Happy Belated Fiesta 2007!

As you probably all know by now, I am a direct descendant of the Canarian immigrants (Canary Islanders-Los Isleños) who settled in SE Louisiana in the late 1700’s. No, that doesn’t make me latino (not that there’s anything wrong with it!). But according to the newest US demographic questionnaires (the ones you have to fill out for colleges, financial aid, and census information), it does make me “Hispanic-Other”. Those silly bureaucrats. Although, that “Other” bit makes me and my brother laugh. If you know us personally, you know why.

I am about a month late posting the following links since the Los Isleños Fiesta occurred on March 23 and March 24. I like to make a late entrance.

Canary Islanders Heritage Society

Los Isleños Society Events

Un favor, por favor. If any of you gentle readers happens to go to any of these various events in the future, piense de mí and kindly get me a shirt?

Now for a traditional Canarian recipe: Papas Arrugadas con Mojo Verde. This is similar to mainland Spain’s papas bravas except the papas in the former recipe are boiled and then steamed rather than pan-fried. This is a great substitute for hash browned potatoes at a brunch.

Papas Arrugadas con Mojo Verde

4 1/2 lbs. small or new potatoes
5 tablespoons Kosher salt (plus enough to make the water as salty as sea water)

Wash the potatoes well. Put salt into large pot—start with a few tablespoons, you can add more to the water later. Add water—it is best if you add enough water to cover the potatoes so that you know you have added enough salt—the potatoes will float when the water is perfect. Add the potatoes to the pot of salted water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain most of the water from the pot and sprinkle the potatoes with the 5 tablespoons of salt. Turn down the heat and gently shake the pot so that salt crystalizes on the potatoes. Finally, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tea-towel for 5 minutes and the potatoes should now be arrugadas (wrinkled). The old school way of covering the potatoes was done with cabbage leaves in lieu of a tea-towel. Maybe for taste?

Mojo Verde:

1 teaspoon cumin
1 head of garlic
4 fresh jalapeño peppers
Italian parsley, fresh and chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (fleur de sel)

You will need a mortar and pestle or a good food processor to make this. Take the cumin, garlic, and salt and combine them with your mortar and pestle or food processor until they create a paste. Clean out the peppers of all seeds and veins, dice and then add diced peppers and parsley to your mash. Blend well. Combine mash, vinegar. and olive oil and mix thoroughly. This can either be a dipping sauce (preferred) or poured over the potatoes.


Tomato Sauce or Red Sauce

Tomatoes were introduced to Europe from the New World by explorers in the 16th century and were dismissed as food originally because they were considered toxic. They were grown as “botanical curiosities” for their flowers, not as food. The climates of Spain and Italy and were good for tomato growing and when they were discovered to be tasty, and not killers, they were widely used in Southern European dishes by the 17th century.

The final and (IMHO) the best sauce mère is tomato or red sauce. I think it’s the best because it has the best and richest flavor, is easy to make, it’s versatile and freezes well. For this post, I will just repost the red gravy recipe from a few months ago here. I also happen to really like tomato sauces.
This sauce is more than just “spaghetti sauce”. Its flexibility allows us to cook roundeye steaks in it or to use it on top of meatloaves, pannéed meats, po-boy, fish, sausage and, yes, even pasta. In fact, I make this for pasta sauce instead of plain marinara, I find its richness to be beyond compare.

Red Gravy

1/2 cup olive oil
1 whole bulb of garlic, with each toe sliced in half lengthwise
3 bay leaves
1 bell pepper, diced fine
1 cup onion, diced fine
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups canned tomato purée
6 ounces tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (Italian or sweet)
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

In a 2-quart saucepan or stockpot, heat the olive oil, sliced garlic cloves, and 2 of the bay leaves. Cook garlic slices to achieve browning on both sides (over medium heat), cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes and stirring often. Remove garlic from pan, you can toss this. Turn down heat to medium-low and add the onions to the pan and sautee until edges start to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes and stirring constantly.

Add the tomato paste and cook with the onions until the color deepens to a red mahogany color; it gets somewhat sticky, it will build up your forearm muscles. This step is important, so be patient! You want to carmelize the entire mixture; this is where almost all of the flavor for the sauce will come from. When done, add the third bay leaf and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer; here is where you will adjust your seasonings… I like mine on the spicier side so I actually add 2 tablespoons of creole seasoning rather than 2 teaspoons. Maintain a very low simmer and cook for about three hours and stirring frequently. The whole house will smell delicious for days after making this. Makes 6 cups and freezes well.

To make a Bolognese type sauce: add 2 lbs. cooked and drained ground meat of your choice… the most common seems to be half ground beef/half ground pork or ground italian sausage. My grandmother would make meatballs bigger than your head from a ground meat/seasoned bread crumb mixture, cook those and then add them to the finished sauce.

A few of the children of your basic red sauce are Creole Sauce , Barbecue sauce and Salsa.

