Happy Fourth of July! ~ Northwest Salmon Burgers

Salmon BurgerHappy Fourth of July!

I made Northwest salmon burgers for dinner tonight to celebrate the date. 🙂 They were summery, festive, delicious, and easy to make. I will definitely keep this recipe in my collection for future summer celebrations.

Northwest Salmon Burgers

Based on a recipe from The New York Times

1 ½ pounds wild-caught salmon

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 medium shallots, chopped into approximately ¼ inch pieces

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed, roughly chopped

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

High heat cooking oil, such as safflower

Remove the skin and the pin bones from the salmon, and chop into coarse pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, process about ¼ of the salmon and the mustard until the combination forms a paste. Then add the remaining chunks of salmon and the shallots. Pulse the ingredients together in the food processor until the mixture comes together, but make sure it still has some texture. For best results, the chunks of salmon shouldn’t be bigger than ¼ inch, but they shouldn’t be a purée.

Transfer the salmon mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs, capers, salt, and pepper until everything is well incorporated.

Form the mixture into approximately 6 patties and set aside on a plate.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet. When the skillet is hot, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the salmon patties. Be careful not to crowd the pan. You may need to cook them in two batches. Cook the first side for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until golden. Flip, and cook on the second side until the burgers are cooked through. Take care not to overcook.

I served mine on rosemary rolls with a little butter lettuce and a dollop of lemon mayonnaise on top.

It’s April Fool’s Day! ~ Meatloaf Cake

Meatloaf CakeI made a cake today. Just an average, ordinary cake. I promise, nothing weird, nothing out of the ordinary. OK, so maybe not everyone goes for mashed potato frosting. And chive sprinkles might be a little unconventional. But it all makes sense when you know the cake is a meatloaf! 😉 Welcome to my April Fool’s Day dinner.Meatloaf CakeI used a delicious turkey meatloaf recipe from Health magazine. (Here’s the link.) I evenly spread out the meatloaf mixture in a 9 by 9 inch pan rather than making it into a loaf shape. After the meatloaf baked and cooled, I cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter for individual cakes. I mashed the potatoes with a little skim milk and salt to taste. Then I covered the meatloaf round with the mashed potatoes. I used an offset spatula to smooth the top and sides, and a piping bag with a star tip to decorate. Note: Make sure your potatoes are very smooth and creamy or they will clog up the star tip. (I won’t tell you how I learned that. 😉 ) Leave the cakes white to showcase the potato “frosting,” or sprinkle with chive “sprinkles.” (Or get creative and add peas, carrots, or anything else you can imagine! This is a day to play and have fun.)

I hope April is the start of a spring filled with good things!Meatloaf Cake

Valentine’s Day Dinner ~ Seared Duck Breast with Blood Orange Sauce

Seared Duck Breast with Blood Orange SauceOur Valentine dinner was a celebration of winter citrus! I love that citrus fruit comes into season in the middle of the winter months, just when we can use a bit of brightness. I thought it would be fun to choose a variety of citrus fruits, and then base my menu on what I found at the market.

I ended up with kumquats, blood oranges, Buddha’s hand, and a pomelo. This was my first time playing with Buddha’s hand, which was quite a discovery! I would highly recommend picking one up if you see it at the market. The scent is lovely, and the taste is distinctly different than any other citrus I have tried before. I really enjoyed exploring what I could do with the fruit. A culinary adventure! 🙂Scallops and Fennel Salad with Tarragon Kumquat VinaigretteWe began our dinner with scallops and fennel salad, all dressed in a tarragon and kumquat vinaigrette. The main course was seared duck breast with a blood orange sauce. Then for dessert we had Buddha’s hand cheesecake with candied Buddha’s hand on top. It was all paired with a sparkling wine pomelo cocktail and a delicious red wine from Orange Coast Winery.

I think our favorite dish of the night was the duck. The recipe was based on a duck bigarade recipe, which is a dish traditionally made with Seville oranges. I used blood oranges that were a little tart since I thought the blood orange color was perfect for Valentine’s Day!Buddha's Hand CheesecakeSeared Duck Breast with Blood Orange Sauce

Based on a recipe from Epicurious.com

Serves 2

2 duck breasts

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Zest of 1/2 blood orange, for garnish

Flesh of 1-2 blood oranges, for garnish

Salt the duck breasts generously on both sides, and allow them to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat the duck dry with a paper towel. Once the pan is hot, place the duck breasts into the pan, skin side down. Sear about 6 minutes on the skin side, and about 4 minutes on the flesh side, or until golden on the outside and still a little pink (medium) on the inside. (Of course, if you like your red meat cooked more, by all means cook it a little longer.) When the duck is cooked to your liking, set it aside on a cutting board. Tent with foil.

While the duck rests, discard all but 2 tablespoons of the duck fat in the pan. Turn the pan onto medium heat. Add the flour to the hot fat, and whisk until well combined. Cook until it is the color of a café au lait.

Slowly whisk in the stock, orange juice, orange liqueur, and vinegar. Pour any juices that may have accumulated around the duck into the sauce. Boil the sauce until thickened to the consistency of gravy. Salt and pepper to taste. Optional: Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer for a smoother consistency.

