Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quick Coloured Sauces.

I have from time to time amused myself (and you, I hope) with the subject of coloured sauces. So far we have had green sauce, pink sauce and black sauce. I have been planning at some time to cover yellow and brown sauces, and any other colours I can find (blue sauce is proving elusive so far).

I will get around to those remaining colours, but in the meanwhile, there is a simple set of instructions for creating various colours from a basic sauce in Miss Leslie's New Cookery Book (Philadelphia, 1857), by Eliza Leslie.

For Pink Sauce. Take a few chips of red alkanet root, (to be had at the druggist's.) Pick it clean, and tie it in a very thin muslin bag. Put the alkanet into the mixture, and let it infuse in the boiling drawn butter. It will communicate a beautiful pink color, which you may heighten, by pressing the bag a little. When done, take out the bag, and stir the alkanet color evenly through the sauce. The alkanet has no taste, and is very cheap. Beet juice will color a tolerable red.
For Green Sauce.—Pound some fresh spinach leaves, till you extract a tea-cup or more of the clear green juice. Stir it into the melted butter while boiling.
For Yellow Sauce.—Tie up a very little turmeric powder in a muslin bag. Let it boil in the butter. When done, take it out of the sauce-pan, and stir the yellow coloring evenly through the sauce.
For White Sauce.—Make this with cream instead of milk.
For Brown Sauce.—Stir in plenty of French mustard.
For Wine Sauce.—Stir in, just before you take the sauce from the fire, a large wine-glass or more of very good white wine, and grate in half a large nutmeg, adding the grated yellow rind, and the juice of a lemon. The wine must be of excellent quality, otherwise it will give a bad taste to the sauce.

Miss Leslie’s basic sauces, to be coloured as you will, are butter sauces, and here are her instructions for them:
This is frequently called Drawn Butter. For this purpose none should be used but fresh butter of the very best quality. It is usually sent to table with boiled fish and boiled poultry. Also, with boiled mutton, lamb, and veal. It is never served up with anything roasted, fried or broiled. Numerous sauces are made with melted butter. If mixed with too much flour and water, and not enough of butter, it will be very poor, particularly if the water is in too large proportions. To prepare it properly, allow a quarter of a pound of nice butter, to a heaped table-spoonful of flour. Mix the butter  and flour thoroughly, before it goes on the fire. Then add to it four large tablespoonfuls of milk, or hot water, well mixed in. Hold it over the fire in a small sauce-pan, kept for the purpose. One lined with what is called porcelain or enamel is best. Take care there is no blaze where the saucepan is held. Cover it, and shake it over the fire till it boils. Then having skimmed it, add three or four hard-boiled eggs chopped small, and give it one more boil up; or season it with any other ingredient with which you wish to distinguish the Sauce.

For this purpose use none but the very best fresh butter, such as is made in summer, when the cows are well pastured. Cut up the butter, put it into an enameled or porcelain stew-pan, and melt it gently over a clear and moderate fire. When it simmers, skim it thoroughly, draw it from the fire, and let it stand five minutes, that the milk or sediment may sink to the bottom. Then pour it clear from the sediment through a muslin strainer, or a fine clean hair sieve. Transfer to jars with close covers, and keep them in a cool dry place. If well prepared, and originally very good, this butter will answer for sauces, stews, &c, and continue good a long time. In France, where they do not salt any butter, large quantities are melted in this way for winter use.

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