If I say “sauce” to you, would you automatically think of the little 8 ounce cans of Hunt’s tomato sauce? Or would you think of tartar sauce that you buy, already made up, in a jar at the supermarket?  Or maybe the bottle of A1 steak sauce comes to your mind. Or what about Worcestershire sauce? (Speaking of which – Worcestershire sauce, which we Americans tend to mispronounce, is a prime ingredient in many other recipes. First made in Worcester, England, by two chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, the Lea & Perrins brand was commercialized in 1837 and has been produced in the current Midlands Road factory in Worcester since 1897. It was purchased by H.J. Heinz Company in 2005, who continue to manufacture and market “The Original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce”, under the name Lea & Perrins, as well as Worcestershire sauce under their own name and labeling. Other companies manufacture similar products, often also called Worcester sauce, and marketed under different brands.)

For many Americans, “cranberry sauce” comes in a can that you chill in the refrigerator before opening, Thanksgiving Day, and plop out on a dish. (Personally, I don’t care for this kind of cranberry sauce—but I really enjoy making cranberry relish with fresh cranberries). And what about apple sauce? We had a single apple tree at our old house—it produced enough apples to convert into at least 30 quarts of applesauce a year. The apple tree we planted at the new house about 7 years ago is not as prolific as the other, but it’s getting there—I think I had about 12 quarts of apple sauce last year. Then I began making sauce out of our pear tree produce. Some of the little children in my extended family like the pear sauce very much.

And getting sauced” whether you live in the USA or Canada means something else entirely and starts with drinking too much of an alcoholic beverage.

I found some great information about sauces in a book titled “RARE BITS” by Patricia Bunning Stevens. “Rare Bits” is a book ABOUT food, not a cookbook – and even though I have managed to fill 3 bookcases with books ABOUT food, “Rare Bits” is one I often come back to when I am searching for background information. Stevens starts the chapter on “Sauces” out with: “The Romans went to the ends of their earth, searching for new, exotic meats, and then made them all taste the same by dousing them all with the same sauce. The sauce, known as garum or liquamen was actually more of a condiment, to be added by the diners as desired at the table…” (Sort of like A1 sauce perhaps?)

Stevens continues, “The scale of the Romans’ consumption of GARUM can perhaps be judged by the fact that they produced it in factories. Small fish such as anchovies and the offal of larger fish, such as tuna were put into a large trough and thoroughly salted; sometime shrimp or oysters were added. After twenty-four hours, the concoction was transferred to an earthenware vessel and set in a sunny spot to ferment for two or three months. The resulting liquid was clear and golden in color, with a salty, mildly fishy, and somewhat cheesy flavor. It was sealed in small pots, much as mustard is today; one of these pots was found in the ruins of Pompeii, bearing the legend, “Best strained liquamen. From the factory of Umbricus Agathopus….”

Stevens also notes that “the sauces favored in the early middle ages were sharp and acidic, deliberately made so by the addition of vinegar or verjuice, the juice of sour crab apples or sour grapes. From these medieval dishes come our words “saucy” or “sassy” meaning sharp, pert, or impudent…”

“Cooking changed tremendously   in the seventeenth century,” Stevens writes, “especially in France, when French chefs began using sauces” (I was always under the impression that their use of sauces was to disguise rancid meat).

But, Stevens explains that it was the great French chef Careme who first tried to bring order to this plentitude (i.e., that of having dozens and dozens of sauce recipes) early in the 19th century. Careme’s idea was to classify the sauces of the time into four families, each headed by a “mother” sauce (espagnole, velote [velvety], allemande, and béchamel from which numerous variations could be devised. A century later, Escoffier followed the same sort of arrangement but sensibly omitted “allemande” which is itself only a variation of “veloute” and added hollandaise and tomato. (Irma Rombauer, author of Joy of Cooking remained true to this classification of sauces).

It may surprise you to learn there are many different recipes for making sauces, many of which may be becoming lost arts. I wonder how many cooks make their own shrimp cocktail sauce or tomato sauce, from scratch…ham sauce or steak sauce or chili sauce or just your basic cream sauce?