Remove the fat from the duck breast. Thinly slice the meat, and serve with the sauce, orange zest and orange slices.Seared Duck Breast with Blood Orange Sauce

A Reason to Celebrate ~ Brisket Braised in Stout

Brisket Braised in StoutI love little holidays that give us a reason to celebrate, no matter how big or small they are. 🙂 Tonight is Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night in Great Britain, which has a long and interesting history. The holiday is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires on this autumn night. It is also International Stout Day! A fun little celebration set aside to appreciate that dark and unique style of beer.

In honor of the day, this brisket braised in stout seemed like a fitting dish. It is a perfect meal to warm up before a chilly fall evening outside by a bonfire, and of course, stout plays a starring role! The original recipe was from Bon Appétit magazine. I used Guinness, since it pairs beautifully with beef. I also used oil rather than bacon fat, and trimmed the meat of as much excess fat as possible. It is one of the most delicious beef recipes I have made in awhile, and I would highly recommend giving it a try!

Brisket Braised in Stout

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more if desired

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more if desired

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

6 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of all excess fat

2 tablespoons high heat oil, such as safflower

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed

12 ounces Guinness stout

6 whole pitted prunes

4 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

6 cups thinly sliced onions

8 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 pound medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more if desired

It is best if the first part of this recipe is done the day before you are planning to serve the dish.

Day 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine all of the ingredients from the salt through the thyme in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the beef. Preheat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the oil, and wait until hot and shimmering. Add the beef and cook until caramelized on both sides. Once brown, move the beef to a plate. (It will not be cooked through.) Pour 2 cups of the chicken broth into the pot. Scrape the fond from the bottom of the pot, and bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, add all of the ingredients from the stout through the sugar. Bring to a boil once again. Return the beef to the pot. Add the onion slices and garlic over the top of the meat.

Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise the beef for about 1 hour. Remove the pot from the oven, and remove the cover. Turn the beef over. (The onions and garlic will fall into the broth.) Return the pot without the cover to the oven. Braise for about 30 minutes more. After 30 minutes, add 1 more cup of the broth. Cover the pot again, and braise for another 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Transfer the beef to a plate. Add 1 more cup of chicken broth to the remaining liquid in the pot. Add the mushrooms and carrots, and then return the beef to the pot. You may need to add a little more broth to cover the vegetables. Cover and return the pot to the oven. Braise for about 45 minutes longer, or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spoon off any excess fat from the surface of the broth. Move the beef to a cutting board, and thinly slice across the grain. Bring the broth with the vegetables to a boil. Add the mustard and 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and whisk to combine. If desired, season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar to taste. Add the meat back to the pan. Cover the pan with the lid. Place the pot in the oven and cook until everything is hot, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve.

Happy Halloween! ~ Creole Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Chicken Sausage

Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted PumpkinTo celebrate one of my favorite days, I made a fun and festive dinner – A spicy Creole pumpkin soup served inside of a roasted pumpkin. 🙂

First I roasted a little sugar pumpkin. A friend of mine brought a larger version filled with fondue to a party, and it was a showstopper! I just had to try it! (Thank you for the idea and the tips, Karen!)

Just cut off the top of the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and goop, and then replace the top. Spread olive oil evenly all over the outside of the pumpkin, including the stem. Place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast at 450 until the flesh inside is soft. My little sugar pumpkin only took 40 minutes, but a larger pumpkin would take a little longer.Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted PumpkinYou could use this pumpkin serving bowl with any favorite pumpkin soup recipe. The Creole pumpkin soup I made tonight was based on a recipe from a restaurant in New Orleans called Tableau. The unique soup was a little spicy, and perfect for our Halloween dinner!
Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted Pumpkin

Creole Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Chicken Sausage

Based on a recipe from Tableau

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved

8 cups water

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

12 ounces andouille chicken sausage, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 15-ounce can puréed pumpkin

1 teaspoon mixed Creole or Cajun seasoning

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 rotisserie chicken breast, shredded

In a large stock pot, add the shrimp shells and the water. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain. Reserve the liquid and discard the shells.

Preheat a large stock pot over medium high heat. Once the pot is hot, add the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sausage. Brown the sausage on both sides. Remove the sausage from the pot, and set aside onto a plate lined with a paper towel.

In the same pot, add the onion, celery, and thyme. Cook until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic, and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and cook until it starts to darken slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp stock, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Working in small batches, transfer the mix to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to a pot. Add the Creole seasoning, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken sausage and the chicken breast. Simmer over low heat to combine all of the flavors, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through. Serve immediately.

The Witches’ Brew wine bottle printable came from TheGraphicsFairy.com. They are free to use, and oh so cute! I hope you’ll check it out!Halloween Wine Label

October Teashop Mystery ~ Country Captain

Country CaptainI love a good cozy mystery around Halloween, and right now I am reading the latest teashop mystery from Laura Childs called Ming Tea Murder. It is set in Charleston, South Carolina around Halloween. This is the third book I’ve read in this fun series. (If you’d like, check out the recipes I made to pair with the other two mysteries I have enjoyed from this collection, Steeped in Evil and Jasmine Moon Murder.) In the latest book, one of the characters cooks a dish called Country Captain. It’s a Southern dish, but it uses curry spices, dried currants, and peanuts, which is an unexpected and interesting combination. Just like the book, this recipe combines the East and the West, and it is filled with surprising twists! It’s the perfect pairing. 🙂

I love to learn about the history behind classic dishes, so I dug a little deeper online. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America describes the origin of Country Captain in this way: “Legend has it that a British sea captain who served it in India introduced the dish to locals either in Charleston or Savannah, port cities accustomed to both spices and sailors.”

