Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
One secret to French haute cuisine is its use of sensuous sauces — used sparingly, but to dazzling effect. Here are some simplified ways to make sauces that will add interest, flavor, and eye appeal to easy meals on the go. Most of these sauces can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, and reheated in the microwave as needed.
Janet’s Basic Béchamel Sauce
With a basic cream sauce, you can make a meal with canned tuna; spruce up canned or frozen vegetables; put a gourmet touch on poached eggs; and much more. This recipe makes nearly a quart of sauce that you can bring out of the refrigerator and reheat in small batches as needed.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-1/2 cups milk
Dash white pepper
1/8-teaspoon ground nutmeg
Melt the butter with the olive oil over low-medium heat and gradually whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Stirring continuously, slowly add the milk and continue cooking until the sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in the seasonings.
- Serve sparingly over steamed vegetables, stuffed shells, or cooked seafood.
- Add a light sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese atop the sauce.
- To make a bubbling, golden finish, broil the sauced dish for 1 to 2 minutes. Watch it carefully.
- Stir 8 ounces of grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese into the recipe and heat, stirring constantly until it is melted. Serve as a fondue with torn chunks of French bread.
- Line custard cups with thin slices of ham and break an egg in each. Bake until the eggs are just set, and then add a tablespoon of sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. Bake another few minutes until the cheese melts.
Janet’s Basic Marinara Sauce
Large onion, diced (approximately 2 cups)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-cup olive oil
3 cans, 14.5 ounces each, diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Salt, pepper to taste
Sizzle the onion and garlic in the hot olive oil until they are limp. Add the tomatoes and seasonings and cook at a low boil, stirring every few minutes, until the mixture is well blended. This makes approximately 1-1/2 quarts of sauce. Refrigerate and reheat in batches as needed.
- Toss with hot, cooked spaghetti.
- Spoon the sauce over hot meatloaf sandwiches instead of gravy.
- Roll burrito-size flour tortillas with deli meats and cheeses, wrap each individually in plastic, and freeze. To make a hot meal, heat the thawed wraps in the microwave and top with hot marinara sauce.
- Make boxed scalloped potatoes according to package directions and drizzle with marinara sauce to create an artistic pattern.
- Enhance the taste of vegetables with marinara sauce. It goes especially well with steamed zucchini, grilled eggplant, or stir-fried bell peppers.
- Fill a microwavable bowl with tortilla chips, drizzle with marinara sauce, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Microwave on high just until the cheese melts.
- Place approximately an inch of marinara sauce in a skillet and thin with a small amount of water. Bring the sauce to a low boil and break eggs into it to poach them. Serve with the sauce.
- Heat ham or sausage biscuits in the microwave and serve with marinara sauce for breakfast.
Weber’s Tangy Barbecue Sauce
This recipe is from Weber’s Web site, www.weber.com. Cook up a batch of this zesty sauce ahead of time to brush on meat during the last 10 minutes of grilling time. It’s simple, infallible, and definitely worth the extra trouble.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2-cup finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup ketchup
1/4-cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the celery and onion for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil; reduce heat; cover; and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the sauce into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. This makes approximately 1-1/2 cups of sauce. Because the sauce contains sugar, it will burn easily. So, don’t slather it on the meat until the final 10 or so minutes of cooking.
Chunky Dill Tartar Sauce
This recipe is from The Best Diabetes Cookbook ($18.95, Robert Rose Inc.). Fresh vegetables give the sauce a crisp kick that is livelier than tartar sauce from a jar. It’s easy to make a double or triple batch. Just whisk together equal amounts of light or fat-free mayonnaise and sour cream, and add the other ingredients in proportion.
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons light sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2-teaspoon dried dill
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Whisk everything together and serve, or refrigerate for future serving.
- Serve the sauce as a dip for cold cocktail shrimp.
- Spoon it over freshly fried or grilled fish.
- Use it as a refreshing dip for raw vegetables.
- Stir a tablespoon or two of the sauce into a hot vegetable, such as yellow squash.
- Spoon it over baked potatoes.
Janet’s Basic Vanilla Sauce
Make this recipe with sugar or sugar substitute. This versatile sauce adds a homemade twist to dozens of desserts. It isn’t too sweet, and it can be made with nonfat milk to shave calories.