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Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauces

Notoriously rich and difficult to keep from “breaking”, both Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauces are emulsion sauces; meaning that they consist of droplets of fat suspended in water which are (semi) stabilized by egg protein (lecithin). Hollandaise is considered by many to be one of the finest sauces of western cooking. Many European cooks consider Béarnaise sauce a mother sauce unto its own; but in the US, cooks start by making Hollandaise and finishing the sauce with tarragon, vinegar and shallots to make their Béarnaise. Hollandaise is good on egg dishes, vegetables and fish. Béarnaise, with its stronger flavor, is great on broiled meats, salmon and steaks. The following Hollandaise recipe is not too hard to complete and should be fairly fool-proof, you may want to use it immediately for this sauce is hard to hold to long (more than 2 hours) and will separate into an oily mess. But if it fails I will add instructions on how to fix a “turned” sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, divided
1 1/4 stick melted unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk the egg yolks in your saucepan for a minute or so until they become thicker and turn a pale yellow. Add lemon juice and whisk. Add 2 tablespoons of the cold butter before placing on heat. While this butter melts, it should help to keep the eggs from curdling. Set the pan over low heat and whisk. Keep an eye on your mixture. As the eggs thicken, you should be able to see more and more of the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and whisk in remaining cold butter a tablespoon at a time. This will stop the yolks from cooking any further.

Add the warm melted butter in slowly and by slow I mean drizzle! Whisk to make a thick sauce. Whisk in seasonings and a little more lemon juice if you feel it needs it.

For a sauce that refuses to thicken, is too thin or has curdled: Take a tablespoon of the turned sauce and place in a separate mixing bowl. Whisk it with a tablespoon of lemon juice until it thickens. Drizzle in bits the turned sauce into THIS mixture slowly and whisk… let each addition of turned sauce thicken before adding more.

Béarnaise Sauce

A reduction of:
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 dry vermouth
1 tablespoon shallot, minced fine
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, divided
1 1/4 stick melted unsalted butter

Combine vinegar, vermouth, shallots, tarragon, salt and pepper and boil down mixture until it reduces to about 2 tablespoons. Strain mixture into another saucepan. Substitute this reduction for the lemon juice in the previous recipe.

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Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel sauce is the other white sauce mère. It is made by mixing a white roux with milk, très simple. With a Béchamel, you can make a variety of dishes including staples like macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings and more complex dishes like moussaka and lasagne. The sauce for the Creole Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe on this blog starts with Béchamel (technically it’s a Mornay sauce since it incoporates cheese). Béchamel sauce’s “children” include Sauce Aurore, Chantilly sauce, Mornay sauce and about 50 other sauces.

Béchamel sauce – Quick and Dirty

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons AP flour
2 cups cold milk, preferably whole milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
optional: dash of nutmeg or cayenne pepper
optional: 1 bay leaf

Start by making a white roux: Use a heavy bottomed saucepan that distributes heat evenly. Put the pan over medium-low heat and add the butter and melt the butter. When the foam subsides take the pan off the heat. Using a flat whisk or wooden spatula, rapidly stir in the flour. Return the pot and stirring every couple of minutes, cook until the flour is a straw color. Whisk in the cold milk, salt, pepper and any optional spices. Turn heat to low and continuing to stir, cook for 20-45 minutes until thickened and smooth. The longer you cook it, the smoother and less grainy it will become.

Be sure to fish out your bay leaf at the end of cooking if you’ve added it to the sauce.

Béchamel sauce – The More Traditional Approach

1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/3 celery rib, diced
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup AP flour
4 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg
bouquet garni

First, scald the milk. Remove from heat and set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan until the foam stops, then add the diced vegetables and sauté until the onions are translucent. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Put the pan back on the heat and cook about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the scalded milk. Return to heat and bring up to a boil, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the bouquet garni, lower heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes. Remove and strain the sauce, without pushing on the vegetables.

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Sauce Velouté

Sauce Velouté is the first white sauce mère that we will explore this week. Sauce Velouté is made by combining your white roux with a light colored stock, like stocks made from vegetables, chicken, shellfish or fish. Velouté in French means “velvety”, obviously a reference to the finished sauce’s texture. The petites sauces that derive from Sauce Velouté are great over fish, poultry, pork and vegetables without overpowering any of them.

Sauce Velouté

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons AP flour
2 cups stock (vegetable, fish, or poultry)
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Start by making a white roux: Use a heavy bottomed saucepan that distributes heat evenly. Put the pan over medium-low heat and add the butter and melt the butter. When the foam subsides take the pan off the heat. Using a flat whisk or wooden spatula, rapidly stir in the flour. Return the pot and stirring every couple of minutes, cook until the flour is a straw color. Transfer the roux to a mixing bowl to stop the cooking

For combining the stock and roux, the standard rule is: hot roux = use a cold stock; or cold roux = use a hot stock

To finish the above recipe: Place the roux back in the saucepan and whisk in half of the liquid. Place the pot over medium heat and whisk in the remaining liquid. When the roux and stock are well combined, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, skimming frequently. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Strain the sauce and allow to cool, uncovered, to room temperature if you plan on storing it.

