Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All-In-One White Sauce & Seasons Greetings


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Panfried Cream Snapper Fillet with Delia Smith's All-In-One White Sauce.

Among all the female TV chefs, I admire Delia Smith most. I remember watching her shows a long time ago, and being captivated by her posh British accent, her shiny kitchen utensils and that bright airy kitchen. Plus, she had a way of making everything look effortless.

Back then, my young self knew we were kindred spirits when she said, in an episode on Eggs, that she liked to leave sunny side-ups in the pan slightly longer, because she liked "the sides to be a little crusty". Exactly how I like my eggs done. ;) I never quite forgot that episode, you know.

Then came the explosion of TV chefs on the small screen and while I loved seeing new faces like ahem, David Rocco and Tyler Florence (is it just me or is it getting hot in here?), I always had Delia at the back of my mind. So in what could possibly be my last recipe of 2010, I decided to go back to my first love, and to basics, and made a versatile All-in-one White Sauce.

Thank you Delia. You will always be the ultimate Domestic Goddess to me.

Recipe
(taken entirely from Delia Online and to be read out loud in your poshest British accent, thank you very much!)

1. This speeded-up version is even easier than using a packet. The quantities given will make enough for 4 people. You will need 15 fl oz (425 ml) milk, which can be infused to give a subtle background flavour to the sauce (you just need to place a bay leaf, a blade of mace, 10 whole black peppercorns, a slice of onion, and a few chopped parsley stalks in a saucepan with the milk). Bring the milk up slowly to simmering point, remove from the heat and leave it to infuse until the milk is cold.


Note fom The Little Teochew: You can be creative and infuse the milk with pretty much anything you like! I used a bay leaf, a wedge of onion, and a light sprinkling of organic Herbes de Provence. The herbs are 100% organic and come courtesy of Honest Vanilla.


I just had to show you these ... herb jars that stick to my refrigerator door!

2. It is very important to ensure that the milk is absolutely cold, because if it isn't the sauce will go lumpy, so leave it to cool completely. Strain it back into the saucepan, discarding any flavourings you have used, and add ¾ oz (20 g) flour and 1½ oz (40 g) butter. Always use plain or sauce flour and not self-raising.

3. Bring the sauce gradually up to simmering point, whisking continuously with a balloon whisk. The starch grains in the flour burst and collapse at boiling point, and become gelatinous. If a good deal of vigorous whisking is going on, these collapsed granules get distributed evenly throughout resulting in a smooth, thickened sauce, exactly the same as a traditional roux method sauce. There's only one other rule apart from determined whisking, and that is the fat content: it's the flour blended with the fat that ensures lump-free results, so never attempt to blend hot liquid and flour without the presence of fat, as this is what causes lumps. It is all quite straightforward, a case of once you understand the rules, lumps should never occur. But so what? If you do happen to slip up on the rules or get distracted, then don't forget why sieves were invented.

4. The sauce never looks thick enough when it first comes up to simmering point. Do not panic but be patient, as it will continue to thicken as the raw taste of the flour is cooked out over the gentlest possible heat for 5 minutes. So remember when you use flour in a sauce, although it will thicken to a smooth creaminess very quickly, it then has to be cooked. The only exception is if you're going to continue to cook the sauce in the oven, as in a lasagne, for example, which means you can cut this initial cooking to 2 or 3 minutes.
Note from The Little Teochew: Taste test here. At this point, I decided a dash of sea salt would be nice.

5. If you want to make the sauce in advance, the best way to prevent a skin from forming, place some cling film directly over the surface, then either keep it warm by placing it over a pan of barely simmering water or, if you want to make it a long way ahead, re-heat it using the same method and don't remove the cling film until you are ready to serve. If you find it has thickened a little, this is easy to rectify by adding a little more liquid – milk, stock, or cream – to bring it back to the right consistency.

6. Now that you have a basic sauce it opens the doors to many variations such as adding a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped fresh dill to be served with fish, or chopped fresh parsley to accompany fish cakes. Alternatively you can make a lighter sauce by not using all milk but instead using half stock – or even half wine or cider. Also if you were poaching or baking smoked haddock or any other fish in milk for instance, you could halve the quantity of milk in the recipe and replace the other half with the fish poaching liquid – provided it's completely cold.

Sauce ready, now on to my main dish. I used cream snapper fillets.


These fillets were defrosted, patted dry, lightly salted and panfried in butter and oil.


Once panfried to a golden brown, leave it to cool. The trick to getting this slightly charred, crisp-around-the-edges result is to ensure you have a very hot pan, and avoid - at all costs - moving the fillets for at least 4 to 5 mins (depending on thickness). You should only touch the fillets once, and that is when you flip them over. The total cooking time for these fillets took me 8 or 9 mins. About 2 mins before taking them out of the pan, I added a tiny splash of Chardonnay. As the alcohol cooks off, the sweetness of the wine will linger on the fish. Just remember to temporarily remove the pan from the stove as you are adding the alcohol. You don't want to start a fire!


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Plate your dish and add the white sauce when ready to serve. I had a tray of potatoes roasting in the oven, but they couldn't make it for this photo shoot because the sun was setting. Haha!


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So there. My recommendation on how to serve this All-In-One White Sauce. Do you like it? :) My daughter certainly did. She had sauce with everything, even the roasted potatoes!


And on a side note, look what I have here - Moscato d'Asti! I was doing groceries when I came face to face with bottles of these. My heart skipped a beat. Oh, I remember drinking this at Forlino, and although I bought Australian Moscato to try, they were just not the same as the Italian version. I promptly grabbed a bottle ... this would be perfect for my Christmas Eve dinner. There will be a sushi platter, cheeses and fruit with crackers, a vegetable curry, noodles, finger food, and other things I haven't quite decided yet.