I used a recipe from Saveur magazine, but I tweaked it a little. First, I used all chicken thighs since they stew beautifully. Make sure to remove the skin or the dish will be far too greasy. I reduced the amount of oil, and omitted the butter and the bacon. I also served it with brown rice rather than white.Country CaptainCountry Captain

Based on a recipe from Saveur magazine

3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons high heat oil, such as safflower

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, 3/4 cup tomato juice reserved

3 tablespoons curry powder

1/3 cup dried currants

2 bay leaves

2 cups steamed brown rice, for serving

Roasted peanuts, for garnish

Season chicken with thyme, salt, and pepper. Preheat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken. Sear on both sides until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the celery, peppers, and onion to the pot, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and juice and cook until the juice thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, currants, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, heat your oven to 325˚.

After the sauce is thickened, add the chicken back to the pot. Spoon the sauce over the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meat can easily be shredded off the bone with a fork.

In the meantime, prepare the rice according to the package instructions.

Serve the chicken with the sauce and rice, and garnish with peanuts.Ming Tea Murder

British Wedding Anniversary Dinner ~ Pie 3 ~ Pheasant, Leek, and Parsley Pie

British PiesThe final pie I made for our British anniversary pie extravaganza was a pheasant, leek, and parsley pie. 🙂 I started with a chicken pie recipe from BBC Good Food, which I thought would lend itself well to the gamier pheasant. I loved the clean, fresh flavors of the leek, parsley and lemon zest that complimented the pheasant well.

Again, I did a slow braise with the pheasant, just as I did with the rabbit, which resulted in very tender meat and a bunch of extra pheasant stock to use for future recipes.

Pheasant, Leek, and Parsley Pie

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

Cooking the pheasant and the stock:

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

1 pheasant, about 3 pounds, cleaned

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½ tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Preheat a large stockpot on medium high heat. When hot, add oil, and wait until the oil is hot and shimmering. Add the whole pheasant, and brown on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients and cover everything with water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for about 2 hours, or until the pheasant meat is easily shredded with a fork.

Strain the stock, and discard the vegetables and seasonings.

Shred all of the meat, and reserve 2 ¼ cups of the stock for the pie. Freeze the rest of the stock for future recipes.

Cooking the pie:

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 ¼ cups pheasant stock

¼ cup dry white wine

1 3-pound cooked pheasant, shredded

Zest of 1 lemon

1 small bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the oil, and wait until hot and shimmering. Add the leeks, and cook until softened. Add the flour, stir well, and cook for about a minute. Gradually stir in the stock and wine, cooking until the sauce is thickened slightly. Add the pheasant meat, and heat until warmed through. Take the pan off the heat, and add the lemon zest and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, add the stew to small ramekins and top with the pre-baked shortcrust pastry. (The instructions for the pastry can be found here in the first beef pie blog entry.)

The sweet ending to our meal is up next. 🙂 A lemon syllabub trifle!

British Wedding Anniversary Dinner ~ Pie 2 ~ Rabbit Pie with Cider and Mustard

British PiesThe second pie I made for our trio of British anniversary pies was a rabbit pie. 🙂 I wanted to make something out of the box, and rabbit isn’t something I use everyday. It was fun for me to cook with something different, and it felt like a special ingredient to use on our special day. It tastes a lot like chicken to me, so this recipe could be swapped with chicken, as well.

I started with a basic braise that left me with very tender meat and enough rabbit stock to freeze for later. (I use this method with chicken frequently. It’s a nice way to stock your freezer for the coming winter soup months! 🙂 )

Rabbit Pie with Cider and Mustard

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

Cooking the rabbit and the stock:

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

1 rabbit, about 3 pounds, cleaned

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½ tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Preheat a large stockpot on medium high heat. When hot, add oil, and wait until the oil is hot and shimmering. Add the whole rabbit, and brown on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients and cover everything with water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for about 2 hours, or until the rabbit meat is easily shredded with a fork.

Strain the stock, and discard the vegetables and seasonings.

Shred all of the meat, and reserve 2 cups of the stock for the pie. Freeze the rest of the stock for future recipes.

Cooking the pie:

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

1 small leek, finely sliced

1 teaspoon fennel seed

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup dry hard cider

2 cups rabbit stock

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 3-pound cooked rabbit, shredded

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the oil, and wait until hot and shimmering. Add the leek and fennel seeds, and cook until caramelized and softened. Stir in the flour, and cook for about a minute. Add the cider, stir well to fully incorporate the flour and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the cooking liquid by half.

Stir in the mustard, add salt and pepper to taste, and then add the rabbit meat. Cook until warmed through.

To serve, add the stew to small ramekins and top with the pre-baked shortcrust pastry. (The instructions for the pastry can be found here in the previous beef pie blog entry.)

Up next, pheasant pie!British Pies

British Wedding Anniversary Dinner ~ Pie 1 ~ Beef, Ale, and Mushroom Pie

British PiesI decided to make a meat pie for the main course of our British anniversary dinner. There are so many to choose from, however! I couldn’t make up my mind…So I made 3! 🙂 I made these all ahead of time and froze them until we were ready. Now we have lots of leftovers to thaw whenever we want a special meal.

