Friday, April 15, 2011

Well, that's one down...

I've been falling behind a bit with the sauces and marinades. There are 33 recipes in the chapter, and I've done seven. One major hurdle is the white sauce recipe and its seven variations. I'm definitely not in the habit of using white sauces, and while there are a number of recipes elsewhere in the book that have a white sauce component, it's always made as a part of the recipe. That means I have to consider white sauce a separate recipe, and come up with uses for all the variations.

I've had some trouble trying to work out what to serve various sauces with. Some of the sauces are ones I've heard of but still have no idea what they're usually eaten with. A few days ago, I came up with the idea of Googling "cumberland sauce with" or "béarnaise sauce with" and getting serving ideas from the results. When I Googled "béchamel sauce with", I got a number of recipes for lasagne and other baked pasta dishes, so I figured that was the best way to use the béchamel sauce (p188) variation of the white sauce recipe.

I didn't want to use the sauce in a lasagne, since I still have the official lasagne recipe to make. Instead I decided to try making some cannelloni. Of course, I've never cooked (or, as far as I can recall, eaten) cannelloni in my life, but that's no reason not to give it a go.

To make béchamel sauce, the instruction is to stud an onion with six cloves, then add it to the saucepan in which you're heating the milk. When I put the onion in the milk, the cloves were well above the level of the milk, and seemed rather pointless. I tipped the onion on its side, which at least meant that two of the cloves were in the milk, but I don't think it really achieved much in the way of flavour.

While the milk was heating, I threw together a cannelloni filling of chicken, spinach and cottage cheese. The cannelloni tubes were smaller than I expected: too small to spoon the filling in, even with a teaspoon. I wound up stuffing the filling into the tubes with my fingers.

When the milk was nearly boiled, I took it off the heat and strained it for use in the sauce. I rinsed out the pot and made a start with the familiar melted butter and flour mixture, adding the prepared milk gradually to form a sauce.

As I poured the finished sauce over my filled cannelloni, I realised I had (yet again) forgotten the seasoning. I couldn't season the sauce now, so I compromised by scattering a small amount of salt and pepper over the top. I plonked my cannelloni in the oven, set the timer for 25 minutes, and waited.

I had no idea if my cannelloni with béchamel sauce was going to work, or whether it was a valid way of using a) béchamel  sauce and b) cannelloni. I had almost convinced myself it would be a complete disaster by the time I got the cannelloni out of the oven.

They looked pretty good, actually. The top had gone nice and golden, and the pasta had successfully softened in the sauce. They didn't taste bad, either. A bit bland - both the sauce and filling could have done with more seasoning, but that's my own fault, not the recipe's.

I couldn't say whether the whole onion/clove thing added anything extra to the sauce. If it did, it was very subtle, because it mostly just tasted like a plain white sauce. I may well play around with cannelloni again sometime (especially since I have half a box left) but I don't think I'll bother with béchamel sauce again.


  1. White sauce, well what can one say. As far as I know it can be used with lots of veges esp with cheese sprinkled on top and a little paprika.As a child we always had white sauce with cauli, no cheese added and it;s lovely. Carrots are good, add some parsley for with fish. When asparagus is next cheap I'm going to try steaming the spears wrap them in shaved ham then pour over white sauce and a little cheese and grill.The same can be done with chicory/witlof, yum. The list is endless really. Good way to get a bit more calcium as well I suppose.

  2. Thanks for the ideas... what's witlof?

  3. Witlof is chicory as I understand it. you see it occasionally at the supermarket or vege shops. Its a specialty vege and not cheap because it goes through a two stage growing process. my Dad used to grow it sometimes. Its an acquired taste a bit bitter. It can be used shredded for salad. Looks not unlike young cos or Asian bok choy type veges, a tight white leafy cylinder with green tops.c

  4. A tip for filling cannelloni: place the filling in a plastic bag,cut a small hole in one corner and squeeze.No mess,fast and no dishes to do.


  5. Hey, thanks Cheryl - I'll have to have another go at some stage


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