Monday, January 9, 2017

Nut Milk and Béchamel (White) Sauce

So the first two lessons in Fl!p Your K!tchen by Liza Baker are nut milk and béchamel sauce (also known as white sauce). I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook by Sarah Wilson also has a recipe for making nut milk. It's really quite easy, though I find the result rather tasteless and unsatisfactory, so I guess it's a good thing Ms. Baker has an immediate use for it in the béchamel sauce!

Nut Milk

Fl!p has you soak 1.5 cups of any variety of tree nuts in enough cool water to cover them for 12 to 24 hours (my schedule demanded the full 24 hours). Then drain and rinse the now puffy nuts and combine them with 4.5 cups of cold water in your blender. My blender only fits 4 cups of water with nothing else in there, so this did not work so well for me. Good thing I had a towel handy! 

(The great thing about Fl!p is that it includes variations on every recipe. So if you'd like some different things to do with this recipe, buy the book online or, where I picked it up, at the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in downtown Ann Arbor, MI.) 

I Quit Sugar has a somewhat different approach to making nut milk (she specifies almond or cashew). You boil 3 cups of water, allowing it to cool some before blending with 1 cup of blanched or soaked-over-night almonds or cashews. 

Both ladies mention sieving out the pulp and dehydrating it into nut meal. Unfortunately this did not work for me. I tried to use a coffee filter, as I did when making my own paneer, but it got too clogged, and I only got a few drops of liquid to go through. So my béchamel sauce was not as creamy as it might have been.

Béchamel Sauce

In order to make this simple sauce, you will need 2 T butter (Ms. Baker suggests substituting the butter with olive or coconut oil for a vegan option), 2 T flour, .5 tsp of salt, .25 tsp of pepper, and 2 cups of the above nut milk (or regular milk if you don't care about the nut milk). 

I am going to simplify here, so again, check the book (or the internet) for more through instructions. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium on the stove. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add them to the butter in the pan once it has melted, stirring constantly so it doesn't clump. Cook a bit - until it smells "toasty" according to Fl!p. Then gradually whisk in your 2 cups of nut milk. 

This step got a bit messy for me due to the nut meal being mixed in with the milk because I couldn't separate it out. At the bottom of my measuring cup is a bunch of gooey nut meal, so looks like I may be able to dehydrate it into meal after all. 

Moving on, bring this all to a boil while stirring constantly, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes while stirring occasionally. 

This is where the recipe and I parted ways as I wanted to now put my béchamel sauce to immediate use, and Fl!p does not do that. I read that béchamel can be used to make cream of vegetable soups, and I had some leftover, not especially appetizing on their own green bean leftovers from KFC sitting in the fridge. I decided to combine them with the béchamel, but I will talk about that next week. 

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