Usually Rob D Light waits until everybody has left the kitchen before he sneaks in and makes his meals. Like he did last night. He had “found” this huge marrow in the garden and wanted to cook it up. Mouse was still sitting in the dining room leafing through the recipes when she heard the pots and pans being handled in the kitchen, and the fridge door being opened and closed.
“What are you doing?” she asked Rob D Light who got a big fright. “Um, I am making myself a meal.” Rob is very shy as he has to deal with a lot of prejudice. Mouse saw the marrow on the cutting board. “Are you just frying this in oil?” she asked curiously.
“No, I am making a bechamel sauce with it today,” answered Rob. “Oh dear.” Mouse looked as if she had been hit by lightning. Rob was delighted that someone was interested in his work and thought Mouse was impressed with his cooking skills. “It is not that difficult” he said proudly. “No, I know,” said Mouse. “I just realised this is another recipe we don’t have in our collection yet. And it is so versatile.” They both agreed the name bechamel sounds magic, but in effect it is the most basic white sauce you can make.
“Once you know how to make this sauce, you can add all sorts of things: spices or cheese or capers or anchovies. You can even turn it into soup, if you add more water.”
“Yes,” said Mouse excitedly. “When I make Lasagne, I make this sauce and add a cup of cheese.”
“You really have to add some sort of flavour” said Rob. “On it’s own it is pretty bland. But it is good starting point. Today I am adding a bit of cheese as well and will pour it over the chopped marrow then bake it in the oven for 35 minutes”
Mouse asked Rob to give her a quick run-down on how he makes his sauce. He prefers milk when he uses it with vegetables, but you also can use the water you boiled your vegetables in, for example asparagus, or just plain water.
“What about the proportions of butter to flour?” asked Mouse. “Personally, I use equal amounts.”
“It’s not hard and fast, but you can use up to 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter. And with the liquid, you just add as much as you need for your desired texture.”
1 tablespoon of butter, 1.5 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of water or milk (nutmeg, pepper optional).
This sauce requires constant stirring!
Over a medium heat melt the butter in a saucepan. With a wooden spoon stir the flour into the melted butter until it turns into a well combined paste. Cook ans stir until it bubbles slightly, but make sure it doesn’t turn brown. Add the milk, a quarter cup at a time, and stir until it is well mixed into the paste without lumps before you add the next portion. When all the milk has been added, bring to a boil and it will thicken nicely. Add nutmeg and pepper to taste, lower the heat and cook for two or three minutes longer. If you want to make a cheese sauce, add half a cup of grated cheese at this point. It is done, when the cheese is melted.
Note: If you want to flavour the bechamel sauce, add the flavours of your choice after the sauce has thickened.