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Spreads n Sauces ...


Introduction
Employment History
Massage Therapy
Psychology
Cooking
Customer Care
Telecomunications
Rental Property Mgmt

Alcohol
Kitchen Safety
Knife Use
Conversions
Beef
Classic Foods
Fish
Pasta
Pork
Poulty
Sandwiches
Shellfish
Spreads n Sauces
Soup & Salads
Cooking Tips

Past Employment

Residential Property Management
Estate Keeper, Chateau Mijoba
Residential Property Management Community Manager PPA
Residential Property Management Assistant Manager, Leasing  HVA
Online Technical Account Manager
Massage Therapy Clinical Therapist
Telecom Products Sales Executive
ASP Support Client Services
Inquiry Center CRM Specialist
Call Center Design Engineer
Help Desk Desktop Support
Call Center Client Communications Hospitality Reservations Manager
Sales Special Orders
Retail Commercial Ast Managerr

Highlights and documents I have written

Information Technology


Creating Customer Loyalty

End user Training

Massage Therapy


Massage Therapy

Being a Male Therapist

Ethics

730 Hour Certification

Transcripts

Many occupational hazards of adult life will be greatly alleviated by massage:

  • aching back and shoulder after a long office stint
  • exhaustion or overstrained muscles from physical labor or excessive exercise
  • circulatory problems from too little exercise by sedentary workers.
Massage can benefit you right down to the cellular level!

Telecommunications


2.4ghz v 900mhz

Cable v DSL

Cordless Security

Firewalls for Dummies

Telecom 101
 


 


Spreads and Sauces

Thousand Island Spread
Dijon-Style Mustard
Horseradish Mayonnaise
Huckleberry Ketchup
Mayonnaise
Pesto Ketchup
Roasted Vegetable Spread

Sauces run the gamut from being an optional ingredient in a dish, to an outright deal breaker; an indispensable item that makes or breaks the dish.  Can you imagine eating a ham and cheese sandwich without mayo or mustard?  Or a beloved Italian hero devoid of oil and vinegar?  Or how about a shrimp cocktail sans cocktail sauce?  These are just a few examples of how a sauce can be imperative, but that’s not always the case.

How much dressing should go on a salad? How much sauce should go on pasta?  A grilled duck breast?  Or your poached salmon? Should the sauce fill the plate, cover just the entrée, or be scantily dispersed in some kind of petite, artistic design?

Basically the answer is your personal taste.  If you’re the one eating it you have the right to have as much, or as little sauce or dressing as you like.  When preparing meals for yourself at home, it’s easy to follow the dictates of your palate.  But what if you’re entertaining a number of guests? Or worse yet, making dinner for 50 people at a party.  Yikes!  Then you are forced into a one-size-fits-all portion, at the very least to provide consistency, the food should not be swimming in the sauce. Excessive sauce is considered a culinary faux pas. But in my opinion, use as much sauce as you like.

Standards vary from dish to dish and from chef to chef.  A Culinary Institute of America textbook recommends two to three tablespoons of dressing per two ounces of salad. But still there are exceptions to the rule.  For example, the flavor and the flavor intensity of the greens and/or the dressing may influence the amount of dressing you choose to employ. Moreover, the flavor profile of secondary ingredients in the salad, (cheese, anchovies, meat, vegetables, etc.), must be considered to determine the “proper” amount.  Textural and color factors may also play a role.  Yet this can still be quite subjective.  My executive chef would deem the Culinary Institute’s rule too skimpy for his spinach salad.  

And then there’s the sauce issue. The same guidelines with salad dressing apply to sauce. The flavor, texture, and color of the sauce, the main item, and any accompaniments, can all influence the amount of sauce. One professional source I encountered suggested two ounces of sauce for an average size entrée. Two Ounces?  What are you kidding me?  Many upscale establishments believe a dish appears more elegant or refined when graced with a parsimonious serving of sauce. If I were just a little more paranoid I would wonder whether this philosophy was generated by bean-counting restaurateurs. Yes, I’m well aware that a culinary ten commandment is that a sauce should not overpower a dish, but rather enhance it. But then that pesky subjectivity creeps in again.  What one chef considers appropriate may be deemed an inconvenience by you. Such as when you’re scraping the edge of the plate in a futile effort to moisten those last few bites of your pork chop.

