dinner

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Individual Beef Wellington

Published February 17, 2013 by jenmatteson

I’ve really had a bee in my bonnet lately about my 30 Before 30 list.  My deadline is quickly approaching, and with all the wedding planning I’ve been doing, my list has been thrown to the wayside.  But, I’m getting a move on and I have somewhat tried to plan out when I’ll be making what next.  Clearly I’ve been putting off some of the more difficult items (at least I assume they are difficult…).

Individual Beef Wellington

I had planned to make just horseradish scalloped potatoes this weekend, but while I was at the store, I noticed that top sirloin was on sale, so I picked one up to make my individual beef wellington.  I’ve only eaten this dish once, and if you’ve ever watched Hell’s Kitchen, apparently beef wellington is the most difficult thing in the entire world to make well…at least according to Chef Ramsey.  Or maybe he just likes to yell 😉  That being said, I was certainly hesitant to make this.  I’ve also never worked with puff pastry, but how hard could it be, right?

Individual Beef Wellington

Individual Beef Wellington

Mistake number one, it needs to thaw.  Dummy.  Whoops!  So my schedule was pushed back by about 40 minutes.  No biggie, except Nate and I had agreed to watch my niece and nephew for the evening, and I wanted to get dinner on and take pictures before the sun went down, which means I had to do it before they got there.  That didn’t happen.  I finished it up just after they arrived, but alas, the sun had already gone down.  I still got some pics, but not like I wanted.  I got up this morning and replated them to get something decent.  This was from last night:

Individual Beef Wellington

Oh, you want to know how they taste??  Yes, let’s get to that.  In a minute.  Duxelles is what is lines the insides of beef wellington.  I never knew exactly what this was, but turns out, it’s basically just a mixture of mushrooms, shallots and herbs.  And let me tell you, just making the duxelles filled my house with such a rich aroma, I was dying to eat it with a spoon.  But I didn’t.

Duxelles

Thyme Seasoning Mixture

The steak made the smell even better!  I put it in a sizzling hot pan and just seared both sides quickly.  Once it was cooled, I coated them in seasoning and let them rest.  My house smelled AMAZING!

Seared Sirlion

Once the puff pastry was thawed, it was pretty easy to work with.  I laid it out on a floured surface, and gently rolled out each piece.  They weren’t perfect or anything, but hey, whatever gets the job done.

Puff Pastry

Okay, okay.  So how did it taste?  Well, I must say I make a very good beef wellington!  Nate absolutely loved it!  I don’t think it even spent much time on his plate before it was gone and he was ready for another.  The beef was cooked just barely over medium (so certainly room for improvement), but all the seasonings with the duxelles and the flakey butter puff pastry – YUM!  These would be great for a party too.  To make as an appetizer, just cut the meat even smaller so they can be 1-2 bite sized.

Individual Beef Wellington

Individual Beef Wellington

Individual Beef Wellington

Source: Adapted from Marrying Prince Charming
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
6-8 large button mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
1 lb beef sirloin or tenderloin
2 sheets puff pastry
2 tbsp stone ground mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and thyme.  Set aside.

2. The bowl of a food processor, combine garlic, shallots, mushrooms, red wine, olive oil, rosemary and half of the thyme seasoning mixture.  Process until all ingredients are finely chopped and well combined.

3. Transfer mixture to a medium skillet and saute until most of the excess liquid is gone, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

4. Trim any fat from the beef and cut into 2×2 inch chunks.  Place in a bowl and toss with remaining thyme seasoning mixture until all pieces are well coated.

5. Once puff pastry is thawed and ready to work with, roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Cut puff pastry into as many pieces as you have beef pieces, making sure they are large enough to completely wrap around the beef.  Spread a thin layer of the stone ground mustard on each piece of puff pastry.  Then spread a thin layer of the duxelles on each piece, about 1 tbsp each, leaving a small border.  Place beef in the center of the puff pastry and carefully wrap.  Place on a prepared baking sheet, seam sides down.