I used the same shortcrust pastry for all three pies. The recipe I used came from the BBC recipe website. I replaced the plain flour with ivory whole-wheat flour, and I ended up using a little more water than the recipe called for to properly moisten the whole grain flour. I ended up using 5 tablespoons, but add just enough for the crust to come together. This crust also freezes well for future use. I served my pies in little ramekins and just topped them with crust. Not only was it a cute presentation, but also I only needed a small amount of the rich pastry for each pie. To make the little interchangeable and removable crusts like I did, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the refrigerated crust to about 1/8 inch thick, and cut it into the shapes you want with cookie cutters. Brush the pieces with an egg wash and bake at 350 for about 15-18 minutes, or until golden, turning halfway through for even cooking.

The first pie I made was a beef, ale, and mushroom pie. I used a round roast, which is a fairly lean cut that braises well. I also used Canadian bacon rather than traditional bacon, and omitted the sugar completely. I replaced the chestnut mushrooms with criminis, since they are easier for me to find in the States. I also made several tweaks to the recipe for my American kitchen, converting grams to ounces and changing the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

Beef, Ale, and Mushroom Pie

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

1/3 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

3/4 cup boiling water

2-4 tablespoons high heat cooking oil, such as safflower

2 1/2 pounds round roast, trimmed of excess fat, cut into inch-sized cubes

1 large onion, diced

4 large carrots, diced

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

10 ounces dark ale, such as Guinness

14 ounces low-sodium beef stock

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small bunch of mixed herbs (thyme, bay leaf, and parsley), tied together

6 ounces Canadian bacon, small diced

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced

Cover the porcini mushrooms in the boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until they are tender. Then remove the mushrooms, squeeze out the excess moisture, and reserve the liquid.

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Using a large pot with a lid and a heavy bottom, preheat on medium high heat. When it is hot, add some of the oil to coat the bottom, and wait until the oil is hot and shimmering. Add the beef in small batches, and brown on all sides. Set aside. Add the onion and carrots, and cook until caramelized and softened. Add the soaked mushrooms, and cook for about a minute more. Add the flour, stirring until it turns slightly golden. Place the meat and any juices back into the pan and stir well. Add the ale, stock, and porcini soaking liquid. Stir well to fully incorporate the flour into the liquid. Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. Add the herbs. Bring the stew to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and place it in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender enough to shred with a fork.

Meanwhile, preheat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add a little more oil. Add the Canadian bacon, and cook until caramelized. Then add the crimini mushrooms and cook until they release most of their moisture. Remove from the heat. When the stew is cooked, stir the bacon and mushrooms into the stew.

To serve, add the stew to small ramekins and top with the pre-baked shortcrust pastry.British Pies

A Night of Gumbo and Dancing ~ Chicken Gumbo

Chicken GumboThis week, my hubby and I went out dancing on a beautiful summer night in downtown Seattle as a part of the Dancing Til Dusk series. For 15 nights, different parks around the city host live music and dancing. There is everything from waltz to swing to tango. The night we went happened to have a Cajun-style band, so I made chicken gumbo to get us into the mood before we went out!

I started with a recipe from Southern Living magazine, which was quick and easy compared to many other gumbo recipes. To make it a little healthier, I used half of the amount of oil that the recipe called for, and I only used one link of andouille sausage for the whole stew. If you can, use homemade chicken stock, since it is one of the stars of the dish.Chicken GumboChicken Gumbo

Based on a recipe from Southern Living magazine

1/4 cup high heat oil, such as safflower

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 teaspoons blended Cajun seasoning

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 link chicken andouille sausage, cut into thin slices

1/2 precooked rotisserie chicken, shredded

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, whisk the flour slowly into the pot. While constantly whisking, cook until the flour is the color of dark caramel. Watch very closely, so the mixture doesn’t get too dark.

Once the flour is a dark shade of caramel, reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, celery, and Cajun seasoning. Cook until the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock and sausage. Increase the heat again to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir the chicken into the pot, and continue cooking until warmed through.Chicken Gumbo

Polynesian Adventure ~ Tuvalu Tuna, Samoan Tropical Salad, and ‘Otai

OtaiTonight I took a culinary trip to three different Polynesian island nations on this beautiful summer evening! I tried recipes from Tuvalu, Samoa, and Tonga.

All of the recipes were from an inspiring food blog I admire called Global Table Adventure. I discovered the blog when I read the author’s memoir in which she shared her journey to make the website. She went on a culinary voyage in her own kitchen, cooking a meal from every country in the world. (That is 195 countries!) Then she wrote about the recipes and her experiences making them, as well as facts about the countries from which they came. She also added beautiful photos of the food as well as the countries she featured. I have already tried a few of the recipes ranging from a chicken dish from Panama (Arroz con Pollo) to a breakfast dish from Israel (Shakshouka). I have learned about dishes I have never heard of before, and even countries that I wasn’t aware existed. The blog has helped to open up my corner of the world to the greater world, filled my wanderlust, and ignited my passion for cooking on days when I’m not feeling very enthusiastic about making dinner. It really is a wonderful website, and I hope you’ll check it out. 🙂 I plan to cook many more adventures from this collection of recipes.Tuvalu TunaOn tonight’s Polynesian adventure, the main course was called Tuvalu Tuna. Before perusing through the collection of recipes on Global Table Adventure, I wasn’t familiar with the island of Tuvalu. I learned that it is the smallest member of the Commonwealth of Nations. (Coincidentally, all of the nations featured in this meal are a part of the Commonwealth.) In fact, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) visited Tuvalu a few years back, and they experienced a little of the local food and dance. (If you need a smile, check out the second half of this video. 🙂 )

I lightened the dish a little from the original recipe by reducing the amount of oil to only 1 tablespoon, and using light coconut milk. I also served it with brown rice instead of white.

