I had been walking through one of those party merchandise stores the other day and had come upon these strangely elongated see-through bags of pre-made cake and pastry fillings. Fillings I had, on rare occasion, made from scratch. Precisely because “scratch” entails a lot more effort than cutting open a plastic bag of artificial goop and squeezing.
Even more troubling was the fact that these fillings were found in the wedding section, ready for any cake-maker, most of whom, I suspect, are of the average homemaker-turned-weekend-wedding cake-maker to use.
Which made me wonder about the impending wedding season. How many potential wedding cakes will I be served whose layers will be decked out with these corn-syrup, artificially flavored and colored concoctions?
Afterall, they look real enough. To those who’ve never made or tasted the real versions, these food impersonators come off as authentic. And that’s the sad part about foodstuffs being passed off as real.
Aside from being unhealthy, they rob diners of a wonderful tastebud experience. And, the thing about much of pre-made sauces and such, is that they lure you in with their easy-open packages, impressing you with visions of a “homecooked” factory-manufactured product when, in fact, it tastes and looks nothing like homemade.
For instance, take a look at those jars of pre-made alfredo sauces. What do you see? Taste? Look at the ingredients. How many do you see? How many do you really need to make it? If you’ve never made alfredo, here’s all it takes.
flour (2 heaping tablespoons–the kind you eat from)
unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
half-half (1 qt.)
parmesean cheese (1/2 to 3/4 C)
cayenne pepper (2 tsps.)
garlic salt (1 tsp. or so)
cracked black pepper (a few grinds)
nutmeg (light sprinkle–optional)
chicken juice from store-bought roasted chicken or 1/4C chicken broth
Thats’ it! If you’ll notice, there isn’t any corn syrup. No artificial colors or flavors. And few in number. Ahhh, the miracles of real food.
You might ask, well, Kaukab’s daughter, isn’t it hard to make? Well, if you have a whisk, a hand, and a few minutes, you can make it. Here’s how:
All you’re basically making is a bechamel sauce. That’s a roux with a milk product added into it. That’s all.
So, take a med. deep large sauce pan and turn heat to medium. Melt butter, adding in garlic salt and cayenne pepper. Add in flour, and whisk until blended and until golden brown (2 – 3 min. or so).
Turn up to med. high, and slowly add in about 1C., whisking continuously. Add in another cup, stirring on med. high. Next, add in parmesean and stir in. Add in some cracked pepper. Then add in remaining half-half, stir through and turn down to med. to med. low. Stir a few more times, turn down to low and cover. (This is the time to add in the nutmeg, if you like.) Keep simmering for 5 or 10 min. more. Add in a bit more parmesean if you want slightly more thickened and cheese flavor. You’re done!
Feel free to jar your real sauce, if you feel so inclined.