The basic sauces are brown, butter, white or cream sauce—none of which are hard to make. Hamlyn’s Illustrated Cook’s Dictionary by Marion Howells, (published in London) provides the following definition for a sauce:

“Sauce: a sauce is used to add to the food value of a dish or to enhance its flavor and appearance. It can be hot or cold, sweet or savoury (sic). The liquid for a savoury sauce can be water, stock or milk. It is thickened in various ways according to the nature of the sauce…”

Frieda Arkin, author of “KITCHEN WISDOM” published in 1968 by Holt, Reinhart and Winston, devotes several pages to sauces—including a lot of simple tips that will have you wondering why you didn’t think of doing that.

But as I delved into my cookbook collection searching for sauce recipes, I was most non-plussed by Marguerite Patten’s “AMERICAN EVERYDAY COOKBOOK” which struck me as absurd—on a par with me trying to write a book about British cuisine—until I began reading American Everyday Cookbook and had to acknowledge – not bad, Marguerite. Not bad at all. Not only that, but pages and pages have been devoted to sauces in Marguerite’s book. She starts out with directions for making a perfect sauce, followed by recipes for white and brown sauces, with numerous variations. For instance, Anchovy sauce, Béchamel, caper, cheese, horseradish, and tartar sauces are all variations of the basic white sauce. Madeira sauce, Espagnole and Poivrade are all variations of brown sauce. These are followed by recipes for all the sauces you can imagine, from apple sauce to barbeque sauces, Bearnaise and Hollandaise sauces—even chocolate and lemon sauces. (I wish I had discovered Marguerite Patten sooner…I wish I could have written to her when I began collecting her books, some of which are treasures in my cookbook collection. I was saddened when I read she had passed away).

(Some time ago, we were heading for the mountains to visit friends Mary Jaynne & Steve, and MJ asked me to bring along some Hollandaise sauce as she was serving fresh spring asparagus for dinner. First I couldn’t find it on the supermarket shelves and to request assistance. Then I was shocked to find such a SMALL can with such a BIG price tag. I vowed I’d make my own Hollandaise if ever I want any. I will admit, it was good on fresh cooked asparagus).

Everybody’s cooking bible, The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer, lumps salad dressings, sauces, gravies, marinades, glazes and seasoned butters all together but offers many sauce recipes – horseradish sauce or Cumberland sauces, a blender vegetable sauce to serve over bland foods, cold veal, or hot or cold fish. She also offers recipes for cocktail sauce and a cold mustard sauce, Remoulade Sauce and Sauce Louis which is to be served with stuffed artichokes, shrimp or crab. But don’t stop there – Rombauer offers many more recipes for sauces.

I thought you might find it necessary to turn to older cookbooks to find a great assortment of sauce recipes rather than cookbooks being published nowadays—but I stand corrected. If you are the proud owner of a copy of Ruth Reichl’s cookbook GOURMET TODAY, published in 2009—it contains a decent amount of sauce recipes, which have been divided into two groups –savory and sweet. And, Gourmet Today contains a few I wouldn’t have thought of. Of course, you can always Google a recipe and find dozens of recipes from which to choose.

Meantime, I would like to share with you a few of my own favorite basic sauce recipes.

White sauce, or Béchamel, according to Wikipedia, is the mother of French cream sauces. According to Larousse Gastronomique, the sauce is named after the “marquis de Béchamel”, actually Louis de Béchameil, marquis de Nointel (1630–1703). According to Larousse the sauce is an improvement upon a similar, earlier sauce, known asvelouté. Béchameil was a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to Louis XIV. The sauce under its familiar name first appeared in Le Cuisinier François, (published in 1651), by François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678), chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d’Uxelles. The sauce originally was a veal velouté with a large amount of cream added. (And now you know why it’s also called Béchamel sauce).

To make cream sauce, or Béchamel, you will need the following:

2 TBSP butter

1-2 TBSP all purpose flour

1 cup milk

Melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan; gradually add the flour and stir, cooking over low heat, 3-5 minutes. Then slowly stir in the milk; continue stirring until the sauce thickens.

To make a thicker cream sauce use 3 TBSP butter, 3 TBSP flour and 1 cup of milk. Add salt & pepper to taste.

