Tag Archives: Sauce

Photo of Elizabeth Marshall MasterChef New Zealand Macaroni and Cheese in Wellington

The Roux to Béchamel – and ultimately cheese sauce!

Say cheese! I have fond memories of food from my childhood but one of my favourites… my mother’s macaroni and cheese.

Photo of Elizabeth Marshall MasterChef New Zealand Macaroni and Cheese in Wellington

Crunchy on the outside and smooth in the centre, it was worlds apart from the artificial bright orange Kraft macaroni, and fake, cheese out of the box from the USA… Mum made hers from scratch. Actually, she made pretty much everything from scratch something I’m still thankful for everyday.

In New Zealand, it was broccoli or cauliflower with cheese sauce. And I remember in restaurants seafood mornay so rich and fatty you could see pools of oil dabbled across the gooey top that even this cheese lover would struggle to finish!

From my travels around the world, I fell in love with many a cheese and white sauce but learned not every white or cheese sauce is created equal!

There are different methods to creating a smooth and glossy sauce: adding cornflour, egg yolks, or beurre manié (a kneaded butter flour mixture), or reducing liquid down and adding cream/or butter at the end.

Then there’s roux. A mixture of fat and flour that not only thickens sauces, soups, casseroles, meat pie filling, and gravy, it boosts the flavour. And the darker the roux the deeper the flavour!

So you may be worried because we’re making a light sauce it will lack in flavour. Not to worry, there is plenty of room to add extra flavour along the way. Unlike the classic French method, I infuse my béchamel milk before adding it to the roux.

The other key to a beautiful béchamel is the temperature. Gluggy lumpy sauces are not becoming. A fabulous sauce is flavourful, smooth and glossy. The trick is to make sure your roux is room temp and your infused milk slightly warm. If you add hot milk into a hot roux, not only do you have a high chance of burning yourself with steam, your result may be lumpy.

White Roux

  • 25g Flour or cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 25g Butter
  • Salt if using unsalted butter

Cook together over medium-low heat for a few minutes whisking constantly until sandy in texture. Remove from heat to cool. If you’re using cornflour the mixture won’t get to a sandy texture, instead it will look more like a runny paste. 

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall MasterChef New Zealand Sandy Roux Wellington
Classic Flour Roux

If you want the science behind it – the heat and whisking allows the starch molecules to expand binding to the fat. The longer you heat a roux, for example a brown roux, the more the starch will break down so you’ll actually need more roux to thicken whatever you’re thickening!


Picture of Elizabeth Marshall MasterChef New Zealand Cornflour Roux Wellington
Cornflour “Roux”

The next step is to add warm milk, while whisking, to your room temperature roux over a medium-low heat to make your béchamel. Simmer until desired consistency et voila! You have a white sauce!

From there you are only limited by your imagination and for me I quite like my cheesy sauce. So much better than the packet stuff too! Add a cup or more of your favourite cheese to your béchamel and try two of my secret ingredients – a little Worcestershire sauce (my mother’s trick) and a few drops of hot sauce (cause I like to heat things up!).

Photo of Elizabeth Marshall MasterChef New Zealand Cheese Sauce Wellington


  • 25g (88oz) Flour or cornflour
  • 25g (88oz) Butter
  • 375ml (1 1/2cup) Milk
  • Salt (if you’ve used unsalted butter)
  • Whatever ingredients you want to infuse the milk

Heat milk on medium-low heat to infuse whatever ingredients you choose. Do not boil!!! A classic combo is onion, bay leaf, a few cloves, dash of grated nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne. Once infused and flavoured to your liking, remove from heat and strain.

Melt butter with flour in a different pot over medium-low heat for a few minutes whisking constantly until sandy in texture. If you’re using cornflour the mixture won’t get to a sandy texture, instead it will look more like a runny paste. Remove from heat to cool.

Once cool gradually add warm milk while whisking and return to a low heat. Whisk until smooth and then simmer to desired consistency.


Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel Sauce Ingredients in the pot

Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel Sauce Ingredients in the pot

I’d love to think of myself as a new age Julia Child… starting a culinary career in my mid-thirties, learning from top chefs while teaching home cooks & non-cooks the tricks of the trade. Then to  publish a cookbook or two and have a television cooking show, not necessarily in that order!

Elizabeth Marshall with her friend and past flatmate PaulaAlthough my friend, and a past flatmate, Paula used to joke “O-ooh, Juuu-lee-ah’s back in the kitchen tonight!’” and our stories have a slight similarity, I still have a long way to go! But I feel Julia and I have a bond – our passion for teaching and our passion for food with a glass of something on the side!

Alcohol brings another layer to a dish that can’t be substituted by anything else. The key is understanding the flavour profile of the alcohol you’re using and whether it will work with the other flavours in the dish. To understand flavour combinations, a fantastic resource is The Flavour Bible which I am very thankful Sushil Ravikumar (a friend, past MasterChef New Zealand contestant and now of Shushil’s Tasty Manna) recommended to me. Oh, and remember to taste, taste, taste!

lOGO FOR Elizabeth Marshall's boozE cakesOne of my favourites, is bourbon – especially with sweet things. My signature Bourbon Chocolate Cake with Morello Cherries and a Coffee Liqueur Ganache was a hit with MasterChef New Zealand judges and is now a favourite with Wellingtonians through my boozE cakes stand at the City Market – I do take orders! But I’m steering away from chocolate today.

What’s just as decadent and goes superbly with desserts?! And even pancakes or waffles!?! Bourbon caramel sauce… it’s super easy, super quick, and super yummy. Serving suggestions after recipe – but you’re only limited by your imagination!

Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel Sauce (makes approximately 1 cup)

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's Ingredients for her Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel Sauce

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (pack down firmly in measuring cups & level off)
  • 75g (2.6oz) butter
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream
  • 1/2 t lemon juice

Add all the ingredients except lemon juice into a saucepan on med heat.

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall stirring ingredients for her Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel Sauce

While stirring bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low.

Once sauce is all combined and smooth add lemon juice.

Simmer on low stirring for 5-10 minutes or until thickened.

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's finished Simple Bourbon Caramel Sauce in the pot

Serve warm.

If you have any leftover, store in fridge for up to 3-4 days. From cold, spoon out the amount you want to use & microwave on low to loosen back up. Never reheat food more than once.

Things this sauce goes well with:

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's Yeast Raised Wafffles with bourbon caramel sauce being poured overBreakfast Dishes

  • Bacon
  • French toast
  • Pancakes
  • Sausages
  • Waffles
  • Whole meal cinnamon scones
  • Crumb or coffee cakes
  • Banana loaf
  • Oatmeal

 Elizabeth Marshall's Simply Sweet Bourbon Caramel SauceDesserts

  • Apple (or peach) tarts, crumbles and cobblers
  • Blondies
  • Bread & butter pudding
  • Cheesecake (brown sugar, vanilla, lemon)
  • Chocolate brownies
  • Cinnamon scrolls
  • Ice cream
  • Cake – Pineapple, Pumpkin or kumara (sweet potato), Banana, Apple
  • Steamed or sticky pudding

It also goes really well with buttered popcorn! To having food, cooking food and sharing food – Enjoy!

xx E

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's egg on toast with Easy Hollandaise Sauce

“Where is the sauce?” – An Easy Hollandaise Sauce

By Elizabeth Marshall

My first day as a chef at Simon Gault’s former Shed 5 Restaurant the MasterChef New Zealand judge came to visit.

“Your mate’s coming in today”, the Head Chef said with big grin on his face as I walked in the kitchen door. “I need you to do the hollandaise sauce”. “No problem Chef”, I replied and asked for the recipe. “You shouldn’t need a recipe,” he quickly quipped back “I’m testing you so make sure it’s good!”.

I had made hollandaise sauce before but not in a restaurant… and not a litres worth in one batch. My hands had been cramping up randomly too so I prayed they would make it through the whisking challenge ahead.