Tuvalu Tuna – Follow this recipe link to Global Table Adventure

I served the tuna dish with a simple salad from Samoa, which was the perfect accompaniment. It consisted of an unlikely combination of spinach, papaya, avocado, and cantaloupe, which worked together nicely.

Samoan Tropical Salad – Follow this recipe link to Global Table Adventure Polynesian AdventureI paired our dinner with a classic drink from Tonga called ‘Otai. I can’t think of anything that is more summery than watermelon, coconut, and lime blended together! (This was my second batch of ‘Otai, since it is that good!) I used a light coconut milk beverage like this, rather than a can of coconut milk. Serve in a tiki glass for the full Polynesian effect! I think this would also be lovely with a little rum to kick it up a bit. 😉

‘Otai – Follow this recipe link to Global Table AdventureOtai

Happy Fourth of July ~ Part 2 ~ Trout Burgers with Tarragon Mayonnaise

Trout BurgerWhat could be more American than a thick, juicy burger on the Fourth of July? 🙂 I made trout burgers with a tarragon mayonnaise for our holiday dinner. The steelhead trout I used came from the Columbia River, which is just south of Seattle. I wanted my celebration of the USA’s birthday to include some of the things I love and appreciate about my corner of this county, like fresh seafood! 🙂

I based my recipe on a salmon burger recipe from Bon Appétit magazine. The two fish are related, so they can be swapped with each other in most cases. I also changed a few things besides the fish. Most notably, I reduced the amount of mayonnaise and increased the amount of nonfat yogurt for the tarragon mayonnaise spread. I also added lemon zest in addition to the juice, and I used freshly grated horseradish rather than the prepared variety. To serve, I used homemade whole-wheat brioche buns rather than buns made with white flour.

Trout Burgers with Tarragon Mayonnaise

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

Serves 4

1 pound skinless trout fillet, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 1/4 cups)

4 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon drained small capers

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh white horseradish, grated

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

4 whole-wheat buns

4 large tomato slices

8 butter lettuce leaves

Tarragon mayonnaise (recipe follows)

To make burgers:

Combine first 10 ingredients in medium bowl, and mix well. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Mix breadcrumbs into salmon mixture. Form into four 1-inch-thick patties. Preheat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil when the pan is hot. Add salmon patties; cook until just firm to touch and brown and crusty, about 3 minutes per side.

Assemble each burger on a bun with a generous amount of tarragon mayonnaise, a trout patty, a slice of tomato, and lettuce leaves. Serve immediately.

Tarragon Mayonnaise

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

2 green onions, chopped

1/2 tablespoon drained small capers

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon freshly grated white horseradish, or more to taste

To make mayonnaise:

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

My festive Fourth of July wine bottle label came from Catch My Party. They have the cutest free downloads to kick up your celebration a notch. 🙂

Fourth of July Wine Bottle Label

It’s officially summer! ~ Kalua Pork on Whole-Wheat Taro Rolls with Poi Spread and Pineapple Slaw

Kalua Pork SandwichesWhen summer rolls around, my backyard starts to feel a little tropical. Seattle’s temperatures are about the same as Lahaina’s this week. 🙂 I absolutely love the Hawaiian Islands, and so this warm weather gets me in the mood to cook Hawaiian-style dishes!

Kalua Pork SandwichesI based this dish on a recipe I found on CookingHawaiianStyle.com. It’s a really fun recipe that uses a few of Hawaii’s most famous ingredients in a fresh new way.

I made a few tweaks to make the recipes a little healthier. For the taro rolls, I used whole-wheat pastry flour and skim milk, I replaced the butter with coconut oil, and I reduced the amount of sugar. For the slaw, I used nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, and I omitted the sugar altogether. I also reduced the amount of dressing by half, and added a little extra pineapple. (After all, the pineapple is one of the stars of the dish!) For the spread, I used fresh horseradish root rather than prepared horseradish.

And since I don’t have an imu in my backyard to cook the pork, I chose a frozen kalua pork imported from Hawaii to keep it authentic. 😉 (I was able to find all of the ingredients I needed, including the pork and the poi, at my local Asian grocery store.)

