Sauce Me Up

May 20, 2009 at 8:58 am (Uncategorized)

I tested out Nana’s new phone this afternoon, and I’m pleased to report we are GO on the telecommunication front. She picked up after several rings, and told me she was preparing for bed. She’d turned down the sheet and was about to hop in. It was 4:30 pm. 

“Did you have dinner? It’s quite early.”

“I had a snack,” she said. “I was going to eat in the dining room, but then I decided I’d just stay here. And it was sufficient, anyway, the snack.”

(as an aside, I love it when children and elderly people talk about snacks. I don’t know why but it tickles me.)

“Well, did you have a big lunch?”

“Oh yes,” she said, not that she’d know. She wouldn’t have a clue. “And eating is not a problem for me. Eating is one of my favourite things to do.”

(see? We really do have things in common.)

“I’m so happy this phone works,” I said. 

“Yes,” she said. “It’s a very nice phone.”

“I’m glad you think so,” I said. “It was exactly the style I was after, and I was so happy when I found it. I think it’s perfect for that space.”

“I was just getting into bed when you called.”

“I’m glad I caught you. Have you met some nice people?”

“Oh yes,” she said. “Everyone’s very nice. I might not have been here when you called.”

“I know. But I’ll just call back if I can’t get through.”

“Okay. Well, it’s bedtime for me.”

“Night night, then, sleep well.”

And we said our goodbyes and off she went. It was a dark and stormy afternoon here and a dark and stormy afternoon there, so it was probably as black as night, and anyway, what of it? It can be bedtime if she wants it to be.

I have to run now as I am making dinner. I found some lovely looking tuna steaks at the fish mongers this morning, and I have to go make the sauce. I’m going to share the recipe with you now. I first made this for Llew, his mum and his sister back in the very early days of our courting. It was probably 1997. I’ve made it a couple of times since, but not for years. The sauce recipe comes from a cracking little book I bought at the supermarket when I was still an undergraduate. I’ve probably used it more than any other single recipe book I own (and I own a few), and it set me back the princely sum of $2.95. If you ever see it, grab it. It’s a Family Circle number called ‘The Essential Book of Sauces and Dressings,’ and it’s great. So here you are:

Shiitake Mushroom Sauce (serves 4 -6 in these quantities so adjust as needed). 

30g butter

200g shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 tblsp muscat

1/4 cup rich beef stock

2 tblsp wholegrain mustard

3/4 cup cream

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tblsp finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt butter in a small pan, add the mushrooms and stir over moderate heat until the mushrooms are soft.

2. Add the muscat and stir until almost evaporated. Stir in the stock, mustard and cream, then bring to the boil while stirring. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly. Season, add parsley and serve.

Serve over pan-fried, grilled or roast beef or pork, with grilled lamb cutlets, pan-fried tuna steaks (mmmmm….!), or chicken fillets, and beef or lamb burgers. Or you could toss through hot pasta. 

Yum. My mouth is watering. Tonight I am serving this with blanched snowpeas and garlic kumera mash, followed by warm chocolate brownies and ice-cream. What can I tell you? Storms make me want to rug up and chow down. 



  1. Grad said,

    Oh,I get all nostalgic about Family Circle Cookbooks. I started collecting the Family Circle Library of Cooking in the early 70’s. They, too, were sold at the supermarket, one new volume every month or so for a total of 16 books. I only have three survivors, but I can still find them on-line. They are so wonderfully retro. One actually has a whole chapter on gelatin molds made with fruits or veg or marshmallows. Do people still make those? Once upon a time I had a Jello Mold made by Tupperware, but, alas, it disappeared long ago. We have a long weekend coming up (Memorial Day) and I will definitely try this sauce over some tuna I’ll grill outdoors. Thanks, Di!

  2. Pete said,

    Hmm, saucy tuna. Sounds great. And good to see your nana in good hands there. I hope she’s not planning on missing too many suppers though.

  3. litlove said,

    I know just what you mean about the snack expression chez the elderly and the very young. I don’t know what it is, either. But it’s akin to when my son was very very small but had mastered the sentence ‘May I tell you sum-ping?’ He said it as a prelude to every something he said, and it was always far more coherent than whatever followed. But it was so serious and polite and it cracked me up, which is just as well when I had to listen to it some five hundred times a day.

    Dinner sounds delicious!

  4. Lilian Nattel said,


  5. David said,

    Can I come over for dinner? Pleeeeeeeeeze?

    On another note, I was so delighted to read, in this post and the previous one, that despite the exhaustions of settling Nana in her new home, she seems to be adjusting wonderfully well.

    I had an elderly relative — a great aunt by marriage — whom I used to occasionally visit in her “rest home” as it was called. I noticed she had a glass of something every day at four. I asked her one day whether it was apple juice, as that was what it looked like.

    “No, darling,” she said. “It’s scotch.”

    I was thirteen at the time, and this made a great impression upon me. I got the idea that being old involved drinking in the middle of the afternoon. I vowed then and there not to wait until I was old to enjoy this naughty pleasure. Snacks and scotch. That’s what elder care is all about, as far as I’m concerned.

  6. doctordi said,

    Grad, I figured you for a Family Circle kinda gal, and I’d be SO CHUFFED if you made the sauce at your barbeque (I hope the weather’s fine for you). My god it’s good.

    Lilian, we really did. Llew had actually had a foul day, so he was pretty happy about dinner.

    Litlove, that’s very cute. My friend Z told me her four year old has taken to “deeply wishing” for things – I love that. I just love it.

    David, you are ever welcome at table. Pity about that whole transcontinental thing. And I’ve never met any of you guys, meaning my blogging friends. Have you? But I have to say, that sauce is out of this world. Tonight I’m turning my hand to two recipes I’ve never tried before: French onion soup and moussaka. Yes, it’s a comfort frenzy when the weather turns tempestuous here at DoctorDi HQ…

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