As you know, I've become disenchanted with bought condiments and have made a tentative start on making my own, 'toes in the water' style, nothing crazy. I certainly don't see myself tying a hankerchief over my hair and setting aside a weekend to fill steamed jars with mystery ingredients like I remember my grandma doing.
Saucing up a simple dish is a fine way to make it look flash, and taste more satisfying and special. What you see above is a simple grilled aged steak with a chunky bordelaise sauce - you can leave out the veges or food-process the sauce to make a smooth version. The orange pile of stuff is a kumara mash.
How to do it:
* Melt four tbsp of butter in a saucepan
* Cut up a carrot and an onion finely and let them cook in the butter
* Once the veges are just beginning to get soft, add about 2 tsp of flour - I used buckwheat flour, which worked just fine - and let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until it turns brownish.
* Add half a cup of beef stock. I used half a massel cube dissolved in hot water
* Add one cup of red wine
* Bring to the boil, then turn it down to a slow simmer for about 15 minutes.
* Taste test and add salt and pepper to your liking.
I also found a version of it that had a tsp of thyme in there, but I didn't have any and it worked out fine. This made enough for four servings.
Some people look at me sideways when I admit to using butter on a regular basis. Certainly they freak out at the idea of doing it themselves. Going back to butter was something I did when I made the decision to embrace whole foods in a more emotionally satisfying way. As someone with formally very high cholesterol in spite of avoiding all saturated fats, it felt like going out on a dangerous and wobbly limb. However, I kept an eye on it, and my cholesterol went down, down down and is now normal, even though I eat those foods that are apparently the Worst Things to Eat and do not take statins. I'm still making up my mind about the cholesterol/saturated fats question, but I do know how to eat the good stuff without coming to grief. The trick is to eat smaller (not tiny, not impoverished, not fills one corner of the little diet plate) amounts of great food. You will feel more satisfied, and for longer, with a smaller portion of something that is tasty, with a bit of natural fat in it. Take a smaller portion of the yummy stuff and fill up your plate with properly prepared veges. Live dangerously. Put some sauce on your lean meat. It will make you feel all Frenchy and chic and clever with condiments.