For this round of our beloved "Waiter, there's something in my..." event, Andrew of spittoon has chosen sauces for a theme. I always say that it is in the sauce that you can distinguish a good restaurant from an excellent one: the top players in the gourmet restaurant scene are said to work on one particular sauce for a couple of years before they get it just right... and we all know that when you cook in that league, serving sauces out of a sachet is clearly not enough! (Sadly, we have also all experienced restaurants where the same awful sauce, be it instant from a sachet or straight out of a jar, is served with every single dish on the menu, as I have had to experience here - and despite the criticism, I stick by my guns - and recently in a Gasthof in the vicinity of where I am spending my holidays. I won't even bore you with a review!).
Despite years of passionate cooking in which I have certainly honed my skills a lot, I still find sauces to be my weak spot. I have found many a shortcut to produce a mean sauce to accompany a great chunk of fillet steak in particular (sherry and green peppercorn being a favourite), but I admittedly don't spend hours reducing the alcohol and stock or mounting the sauce with butter - I make a leaner version that may not be following traditional line of cooking, but I do get by and nobody has ever (knowingly) blamed me for not making a "real" sauce. (Just to avoid misunderstandings, though, I do NOT use a certain brand of gravy granules, mix it with water and claim it to be home-made... I may cheat a little here and there, but I am not a criminal plus I do have tastebuds!)
And then there's the sauce of sauces. The one where you can spot the difference between a store-bought version (for years I used to think Maille's really wasn't that bad - not anymore!) and a real one from miles off... Sauce Hollandaise. Believe it or not, we use this sauce almost weekly - be it on freshly steamed vegetables or drizzled over a favourite breakfast treat of eggs benedict (or rather my own version, which I call eggs florendict) - and you will therefore believe me when I say that I have launched many failed attempts at making my own. I have lost count of the days where everything was ready for us to sit down to a leisurely Sunday brunch and I only had to concentrate on making the sauce, pearls of sweat appearing on my forehead at the mere thought of messing it up again... diligent as I (sometimes) am, I have consulted numerous books on the issue, sought online advice left, right and centre, only to find my arm breaking after whisking the sauce over a hot waterbath for what seemed like hours and the sauce splitting yet again!
Not anymore. Unfortunately for you (if you find yourself in that same spot of sheer desperation), I have resorted to cheating. I have alluded to my new favourite kitchen toy on a number of occasions already and will now reveal that it is a Thermomix. I will write about it some more on a seperate occasion because a gadget that is good enough for me to take it along when I go on holidays certainly deserves its own post... but for this purpose, let me tell you that since I bought it I have never messed up an hollandaise again - I simply put in all the ingredients and at the touch of
a button two buttons and the turn of a knob, I have a perfect sauce in just 6 minutes flat! No whisking, no aching arms and certainly no split sauce!
Other sauce recipes on thepassionatecook:
Portwine & orange sauce ... with venison (September 2006)
Blueberry sauce ... with pear pancakes (October 2006)
Portwine & stilton sauce... with pork fillet (May 2004)
Red wine & shallot sauce... for venison or steak (February 2007)
Easy sherry sauce... equally good with pork, beef or chicken (January 2007)
Red onion & apple sauce... with pork (October 2004)
Frothy cider chaudeau... with tempura-fried apple slices (November 2004)