There are two categories of petites sauces made from Sauce Velouté: In the first, the ingredients are first cooked in wine, butter or stock and then combined with the mother sauce. In the second, the ingredients are stirred into the sauce in order to finish it. From the first category, we have sauces like Sauce Ravigote, Sauce Bercy, and Sauce Allemande. The second includes Sauce Bonne Femme, Sauce Suprême, and Sauce Suprême Aurore.

Sauce Allemande

2 cups Sauce Velouté
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Reduce the Sauce Velouté to 1 cup, by cooking it over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low and add a bit of the sauce to your yolks in order to temper them, gradually bringing the yolks up to the temperature of the sauce in order to avoid having scrambled eggs. Stir in the tempered yolks, the butter, nutmeg and lemon juice. Cook until thick. This sauce is very good over fish and chicken.

Sauce Suprême

2 cups Sauce Velouté
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon butter

Gradually stir the cream and crème fraîche into the Sauce Velouté. Finish the sauce by swirling in the butter.

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Sauce Espagnole

Sauce Espagnole is a rich, reduced brown stock made with tomatoes and a mirepoix of browned vegetables thickened by a brown roux. From this sauce mère can be made its most “popular” children or petites sauces: Bordelaise and Madeira. It is also known as a demi-glace.

According to Alan Davidson, in The Oxford Companion to Food, “The name has nothing to do with Spain, any more than the counterpart term allemande has anything to do with Germany. It is generally believed that the terms were chosen because in French eyes Germans are blond and Spaniards are brown.”

Sauce Espagnole

1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup AP flour
4 cups hot beef stock
1/4 cup tomato purée
2 toes garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Cook the carrot and onion in butter in a heavy saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (about 7 to 8 minutes). Add flour and cook roux over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until medium brown. Add hot stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then add tomato purée, garlic, celery, peppercorns, and bay leaf and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 cups, this will take about 45 minutes.

When sauce is reduced, pour sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Remember, if the roux burns you have to start all over, some people take the extra step of cooking the roux separately because of this; granted if you do cook the roux separately you will be lacking some of the richness from the browned vegetables cooked in the roux. If you choose this option, you will need to add an extra 2 tablespoons of butter to the recipe in which to sautée the vegetables.

Madeira Sauce

Sauce Espagnole
1/4 cup Madeira wine
optional: 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

Follow the recipe for the Sauce Espagnole above. Add wine in the last five minutes of cooking. Optionally add 1/4 cup of mushrooms to round out the sauce.

Bordelaise Sauce

2 cups Sauce Espagnole
1 6-inch long marrow bone (ask your butcher)
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, diced fine
1/2 cup dry red wine (traditionally a good Bordeaux)

Place marrow bone in a small sauce pan with enough water to cover, bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the bone until the marrow is cooked and can be pressed out of the bone, about 10 minutes. Remove the marrow and press through a strainer. In a heavy sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the shallots and marrow until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Add the wine and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in the Sauce Espagnole and simmer before serving.

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The French (and by extension Cajuns and Creoles) hold that there are five mother sauces, or sauces mères. These are the Brown Sauce, or “Sauce Espagnole”; the White Sauce, or “Sauce Velouté,” (stock and roux), Béchamel (milk and white roux), Hollandaise (butter and egg yolks) and Tomato sauce. These are the foundation of most of our elegant sauces. Creole cooks are famous for their splendid sauces, and the perfect creation of a good sauce is considered an indispensable part of the culinary arts.

The first thing to learn in making sauces of every kind is how to make a good roux, or the foundation mixture of flour and butter, flour and oil, or flour and lard. There are the Brown Roux and the White Roux. In making a Brown Roux never, under any circumstances, use burned or over-browned flour.

Brown Roux/Roux Brun

1 tablespoon butter/lard/oil
1 tablespoon AP Flour

First melt the butter slowly, and gradually add the flour, sprinkling it in and stirring constantly, until the mixture is a nice, delicate brown. It may take upwards of an hour to achieve the right color.

When making a roux for gravies, the proportions are one tablespoon of lard and two of flour. Oil or butter will make a richer gravy than lard will and because of that most cooks prefer to use lard in this case. Because of the recent concerns over trans-fats, butter is quite in vogue for cooking; real lard (not shortening) is also low in trans-fats and less expensive. If properly made, the taste of lard won’t be detected.

If, when making the brown roux, there is even the slightest hint of a burnt odor or over-browning, throw the entire roux away and wash the utensils before proceeding to make another.

White Roux/Roux Blanc

1 tablespoon butter/lard/oil
1 tablespoon AP Flour

Melt the butter slowly in a saucepan, then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth, somewhat loose, paste. Stir over moderate heat until butter and flour foam together for 2 minutes. It should only achieve a buttery yellow color.

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