but yet spoonable. (This is a basic Bechamel Sauce with mustard added which if you omit or change the mustard to another flavoring can serve many ways). Turn off the heat and reserve. Note: when you come to need it you might have to add a little more milk to make it smooth again unless you use at once.

In a good sized pan add oil for frying and put heat on med high heat. When it looks like it will begin to smoke a little, you add the fish. Oil must be hot or the fish will absorb the oil and make it oily.
Lightly flour fish fillets, shaking off the excess. Dip in the beaten egg and then cover well in the bread crumbs. Place in oil and don't move until edges are golden brown. Lift slightly to insure the fish has browned and then turn carefully (with 2 spatulas) to brown the other side.
Once done, lay on paper towels before serving.

For potatoes:
In another pan with some oil in it add the potato slices and cook until almost done but not hard. Lay also on paper towels and sprinkly lightly with a little salt. Reserve.

To serve:
Put some sauce on the bottom part of the dish, in the center, in a circle. Put enough sauce for the fish. Lay the fish on top of the sauce. Put the potato slices, beginning with one end, laying the other slices on top of the first ones so they look like "scales" of a fish and continue this way until you've covered the whole fillet. You can put some salad on either side of the fish, vegetables, rice or anything you like. We prefer Caesar Salad. Enjoy.

NOTE: This "Basic Sauce" can be changed almost to anything you need. Just keep whisking and tasting while you add: You can add Sherry and make it into a lovely sauce for chicken; Curry Powder and make it Indian; crushed red pepper, black pepper and chili oil and make it interesting; fresh tomato with it's juices, garlic and basil gives it a fresh taste; white wine turns it into a wine sauce; roasted garlic (lots of it), must make sure you make it creamy before with the back of a spoon will make it fabulous; you get the idea, right? This is a very good all around sauce you can use for almost anything, experiment and you'll soon discover other variations for this.


Pork Tenderloin with Hibiscus Flower Reduction: (Lomitos con Reduccion de Jamaica):

Pork tenderloin, about 1 per 2 people if whole
1 cup Jamaica flowers (Hibiscus blooms) dried
2-3 cups water
1 cup sugar
salt and pepper
6-8 zuchinnis, small and tender
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, through garlic press
1 tsp dill week, chopped fine
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, grated fine
oil for cooking

For sauce:
Put Jamaica flowers into water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to med or med low (low rolling boil) and keep boiling until reduced to half. Check consistency, should be thick syrup; if you need to boil more until it reduces to good consistency. Add a little salt and pepper. Taste and insure it's sweet and a little tart, you can add more sugar if needed. Reserve.

For meat:
Salt and pepper loins really welll on all sides. Allow to rest while pan comes up to heat. In large pan, put a tbl of oil and bring up to heat (med high heat or high). Put whole loin in and sear on all sides, turning until it's a nice brown on all sides. Note: if you want meat to be well done, put in oven or microwave (350 degrees for 10min) and allow to rest at least 15 min before cutting.

For veggies:
In large pan, put 2-3 tbls of oil and add onion and stir until clear; add zuchinni and tomato, stir. Add corn and dill weed. Stir all to mix well and add salt and pepper. Turn off heat, cover and allow to rest 10 min.

To serve:
Divide plate in half by putting 1 cup of veggie mix on right side in a mound. Next to this down the center of the plate, put a half circle of sauce not touching the veggies. Meat will sit on top of sauce and on the veggies. Take loins and slice about 1/2" thick. Lay meat on top of veggies and falling onto sauce in fan or in a straight line, overlapping slightly so some of the meat is on top of the veggies and some on the sauce. Drizzle some sauce on the meat. Serve.

NOTE: You can also do a Tamarind, Pomegranate, most tropical fruit, Balsamic, Mushroom or wine reduction if you prefer for this dish too, the list is endless.

Hope everyone is well and happy! Enjoy the last of Spring and early Summer.....

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