Pasta is a perfect example of this issue. Virtually all chefs warn about over saucing pasta.  Interestingly, the further you move up the professional culinary ladder, increasingly removed from the common man, the more this axiom is embraced.  My peers will begin my excommunication proceedings upon reading this but I like my pasta with a lot of sauce. I want sauce in every forkful, as opposed to swishing each bite around, feebly attempting to coat it with the piddling sauce. But that’s my Id-based constitution. Generally speaking, I don’t believe “less is more.”  Less is less. More is more. 

As with everything, there are the people on the other side of the continuum. Some prefer their food with barely any sauce/dressing at all, or in a separate container so that they have complete control over its application.

Sauce making is a cornerstone to successful cooking.  A sauce can either make or break your dish.  Ages ago, when food preservation techniques were in their infancy, sauces were used to mask the foul taste of spoiled food.  This is because the sauce is the first taste sensation your mouth experiences prior to masticating the main item.  And even then, the flavor of the sauce is intermingled with the food. Nowadays sauces are used primarily for flavor, moisture, texture and color.

Mother sauces, otherwise known as the grand sauces, include demi-glace, (a reduced brown sauce), veloute, (a roux thickened white stock), béchamel, (a roux thickened milk sauce), tomato, and hollandaise, (a decadently rich butter and egg yolk sauce).  From these fundamental sauces, countless secondary sauces are then made, such as bordelaise, sauce supreme, béarnaise, and Mornay to name a few.  The advent of nouvelle cuisine sparked a movement away from rich, heavy, roux-thickened, time consuming sauces to lighter and simpler creations.

Competent sauce making requires significant dexterity in two key areas.  The first is the acquisition of the requisite culinary skills. The second is the expertise in knowing suitable sauce/food pairings; much like marrying a food with a wine. Preparing sauces and properly uniting them with the appropriate foods are yardsticks by which chefs are judged. 

In regard to matching sauces with food, there are some general guidelines.  When a cooking technique produces drippings, (as in a roast), or a fond, (the caramelized residue on the bottom of a sauté pan), they should be employed to make a sauce.  Countless pan sauces and gravies begin this way.  Likewise, if a liquid is employed to cook the food, as in a braise, or a court bouillon for poaching fish, some or all of the liquid can be incorporated into a sauce. 

However, sauces are also made independently of the food.  Here the flavor profile of the sauce and the target food is even more critical.  This includes secondary seasoning elements in both, particularly herbs.  For example, a lemon and tarragon infused cream sauce would probably taste better on salmon than a porterhouse.  One should also consider the flavor intensity of the sauce as well as the food. A sauce should not overwhelm the food and vice versa.  Much like wine, a light and subtle sauce would not accompany a hearty roast, nor would a strong and overpowering sauce be mingled with a delicate piece of fish.  Your own palate, experience, common sense and erudition will all expand your knowledge of prudent flavor pairings. 

Something very important to remember: I cannot stress enough the role that stock plays in producing sauce. Stocks form the basis of innumerable sauces.  Generally speaking, chicken stock is used with fowl, fish stock with seafood, and veal stock for red meat sauces.  Vegetable stocks are also vital and are a delicious alternative for calorie counters and vegetarians seeking alternatives to meat based stocks.  

Other fluids such as water, wine, cream, citrus juices or oil can also be the basis of a sauce.  Hot pepper sauces can be made from simmering peppers and spices in water and vinegar and then pureeing them in a blender. One may forgo the stock and utilize only wine to deglaze a pan and produce a sauce. Alfredo sauce is made from cream, butter, and cheese. Citrus juices can be substituted for vinegar to make a brightly flavored and refreshing vinaigrette. And where would pesto be without the olive oil?  Sauces can even be created from cooked vegetables, (tomato being the archetypal example), or vegetable purees.

Other concerns include how the sauce is to be presented and the appropriate quantity.  Items with a crispy exterior, such as a breaded and pan-fried chicken breast, are often placed on top of a pool of the sauce to prevent the top from becoming soggy.  Other sauces are drizzled on the food, around it, (often for aesthetic purposes), or purposely “on the side” as in dipping sauces. 

