Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beef Wellington

Submitted by Marcia and Casey Van Camp

Once upon a time I read a book called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. In that book about English magic, one of the characters has the opportunity to help General Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars.  I kept thinking...hum...Wellington, Wellington...isn't there a food with that name.  Eventually, I remembered that it was in fact, Beef Wellington that I was thinking of.  Casey and I did a search to find out just what it was and when we saw the pictures, we were amazed.  It looked so delicious and we started to toy with the idea of making it.  I was not sure when I would ever be brave enough but when I asked Casey what he wanted for his birthday...can you guess what he asked for?  Yep, Beef Wellington.
There are not really clear hard facts showing that Beef Wellington was General Wellington's favorite meal but that doesn't really matter.  If I had a delicious food named after me, I wouldn't mind getting credit!

Honestly, even though we did our homework on how to prepare it, I really don't think it was that much more difficult than some other recipes.  I think that any recipe which I can get right the first time can't really be that hard.  I was nervous that the meat would either be too red in the middle or perhaps to tough but I was delightfully wrong.  It was tender and had a wonderful flavor.  Everyone at the table from those who like meat well done to those whole like their food nearly raw were all happy.  I am looking forward to making this again and again and again.

1 lb. beef tenderloin
7 oz. Puff Pastry sheet (I like Pepperidge Farm)
Vegetable oil or Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Sea Salt
Sprig of fresh thyme
2 egg yolks beaten (make sure you have a brush)
1 lb. Mushrooms, we used baby bellas but the original recipes call for half cremini, half shiitake
8 thin slices prosciutto
4 tbsp Coleman's English Mustard

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan on high heat. Season the fillet generously with salt and pepper. When the oil is nice and hot, carefully add the tenderloin to the pan and use sturdy tongs to turn the meat so that all sides are cooked on the outside (aka seared / pan seared).  This will lock in the flavor and form a tasty brown layer on the outside. 

*Some videos will show searing to be very quick but I cooked mine a little longer so there would be less pink in the middle when I was done.  Don't forget the top and bottom of the tenderloin as well.    It only takes a few minutes and this is the time to decide how much pink you want at the end.  I cooked it until I thought it looked nice and brown all around and it turned out really well

3.  Remove the fillet from the pan and brush all sides with mustard. Set aside to cool while you prepare the mushrooms.

4. Chop the mushrooms and put them into a food processor and purée. Heat the mushrooms a large sauté pan on medium high heat with 1 large sprig of fresh thyme. Scrape the mushroom purée into the pan and let cook down, allowing the mushrooms to release their moisture. When the moisture released by the mushrooms has boiled away, remove the thyme and set aside the mushrooms to cool.  When they are cool, depending on how much moisture is left, you can pat them down with a paper towel.

*I tried just chopping them and cooking them but they really need to go through a food processor to make a paste you can spread.  Our Ninja blender worked well.

5. Roll out a large piece of plastic wrap. Lay out the slices prosciutto on the plastic wrap so that they overlap. Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and leave a little room at the edge so it doesn't spill over.

6.  Place the beef fillet in the middle (the tenderloin will be laid down the opposite direction of the prosciutto so that they are not parallel).  Slowly lift up the plastic wrap to roll the mushroom and prosciutto over the fillet, and wrap it tightly.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet to a size that will wrap around the beef fillet. Unwrap the fillet from the plastic wrap and place in the middle of the pastry dough. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten eggs. Fold the pastry around the fillet, cutting off any excess.  To get a nice shape, tightly wrap the pastry/meat in plastic and put in the fridge for 5 min.

8. Prepare the pan by laying down foil and spraying the foil so that the pastry doesn't stick. Place the pastry/meat onto a the pan, seam side down, and brush beaten egg yolks all over the top. Cut small slits into the top.  I cut just three, but there are lots of different ways you can do this and pictures online if you want to try something else.

9. Sprinkle the top with coarse salt. Bake for 25-35 minutes. The pastry should be nicely golden when done.

10. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice in 1-inch thick slices.


When I made this I double the recipe...I used a 2 lb. tenderloin and it was delicious.  The Gordon R. video shows that he adds salt / pepper to the mushrooms when cooking and additional on top of the prosciutto before laying down the mushrooms.

As for the puff pastry, if you are new to it, it's really not too hard.  Just make sure you get the sheets and not shells and that you let it thaw beforehand.

Here are some websites / videos that we used to formulate our plan. 

more detail

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Strawberry Soup

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp


Maggie brought some of this over to our apartment once and it was so good.  I am happy she taught me how to make it!

1 lb. of fresh strawberries
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. Cool Whip (or similar)

1. Combine all except cool whip. 
2. Heat slowly until mixture comes to a boil
3. Cook about 8 minutes, then remove from heat and cool
4. Blend the cool whip and the mixture together at a low speed
5. Store soup in the refrigerator in a covered container for at least 4 hours.
6. Serve cold

Notes: We like to eat this by itself but you could also put it on pancakes or ice cream etc.