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Basic white sauceI think this next one gets added to my collection of rice puddings. Rice pudding is kind of like quiche – you can add an amazung number of things to it and it'll work just fine. You could even cut way back on the sugar and add savory ingredients – think of it as a very thick risotto, and play with the concept.
• 2oz/55g butter
• 1 slightly rounded tablespoon of flour
• 1 pint/570ml organic milk
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• a good grinding of black pepper
• a grating of nutmeg
Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan and stir in the flour. Let this cook for a minute before gradually adding the milk, stirring continuously until all the milk is added and the sauce bubbles gently - no fast boiling. Let the sauce bubble gently for a minute, then draw the pan off the heat, and stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. The bubbling allows the flour to cook through.
This is the basic sauce. You can make any number of additions. Here are some of my favourites.
For parsley sauce:
• 3oz/85g parsley, chopped
Add the parsley just before serving - otherwise it loses much of its flavour and colour in the heat. This is good on fish or chicken.
For cheese sauce:
• 3oz/85g grated good Cheddar or Lancashire cheese
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon anchovy essence or paste
Stir the grated cheese, mustard and anchovy essence through the finished white sauce. The mustard and anchovy essence accentuate the cheese flavour, which is much better than just adding more and more cheese. It's good with steamed cauliflower in particular, but also with broccoli.
For onion sauce:
• 4 onions, skinned and very finely sliced
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan. Add the very thinly sliced onions and fry over moderate heat until the onions are completely soft and just beginning to turn golden at their edges. This takes longer than you might think - allow 10 minutes to cook the sliced onions to this extent, which is essential for a really good onion sauce. The amount of onions might look excessive, but they wilt right down as they cook. Add the cooked onions to the white sauce.
This is very good with all types of lamb - roast leg, grilled chops, or in a shepherd's pie.
Lemon rice brûlée
This is a creamy rice pudding, flavoured with lemon and vanilla, with a crisp grilled sugar crust. It is very good with vanilla ice-cream.
• 2oz/55g pudding rice - round grain rice
• 11/2 pints/900ml milk, or milk and single cream combined
• 2oz/55g caster sugar
• finely grated rind of 2 lemons - wash and dry them before grating
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3oz/85g golden granulated sugar
Put the rice and milk into a saucepan with the caster sugar. Over moderate heat stir the contents of the pan as the rice slowly cooks in the simmering milk. Cook, stirring, until the milk has reduced down and the grains of rice are visible on the surface through the milk. The rice pudding will be thick.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the grated lemon rind and the vanilla. Butter a wide ovenproof dish thoroughly. Pour the rice pudding into this. Cover the dish with a cloth and leave to cool. When cooled, cover the surface with the golden granulated sugar. Heat a grill to red-hot. Put the rice pudding under the grill and watch it like a hawk, until the sugar dissolves and forms a thin molten caramel crust over the surface. As it does this, the rice beneath reheats.