2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming. Makes about 1 cup.
Bechamel into Cheese Sauce:
Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cheddar, Parmesan or any other cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper.