A Taste Of Independence

Episode 1 – Béchamel Sauce
Despite being brought up in an environment where food was love and the kitchen was usually a mess of culinary development, when I arrived at university most of my expertise centred around eggs. The main supper staple in our student house was Tomato Sloppy Stuff, which, if I recall correctly, consisted of tinned tomatoes and pasta. But over the years this developed and by the time I was in my third year I was making stews, fiddling with mince and, quite frankly, would much rather have been pottering in the kitchen than writing my dissertation. A procrastination technique I have honed over the years.

What if I had had the skill and knowledge to put together a few key dishes that tasted good and used cheap, readily available ingredients?

What if I had been equipped with the confidence to expand on those few basic dishes?

I would love my children to go off into the world with the skills to make food work for them, to enjoy it so they don’t have to resort to excessive takeaway or processed food.

This series will focus on a few basic dishes and how anyone can develop them to create a number of meals easily. These are the dishes I teach my children to cook so they go off into the world with more than an omelette in their repertoire (I am by no stretch of the imagination dissing the omelette here). Bear with me while I build up the layers as this series will grow and grow over the coming weeks.

As always I am keen to hear your ideas, tweaks, and how you got on with trying them out.


Oh so basic. So not scary. Most of the ingredients are in your cupboards anyway, and once you can do this it is the the key to so many scrumptious doors.

This amount will be enough for a quick macaroni cheese, easy tartiflette or a comforting lasagna all of which serve 4.



1/2 pint semi skimmed milk
1/2 onion
1 small bay leaf
25g plain flour
25g butter

100g melted cheddar if you want to make it cheesy.



1. Put the milk, the onion and the bay leaf in a pan on a very low heat and bring up to a quick simmer. Once it is simmering turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 15 mins.

2. Melt the butter in a new saucepan. (I like one with a heavy bottom) When it’s melted add the flour and stir (I like to use a wooden spatula for this), till you get a glossy paste, or roux.



3. Over a low heat add the milk bit by bit while you stir.

4. Continue to stir until you have a shiny white sauce. It is ready when you lift the spatula out and the sauce coats the back of it.

5. If you want to turn it into a cheese sauce the turn off the heat and add the 100 g of grated cheddar. Stirring until it is melted through the sauce.

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