Archives for the month of: February, 2015

mouse rob bechamel

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.”

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of butter, 1.5 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of water or milk (nutmeg, pepper optional).

Method

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.

mouse devil reading book

“We won’t get 101 recipes” said Mouse again and looked at her list. “I think we have twenty-five or so.”

“There are still a few to come” said Witch. “I definitely want to do my teff custard”. Witch is the one that tries all sort of different flours. Teff is her favourite. It is an Ethiopian highland grain and is gluten-free, but has the stickiness of gluten. It is often used in gluten-free flour mixes, but it is hard to come by on its own and very expensive. For this reason, Mouse, who is a frugal Dede,  doesn’t want to include anything with teff flour in the book.

“But we have to talk about different flours in the book” insisted Witch. “And, okay, I have already published the teff custard on October 2013. I’ll just link to it here.”

“I think it is time to discuss how we make the book. We have enough material. Quality is better than quantity and our readers might be getting sick of all these flour and water recipes” continued Mouse.

Harvey, the rabbit, came into the room and said “but I want to make a yeast plait that you eat at Easter”. “And I want to make profiterole” chimed in Loudmouth, the chicken. “We haven’t even made any dumplings except for the bread dumplings” called someone from the back. “There are still more recipes to come!”

“Do we need to publish them all on the blog?” asked Mouse. “I am starting to worry about how we design the book. I have to get on with the editing. Do we just collate all the stories we have here, or what?” Mouse looked around for a response. She is not confident enough to make such far-reaching decisions on her own.

No answers were forthcoming so Devil, who has no problem with decision-making, stepped in. “Personally, I think the Dedes should be in the book, but we might rewrite the story a little to make it smoother. At the moment we just have blog posts. This doesn’t make a book!” He commended Mouse for all her valuable input into the recipes and how she explained what to watch out for, but he thinks it needs to be streamlined. The others agreed. Detail piped up and said “But if we don’t have 101 recipes the title doesn’t work anymore. Didn’t we want to call the book The Artist’s survival cookbook or 101 recipes with flour and water?”

“I noticed that too” said Philosopher. “What do you think about the title The Artist’s survival cookbook or how to make a crust

“We could also call it The Artist’s survival cookbook or living on the breadline” said L’Artiste who knows a thing or two about that.

“See?” Mouse was happy that the discussion finally started. “There are so many decisions to make. The title, and then the question, do we have to photograph everything again? How do we want to design the book? How are we going to publish it?”

“Do you really think our readers are interested in all this?” asked Philosopher. “Shouldn’t we discuss all this amongst ourselves?”