1) place milk, bay leaves, pepper corns, onion and garlic in a saucepan, bring to the boil then remove from
heat and allow to infuse for 15-20min, remove other ingredients from the milk.
2) melt butter in another saucepan, add the flour, stir and cook for 2-3min on medium heat - do not burn the flour
3) over a medium low heat gradually add the warm milk stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps.
4) keep stirring over a medium heat until the sauce thickens (at one point the sauce will feel kind of "slippery", then you must stir like mad as this is when it begins to thicken) If lumps appear, don't stress, stir out with a whisk
Add salt and pepper to taste
You now have the base sauce, it can be used on it's own (like in lasagna) or you can add various ingredients to create different types of sauce:
- add a handful of chopped fresh parsley for a sauce that goes well with fish or chicken
- add a handful of grated cheddar cheese for a cheese sauce
- crumble in a wedge of blue cheese or gorgonzola for a blue cheese sauce that goes great with baked potatoes
- add fried mushrooms for a mushroom sauce to go on burgers or steaks
- this sauce is a great carrier of flavours, so you can add a great many things, let me know if you find other interesting combinations for it