Beef Wellington

2015-01-25 19.07.11

I made a beef wellington!

And I do not mind admitting, I am SO proud of myself.

I really like cooking up savoury dishes, but I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to making this kind of thing. Like most people, I tend to stick to the 5-6 meals I can make without really thinking about, rather than looking up new things to cook. But, I wanted to make something special for my boyfriend’s birthday, so I decided to attempt the wellington and he loved it. He said it was the best thing I’d ever cooked him and I really liked it, too.

I used a recipe from Jamie’s Comfort Food (Although 90% of my cookbooks had a variation in them) and it was actually quite simple and only took about an hour and a half. The effort to impressiveness ratio is high!

As there were only two of us, I made a mini version with a smaller piece of fillet. My small one worked out fine and was actually handy because it fitted exactly in a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, but the recipe below serves 4-6.

One word of warning though, this meal is NOT CHEAP. Just for my little two-man version, the fillet I bought from the market cost £18.50. EIGHTEEN POUNDS AND FIFTY PENCE. Once I’d bought all the other bits it came to around £25.00 for the whole meal. This puts beef wellington firmly in the “Birthdays, Christmas and off to prison tomorrow” category as far as I’m concerned.

Beef Wellington (Taken from Jamie’s Comfort Food)

Serves 4-6

  • 1kg centre fillet of beef, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large knobs unsalted butter
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or Dorot frozen cubes
  • 600g mixed mushrooms (I used chestnut and button, but generally, urgh mushrooms), finely chopped
  • 100g chicken livers, chopped
  • 500g block of puff pastry
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  1. Preheat a large frying pan on a high heat and add the oil, butter and rosemary.
  2. Season the beef with the salt and pepper, then seal by turning it regularly with tongs for about 4 minutes. Take it out the pan and put it aside on a plate.
  3. In the same pan, fry the onion and garlic until softened and then add in the mushrooms. Cook for around 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the livers and cook for a few minutes, then tip the contents onto a large board.
  5. Finely chop it all by hand with a big knife, to a spreadable consistency. I used my trusty demi-lune knife for this.
  6. Taste and season, then stir in the breadcrumbs which should hopefully stop the pastry getting too soggy.
  7. Preheat the oven to 210ºC/425ºF/gas 7.
  8. On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry to 30cm x 40cm. As I mentioned earlier, I used pre-rolled puff so I just left it on the waxed paper it came in and didn’t need any flour. This next bit is directly copied from Jamie, as it’s a bit confusing:

“With one of the longer edges in front of you, spread the mushroom pâté over the pastry, leaving a 5cm gap at either end and at the edge furthest away from you – eggwash these edges. Sit the beef on the pâté, then, starting with the edge nearest you, snugly wrap the pastry around the beef, pinching the ends to seal.”

Basically, fold it over itself and squash down the edges.

  1. Transfer the Wellington to a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, with the pastry seal at the bottom and brush all over with eggwash.
  2. Before it goes in the oven, heat the tray for a few minutes on the hob to crisp up the base, then transfer to the oven and cook for around 40 minutes.

For the timing, I wasn’t sure how long to cook it as I’d used a much smaller piece of beef. I cooked it for about 35 minutes in the end and it was very rare, which is fine for my boyfriend and me (we eat like wolves) but I know not everyone likes their beef like that. As for the breadcrumb trick, the pastry was a little soggy but not bad. Ooh, one more thing; I couldn’t find chicken livers when I was shopping so I just used some Crème Fraiche I found in the fridge to make it creamy. Turned out fine.

A few other recipes I’d looked at suggested making dauphinoise potatoes to go with a wellington but as the portions turned out enormous we just had ours with broccoli and some onion gravy. Classy!

This week I’m sure I’ll be straight back to my usual bolognaise, Thai curry and chili routine but I’m pleased I made the effort with this. I’ll be riding the smugness for weeks to come!

Clare xx

@ClareErin

2015-01-24 18.37.03

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2015-01-25 19.07.11

Birthday Cake

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At work I have a reputation to protect. Not for being tough, or speaking my mind or even being particularly good at my job. Without even trying, simply by turning up one day in a big skirt with a satchel, I am the office girly girl.

I have a pink lunch box, Hello Kitty tissues and once announced that I always used limes instead of lemons because limes are ‘a prettier colour.’ I run to the window whenever we hear horses outside (always for a funeral, so I must look like a death-obsessed goth to the offices over the road). I have also been limping for over a week because I chose pretty, spotty trainers instead of actual, functional running shoes. See, not particularly clever but definitely girly.

So when it was my birthday last week (thirty-one, thank you very much) I had to a make a cake that lived up to my girly reputation. I decided to make a big, traditional lime (obvs) sponge with a buttercream and lime curd filling, using a tried and tested Nigella madeira cake and a curd recipe I found online.

Lime Madeira Cake (Adapted very slightly from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

Double the amounts to make the 2 cakes

  • 240g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Grated zest & juice of 1 lime
  • 3 large eggs
  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 90g plain flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/325ºF.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of flour for each
  4. Gently mix in the rest of the flour and lime juice
  5. Pour into a cake tin and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Cool in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack

I baked the two sponges in springform tins and when the cake was put together it was ENORMOUS. So big that when there was a wedge left it collapsed under it’s own weight and had to be thrown away. So maybe use regular Victoria Sponge tins?

Lime Curd (Taken from BBC Good Food website)

  • 112g plus 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 25g cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Freshly grated lime zest of 1 lime

Method

  1. In a heavy saucepan cook the sugar, butter, eggs and lime juice over a moderately low heat. Whisk frequently, until it is thick enough to hold marks of whisk, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Immediately pour the curd through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the zest of one lime and cool.

I think I scrambled my curd quite badly but once it went through a sieve it was absolutely fine, but I think I’d do it over a bain marie when I make it again just to make sure it stayed smooth.

But how to girly up such an enormous cake? I saw a beautiful cake on Instagram made by Emma from A Beautiful Mess and decided to base it on that. The main thing that went wrong with this plan is that the cake I was copying had frosting all over and piping on top, but I only bought one tub of buttercream so could only do a layer inside with the curd and some on top (as I’ve mentioned before, I DO NOT make frosting). I decided that the filling showing and the curd oozing out looked a bit country-cottage anyway.

To make the cake look really Disney-princess, I scattered heart sprinkles and pink sugar around the edges of the cake and then dotted Love Hearts randomly. I finished with some edible glitter and put it on a pink cake board. Finished!

I text a photo of the final cake to my mum and she described it as the “campest thing I’ve ever seen.” She may have a point.

You might notice that there’s no photos of ingredients or the making of the cake. This is because all the lights in the kitchen died at once and we’re now cooking by lamplight like squatters, which is annoying. But that doesn’t matter because we are moving! To a house with stairs! As much as I love this flat; it’s the first place I’ve lived properly alone and I really love the big rooms here, it is exciting to be moving to a new place. But it does mean the next couple of weeks will be full of cleaning, polyfilla and paying out lots of money, it seems. Moving house is expensive! It will definitely be worth it though.

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