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Detail of Caramel Apple-Almond Crepes

Caramel Apple-Almond Crepes

A great dish for dessert or breakfast, these filled crepes are quick and easy to make, full of wonderful flavor, and make any occasion special.

Bechamel (Basic White Sauce)

Sometimes called white sauce or cream sauce, this traditional French sauce is an essential recipe for every cook to master. Most likely you already know how to make one - even if you do not recognize the name. It is the base for so many different things, such as soups, creamed vegetables, souffles, gravies, and is the foundation for many other cream sauces. It really is essential to know how to make a good white sauce - and luckily it is even very easy. In reality it is useful to know how to make three different white sauces. This recipe is for thin white sauce, or bechamel, and it is used for soups, in some casseroles, and as a base for other light sauces. It is also the sauce I am most likely to toss with pasta with some herbs or other savory additions for a lighter pasta dish. It also pairs well with seafood or shellfish. A Heavy Bechamel (Medium White Sauce) is used in gravies and thicker soups like chowders, to make basic creamed vegetables, and when making thicker sauces. A Binding Bechamel (Thick White Sauce)l is used for making croquettes and souffles. The technique is the same for all of the sauces, the proportions are just different. It is essential to use very low heat when cooking a white sauce. If you are a novice at making white sauce (or even if you are not) use warm milk as described below. As you become more proficient at making a white sauce it is not necessary (but it does not hurt either). It is also essential to add the milk very slowly. If you poor in the milk too fast, you get a lumpy sauce and we all know how awful a lumpy sauce or gravy is. If something does go wrong and you end up with lumps, do not despair or toss out the sauce. Just pour it through a fine strainer and discard the lumps. If your sauce is too thin (or if you end up discarding a bunch of flour lumps!) I find the easiest way to rescue it is to slowly whisk in some super-fine flour - such as Wondra. If you do add some flour to thicken the sauce, make sure to cook the sauce long enough to take away the raw flavor of the added flour. Do go out and buy some white pepper if it is not already part of your spice cabinet. It has a more delicate flavor and keeps your sauce a lovely creamy white color.

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Place the milk in a small heavy saucepan and heat over low heat until tiny bubbles form along the sides of the pan. While the milk is heating, measure the flour, salt, and white pepper and place in a bowl near the stove. Melt the butter over very low heat in a medium sized heavy saucepan. The butter should just gently melt, not bubble and not turn brown at all. Gently stir with a whisk. Quickly add all of the flour mixture to the butter and stir constantly. The second the mixture starts to bubble, slowly poor in the warm milk. Continue cooking and stirring the sauce, making sure that none sticks to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce thickens and bubbles for 3-4 minutes. You can cover and keep the sauce warm over very low heat for a few minutes. Make sure to slightly reheat and whisk well before serving or adding to another dish.

Makes about 2 cups sauce.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

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