Salad ‘daise

No matter where, or when, if I’m eating out and there are Eggs Benedict on the menu, I order it.  And I always ask for extra Hollandaise.

When I am lucky enough to have potato salad on my plate, I eat everything else then slowly, savoring each bite, consume my potato salad.What do these facts say about me?

  • That if I can see the finish line and the wait isn’t too long, I enjoy a small amount of not-too-delayed gratification.
  • I’m a big fan of silky, well-made emulsification.

This is the fifth and final week of our mother sauce series.  We are wrapping up with my very favorite, Hollandaise.  And although some people might disagree, The Kid and I firmly believe that because of the emulsification in the making of it, mayonnaise belongs in this category as a sort of step-daughterThe info on this sauce is all over the place.  It was either invented in the 1600’s or maybe the 1700’s.  Hollandaise is named for the region in Netherlands, either because it was invented there, or because Holland has the best eggs and butter, which are the two main ingredients.

Traditionally, Hollandaise sauce is not the easiest of mothers.  It involves a double-boiler and whisking raw eggs over heat while retaining the smooth silky texture.  There are few tragedies as heart-rending as the sight of curdled or separated Hollandaise.

So just don’t make it at home, right?

Wrong.Long ago, my mom belonged to a book club.  Not the kind where you sit around in somebody’s living room drinking pinot and discussing the latest Oprah pick.  Books came in the mail.

One month it was a cookbook; The New York Times International Cookbook by Craig Claiborne.  Years later, Mom gave it to me.  I had no idea that the author was considered one of this country’s all-time best food writers.  I also didn’t have a clue that one day I would be a food writer myself.  But, as an extreme novice in the kitchen, I took help and inspiration wherever I found it.

One day while perusing said cookbook, I stumbled upon a recipe for Hollandaise that to me, looked pretty doable.  Instead of the usual procedure that came with a huge possibility of inedible failure, it was made in a blender.

Craig Claiborne’s Blender Hollandaiseblender hollandaiseMakes 4 servings.

Heat one-half cup butter to bubbling; do not brown.  Into container of an electric blender, put two egg yolks, two tablespoons lemon juice, one-quarter teaspoon salt and a pinch of cayenne.  Flick motor quickly on and off twice at high speed.  Remove cover, turn motor on high and add butter gradually, until mixture thickens.  If too thick, add cold water.  Serve with vegetables, fish or eggs.

So it looks like you’ve got raw egg yolks in the sauce.  And if you are a child, pregnant, or have a compromised immune system, just steer clear.


To get the butter nice and bubbly, shoot for 200 degrees (F).  An egg yolk is considered cooked enough to be safe at 145.  The hot butter and the friction from blending should put the yolks clearly in the “safe” category.Like Craig says, the sauce goes great on veggies, fish, and eggs.  But I love it on fried, boneless, skinless chicken breasts and it’s crazy good on any type of pasta.

If you’re like me though, it doesn’t have to be all fancy-fied.  Forget the vessel on which to put it.  Just chug it right out of the blender.Thanks for your time.

A tomato-flavored relic

The Kid has a story about the first year of culinary school.20130721_064325Very early in the year, the budding chefs took a class called, “Introduction to culinary”.  The instructor was one of The Kid’s all-time favorite teachers, Chef Emma.

One day, during Mother sauce week, the students walked in to find their instructor had prepared a surprise for them.  Chef Emma had a small saucepan full of Chef Auguste Escoffier’s Sauce Tomat (French for tomato).

Chef asked them all to grab a tasting spoon and have a sample.

The Kid says the classroom got very quiet.  Nobody said much.  They just started glancing around at each other with funny looks on their faces. By this point, it was pretty obvious that Chef Emma was enjoying herself a little more than she should have been.  “What do you think?  Does this sauce taste familiar?”

The Kid says that in every class there were a couple pupils who were born and reared in Vermont.  These children have never had a pudding cup or a Lunchable.  There is no fast food in most of Vermont.  To them, a subway is an underground train, a cookout is a backyard barbecue, and a sonic refers to a boom.These offspring of the green mountain state were not on the horns of a saucy dilemma.  But the rest of the class was extremely uncomfortable.  They didn’t know it yet, but they all had the same thought about this mother sauce.  They were just afraid to sound silly.

Finally, from the back, one brave, anonymous voice said what they were all thinking.

“It tastes just like Beefaroni!”Yup.  That go-to lunch of American children since the 1930’s, Beefaroni; which was invented by a classically trained chef, Hector Boiardi.

So, what kind of sauce does a classically trained chef put on his tinned Beefaroni?

A classic French mother sauce, natch.

Here is sauce number four:

Escoffier’s Sauce Tomatsauce tomat2-3 ounces salt pork

3 ounces carrots, peeled and diced

3 ounces yellow onion, diced

1 bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

2 ounces butter

2-3 ounces all-purpose flour

5 pounds raw tomatoes, mashed

1 quart veal stock

1 clove crushed garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar

Fry the pork in the butter. When the fat has melted, add the carrots, onion, bay leaf and thyme. Cook vegetables, stirring regularly. Add in flour. Once it’s browned, add in tomatoes and veal stock. Stir the ingredients together until well mixed, then bring the sauce to a boil. Add the rest of the seasonings and the clove of crushed garlic. Place in the oven under moderate heat for 90 minutes. Remove the sauce and pass it through a sieve. Butter the top to prevent the formation of a skin.

The Escoffier Instructional Academy is the source for this recipe.  They also list daughter sauces (sauces whose base is a mother sauce—not too sure what a son sauce might be, maybe Tabasco or Colt 45).   There are seven of them listed, including ketchup, barbecue sauce, and vodka sauce.

These days sauce tomat isn’t used for those tomato-based condiments.  The classic version is just too ingredient and labor-intensive.  Even the sauce itself is rarely made and eaten fresh; it’s too heavy and fatty for most tastes.

The word for today, Gentle Reader, is irony.

Measure for measure, the mother sauce which has almost disappeared from classic cooking is probably consumed more than all the other mothers, combined.It’s just consumed in cans of mushy pasta by hordes of little kids.

Thanks for your time.