If you make cream sauce regularly, you might want to make up a batch of cream sauce mix; this recipe is from Joy of Cooking:

1 cup butter

1 cup flour

2 cups powdered milk

Mix together the butter and flour – the butter should be cold and it should be real butter, not margarine or a spread. When you have the butter and flour mixed together evenly, stir in the 2 cups of powdered milk. Keep refrigerated. To make a sauce, stir to a paste in a saucepan 1/3 cup of the above mixture with 1/3 cup water or stock; then add 2/3 cup water or stock gradually over low heat and stir constantly until the sauce thickens.

Many other sauce recipes can be made with cream or Béchamel sauce, such as Mornay sauce (good on fish, egg, or vegetable dishes), Nantua sauce, Newburg sauce or oyster or anchovy sauces. A good horseradish sauce can also be made with a cream sauce base;   to make horseradish sauce, you will need:

1 cup of basic cream sauce as indicated above (2 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP flour, 1 cup milk)

3 TBSP prepared horseradish

2 TBSP whipping cream

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

1 TBSP white vinegar

Remove the cream sauce from the stove, then add remaining ingredients; reheat but do not boil. Serve immediately.

Joy of Cooking provides the following recipe for making 2 cups of cheese sauce:

3 TBSP butter

3 TBSP flour

1 ½ cups milk

1 cup or less mild grated cheese or diced processed cheese

½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp paprika

A few grains cayenne

½ tsp dry mustard

Melt the butter in a saucepan; stir in flour until blended. Slowly stir in milk. When the sauce is smooth and hot, reduce the heat and stir in the cheese, salt, paprika, cayenne and mustard. Stir until the cheese is melted.

What surprised me was not finding a basic cheese sauce in “Gourmet Today”; author Ruth Reichl does offer a recipe for Penne and Chicken Gratin in this cooking bible, which includes a cheese sauce but the recipe is a little more involved and might not be for families with young children-and I know that my reading audience has a lot of mothers with young children. Consequently, I lean more towards the kind of recipes, especially sauces, that I know my own children would eat—and believe me, we had some picky eaters in the family when my sons were growing up. Their father was the pickiest eater of all.

I make my favorite “from scratch” cheese sauce, to add to cooked macaroni, by making up 1 or 2 cups of basic cream sauce, and then adding shredded cheddar cheese to it. If you have some cheese on hand that has dried out a little, you can still shred and add it to your cream sauce. Other cheeses can be added—if nothing else is available, I will toss in some slices of American processed cheese. If you are making this for children, they usually don’t care for anything too spicy or zapped up too much—one reason, I imagine, why the Kraft macaroni & cheese in the blue and yellow box is so popular with children…but trust me, it’s really easy to make up your own mac and cheese. To make it a little fancier, you can poured the macaroni & cheese into a baking dish and top it off with a little more grated cheese or some cheese slices cut into triangles…bake until the top is crusty and golden. Yum!

Getting back to sauces –Before I close on white sauces, I wanted to add that I came across another recipe for Béchamel Sauce that I copied from a magazine. THIS béchamel contains some thinly sliced onion and a bay leaf – plus a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. It also calls for a dash of ground white pepper; I like the idea of the freshly grated nutmeg – and I use  ground white pepper almost exclusively in my cooking. AND I want to mention one more thing – both my sister Becky and I would tell you that anytime we ever made a white sauce (often for creamed peas) – we used evaporated milk instead of ordinary milk.   I buy evaporated milk by the case at Sam’s Club because I like it so much in creamed peas and mashed potatoes.

Brown sauce or Sauce Espagnole is the basis for many other sauces and dishes. Curious about the name, I learned this on Google: “In cooking, espagnole sauce is one of the mother sauces that are the basis of sauce-making in classic French cooking. In the late 19th century, Auguste Escoffier codified the recipe, which is still followed today. Espagnole has a strong taste and is rarely used directly on food. As a mother sauce, however, it serves as the starting point for many derivatives, such as Sauce Africaine, Sauce BigaradeSauce Bourguignon, Sauce aux ChampignonsSauce Charcutière,Sauce ChasseurSauce Chevreuil and Demi-glace. There are hundreds of other derivatives in the classical French repertoire….”

