What topsy turvy times we are in! I have family in Scotland, family in London, family nearby and friends in Wales and each of these groups are in different tiers of quarantine/covid rules! Its really difficult keeping up with who you can see and how many! This weekend I should have been in London with my two daughters – 2 art gallery/museums visits planned, a dinner and lunch with friends – all cancelled and with no idea when it can be put back together again! Sometimes, one wishes for nothing more than simple times – a picnic, Sunday lunch or just a walk with the family (mine would be always over 6 which is against advice here).
This got me thinking of how nice it is to just cook simple – sausages, a piece of chicken, pasta or a lamb chop – and fine as it is to just eat them as is, how even better to pep up with a sauce. So today’s blog is just about that – sauces to bring the simple to life!
All of these sauces can be served with grilled chicken, lamb or pork chops, fish, sausages or even pasta. Freeze any left over – if it’s just for you, you can use the ice cube dish.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 15g butter
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 225g button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
- 150ml/5fl oz dry white wine (don’t forget a glass for the chef)
- 150ml/5fl oz crème fraîche
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook the onion until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook for 3–4 minutes until the mushrooms are soft but have not released their juices. Add the wine and reduce the volume of liquid by half. Stir in the crème fraîche and parsley and heat through. Season to taste and serve.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated or crushed
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp dried oregano, basil or mixed herbs
- ½ tsp caster sugar
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more. Add the tomatoes, herbs and sugar and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in a splash of water to loosen the sauce, if needed, and season to taste. You can vary this sauce so to suit your taste. For a spicy pasta sauce, add 1–2 pinches of dried chilli flakes with the tomatoes. For a creamy tomato sauce, stir in 2–3 tablespoons of single or double cream, crème fraîche, soft cheese or mascarpone at the end of the cooking time and heat through gently. For a meaty flavour, fry chopped bacon, chorizo, salami or ham when cooking the onion.
Cider, cream and apple sauce
- 30 g butter
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 75 ml + 1 tbsp cider
- 75 ml apple juice
- 150 ml chicken stock
- 100 ml double cream
- 100 g apple, diced
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
Melt half of the butter in a small saucepan and fry the shallot without browning, for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the chicken stock, 75 ml cider and the apple juice to the onion and boil until reduced by half. Strain the sauce and return to the pan, discard the onion. Stir in the double cream. Mix the cornflour with the remaining tablespoon of cider and stir into the sauce. Cook gently, stirring, for 1 minute. Melt the remaining butter in a small frying pan and fry the apple briskly until lightly brown. Add to the sauce and continue to cook for 2 -3 minutes.
And we could not possibly finish without something sweet – so a really easy Chocolate one!
- 50g good-quality dark chocolate
- 25g butter
- 125ml double cream
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp liquor (Tia Maria, Brandy, Baileys, Cointreau – have a go with each of them and choose your favourite!)
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until completely smooth. Heat all of the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan until evenly combined. Remove from the heat and stir through the melted chocolate. Serve warm over chocolate pudding, vanilla ice cream or both!
And to follow on – a simple song to cook along with . . . .