Kalua Pork SandwichesKalua Pork on Whole-Wheat Taro Rolls with Poi Spread and Pineapple Slaw

Based on a recipe from Cooking Hawaiian Style

Taro Rolls:

1 (1/4 oz.) packet active dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup skim milk

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup cooked taro, mashed

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

All-purpose flour for dusting hands and work surface

In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Let sit for a few minutes until the mixture is a little frothy on the top. (If there is no froth forming after 10 minutes or so, start again with a fresh packet of yeast. This means your yeast was not alive.) Scald milk by heating in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around the inside edge of the pan and the milk is just about to boil. Pour milk into a mixing bowl. Combine the milk with the oil, sugar, and salt. Allow to cool, about 2 minutes. Into milk mixture, stir in the eggs, taro, and yeast mixture. In a large bowl, add the flour. Make a well in the center. Add the liquid mixture to the flour. Mix thoroughly until the dough comes together. On a floured work surface, turn the dough out. Knead until smooth. Transfer the dough into a well greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Flour hands, and punch down the dough. Divide into 16-17 even portions. Shape into small balls and place onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately and freeze the extras. Makes approximately 16-17 rolls.


Poi Horseradish Mayonnaise Spread:

1/2 cup fresh poi

1/4 cup water

Fresh horseradish, grated (to taste)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise


Slaw Dressing:

1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 green onion, green part only, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice



1 cup red cabbage, shredded

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

1 cup carrots, shredded

1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped



12 oz. store-bought kalua pork


Poi Horseradish Mayonnaise Spread

In small mixing bowl, combine the poi and water and mix well using a wire whisk. Add the horseradish and mayonnaise, and whisk until smooth. Chill before serving.


Pineapple Slaw

In small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Blend well. In large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients. Toss lightly. Pour dressing over salad. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate.


How to serve:

Take a taro roll and spread with the poi mayonnaise. Add kalua pork and top with pineapple coleslaw.

This pairs well with any drink served in a tiki glass! 🙂

Kalua Pork Sandwiches

Family Dinner ~ Tuscan Sausage and Caramelized Onion Ragù

Pasta SauceThe flavors of this dish will transport you to the beautiful Tuscan countryside. You can almost see the rolling hills from your spot at the dinner table as you eat al fresco under the grape arbor. 😉

This sauce is perfect for a dinner party since it’s a crowd pleaser, and it doesn’t need a lot of attention on the stove once everything is combined. The house will smell delicious when your guests arrive, and the sauce can simmer on its own while you chat with your company.

The original recipe was from a homemade pasta cooking class at Sur La Table. To make the dish a little leaner than the one from class, I used olive oil rather than butter, and I chose lean ground beef and chicken sausage rather than ground chuck and pork sausage.

Tuscan Sausage and Caramelized Onion Ragù

Based on a recipe from a cooking class at Sur La Table

Yield: 8 servings

For sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 large celery ribs, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 pound sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed

2 (28 ounce) cans San Marzano whole tomatoes

1 cup dry red wine

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For onions:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar


In a large pot or large, wide skillet, add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, stirring well to coat with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables turn golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until paste turns a darker red, about 2 minutes. Add sausage and beef, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps, and cook until meat begins to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, and bay leaves, stirring well to combine. Reduce heat to medium and simmer sauce until thickened and reduced, about 40 to 50 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Keep warm.


While sauce simmers, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, stirring well to combine.

Just before serving, stir onions into the sauce. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Use immediately with fresh pasta, or allow to cool and refrigerate up to 3 days. Any unused portions can be packed in an airtight container and frozen up to 1 month.

To make this meal even more authentic, make homemade fettuccine with your guests! It’s a fun and interactive project to do together, which is a nice icebreaker. The recipe for fresh pasta dough can be found here.

The time of the year for all things Irish ~ Individual Cottage Pies

Cottage PieSt. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, and I love to make Irish recipes every year to get into the spirit. Cottage pie is a classic Irish dish, likely dating back as far as 1791. If you change the ingredients slightly, it is a different dish altogether: Use lamb, and it is a shepherd’s pie, sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and it is a Cumberland pie, and if you use turkey and ham, it is a St. Stephen’s Day pie. Those could be fun alternatives to try later to mix things up. It is also a simple and quick weeknight dinner, which is perfect since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year. You can make it in one large casserole dish, or individual ramekins are very cute. The mash on top can be either traditional mashed potatoes, or better yet, steamed and puréed cauliflower.

Cottage PieCottage Pie

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

For topping:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

3 tablespoons skim milk, or more for a smoother consistency

Earth Balance to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

For base:

1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower or sunflower

1 pound leanest ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup beef stock

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 large carrot, chopped finely

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Steam cauliflower florets in a medium saucepot with the lid on until tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower into a food processor. Add milk and blend until it is a smooth purée. Add Earth Balance, salt, and pepper to taste, and pulse to combine.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, heat until shimmering, and then add mushrooms. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl. Add beef, onion, and garlic to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat until beef is brown, breaking up with spoon, about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrot, stock, parsley, and Worcestershire. Simmer about 4 minutes, or until the stock is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the beef mixture into an 8-inch round baking dish or individual ramekins. Spoon the cauliflower purée over the top, and serve immediately.

Cottage Pie

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day!) ~ Mini English Pancakes

PancakesMardi Gras came on the heels of Valentine’s Day this year, and since I was still in a British mood after our Downton Abbey themed Valentine dinner, I decided to celebrate this day as the British do…with pancakes! In England, what we call Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. They celebrate by eating pancakes, and they even have pancake races! This video of the yearly Parliamentary pancake race from a couple of years ago made me giggle. It gets quite competitive, as the video shows! Ha! This year’s race video featured a pancake-cam, which is also quite hilarious. 😉

In honor of this fun tradition, I made mini pancakes to celebrate Pancake Day. English-style pancakes are much thinner than American pancakes. They are almost like French crêpes. The cakes are traditionally served with a little caster/fine sugar and lemon rather than maple syrup.