Well, I do believe I will eat, drink and make merry for whatever's left of 2010 ... so this blog will be on a holiday too. I want to take this chance to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you have been a silent reader all these while, come out and say hello already! :D

Finally, thank you for coming along on my kitchen, dining and travel adventures. 2010 has been a fabulous year for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed journaling and photographing every single post. And through it all, I hope I have, in one way or another, brought some inspiration and cheer to you.

Happiness & Peace to all!

33 comments:

  1. nice,I usually prefer white sauce with fish, and emm.. broccoli :) Merry Christmas and Happy New year to u and ur family :)

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  2. What a wonderful recipe for Christmas! And I love Moscato too. May I know which grocerry did you pick up Moscato d'Asti from?

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  3. Ju, Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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  4. I was caught by those bottles positioned so unusually. Adore your thoughtful details about preparing the sauce.
    Happy Holidays and Merry X'mas!

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  5. happy Holidays and it has been great knowing you and your blog.

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  6. Hello

    Have been following your blog for awhile from Abu Dhabi. But I am a Malaysian and thanks for sharing, I find it very interesting and helpful on some of your tips and advice. Merry Christmas and hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.

    Shirley from Abu Dhabi

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  7. Merry Christmas + Happy new YEAR!~!!
    loved reading your blog, look forward to more in 2011!

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  8. Cheers, Ju! Nice detailed post with attractive shots.
    Merry Christmas and happy birthday to your hubby!

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  9. This sounds like a béchamel to me which I adore. Lots and lots of it over good panfried fish or obviously, in FISHPIE :D And your herbs stuck on the fridge door is one creative and chic way to store 'em. Unfortunately with us hungry lot opening and slamming those fridge doors shut nothing stays on there for long. HA. x

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  10. Hi everyone! It's been so, so great getting to know you through this blog. Happy Holidays to all of you. :) xoxo

    Min: Hi there, girl! I got the Moscato from Bottles & Bottles. :)

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  11. Moscato d'Asti...I drink this like I would Fanta :-) Just had a glass for lunch and have half a bottle left for dinner. Love it too and am sad to have to say goodbye to it soon...

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  12. You ALWAYS bring me cheer and a smile with your gorgeous posts, my dear! Getting back to one of your early and fond memories of cooking was a great idea for a post. And can I tell you how badly I want spice jars that stick to my fridge door??? Oh, the space that would save.

    Happy happy happiest of holidays to you and your family!!!
    xoxo

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  13. Merry Christmas and happy Bday to hubby!

    You've been such a joy for me this year.You know that already:)
    The fish looks yummy we love fish here..and how cute are those spice jars? They suit you..Tyler.. yes even at 56 I can appreciate him:)
    Perfect photos as usual..Enjoy every moment of this little holiday break~x

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  14. Happy Holidays to you and yours my sweet friend!

    I hope next year is even better than this one!
    Love to you,
    L xo

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  15. have a wonderful holiday season!!

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  16. So colorful! Merry X'mas and happy new year to you too!

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  17. Lovely recipe. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your family, Ju!

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  18. Wahhhhhhhhhhhh.. so cool!!!

    Love the herb jars! Safe space!!

    Have a blessed X'mas and wonderful New Year, Ju!

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  19. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family!

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  20. the sauce is beautiful, versatile and goes so well with the fish. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ♥

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  21. Ciao Ju è sempre un piacere farti visita, si imparano cose nuove e il tuo blog è sempre piu' interessante, mi fa piacere che sia riuscita a trovare del vino italiano a cui tenevi. Auguro a te e a tutta la famiglia Buon Natale e felice 2011. Un abbraccio Daniela.

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  22. Hi Ju, I have been a "silent Reader" of Little Teochew eversince my daughter told me about it 2 years ago. Love your blog. The white sauce looks absolutely FINE. Thank u for sharing all your wonderful recipes. Merry Christmas n Happy New Year. Iris.

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  23. Ju, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

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  24. Helloooo everyone - names that are familiar and new. Thank you for dropping by and leaving your lovely comments/wishes. Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! XOXO

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  25. Hello!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for all the inspiration, looking forward to more next year =)

    With love,
    Your silent reader all this while ;)

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  26. I love that you used herbes de provence to infuse your sauce. IT looks delicious, Ju! And i'm jealous that your herb bottles stick to your refrigerator door. Too funny! :)

    Merry (belated) Christmas to you and a happy New Year!

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  27. The herd thing and the fridge are so cool!

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  28. What a lovely meal! Thanks very much for sharing that easy sauce. I have a couple of Delia Smith's cookbooks but haven't tried anything from it yet. Have been feasting on the pictures :P Love those herb jars that stick to the fridge...so cool! Happy Holidays. May 2011 be a great year for your and your loved ones!

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  29. I like to make béchamel but these tips are fabulous; infusing the milk is a great idea. Adding the flour and butter with your method is something I will try as soon as possible, it does sound a lot easier than the classic method; I can think of a million uses for this sauce, so thanks for a very useful and interesting post!
    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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  30. What a wonderfully versatile sauce, Ju! I love those spice jars. I bought a bunch of jars a while back hoping to set up a magnetic system on a board, but never quite got around to it. Happy New Year!

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  31. Happy New Year, Ju!! I love your herb jars! :D

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  32. thank you for this wonderful post! I love the detailed instructions on how to prepare the snapper. I'm pretty much hopeless when it comes to cooking fish and seafood (and I married a pescetarian!) but I'm feeling a whole lot more confident after chancing upon this post of yours. Thank you!

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