Irma Rombauer advises us to always stir, never whip, a brown sauce and to use good, strong, clear beef stock. “The flavor,” writes Rombauer, “comes from the gradual ‘reduction’ of the sauce by a very slow simmering which, if you are a perfectionist, can be 8 to 12 hours”. (I don’t think most people would be willing to invest that much time in making a stock –personally, I don’t mind but have to confess, I have taken to cooking scraps of beef and the bones, such as those from a 7-bone roast, in my pressure cooker for an hour. Then I strain and chill the stock in gallon jars—next I cook it down after removing any solidified fats. Maybe Irma didn’t have a pressure cooker! Here is her short-cut recipe for making Sauce Espagnole:

To make Sauce Espagnole, you will need:

½ cup beef or veal drippings

1 cup Mirepoix*

½ cup flour

10 black peppercorns

2 cups drained peeled tomatoes or 2 cups tomato puree

½ cup coarsely chopped parsley

8 cups good beef stock

In a heavy saucepan, melt the beef or veal drippings. Add 1 cup Mirepoix (recipe follows). When this begins to brown, add ½ cup flour and stir until the flour is a good brown. Then added the peppercorns, tomatoes, and parsley. Stir well, and then add the 8 cups of good beef stock. Simmer on the stove   for about 2 to 2 ½ hours or until reduced by half. Stir occasionally and skim off the fat as it rises to the top. Strain the sauce and stir occasionally as it cools to prevent a skin forming. The sauce should be the consistency of whipping cream, no thicker.

Before I continue, I want to explain Mirepoix – what it is and how it’s used:

Mirepoix is one of the simplest food preparations in the world – a combination of celery, carrot and onion. That’s all. However, this “holy trinity” is an essential ingredient in dozens, if not hundreds, of traditional French dishes, and knowing what it is and how to make it is essential.

Basic Mirepoix Recipe

1 c. diced white onion

1/2 c. diced carrot

1/2 c. diced celery

When dicing the separate ingredients, try to make the dices as small and uniform as possible, because it looks nicer but also because the small pieces will cook more uniformly. (A Vidalia onion dicer is ideal for making uniform diced vegetables. Although it’s used primarily with onions, I have found it works well dicing carrots and celery as well).

So what’s the deal? If it’s that simple, why is it so important? Well, these three basic ingredients, in this perfect ratio, provide a deep, earthy flavor that gives so many French dishes the recognizable flavor that sets them apart from, say, Italian or Spanish cooking.   On  the TV shows broadcasting the Food Network programs, I have heard chefs referring to Mirepoix as the holy trinity.

Back to brown sauces! Your basic brown sauce, or Sauce Espagnole, can be used to make Bordelaise Sauce, a quick brown sauce or gravy, Madeira Sauce, Mushroom sauce or Marchand De Vin Sauce—or many other sauces. For now, let me share with you a favorite of mine, Mushroom sauce. And it’s so easy!

To make Mushroom sauce you will need

1 cup brown sauce

¼ lb fresh sliced mushrooms

2 TBSP butter

Sauté the mushrooms in the butter. Set aside. Remove the beef or chicken when it is finished cooking, and add flour to the drippings to make a thin paste. If necessary add a little water to get all the bits of meat or poultry loosened. Then add your brown sauce and when it is hot, add the mushrooms.

Or, just cook your mushrooms in butter and add them to a cup of brown sauce. Heat until hot and serve. Sometimes I cook fresh sliced mushrooms in about 2 cups of beef stock (no butter) – and just serve it on the side as a gravy to go with any kind of beef roast or steak. We love mushrooms!

Brown Sauces

I really like a good sauce that has wine in it (and also like to make beef gravy with some Burgundy wine added to it). The following is called Marchand De Vin Sauce and some dry red wine goes into the recipe. The Marchand de Vin (French for “wine merchant”) is a classic red wine reduction sauce.

To make Marchand De Vin Sauce you will need:

1 cup finely sliced fresh mushrooms

2 TBSP butter

½ cup hot beef stock

1 cup brown sauce

½ cup dry red wine

Sauté the mushrooms in the two tablespoons of butter. Add ½ cup hot beef stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup brown sauce and ½ cup dry red wine. Continue simmering another 20 minutes. Then taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

There’s a rosemary wine sauce in Joy of Cooking – and I do love rosemary. But the instructions start with “Serve with Calf’s head or turtle meat…” and I don’t know which is the greater turn-off – the thought of eating calf’s head or an endangered species such as turtle. It brings to mind instructions in a very old 1800s cookbook for making use of a calf’s head. I recall it starts out with “hold the calf by one ear to dip the head into boiling water….” Ew, ew! And I will readily admit, I grew up in Cincinnati where mock turtle soup is still a regional favorite (mind you—it’s MOCK turtle soup; it was made with ground beef).

Well, what the heck – maybe you will find another interesting use for rosemary wine sauce. To make rosemary wine sauce you will need:

½ cup good Madeira or dry sherry

1 tsp mixed dried marjoram, rosemary, sage, bay leaf and basil

1 cup hot brown sauce

Heat to boiling the Madeira or dry sherry and the mixed dried herbs (which is known as a tortue in France). Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Strain off the herb-flavored wine and add it to one cup of hot brown sauce.    ***


Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and butter, usually seasoned with lemon juicesalt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang added by the seasonings, yet not so strong as to overpower mildly-flavored foods. Hollandaise is one of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine sauce repertoire. It is so named because it was believed to have mimicked a Dutch sauce for the state visit to France of the King of the Netherlands. Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient of Eggs Benedict, and is often paired with vegetables such as steamed asparagus.

Irma Rombauer offers several hollandaise sauces, including a never-fail Hollandaise and a mock Hollandaise. She also suggests few tricks to make sure your Hollandaise doesn’t fail; for one, she says, don’t make Hollandaise on a very humid day unless you use clarified butter (I am reminded that it’s important not to make divinity on a humid day, either). She also advises that it’s best to use a wooden spoon or whisk when making Hollandaise.

To make never-fail Hollandaise sauce you will need:

½ cup (1 stick) butter

1 ½ TBSP lemon juice, dry sherry or tarragon vinegar

3 egg yolks

1 TBSP boiling water

3 more TBSP water

¼ tsp salt

A few grains cayenne

Melt slowly and keep warm the ½ cup butter. Barely heat 1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice, dry sherry or tarragon vinegar. Have ready a small saucepan of boiling water and a tablespoon with which to measure the water when you are ready for it. Place in top of double boiler over hot but not boiling water 3 egg yolks. Beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk until they begin to thicken. ADD one tablespoon of boiling water. Beat again until the egg begins to thicken. Repeat this process until you have added 3 more tablespoons boiling water; then beat in the warm lemon juice. Remove the double boiler from the heat; beat the sauce well with the wire whisk. Beat constantly while adding the melted butter slowly and add ¼ tsp salt and a few grains cayenne. Beat until the sauce is thick. Serve immediately. Makes 1 cup.


1 cup sour cream

Juice of one lemon

2 egg yolks

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp paprika

Mix the above ingredients in top of a double boiler. Stir over hot water until thick. Makes 1 ¼ cups.

After searching through a stack of my cookbooks, it occurred to me to find a recipe box that contains all sauce recipes. My penpal Betsy sent this box to me years ago—it was a promotion from French’s and designed to hang on a kitchen wall. So, the following are sauce recipes from my personal collection—the following are divided into two categories – sweet and savory!   First are some of my sweet sauces:


To make brandied butterscotch sauce you will need:

¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Dash of salt

½ cup water

1 can (15 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 TBSP instant coffee powder

¼ cup brandy

1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, salt and water in a small heavy saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Empty sweetened condensed milk into a medium size bowl; stir in hot syrup and mix until well blended. Stir in instant coffee, then brandy and vanilla. Pour into hot sterilized containers for gift giving. Serve warm or cold over ice cream, pudding or sherbet.


To make Vanilla sauce you will need:

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

4 egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla

Scald the cream and milk. Beat the egg yolks until light and add the sugar. Combine egg sugar mixture   with the hot milk and cream and cook over boiling water stirring until it is the consistency of custard; strain and cool.


To make lemon sauce you will need:

1 cup sugar

1 TBSP cornstarch

¼ tsp salt

1 cup boiling water

½ cup lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon peel

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Stir in boiling water; cook and stir until clear and thick and at a boil. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and peel. Serve warm. Makes 1 2/3 cup.