I chose to make a basic recipe from BBC Good Food. I replaced the plain flour with whole-wheat pastry flour, and I used fully skim milk rather than partly-skimmed milk as the recipe called for. I also made my cakes mini for an afternoon tea snack, but otherwise followed the recipe fairly closely.

PancakesEnglish Pancakes

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

100g whole-wheat pastry flour

2 eggs

300ml skim milk, plus more if needed

1 tbsp light oil such as sunflower or safflower, plus extra for frying

Pinch of salt

Lemon slices, for serving

Caster/fine sugar, for serving

Blending in the flour: Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the middle, and then pour in about 50ml milk and 1 tbsp oil. Start whisking from the center, gradually drawing the flour into the eggs, milk and oil. Once all the flour is incorporated, beat until you have a smooth, thick paste. Add a little more milk if it is too stiff to beat.

Finishing the batter: Add a good splash of milk and whisk to loosen the thick batter. While still whisking, pour in a steady stream of the remaining milk. Continue pouring and whisking until you have a batter that is the consistency of slightly thick single cream.

Getting the right thickness: Heat the pan over a moderate heat, and then wipe it with oiled paper towel. Ladle some batter into the pan, tilting the pan to move the mixture around for a thin and even layer. Leave to cook, undisturbed, for about 30 seconds, or until you see the edges getting a bit dry and golden. If the pan is the right temperature, the pancake should turn golden underneath after about 30 seconds and will be ready to turn.

Flipping pancakes: Hold the pan handle, ease a fish spatula under the pancake, then quickly lift and flip it over. Make sure the pancake is lying flat against the base of the pan with no folds, and then cook for another 30 seconds before turning out onto a warm plate. Continue with the rest of the batter, serving them as you cook or stack onto a plate.

PancakesThe little flag was generated from the Keep Calm-O-Matic website. You can make your own personalized signs based on the classic British “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster. So fun!


Downton Abbey Valentine Dinner, Main Course ~ Mini Beef Wellingtons

Mini Beef WellingtonMy Valentine requested his favorite dish for our Downton Abbey themed dinner – Beef Wellington. I have made a full beef Wellington as well as a salmon version on previous occasions, both with delicious success! This time I decided to try mini Wellingtons with pâté, and I think my Valentine was happy with the result. 🙂

Looking into the history of the dish, the origin is a bit cloudy. It may have been around during the Downton era, or it may not have. It may have British origins, or it may actually be American. (Gasp!!) Anyway, the dish is a favorite in our abbey, so we included it in our celebration.

I used a tried and true recipe from Martha Stewart. This mini version is much easier to make than the full beef Wellington. It can also be made ahead of time, which is a lovely feature! It is admittedly a rich dish, but the base of beef tenderloin is a very lean cut of beef. To make it a little healthier, I used less of the pâté than the recipe called for, and I also rolled the pastry thin and cut off the excess, so I didn’t use the entire sheet. Since it was Valentine’s Day, I cut out little hearts for the top of the Wellingtons with some of the extra puff pastry. Just stick them on with a little egg wash. I only made half the recipe, but I will include the original full recipe below:

Mini Beef Wellingtons

From MarthaStewart.com

1 beef tenderloin (5 pounds), trimmed and halved crosswise

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons safflower oil

2 packages (12 ounces each) all-butter puff pastry, such as Dufours

8 ounces mousse pâté, such as D’Artagnan mousse de foie de canard

2 large eggs

Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half of beef; cook, turning, until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board; repeat with second half. Let cool, 40 minutes. Cut each half into 4 equal pieces.

Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry to a little larger than 16 by 12 inches. Trim edges; cut into four 8-by-6-inch squares. Place one piece of beef, cut-side down, on a pastry square; top with 2 tablespoons mousse, spreading evenly. Lightly beat 1 egg, then brush over edges of pastry, fold up corners to enclose filling, and gently press to seal. Repeat with remaining pastry, beef, and mousse. Arrange Wellingtons, seam-side up, on parchment-lined baking sheet; wrap well in plastic and then foil. Freeze up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, if you are not freezing the Wellingtons for later, wrapping is unnecessary. Just chill for an hour in the refrigerator before baking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly beat remaining egg, then brush over frozen Wellingtons. Divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake about 35 minutes for medium-rare. If your Wellingtons are not frozen, bake for only about 25 minutes. The internal temperature of medium-rare beef is between 130-135 degrees.

Remove Wellingtons from baking sheet and let rest 10 minutes before serving with mushrooms.

Serve with sautéed mushrooms (I made this recipe, which is the recommended pairing on MarthaStewart.com), and a salad.

Next course, Battenberg cake!


