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School Lunches
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We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Food Science Blog For...
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School of Medicine
Dub C Med School CA USA

A med & grad student who used to work the line in LA, NYC, SF and Napa talking about the science of cooking and cooking with science. Harold McGee's On Food And Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen never satisfied my kitchen curiosity and more than one Chef grew exasperated with my asking "Why?" I'll try to stay on topic, but you may see a kvetch or two about the school & hospital.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Comment by BeckonsAttore in EMR - Electronic Medical Records

Well, so emr software has it's problems, not like making them public wouldn't cause them any more trouble as it normally would in a paranoid mind, as this yannisguerra's perspective here. I've delv. . .Read More
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I'd gladly take on that burden if you were my roomie ;) . . .Read More
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I feel your pain. It is really bad. Even worse when half of those pages are non important informations (like 5 copies of the same lab, including who ordered it, when, where, etc) So wastefu. . .Read More
May 10, 2012, 6:56pm
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I thought I'd start a weekly series here, where I tackled quick fixes and ideas in the kitchen.  Partly because these are questions/ideas that deserve an answer, but are quick to answer.  Partly because some of the other posts I've got lined up are taking a while to get back from my technical editors (friends I've worked with on recipes/ideas).  Actually one post I've had on the back burner since I started may very well end up a book considering the amount of literature I've consulted to write it.  Seriously.  It's kind of insane.  I may need to chop it up into parts or talk to Dr. G at the Robert Mondavi Institute about finding a publisher.

First up - Sauces.

Who doesn't love sauces?  Whether it's a creamy mornay over macaroni (mac n cheese), ketchup with fries, or a cherry gastrique with braised pork belly.

Sauces serve two purposes.  They accentuate and enhance the food they're lusciously draped over.  And they help lube your mouth.  (For my more prurient readers, I'll allow you time to compose yourself.)  The acids and salts in sauces stimulate your salivary glands into producing more saliva, and if your sauce has any fats, even more lube!  Seriously, your mouth needs all the lube it can get, otherwise you'll choke.

A friend of mine would split up the classification of sauces into two groups - French and everyone else.  It's not that he doesn't think the other sauces are sauces, he's just classically (French) trained and now cooks in Paris.  The French have what they call "mother sauces."  These are basic sauces that can be modified to create a sauce of any occasion.  They are allemande, bechamel, espagnole & velouté.  Allemande is velouté thickened with cream and eggs.  Bechamel is a milk based sauce with a white roux.  Espagnole uses brown/beef stock and a brown roux.  Velouté uses chicken or fish stock and a blonde roux.  Rouxs are tricky bastards that are equal parts flour and fat, usually butter, by weight.  Other "classic" sauces include butter, tomato and emulsified sauces (think mayonnaise).  And these are just the ones the French love.  There's also hoisin, soy, dashi, ponzu, yackitori, gravy, fish and oyster sauce.  And there's also this one sauce that's been making the rounds on just about every cooking competition show under the sun lately - gastrique.  All that is is a mixture of fruit, vinegar/wine and sugar that's been reduced down until thick.  Doesn't really fit under the other classic categories, so it gets its own term.

Below are a few of my go to sauces, and I hope you'll try them and tinker around with them.


Classic Bordelaise


Remember when I said sauces are a sort of mouth lube?  Yeah, this is a little bit beyond that.  This is a very classic sauce that I love to bring out when I'm trying to impress a date.  Draped over a perfectly medium rare hanger steak, or if you must a filet mignon, it's rich and luscious and really steeped in flavor.


  • 2 cups good red wine (it's a bordelaise, at the very least you can spring for Bordeaux or a good Napa Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 shallots finely minced
  • 15g unsalted butter butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 30g chopped parsley
  • 5g chopped fresh rosemary
  • 130g beef demi-glace (I make my own)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


1.  Pour wine into saucepan with fresh thyme sprig and bay leaf.  Reduce over med-high until incredibly thick.  The consistency should be like syrup, and around 1/4 cup left in the saucepan.  If you know how to flambe, this would be a great time to do it.  Usual disclaimer, I'm not responsible if you set your kitchen or yourself on fire.  Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig, set aside.

2.  Go cook your steaks.  When they're resting, move on to step 3.

3.  Put wine syrup back on stove over medium heat.  Bring up to temperature, warm enough to melt butter, and whisk in your room temperature butter.  Do not do this with cold butter, it'll break and won't emulsify.  You'll have this sticky, greasy mess on your hands.  It is not good.  Once the last piece of butter has been whisked in, add parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and stir.  Yes, taste it.  Does it taste good?  Stop seasoning.  No?  Keep seasoning.  Is it over seasoned?  Start over.  Take your steaks off whatever they've been resting on and add the juices from that plate or board to the pan and keep whisking.  Remove from heat when the sauce takes on a silky consistency and slice your steaks.  Strain the sauce and dress the steaks liberally with the sauce.




This sauce is tricky because you need to use raw egg yolk.  Your best bet is to go with either pasteurized eggs or buy from a local, non-battery farmed operator.  Use the freshest eggs you can.  If you have a local farmer who does free range, no antibiotics, go early in the morning and get the eggs for this.  If you're not in a position to do this, your local green market or Whole Foods analog should have incredibly fresh eggs suitable for this.  Some people add white pepper to their Hollandaise, I don't.  I prefer black pepper, but I usually leave it out to keep the eggs a uniform sunny color.


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 115g melted unsalted butter (about 2 sticks)


1.  Put a pot of water to steam over med-low heat until you see steam.  Whisk egg yolks until lightly thickened in a stainless steel bowl that can sit over the pot.

2.  Beat in lemon juice, water and salt to taste until combined.

3.  Stir the egg mixture over the lightly steaming pot until thickened.

4.  Remove from heat and slowly add the melted butter while whisking.  Use 1/4 to 1/3 tsp increments.  Once the sauce is as thick as heavy cream, you can continue to add butter in larger portions.  Make sure to continually scrape the bowl and wait until the butter has been incorporated before adding the next aliquot.

5.  Serve over poached eggs with ham and an english muffin, or steamed asparagus, or whatever else you may want.

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Blog Comments

Lab Mom
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You forgot my favorite: Getting Sauced! ;)


Jason Goldman
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Now I just need the beef demi-glace recipe :-)

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OK, I have questions:

What is a demi-glace?

Do you think that first sauce would be good with some browned mushrooms added in?

How long do you typically let steaks rest?

When do you add the shallots, parsley and rosemary?


Dub C Med School
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Demi-glace is veal stock that has been reduced down and thickened.  Stocks are the next subject and how to extract maximum flavor out of them.  There are some decent store bought demi-glaces out there, I just haven't used them in a while.  And if you have a local place that sells rendered duck fat, there's probably a good chance they also sell a good demi-glace.

Steaks should rest for a minimum of 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute.

Corrected for adding the herbage and savories to the pot.

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Om NOM NOM NOM... must try hollandaise sauce... I don't know if I can handle it. Even poached eggs seem intimidating.

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This sounds really good..

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