You will need:

1 (6 oz) package chocolate chips

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup peanut butter

¼ cp corn syrup

½ tsp vanilla

Heat all ingredients except vanilla over low heat in a saucepan. Bring to boil stirring constantly. Remove, stir in vanilla. Serve warm over ice cream.

Makes 1 ½ cups


You will need:

3 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate, broken up, OR ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

½ cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium glass bowl or measuring cup, combine chocolate and heavy cream. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds Stir, microwave an additional 30 seconds, then stir until smooth.

Add corn syrup, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. Microwave an additional minute or until heated through. Serve immediately or refrigerate, tightly covered, for up to 1 month. Heat briefly before serving.


You will need:

2 ¾ cup raspberry jelly

1 ¼ c. cranberry sauce

1 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP lemon juice

½ cup whipping cream

Combine jelly, sauce, vanilla and lemon juice in mixer and blend until smooth. Add whipping cream and blend well. Chill before serving. Serve sauce with fruit salad or as a topping for crepes or pancakes, or as a relish for pork or turkey roasts.


2 PACKAGES (10-12 oz each) frozen raspberries

Sugar (optional)

Thaw raspberries; drain and reserve juice. Puree berries briefly in a food processor or blender. Sieve puree to remove seeds. Thin with some of the reserved juice, if desired. If puree seems too tart, sweeten to taste. May be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen 6 months or longer. Makes 2 to 2 ½ cups.


You will need:

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

½ cup evaporated milk

1 TBSP light corn syrup

½ stick butter or margarine*

Combine all ingredients and boil 5 minutes. Makes about 6 (1/4 cup) servings.

Sandra’s cooknote: when using margarine in a recipe, be sure to use a solid stick margarine that can be used in cooking. Don’t use a soft spread. To the best of my knowledge, Imperial is a solid stick margarine that can be used in cooking or baking. Or do as I do, and just cook and bake with solid stick BUTTER.


You will need:

5 oz bittersweet chocolate

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup sugar

1/3 cup whole milk

1/3 cup whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

Dash salt

Cook the chocolate, butter, sugar, milk and cream in the top of a double boiler set over but not touching gently simmering water, stirring often, until smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat; stir in the vanilla and salt. Serve warm. (This can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen up to 1 month. Gently reheat in the microwave oven at 50% power or in a double boiler over boiling water until warm and flowing. Makes 1 ¼ cups.


All you will need is:

4 OZ bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 2/3 cup)

1/3 cup milk

2 TBSP coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlua)

Melt chocolate in milk in a microwave oven or over low heat, stirring often until smooth. Stir in liqueur. Serve warm. Makes ¾ cup.

Sandy’s cooknote: You may notice that a lot of sauce recipes, especially the sweet ones, require the use of a double boiler. If you don’t HAVE a double boiler, you can often make one up using something like a stainless steel bowl for the top part; a saucepan for the bottom. Don’t put too much water in the bottom half; most directions call for the water to be simmering, not boiling, and you don’t want the top part of the boiler to come in contact with the water boiling underneath. If you burn or scorch chocolate, it’s ruined. Ditto cooking eggs for a recipe – if it gets too hot, the recipe will be ruined.

But keep in mind, a double boiler is a great investment. Back in the day, you could buy glass ones to keep a good eye on the water boiling underneath. Joy of Cooking often recommends the use of a glass double boiler. (I haven’t seen one of these since I was a child).   **


You will need:

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 TBSP cornstarch

¼ cup water

½ cup half-and-half or light cream

2 TBSP light corn syrup

1 TBSP butter

1 tsp dark rum

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water, then cream and corn syrup. Cook and stir until bubbly. Cook and stir 2 more minutes and remove from heat. Stir in butter and rum. Serve warm or cold. Makes 1 cup.


There must be over one hundred sauces just for tomatoes; there are so many variations. But keep in mind, once you find a basic tomato sauce recipes that you and your family like, you can adapt it to suit yourself. This first recipe is a fairly simple fresh tomato pasta sauce recipe.

