Phil's International Flair

Welcome to the October issue of Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair! This month I have decided to continue the theme of sauces. Last month's treatment of the subject was not nearly adequate enough to give a full view of how sauces can be employed to heighten the quality of a meal. I know that one more column on the subject still won't do justice to the topic. However, with a dozen or two sauces in one's gallery, readers will gain the skills to make everyday meals something extraordinary.

Try some of these sauces and develop the skill to create and develop some unique sauces of your very own. Once the fundamental techniques are learned and applied, you can experiment with flavors by using herbs and other seasonings.

As a reminder, additional sauces can be found in the Seasoned Cooking archives.

The recipes presented this month are but a small yet diverse collection of the recipes in my yet to be published book, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!

Now, on to the recipes!

Sensational Sauces

Hollandaise Sauce

This sauce is one of the many French style sauces that can be used to compliment vegetables, fish or meat. It is very rich, yet pleasant in flavor. Try this sauce on broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, squash, steamed carrots, or whatever vegetable suits your fancy. Use also on broiled or poached salmon, or any white fish like halibut, rockfish or cod. A little Hollandaise on broiled or roasted meat or chicken will turn your meal into a gourmet treat!

Of course, you can used one of the prepackaged mixes to make a quick Hollandaise, but they will not be as good as the one presented here. Making the sauce is a delicate process however, that requires some care. Because it uses eggs, there is a tendency for the sauce to "break", in which case you can quickly add a little cream to try to salvage the texture. Alternately, should the sauce break, you can try reconstituting it with another egg yolk. To prevent breaking, the temperature must be kept low.

  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten with any cords removed
  • 4 tbsp. very hot water
  • Speck of cayenne or white pepper
  • 1½ T. lemon juice
  • Pinch of tarragon

Melt the butter very slowly in a saucepan over very low heat. Do not allow to bubble. Set aside and keep warm. Have a small pot of boiled water ready for mixing. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate saucepan over very low heat until they just begin to thicken. Add one tablespoon of water and continue to whisk until thickened. Do the same for the remaining 3 tablespoons of water and the lemon juice. Once thickened again, very slowly add the warm melted butter whisking constantly. Do not allow the sauce to get too hot or it will break. Finally, add a pinch of tarragon, mix and serve.

  • Yields: 1 cup
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Bernaise Sauce

Another classical French sauce that is excellent on grilled filet mignon or roast tenderloin of beef. It is also good on most types of fish including salmon, rockfish and halibut. I find this sauce goes particularly well with steamed broccoli and asparagus.
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 T. chopped shallots or green onions
  • ½ tsp. crushed dried tarragon (or 1 tsp. fresh)
  • ½ tsp. chopped parsley
  • 3/4 cup warm melted butter
  • 3 egg yolks

Begin by making a tea of the white wine, tarragon, shallots, and parsley. Reduce to half volume over low heat. Strain the tea and use all of this liquid as you would to make Hollandaise sauce, adding it to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Finally add the butter very slowly while whisking until the sauce has thickened.

  • Yields: 1½ cups
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Basic White Sauce

White sauces are gentle in flavor and may be used with vegetables, chicken, many types of fish, or other foods which are mild in flavor. The basis of a white sauce is cream or milk. Cream will make the sauce richer in texture and flavor. The diet conscious may substitute low fat milk. The seasonings should also be subtle in flavor so as compliment rather than overpower the flavor of the food it is used on.

This basic white sauce can be used as the base for a variety of sauces limited only by the imagination. You may flavor it with a bit of tarragon or other herbs for variety.

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sherry
  • ¼ tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 T. chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour to form a roux. To the roux, slowly add the milk or cream, stirring constantly. When the sauce has thickened, add the lemon juice, sherry, tarragon and parsley. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 1 cup
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Basic Brown Sauce

A good basic brown sauce is usually made with pan drippings from roast beef. However, you can also make a good stock from beef bones, scraps of meat and vegetables. Canned beef broth can also be used in a pinch.
  • 4 T. butter
  • 4 T. flour
  • 2 cups broth
  • 2 T. red wine
  • 2 T. chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour to form a roux. Brown the roux lightly. To the roux, slowly add the broth, stirring constantly. When the sauce has thickened, add the red wine, parsley, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

White Wine Sauce

From this recipe, you can learn how to use the basic white sauce to create a new sauce for fish. This sauce is excellent on fish.
  • ½ cup fish stock
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup white sauce
  • 2 peppercorns
  • Slice of fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped shallot

Heat the white sauce and slowly add the fish stock and wine, stirring constantly. When the sauce has thickened, add the other ingredients. Stir, remove from heat and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes