Friday, April 29, 2011

simple cream sauce

This was Boston today.

It took a long time to wake up from winter's sleep, but Boston awakened with a jarring suddenness, like she slept through her alarm and now she's racing to make up for lost time.  She'll gulp down her coffee, race to catch the bus, and suddenly we're glorying in sunshine, and these, too:

These fierce blooms, which sprang out nearly overnight.  When the Boston winds blow, the petals swirl down like fragrant snow, laying in thick drifts on the grass underneath the trees, and when your foot meets them it slips as if on ice.  Another sort of blizzard.

And then, everything in pairs:

geese, ducks, cormorants on the Charles; squirrels chittering in the trees; sparrows wrestling over a crumb but you know they're just flirting.  An old couple sitting on opposite sides of a bench, he in a Red Sox cap with a paunch, she a retired beauty queen in an elegant white sweater, an occasional word passing between them, but mostly silence.

And, at the end of the day, these:

Lobster ravioli (not my work, but bless your heart for thinking so), with a trickle of simple cream sauce, and a green salad on the side.  The sauce is plain enough to set off the ravioli (filled with true Boston lobster), yet interesting enough in its own right.

I think the sage version of this sauce with butternut squash ravioli, or the thyme version with pasta and mushrooms, would be tremendous.  I'm jealous of you just thinking about it.

Simple Cream Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk (not a place for skim milk.  For a richer sauce, use half milk and half cream.)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 medium leaves fresh lemon basil (alternatively: 6-8 medium leaves fresh basil, or 1 medium sprig fresh sage, or a few sprigs fresh thyme)
Pinch nutmeg

1.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; then, toss in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  Don't let the garlic brown.  Add the flour and stir to coat, about 30 seconds.

2.  Pour the milk into the pan in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.  Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper, and let cook, stirring, about 1 minute.

3.  Add the herbs and turn the heat down to low.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened to your liking, 5-7 minutes.

4.  Strain with a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl, pressing on the solids a bit to extract all the liquid.  Whisk in your pinch of nutmeg and serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. mmmmmmm, lobby ravioli! The sauce was the perfect complement to the ravioli; great flavor on its own, but it didn't overpower the sweet lobster meat at all!