To make Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce, you will need:

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cored and chopped

1 TBSP olive oil

¾ tsp EACH: salt, sugar

½ tsp ground black paper

1 ½ to 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 ounces pasta

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a blender or food processor, combine and process tomatoes, olive oil, salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar to make a rough-textured sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Return pasta to pot and add sauce. Toss together over low heat for about a minute to heat through If desired serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 1 ½ cups sauce.


*add ¼ cup chopped fresh basil;

* ¼ cup chopped olives and 1 ½ tsp grated orange peel;

* ½ cup crumbled feta cheese and ¾ tsp rosemary;

*3 TBSP capers and 2 TBSP chopped parsley.


You will need:

2 large onions, to measure 2 cups chopped

1 TBSP minced garlic

2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes

1 TBSP olive oil

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 TBSP plus 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp sugar

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a 4 ½ quart Dutch oven or soup pot. Meanwhile, peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the pot as you chop. Add the garlic. Let the onion mixture cook while opening the tomato cans, until the onions just start to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot and stir well to combine. Add the Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and sugar and stir well to incorporate.

Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes, lifting the lid to stir from time to time. (If the mixture reaches more than a slow boil, reduce the heat). Cool any sauce you don’t use immediately and freeze in 2 heavy-duty zipper top plastic bags. Makes 8 ½ cups.


Handy for casseroles, rice dishes and stews—or flavor to taste with herbs such as oregano and basil, and use as a pasta sauce.

To make Basic tomato Sauce you will need:

5 ½ pounds tomatoes

2 onions, quartered

2 Anaheim chiles, stemmed; seeded if desired

4 cloves garlic

3 bay leaves

Salt, optional

Peel and quarter tomatoes. Puree in batches if necessary, in food processor or blender. There should be about 11 cups of pureed tomatoes. Pour into Dutch oven.

Add onions, chiles and garlic to processor or blender used for tomatoes, and puree. (There is no need to rinse processor or blender between steps). Add onion mixture and bay leaves to tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and remove bay leaves. Refrigerate if not using at once. Can be frozen.


You will need:

2 cloves garlic

2 pork neck bones

1 beef short rib

4 ounces hot Italian sausage with fennel

4 oz pepperoni, sliced

2 cans (28 oz each) chopped tomatoes

1 can (8 oz) tomato paste

2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce

1 TBSP black pepper

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

2 oz sliced mushrooms (optional)

1/8 cup fresh parsley, minced

2 bay leaves

2 TBSP grated Romano cheese

2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese

1 TBSP Italian seasoning

Slice garlic and lightly sauté in hot olive oil for about 1 minute. Place in small dish.

Brown neck bones and short rib in a small amount of olive oil. Remove to side dish and sauté pepperoni. Remove, set aside. Sauté hot Italian sausage. Place garlic and all of the meats in a large saucepan. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, mushrooms, parsley, sugar, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cheeses, Italian seasoning and 4 quarts of water.

Stir in all ingredients and bring to a rapid boil. Boil about 1 minutes and reduce heat to low so sauce simmers gently. Cook on low heat about 10 hours* or until meat falls off the bones, stirring occasionally. If desired, chop meat into small pieces and return to sauce. Serve sauce with cooked spaghetti or other pasta.

*Sandra’s Cooknote: I would suggest when you reach the point where you are going to cook the sauce on low heat for 10 hours that you transfer it to a crockpot so that it doesn’t burn).


You will need:

4 tsp cornstarch

1 cup cold water

½ cup distilled white vinegar

½ cup sugar

¼ cup tomato paste

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients, mixing well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove and set aside until ready to use, or cover and keep in the refrigerator up to 8 hours.


You will need:

¼ cup chopped shallots or onion

2 TBSP butter or margarine

1 can (13 ¾ oz) ready to serve beef broth

1 can Port or red wine

Salt & pepper (optional)

Cook shallots in butter in medium saucepan over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until shallots are tender. Add beef broth and port; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; boil gently about 20 minutes or until sauce is reduced to about 2 cups. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Makes 2 cups.