6. Brush each wellington with egg and poke holes in the tops with a fork so they are able to vent while cooking.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puff pastry is golden brown and flaky.

Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce

Published February 12, 2013 by jenmatteson

Nate loves scallops. Whenever we go out to eat, and there are scallops on the menu, there is a 95% chance that is what he’s ordering. I find it adorable that he sometimes confuses scallops with scallions. Easy mistake when reading it on a menu – not like he looks at green onions and thinks they are scallops. If that were the case, I might be worried.

Simple ingredients make the best dishesScallops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, today is his birthday, so I wanted to make something special for him. I was really hoping I didn’t screw anything up, because wouldn’t that be a crappy birthday present? Even if I did, I would hope he would have been satisfied with his birthday weekend. We had a fabulous dinner at the Capital Grille in Minneapolis on Friday night. I am not kidding you – this was the best steak I have ever had. They were cooked absolutely perfectly, and the rubs they use are to die for! For dessert, he got the creme brulee and I ordered the flourless chocolate cake. My goodness, it was so delicious! On top of that, we had superb service. It’s too bad we waited for so long to try this place, but it was well worth the price tag! If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it.

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Another reason he should be satisfied for his birthday (even if I did screw up the scallops), is that I got him a smoker. He’s been talking about this since we moved in. Nate doesn’t do a lot of cooking, though he does most of the grilling. Not that he’s incapable, but he just doesn’t do it. For this reason, I’ve put off indulging his fascination with a smoker. But, I found one that was a smoker and roaster, which my brother said was highly recommended by his customers, so I went with that one. Plus, bonus, it was in my budget. He was like a little kid on Christmas morning opening it up.

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In case you are wondering why my pictures have a green tinge…it’s because I have a green case on my phone, and when I use my flash, it reflects off the side – I just realized this last night.  Duh.

Searing the scallops

Tarragon Butter Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, let’s get back on track. The scallops. I found this recipe on Food and Wine – my trusty standby for classic recipes. Nate and I both like tarragon, though it’s certainly a flavor that people generally hate or love. We are the latter! I served them over a bed of wilted spinach, with just a bit of lemon juice. I always seem to underestimate spinach – so much turns into so little! Either way, it was yummy. Surprisingly, I did a pretty good job on the scallops. I probably could have seared them for one minute more, but I was following the recipe and was more worried about over cooking them. My guess is that my pan wasn’t quite hot enough. They still had a nice color to them, and they tasted amazing. The pics aren’t too great, as I took the pictures around 6 PM, when it’s already dark out 😦

Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce

Nate said they just melted in his mouth. The tarragon butter sauce was the perfect complement. I thought the tarragon might be a little to overpowering for the delicate scallops, but they actually complimented each other perfectly. I now will not be so terrified to make scallops again – though I doubt I’ll make them often seeing as though they were $22/lb 😮 Another bonus, one more thing checked off my 30 before 30 list!

Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce

Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp butter
1 lb sea scallops, dried well
1 tsp salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 bunch fresh spinach
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

Directions:

1. In a large non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil with 1/2 tbsp of butter over moderate heat. Season scallops with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Put half the scallops in the pan. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until browned on second side and just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil with 1/2 tbsp butter in pan and cook remaining scallops. Remove and place on paper towel.

2. Reduce heat to low, and add spinach to pan. Turn several times to coat in pan juices. Add lemon juice, and quickly remove from pan as soon as leaves have wilted. Divide spinach on plates and place scallops on top of spinach.

3. Wipe out pan. Return pan to moderate-low heat and add wine. Boil until reduced to about 2 tbsp, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to lowest setting. Whisk the remaining 4 tbsp butter into the wine. The butter should not melt completely, but just soften to form a smooth sauce. Add remaining 1/2 salt, lemon zest and tarragon. Pour over scallops and serve.

The best picture of course is the one where Charlotte thinks this is her plate.

Charlotte trying to snipe my dinner - but a great shot of the scallops in the top right corner!

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