The grill chef saw my look of panic as I left to get butter from the veggie fridge. “Ask Fish Section for vinegar reduction, he should already have some. 500g of butter should make enough for service.” He was my saviour but I still had to remember the ratio of butter to egg yolks to reduction/lemon juice!

It had been a long time since I’d made a hollandaise. In fact, it was back in the MasterChef house – Maggie Beer’s Verjuice Hollandaise from her Maggie’s Verjuice Cookbook. She uses a verjuice reduction instead of vinegar or lemon juice.

Elizabeth Marshall with Maggie Beer at Wellington on a Plate Masterclass
Me and Maggie Beer at the Visa Wellington on a Plate MasterClass

I have never been good at remembering recipes – even those I do often. I had to trust my gut and “taste, taste, taste”. In Maggie’s recipe she adds the reduction at the beginning with the egg yolks and melts the butter in a saucepan to achieve a nut-brown butter. This results in a beautifully nutty hollandaise with a hint of sweet from the verjuice which is truly addictive.

As I put the butter in the saucepan, another chef snaps, “what are you doing???”. Sheepishly I replied, “melting the butter chef”. “Just melt it in the microwave!” he responded. I had learned quickly to do as I’m told in the kitchen.

With butter in microwave, I finally started to whisk my eggs yolks with the reduction over gentle heat to a sabayon. Simon Gault walks over to my side, “how’s it going Elizabeth?”. I thought I’d left all my nerves in the MasterChef kitchen but I had been given the chance to work in another one of my culinary idols restaurants… the last thing I wanted to do was screw it up!!!

Simon continued to question me as I whisked away. Strangely something I was used to but this line of questioning always grew seeds of doubt. “Have you already added the reduction?” he asked inquisitively. I couldn’t tell by his tone if he was insinuating that was the right or wrong thing to do! But even when I responded yes, he didn’t give anything away. Then as quickly as he appeared out of nowhere, he left with a “good luck”.

Luckily my hollandaise sauce was a success. And even so, as soon as I got home I checked my partner’s old “Practical Cookery” book, from her culinary training – my bible of sorts, to see if I added the ingredients in the correct order. I learned I need to have more confidence in myself.

Checking back on Maggie Beer’s recipe, I also learned you don’t need to whisk egg yolks over heat to get a beautiful hollandaise sauce if you have a small food processor or stick blender.

Easy Hollandaise Sauce

200g butter melted to 69°c (156°F)

2 egg yolks

1tsp salt

2Tbs lemon juice

1Tbs warm water

Cracked mixed peppercorns


Melt 200g butter. Let milk solids settle at the bottom of jug as pictured.

Picture of Melted Butter in Measuring Jug - Elizabeth Marshall's Easy Hollandaise Sauce
Melting butter in the microwave is an easy way to separate the milk solids… or try using clarified butter.

Blend the 2 egg yolks, 1tsp salt and just 1Tbs of the lemon juice in a small food processor or with a stick blender. Blend until the mixture resembles the consistency of cream. Continue blending while slowly adding the warm butter making sure to leave the milk solids in the jug.

Picture of Using a Stick Blender for Elizabeth Marshall's Easy Hollandaise Sauce
Using a stick blender or small food processor makes incorporating butter to egg yolks and lemon juice a cinch!

The sauce will start to thicken. Once all the butter is incorporated add cracked pepper (or white pepper if you prefer) & check seasoning.

Picture of Whisking - Elizabeth Marshall's Easy Hollandaise Sauce
If you prefer a runnier consistency, add some warm water.

Mix in the remaining 1Tbs of lemon juice &, if you prefer a runnier consistency, add the warm water. Add more salt /pepper to taste & serve over vegetables, seafood or eggs.

Picture of Elizabeth Marshall's Hollandaise Sauce with egg and ham, toast and thyme
Egg’s Benedict with my Easy Hollandaise Sauce and thyme.

I prefer using cracked mixed peppercorns even though they are quite visible in the sauce & I add whatever fresh herbs I have on hand at the end. Enjoy!