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/4-cup sugar or equivalent sugar substitute
A few grains salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
Put the cornstarch in a microwavable container and stir in a little of the milk to make a paste. Then stir in the rest of the milk with the sugar and salt. Microwave the mixture on high, stirring and turning every 30 seconds, until it thickens. Then stir in the flavorings. Stir each time before using. To avoid having a “skin” form on top, cover the surface with plastic wrap.
- Serve the sauce atop canned or fresh fruit or ice cream.
- Spoon it over plain cake, macaroons, or chocolate pudding.
- Layer the sauce, torn bits of angel food cake, whipped cream, and fresh berries to make a trifle.
- Heat a cup of the sauce with 1/3-cup chocolate chips, stirring until the chips melt.
Red Wine Sauce
Large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 cup dry red wine
14-ounce can ready-to-serve beef broth
Stir-fry the onion in the olive oil, gradually adding the garlic until the vegetables are lightly browned. Add the ketchup and continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture darkens, but don’t allow it to burn. Stir in the red wine, gathering all the browned bits from the pan. Then add the broth and thyme, bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate and the flavor to concentrate. Spoon over roasted or grilled meats, broiled mushrooms, or grilled vegetables.
10-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
10-ounce jar red jelly, preferably currant
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Place the raspberries in a saucepan to thaw. Pour off enough juice into a separate bowl to mix with the cornstarch to make a paste. Once the paste is made, add it to the raspberries, along with the jelly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and clears. Cool and serve at room temperature.
- Serve the sauce over gingerbread or bread pudding.
- Spoon it over ice cream alone or with hot fudge sauce.
- Drizzle it over canned peach halves.
- Serve it on pancakes or crepes.
- Stir a can of sweetened condensed milk and 1/4-teaspoon nutmeg into 2-1/2 cups hot rice and serve with raspberry sauce for dessert.
- Serve the sauce with grilled ham or pork.
- Spoon it over a brick of cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Janet’s Grandmother’s Salad Sauce
Made with regular or nonfat evaporated milk, this sauce is a fine alternative to fatty dressings that contain a large amount of oil. It’s essential to dissolve the sugar in the milk before adding the vinegar.
13-ounce can evaporated milk
2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar
Put the evaporated milk in a bowl and whisk in the sugar, salt, and pepper (if desired) until the ingredients are completely dissolved. Whisking constantly, slowly add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Taste, and add more vinegar if you like. Stir each time before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.
- Spoon the sauce over lettuce salad.
- Place two deviled egg halves on a bed of shredded lettuce and drizzle them with the sauce.
- Serve the sauce with tuna or salmon mousse.
- Slice cucumbers thinly, sprinkle them with salt, and drain well for about an hour. Toss with salad sauce and sliced, sweet onion.
More ways with sauces:
- Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you can use cooking wine to add complex flavors to a sauce. The alcohol cooks away. Just add 1/2-cup of wine to pan juices after cooking meat. Stir the mixture over high heat, scraping up the browned bits, for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over cooked meat or fried fish.
- Place a slice of beefsteak tomato on a piece of toast. Mix equal amounts of marinara sauce and béchamel sauce; heat; spoon over the toast; and sprinkle with grated cheese to make a Blushing Bunny for lunch or a light dinner.
- Make a salad by topping a bed of shredded lettuce with a scoop of cottage cheese and then drizzle it with cold marinara sauce.
- Need to stretch a meal? Stir white sauce or béchamel sauce into your meat, fish, or vegetables and they’ll go further.
- Whisk a teaspoon of Dijon-style mustard into a jar of strained, baby food plums and serve over grilled pork chops.
- If a recipe turns out edible, but unsightly, cover it with one of the sauces described above.
Call Weber’s toll-free Grill Line at (800) 474-5568 (GRILL-OUT) for expert grilling advice. The hotline operates every day through Labor Day, from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Central Time. E-mails to email@example.com are answered within 48 hours during the business week.
Books for cooks
The Best Diabetes Cookbook ($18.95, Robert Rose Inc.), edited by Katherine Younker, is needed today more than ever as a growing number of people discover they are diabetic or have blood sugar concerns. The advantage of this book is that it provides a nutritional breakdown for each recipe as well as the exchange values. The downside is that most servings are so small that many diabetics may be discouraged. An orzo-seafood salad, for example, calls for 8 ounces of shrimp to feed eight people. For those who need to follow strict guidelines, however, they are available here in recipes that are colorful, chic, and tasty.