You will need:

2 LBS tomatillos, husked and rinsed

2 large white onions, coarsely chopped

5 cloves garlic

5 or 6 jalapeno or Serrano chiles, stemmed

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 TBSP corn oil or lard, melted

¾ cup chopped cilantro

Place tomatillos, onions, garlic and chiles in roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add oil and mix to coat all ingredients. Roast at 450 degrees 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Put in food processor and pulse to coarse consistency. Add cilantro and blend. Add water if too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour into saucepan and keep warm while preparing enchiladas. Makes 2 1/2 cups sauce.


You will need:

Use this sauce to baste vegetables, such as eggplant or zucchini, while grilling

2 TBSP honey

2 TBSP grated ginger root

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake well to mix. Makes about 1 cup.


You will need:

Measure drippings from the ham. For 2 TBSP drippings you will need 2 tablespoons flour. Cook, stirring until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup of unsweetened pineapple juice or 1 cup apple cider. Boil. Add ½ cup raisins; simmer 10 minutes.


You will need:

1 cup sugar

1 cup raisins

2/3 cup apple jelly

3 TBSP white wine vinegar

2 TBSP butter

1 TBSP lemon juice

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp mace

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

In a 2 to 3 quart pan over medium heat, stir sugar and half cup water until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add raisins, jelly, vinegar, butter, lemon juice, cloves, mace, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until raisin sauce is reduced to 2 ¼ cups, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Sandy’s Cooknote: good with ham OR roast turkey.


I have the date 12/29/94 written on this recipe card.

You will need:

½ CUP sugar

1 TBSP plus 1 tsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup hot water

2 TBSP butter at room temperature

2 TBSP whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP dark rum or 2 tsp rum extract

½ cup raisins

In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently and constantly with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes or until mixture is thick and clear. (Overbeating or overcooking thins the sauce).

Remove from heat. Add butter and stir gently until it has melted. Stir in cream, vanilla, rum and raisins. Serve warm, at room temperature or refrigerated. Makes 2 cups.


You will need:

¾ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 TBSP olive oil

1 pound ground beef

½ pound ground pork

2 cans tomatoes (1 lb, 12 oz size each)

1 cup red wine

¼ cup parsley flakes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp crushed red pepper

½ tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

Cook onion, garlic in hot oil until tender; add meat, brown. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Serve over spaghetti. Serves 6-8.


1 TBSP butter or olive oil

3 green onions, with tops, thinly sliced

1-2 cloves garlic

½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp minced fresh thyme or ¼ tsp ground thyme

¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup zinfandel wine

Salt & pepper

2 TBSP minced parsley

In a frying pan melt butter over medium heat; add green onions and garlic; stir until onions and garlic are soft, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until mushrooms are soft 3-5 minutes. Pour wine into the pan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce onto or alongside meat. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings.


3 TBSP vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup catsup

1 cup American style chili sauce

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup cider vinegar

2 TBSP steak sauce (such as A1)

2 TBSP spicy brown mustard

2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

In heavy   bottomed medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often until onion is golden, about 8 minutes.   Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 40 minutes. Cool completely. To store, refrigerate in airtight food container up to 1 week. Brush onto food during last 10 minutes of grilling. Makes about 2 cups.

One more! This is clam sauce – I had no idea how much I would fall in love with clam sauce and spaghetti until it was served to me at a dinner party.

To make Jan’s Clam sauce you will need

6 cans chopped or minced claims (6 ½ oz)

3 blocks butter

Salt to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

½ to ¼ tsp garlic powder

2 large or 3 small bay leaves

½ cup chopped parsley

¾ cup water

1 cup Parmesan cheese

Cooked Pasta

Melt butter over low heat. Add clams and juice. Add pepper and cayenne, garlic powder, bay leaves, chopped parsley and water. Cook slowly for ½ hour. Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese and cook slowly, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Rinse cooked pasta with hot water, then put into pot with the claim sauce and add ½ stick butter. Serve!

Sandra’s Cooknote: Jan says All ingredients are to taste—if you want more of something, put it in! The really great thing about this recipe is that – if you keep cans of clams in the pantry along with spaghetti—this is a dish you can whip up for unexpected company.

sandy’s cooknote: my apologies for the length of this post. Originally I posted it on my original blog in two parts. Maybe I should have done this again but I thought some of you may want to make copies of the various sauces. — sls




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