21 September 2017Last updated

Food | Recipes

Awesome sauce

Upgrade ordinary meals into restaurant fare with these easy recipes

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14 Apr 2017 | 09:00 am

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Espagnole forms the basis of many meat sauces, such as demi-glace or Bourguignonne sauce – there are endless derivatives. It can be frozen and kept for up to three months.

Prep time about 10 mins
Cooking time 1 hour
Makes 500ml

25ml butter
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
30g flour
500ml brown beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme leaves, 4 sprigs parsley)

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the chopped vegetables. Sauté until lightly browned.

Gradually add the flour, stirring, until it forms a paste. Allow to cook for about a minute, then slowly add the brown stock, whisking constantly.

Add the tomato paste and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and add the bouquet garni.

Leave to simmer for 50 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by about a third. Skim the surface and strain.



The perfect partner for steamed asparagus and the star of eggs Benedict, this sauce is easily transformed with the addition of tarragon for a Béarnaise sauce, or finely grated zest for tartness.

Prep time 5 mins
Cooking time 30 mins
Makes 500ml

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp non-alcoholic white wine
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 egg yolks
125g clarified butter

Half-fill a saucepan with water and bring it to the boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. 
Meanwhile, in a separate small saucepan, place the lemon juice, non-alcoholic wine, peppercorns and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Boil until one teaspoon remains. Place the reduction and the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and whisk together until thick and creamy. Place the bowl with the egg mixture over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk vigorously and constantly, slowly drizzling in the clarified butter to emulsify the mixture. Remove from the heat. The sauce should be thick and double its initial volume. It should taste buttery with a slight, subtle hint of acidity. Serve warm.



This creamy, delicate white sauce is very versatile. Besides using it in lasagne or moussaka, or adding that comforting element to a fish pie, add grated mature cheddar and a teaspoon of mustard powder to turn this into a decadent fondue.

Prep time 5 mins
Cooking time 10 mins
Makes 500ml

50g butter
50g flour
500ml milk
Grated nutmeg (optional)

Heat butter in a saucepan until bubbling and add all the flour. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about a minute. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking out any lumps as you go. Stir constantly over gentle heat, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and add a light grating of nutmeg.



Tomato sauce serves as the basis for many a delicious meal. Add chilli for a kick, or fry a little beef bacon
with the onions for a richer sauce. Paprika will give it a smoky flavour. Alternatively, serve it as is, on pasta with a light grating of Parmesan.

Prep time 10 mins
Cooking time 50 mins
Makes 500ml

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
800g tomatoes (tinned or peeled and chopped)
Small handful fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp balsamic or red grape vinegar

Heat oil and butter together in a saucepan and add onion. Sauté until beginning to brown, then add garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes and crush them with the back of the wooden spoon. Add the basil, sugar and vinegar, and season with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat leave to simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring regularly.

Blitz the sauce using a hand stick blender until smoother, but retaining a little texture.



The uses for this simple berry sauce are endless. Add it to Greek yogurt for a decadent dessert (or breakfast), or serve it as an accompaniment to a chocolate pudding to cut through the richness. It’s a slightly healthier alternative to chocolate sauce on ice cream, and it can even work as a savoury relish, for example with duck.

Prep time 5 mins
Cooking time 1 hour
Makes 500ml

500g mixed berries
Caster sugar, to taste
Lemon juice

Place the washed berries in a saucepan and sprinkle the caster sugar evenly on top. Cover with water and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook over gentle heat, crushing the berries with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved.

Blend the mixture with a hand stick blender and pass through a strainer if you want a very smooth coulis. Refrigerate until completely cool.

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