Monday, June 20, 2011

A one minute bechamel

Norwegian cottage cheese. Photo: www.tine.no

I bought one pound of lasagna at my local deli today, and discovered when I opened the package in my kitchen that they had cheated. Only tomato sauce between the lasagna sheets, no white sauce, no bechamella!! As I urged for a white sauce topping, I was forced to improvise, and I waived my magic culinary wand, and presto! A one-minute-bechamel-sauce, literally made within a minute. 
One of the fallen lasagnas, no bechamel!
I did not take this idea at random. Many years ago I visited my aunt Hanne in the US. We visited Helga and Frank,  their neighbours. 
Frank and Helga served lasagna and had substituted the bechamel with ricotta cheese, a an Italian sheep milk or cream-cheese cow milk whey cheese, not unlike cottage cheese. It was delicious. 
I happened to have a container with cottage cheese in my refrigerator. I took 2 large tbsp of cheese, mixed with 20cl single cream and 75 grams (3 oz) grated cheese.
As the cottage cheese consists of small soft kernels, I blended the ingredients with my hand mixer, added salt and pepper. If you have nutmeg, add a little to the sauce. 
I found an oven proof dish that fitted the lasagna, poured the white sauce over and sprinkled cheese on top. Place in a hot oven until the cheese is golden brown.
The sauce was not as smooth as a bechamel, but it was deliciously creamy. I am converted to this easy way to make a white sauce, so no more roux. From now on I will mix a my super-rapid bechamel in minutes.

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