Special Dinner ~ Salmon Wellington

Salmon WellingtonBack in November, I made my hubby a beef Wellington for his birthday. Ever since, I have been interested in trying other versions of the dish with different savory fillings. When my birthday rolled around this month, I thought I would make a simple salmon Wellington to celebrate. 🙂 I was out all day, but these little Wellingtons came together quickly and easily. (Much easier than the beef version!) The tarragon really makes the dish, and the little fish cut out of the extra puff pastry on top made me smile. 🙂

Salmon Wellington

From Bon Appétit magazine

1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

4 3/4-inch-thick 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets

6 tablespoons minced shallots

4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

1 egg beaten to blend (for glaze)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out each pastry sheet on lightly floured surface to 12-inch square. Cut each in half, forming four 12×6-inch rectangles. Place 1 salmon fillet in center of each rectangle, about 3 inches in from and parallel to 1 short edge. Sprinkle each fillet with salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon shallots and 1 tablespoon tarragon. Brush edges of rectangles with some glaze. Fold long sides of pastry over fillets. Fold short edge of pastry over fillets and roll up pastry, enclosing fillets. Cut off any excess pastry if necessary. Seal edges of pastry. Place pastries, seam side down, on baking sheet. Brush with glaze.

Bake pastries until dough is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

Salmon Wellington

This month isn’t *all* about turkey ~ Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Chicken TagineTurkey doesn’t need to get all of the attention this month. 😉 I thought I would write about one of my favorite chicken dishes, as well. It is so flavorful and moist that it literally falls apart with a fork. This recipe works for a special occasion, but it is easy enough for a weeknight. That’s the kind of recipe I am most thankful for in this busy month of Thanksgiving. 🙂

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Based on a recipe from Sur La Table’s cooking classes


1 medium onion, cut into ½ inch dice

1 medium garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon cilantro, minced

Pinch of saffron threads

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


10 (4 ounce) chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup water

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the marinade together. Arrange the chicken in a shallow baking dish, and pour the marinade over the top, mixing so all of the chicken is covered on all sides. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat a large heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add remaining oil. Remove chicken from marinade (reserving the remaining marinade) and sear. Pour the remaining marinade onto the seared chicken, and add the water. Cook until the liquid boils, reduce heat, and simmer about 40 minutes, until the chicken is tender and nearly falling apart. Add the thyme.

Serve with couscous.

Chicken TagineMake this dish and be virtually transported to a far off land in the desert. 🙂 Ahh…Sunshine and palm trees.

Desert Palms

Happy Birthday! ~ Beef Wellington, one more time around

Beef WellingtonWe celebrated a special birthday at our house this week – Happy birthday to my hubby!

We enjoyed Beef Wellington with good friends to mark the special occasion. 🙂 I made the dish last year for his birthday, and it was such a favorite, that I made it again this year. It may become a birthday tradition from now on!

Beef WellingtonI tried something a little fancier to finish the dish this time around. I cut thin strips of puff pastry, and placed them in a cross pattern over the top. I think it really added an extra “wow factor” to the presentation, and it was so easy to do. 🙂

Beef WellingtonHere is the recipe I used once again:

Beef Wellington

Based on a recipe from BBC Good Food

2 lbs beef tenderloin

Olive oil

10 oz crimini mushrooms

1 large sprig fresh thyme

Splash dry white wine

12 pieces thinly sliced prosciutto

1 pack frozen puff pastry, thawed

Flour for dusting

3 egg yolks beaten with 2 tsp water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in pan until it is hot, but not smoking. Season beef with salt and pepper. Sear on all sides until golden. Then place beef on a roasting rack and cook in oven for about 20 minutes. (It will not be cooked through.) Remove from the oven to cool, and then chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

2. While beef is cooling, place the cleaned mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until fine. It should be the texture of coarse bread crumbs.

3. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms with the sprig of thyme in a dry pan with no oil, stirring often, about 10 minutes. When the liquid has cooked out of the mushrooms, pour a splash of white wine into the pan. Cook until dry once more. Remove thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. Overlap 2 pieces of cling film (otherwise known as Saran wrap for us American cooks :)) over a large chopping board. Lay the prosciutto onto the cling film, slightly overlapping one another, in a double row. Spread the cooled mushrooms over the prosciutto evenly. Remove the beef from the refrigerator, and pat dry with a paper towel. Place it in the middle of the cling film with the prosciutto and mushrooms. Use the cling film’s edges to draw the prosciutto around the fillet tightly, and then roll it into a sausage shape, twisting the ends of the cling film to tighten. Chill the fillet once again.

5. Dust your clean work surface with a little flour. Roll out one piece of puff pastry until it is large enough to wrap around the fillet. Unravel the fillet from the cling film and set it in the center of the pastry. Beat the egg yolks and water together for an egg wash. Brush the pastry edges and the top and sides of the fillet with the egg wash. Wrap the pastry around the beef as tightly as you can, overlapping slightly to cover the whole fillet. Tuck the sides in as you would a package, so the beef is completely wrapped. Use the egg wash as a “glue” to make sure it stays together. Trim with kitchen shears if need be. Glaze the entire package with the egg wash. Using the back of a knife, mark the beef Wellington with long diagonal lines taking care not to cut through the pastry. (Or, as an alternative to scoring the pastry with a knife, cut thin strips of a second rolled puff pastry sheet with a pizza cutter. Lay the strips over the top of the Wellington in a crosshatch pattern. Tuck under, so there are no loose ends on the bottom. Then coat the entire package with egg wash.) Chill for at least 30 minutes.

6. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the Wellington with a little more egg wash and cook on a rack until golden and crisp, about 30 minutes, or until it is done to your liking. (Ours was still pink, but cooked through.) Allow to rest for about 20 minutes once it comes out of the oven. Serve in thick slices.

Beef Wellington