Sauces come in a seemingly infinite number of styles. The ingredients, methods, and applications for sauces almost know no bounds. And while sauces certainly vary in terms of their viscosity, thickening them is an oft-needed necessity. This is due to the fact that many sauces are based on aqueous liquids, e.g., water, stock, broth, wine, etc. A sauce with greater body will adhere better to the food and thus create a more noteworthy flavor sensation. The procedures for concentrating sauces fall into one of two categories:  condensation or addition of a thickening agent.

The simplest and most straightforward method of thickening a sauce is to reduce it over high heat. Unlike any of the ensuing methods to be discussed, this has the added benefit of intensifying the flavor by evaporating the excess water. This technique is almost always employed whenever wine or liquor is added to a sauce in order to vaporize the alcohol. But alcohol or not, any sauce that can be cooked can be reduced.  How much to reduce a sauce will depend on the specific recipe.  Generally speaking, when the sauce has congealed enough that it can coat the back of a spoon without running off, (known as “nappé”), it is completed.  Remember that when a sauce is reduced it will naturally become saltier.  Thus, hold off seasoning until it is finished or near done to prevent over seasoning. 

The most common thickening agents are starch-based thickeners, namely flour, cornstarch and arrowroot.  Less common are potato starch and rice flour. Starch is simply chains of glucose molecules, a type of sugar produced by plants through the process of photosynthesis.  When added to sauces and heated, the long chains of glucose molecules unwind, bond to the water’s hydrogen molecules, and thus gelatinize the sauce.  This would be analogous to tying everyone’s hands together at a cocktail party. The individuals, (water molecules), would not be as free, (or as “fluid”), to move around the room, since the rope, (starch molecules), are holding them together.

Starches cannot just be directly added to a sauce.  Doing so would cause dreadful lumps that will never incorporate into the surrounding liquid. They must be prepped first. Flour is almost always mixed with butter, (or some other form of fat), before being introduced into a sauce. Take an equal amount of flour and softened butter and knead them together until a pliable, but not melted paste is achieved and you have what the French call beurre manié. To employ beurre manié as a thickener, bring the sauce to a simmer, and whisk it in one piece at a time, waiting for the previous one to melt before adding the next. When all of the beurre manié is incorporated, bring the sauce to a near boil and simmer for three minutes.

If you were to cook the flour and butter together first, then you would have a roux. Melt the butter in a skillet or saucepan over low to medium heat; add an equal amount of flour and cook, stirring constantly until the desired degree of doneness.  The longer you cook roux the darker it will become.  If you do not wish to darken your sauce but merely want to cook out the raw, floury taste of the roux, cook for just a few minutes.  You can add the roux to the sauce or vice versa but they must be at different starting temperatures, (at the very least, one room temperature and one hot).  You must also gradually add one to the other and whisk incessantly. All of these steps help prevent lumping.

Employing a roux is the premier method for making gravy for your chicken or turkey.  After the bird has roasted, add flour to the drippings in the roasting pan, cook for a few minutes, and then gradually whisk in chicken stock.  Bring to a near boil, simmer to the desired consistency, and season with salt and pepper.

Cornstarch and arrowroot will thicken more efficiently than flour since they contain no protein.  They have 50 to 100% more thickening power than flour and thus, less of them is needed.  They also thicken at a somewhat lower temperature and do not need to be pre-cooked, like roux. However, they do need to be dissolved in fluid first.  Mix the cornstarch or arrowroot in just enough cold water to form the consistency of heavy cream.  This is called a slurry.  Add it to your simmering sauce, bring to a near boil and then simmer for only a minute or two. Extended cooking will reverse the thickening process.

Every chef in the world will tell you to bring your roux or cornstarch/arrowroot thickened sauce to a full boil to achieve its maximum thickening potential.  This is not scientifically correct.  Beyond 200-205 degrees (boiling is 212), the starch will begin to break down. Thus, bring it to almost a full boil, immediately reduce to a simmer, and stir gently.

Finally, sauces can be thickened by adding a liaison, (a mixture of cream and egg yolks), butter, gelatin, and pureed vegetables or fruits.  Which of these are utilized will depend on the type of sauce and it’s specific recipe.

[Alcohol] [Kitchen Safety] [Knife Use] [Conversions] [Beef] [Classic Foods] [Fish] [Pasta] [Pork] [Poulty] [Sandwiches] [Shellfish] [Spreads n Sauces] [Soup & Salads] [Cooking Tips]

 
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