Friday, January 11, 2013

Beef Wellington

Courtesy Of Wikipedia 
Courtesy Of Wikipedia

Had the clever idea of making a Beef Wellington for Epiphany which did not turn out the way I expected it because basically it was the first time I made it. All I knew about it was that you take a piece of beef and wrap it in puff pastry, seal it and stick it in the oven till the the pastry turns out a dark golden color.

As I was looking through recipes in the Internet, I came across Mr. Gordon Ramsey's version of it which looked very good and Christmasy. Mr. Ramsay had the whole recipe on You tube. I followed step by step but unfortunately it did not come out as I expected. Everybody else confirmed that it is excellent.

I had two things going against me: One was that I had to have other things in the oven with it, and second and most important was that I had to make two pieces. One piece for guests who like their meat well done, and others who like their meat rare like I do.


- 2 rectangular pieces of puff pastry.
- 1.2 kg of beef taken from the shoulder going up to the neck. Filet is too expensive for this present crisis.
-  300 gr. of ready to use chestnuts.
-  700 gr. of mushrooms.
-  24 slices of Parma Ham.
-  Salt and pepper to taste.
-  Thyme.
-  1 egg to brush pastry before roasting.
-  Some Olive oil in a roasting pan to sear the meat.
-  A nice large table space to work on.
-  Cling film.

 Since I did not have the easy and straight forward piece of filet, I had to do some African Engineering in order to the piece the way I wanted it which as narrow and long...just like a filet looks like.

This Is The Whole Piece Weighing About 4.5Kg

Note: This piece of meat is called "Χτένι Σπάλας"  in Greek. It is part of the shoulder going to the neck of the beef. Greeks have a much different way of butchering in general. All I know is that it is a very tender piece of meat when roasted whole in the oven or grilled over charcoal or stove top.
-  Cut the above piece in two where the thinner part will be for well done.
-  Blitz the mushrooms and the chestnuts together.
-  Heat some olive oil in a skillet and sear the two pieces of meat from all sides till they take a brownish color. Do not cook, just sear. Set aside.
-  Heat some olive oil in the same skillet and cook the mushroom/chestnut mixture until most of the water in the mushrooms is evaporated. Let cool.
-  On a clean table surface pull out enough cling film to cover the table.
-  Place slices of Parma Ham as shown in picture.

Mushroom And Chestnut Mixture

 -  Spread the cooled mushroom mixture as shown in picture below.

-  Piece of meat on the right has been wrapped tightly in cling film and put in the fridge to set.

 -  The same was done for the piece on the left.

 -  Both pieces were then wrapped in puff pastry as shown above and below:

 -  Both pieces were brushed with egg wash:

-  The piece which needed to be well done was put in the oven about 15 minutes before the second. All in all about 50 minutes.

 Hope you can understand anything I've written above.

Good Luck,

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Fresh Uncooked Mushroom Farfalle...Different

If you have some fresh mushrooms (any mushrooms) in your fridge, lemon or lime, and any short pasta in your pantry you can make yourself one heck of a quick pasta meal.

-  500 gr. of farfalle or any short pasta (neither linguini nor spaghetti).

-  500 gr. any kind of mushrooms (except pleurotus) washed and thinly sliced.
-  Rind of one lemon or lime.
-  Juice of the same lemon or lime.
-  Thyme.
-  Extra virgin olive oil.
-  1 finely grated garlic.
Parmesan cheese.
-  Add thinly sliced mushrooms to a large deep plate or pan.
-  Grate lemon or lime and mix.
-  Juice lemon or lime and mix.

-  Add grated garlic.
-  Add thyme to taste.
-  Salt and pepper to taste.
-  Meanwhile: boil the pasta to the desired doneness.
-  Strain and add while hot over the mushroom mix.
-  Pour desired quantity of oil over the whole.
-  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

-  Mix well and serve.
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Spinach, Ricotta Cheese, Parmesan, Mixed Nut Filling Gigantic Shells.

Oh yes pasta!! My favorite dish. I can have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. There were some guests on Epiphany Lunch who do not eat Escargot (Snails) so I had to think of something they like. I had a freshly opened package of giant shells and used 12 of them to make two oven proof plates for their appetizers.....

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Brussels Sprouts....Always Present On Festive Tables.

I cannot say I love this vegetable but when properly prepared and eaten very rarely it will go down! This time Maria chose to saute them with bacon, and  Greek sage smoked pork called Σύγκλινο Μανής (Siglino Manis)
After doing the necessary washing, getting rid of the first yellow ugly leaves, cutting a cross on their base Maria blanched them for 4 minutes dipped them in cold water with ice in order to maintain their vivid green color and most importantly to stop the cooking....

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Crunchy Crisp Black Grated Potatoes.....New To Me!

Live and learn they say. I will say it even if it sounds morose: "If someone is bound to die he or she should do so late in the evening because he or she would have had the chance to learn something that day!!"

Well I just learned that there are blue/black potatoes. They are imported from France.

Yes I work sitting down!!

I was told that you can either boil and puree them, or make crisps (chips) out of them. So I thought of thickly grating them and making them into cakes, fry them crisply on both sides et voila. But I found out I could not because they don't hold together in the pan: they fall apart. So I lost my patience and mixed them all up as the picture below:

I know I could have put flour etc. but I prefer natural stuff.  So kept sauteing over a very slow fire until they became so beautifully crunchy that I kept on eating from them while cooking and there weren't much left for the guests!! Used good fresh butter mixed with some olive oil, and they came out perfect.! So these are the black spots you see in the plate below. They really are deliciously crunchy and taste yummy.

-  1 kg of black potatoes.
-  Salt and pepper.
-  Boil the potatoes till tender, peel and grate them as above.
-  Add salt and pepper to taste and saute on slow heat till crisp.
-  Serve as shown on platter.
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Carrot And Sweet Potato Puree

Carrots are very good for you. Bugs Bunny eats them and you see how clever he is!!....

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chestnut Pannacotta

There are many types of pannacotta. This is one of them which suits the season. Chestnuts are usually consumed during the Christmas Holidays.....

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Doughnut Puffs-----Loukoumades

Sorry for the lousy picture I forgot to take one when they were ready to serve.

Doughnut puffs are classical 50's and 60's sweets which are not very much eaten now-a-days because they are very sweet but they are delicious. A soft and sticky dough containing lots of fresh yeast is deep fried by the teaspoonful to form puffed up crispy hollow golden yellow balls and by adding honey, wall nuts and cinnamon, explode in your mouth  Very high in calories! But deeeeelicous...eaten in very special occasions once or maximum twice a year....

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Epiphany 2013 Lunch

Epiphany 2013 lunch turned out to be one heck of a meal and..... quite a job to prepare!! The perfect cooperation between Maria and myself. Maria prepared the veggies, roasted potatoes, the sweets, and the Vassilopita while I prepared the Escargot (Snails) Bourguignon, Stuffed Pasta and the Beef Wellington. The menu was as follows.......

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