Making a Roux Monday, Jan 28 2013 

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Want to make creamy sauces, soups, and gravies? Start with a roux.

The thickening agent, pronounced rῡ, is made from equal parts of all-purpose flour and a fat such as butter, oil, or meat drippings. The mixture is the basis of a number of smooth, creamy sauces.

Melt or warm your choice of fat in a saucepan and stir in the flour.

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Continue stirring until smooth.

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It’s simple enough. The trick is in stirring until blended and continuing to do so as you add more milk, water, or broth. If your roux mixture gets lumpy, either mash the lumps or drain or scoop them out.

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Begin with a roux and add:

  • Creamed broccoli or asparagus, water, and seasonings for a creamed soup;
  • More meat drippings or a soup base, seasonings, and milk or water for gravy to be used over meat or mashed potatoes;
  • More meat drippings or a soup base, seasonings, and milk or water for gravy in stew.
  • Milk and grated cheese to make a cheese sauce for nachos or over pasta for macaroni and cheese;
  • Milk, sugar, and vanilla and cook until thickened for a sweet sauce over bread pudding, strudel, or other desserts.

My daughter-in-law cannot have wheat, so I make the roux with rice flour when she is in town. The texture is slightly different but not bad. You also can skip the roux altogether and thicken with cornstarch for a clear sauce.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Leftover to Luscious Monday, Jan 7 2013 

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With a little thought and creativity, leftovers are often more flavorful than the original meal. Purchasing a slightly larger ham, turkey, or roast with leftovers in mind can save money and time on future meals. The key is to incorporate leftovers into tasty dishes that do not take long to prepare or create leftover-leftovers.

Soups are great options for turning one night’s dinner into something very different the following day. Midwesterners love soups because they are easy to make, smell wonderfully simmering on the stove, and offer a hearty, healthy, hot meal to warm the body and spirit.

Here are some suggestions for leftover ham, in addition to serving the meat plain with side dishes or in a sandwich. Also following are a couple of recipes.

  • Casseroles – add ham to green beans, broccoli, or asparagus and noodles with a creamy sauce
    Ham and Eggs – as is or add ham to omelets and frittatas
    Ham Salad
    Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
    Quiche – ham and cheese, ham and vegetable, or spinach and ham
    Soup – split pea or ham and bean (This is particularly good if you have a ham bone.)

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Ham Salad

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  • 2 cups of roughly cut ham
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup of sweet relish

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Chop ham in a food processor. Mix in mayonnaise and relish.

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Ham and Bean Soup

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  • 1 bag of dried mixed beans
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups of ham, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Pepper

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Pour the beans into a 5 quart saucepan. Check for debris. Rinse the beans. Add the celery, onion, and ham. Fill most of the pot with water. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and small amounts of salt and pepper. Taste periodically before adding more salt. Simmer two to three hours.

©Mary K. Doyle

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