2 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups warmed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2 ounces grated cheese, such as Gruyere
Steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower or baby carrots, for accompaniment
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is pale yellow and frothy, about 1 minute. Do not allow the roux to brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. This is now called a bechamel sauce, and may be used as is to top any number of dishes.
Stir in the cheese and whisk until melted. If the sauce seems to thick, thin with a little milk.
The sauce is now called a Mornay Sauce. Pour over steamed vegetables and serve immediately. If not using right away, cool, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days.