Friday, December 30, 2011

Beef Wellington


I usually make Beef Wellington every Christmas but sometimes I make an exception and make it fora special guest. I developed this recipe over the years starting with the one from Saveur magazine. Here is how I make Beef Wellington.

Ingredients:

2.5-3 lb of beef tenderloin
1 lb of sliced prosciutto
1/2 lb of crimini mushrooms
2 small shallots, minced
1 package of frozen puff pastry (Aussie Bakery brand)
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 cup of beef stock
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of butter
Canola oil spray
1 egg, beaten
fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Flour to roll the pastry dough

Preparation:

1. Defrost frozen puff pastry at a room temperature for about 2 hours before use.

2. Wash and clean mushrooms. Using food processor chop mushrooms finely. Spray generously pan with the canola oil spray. On medium heat fry mushrooms and half of the shallots until all water from the mushrooms has evaporated. Transfer cooked mushrooms into a separate bowl.

3. In the same pan fry beef tenderloin on all sides until brown. Don't wash the pan, keep it for making the sauce.

4. The next step is to assemble prosciutto, mushrooms and beef together. I used a cutting board and put a layer of saran wrap on it. I layered slices of prosciutto first, overlaying them on top of each other. Next spread mushroom-shallot mixture all over the prosciutto and sprinkled with the fresh chopped thyme. I spread mustard on each side of the tenderloin. I placed tenderloin on the edge of the prosciutto-mushroom-shallot layer and then rolled it all up as tight as possible keeping saran wrap on top and using it to make the roll tighter. I next placed tenderloin wrapped in plastic in a fridge for 30 minutes.


5. Preheat oven to 425F. I used both puff pastry layers from the package. Put each dough layer on top of each other and roll it out. Take tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto-mushroom-shallot layer out of the plastic wrap and place it on the rolled out dough. I then eyeballed how much dough I need to get this meat all wrapped up and cut unnecessary dough off. I used egg wash (1 beaten egg) to seal the pastry together and then flipped the tenderloin seam side down. I cut the leaves with a knife from the dough leftovers and placed them on top of the tenderloin and then spread the rest of the egg wash all over the pastry and leaves. Spray the baking sheet with the canola oil spray and place the Beef Wellington on it. Bake for 40 minutes in the oven.


6. After 40 minutes take a measurement of the meat's temperature. We like our meat medium-rare (on a rare side), so 40 minutes was just right.


7. Last step is to make the sauce. Use the same pan (that you have not washed yet) where you fried the beef. Preheat the pan on medium heat, add shallots and fry until translucent. Deglaze the pan with red wine and scrape any leftover beef bits. Add beef stock and chopped fresh thyme. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer until the sauce thickens and is reduced by half. Add cream and stir. Cook the sauce for another 30 seconds to a minute. Take off the heat, add cold butter and mix. Taste the sauce. Slice Beef Wellington into inch and a half slices and serve it with the sauce on top and mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crepes or Russian Blini




Tonight is a very proud night for me - I finally mastered Russian blini. Yes, one would think it is very easy to make this Russian staple food. Not me! After years of attempts to replicate my mother's recipe I finally did it and I am excited to share it.


Ingredients:

2 cups of milk
1 cup of white flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
butter
canola oil spray
caviar, sour cream, chopped chives and honey for serving

Preparation:

1. In a large bowl beat eggs. Add milk, flour, salt and sugar and mix all ingredients together with a whisk until even and there are no flour clumps.

2. Preheat non-stick regular size pan on medium heat and spray it generously with canola oil spray. Pour almost full ladle of batter into a pan. Swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly. Once you see the ends of the blin (1 crepe) start getting brown, using a spatula flip it and cook on the other side until cooked.

3. Once blin is cooked transfer it to the plate and spread a little bit of butter on top to prevent blini from sticking to each other. Repeat the process. There is no need to spray any more oil if you have a good non-stick pan. If you notice blini to start sticking then use more oil spray. Also, adjust your oven so that blini don't burn. I cooked mine on medium heat.

4. Serve blini with caviar, sour cream and chives or with honey and sour cream.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Luminous + Spinasse



Evening started with Luminous Exhibit at SAM. The exhibit has been going on for several months now. However, today was finally the day I decided to see it. The top thing for me was multimedia installation by Do Ho Suh.



After the exhibit we went to the Italian restaurant Spinasse. I have heard about this place in my Italian class and I tried to get into it two times before but unsuccessfully - the wait one time was 45 minutes and another 1.5 hours! So, I went ahead and made reservations online for Sunday night. Now that I went to Spinasse I can see why it is so popular. It has been a while since I have enjoyed food this much.


We tried their main specialties recommended by the waiter.



We started with a beet salad and then chose their signature pasta with both types of sauces offered: butter and sage and pork-beef ragu. On a menu it is listed as Tajarin al rag├╣ o burro e salvia. It was delicious!



Following pasta came 3 rabbit meatballs with horseradish and mashed turnips. Yes, they were very tasty.


As for dessert I went with Zuppa Inglese, something similar to tiramisu but not. So, would I recommend this place? Absolutely! Cost wise, it all depends on whether you have alcohol and how much of it. Dishes are reasonably priced.


Christmas 2011 Favorites


It is Christmas time again and I have my favorites for this season. Satsuma mandarins are in season and I have been eating them by a pound. They are sweet and juicy. They remind me of my childhood - mandarins were only available around Christmas and New Year time when I was growing up.


Poinsettia is another symbol of Holidays, which I adopted here in the U.S. Thanks to globalization, you can find them being sold in my home country Lithuania now as well. Get a few and see how your living room transforms to become Holiday ready. Don't forget to water it once in a while. 


Nothing brings on a Holiday spirit like some Christmas carols and music. This year we went to Cathedral Christmas concert by Seattle Choral Company at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle. I found it very festive to listen to the Christmas songs in a Cathedral. The United States does not have Cathedrals that have been standing for centuries. St. Mark's Cathedral has understated look inside, with big windows and gray walls. Light fixtures imitate old candles. During intermission we got served hot apple cider and home baked cookies. And, of course, we were made to sing few carols along with the choir. This was their 5th year of production and I am hoping they will continue this wonderful tradition.


Another surprise this season is getting an arrangement of flowers like this: tropical, summer. Splurge, spoil yourself or ask someone to do it for you :)


Finally, no Christmas is complete without a Christmas Tree. I decorated mine with ornaments that have a meaning to me. Like this piggy - it was my favorite when I was a kid. My family had a set of three of them based on a fairy tale. Now grown up each of us has one pig - me, my mom and my sister. Also, I got a wreath.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dog Apparel for wet Pacific Northwest from Canada


This is my second set of outdoor clothes that I bought for my dog in the last six years and I am staying loyal to the brand Teckelklub. Why do I like it? First, it keeps my short-haired dog warm during cold nights. Second, it keeps his back dry in a rain. Third, it has reflective fabric on it, so you can see us in a dark. And finally, when it is very muddy outside (and those puppies love the mud) it keeps some of the dirt out :)

Teckelklub is a Canadian dog apparel. You can find their outfits in some pet stores around Seattle area but you can also order them directly from the Teckelklub Web site. This is what I did this time. The shipping took 10 days.

I got 2 types of outfits for my dog Tye. First, I got him a fleece "The Fuzzie." I had the same one for the last 6 years but it has shrunk with time (it has been washed and dried a lot) so replacement was in order.


I also got him a new trench coat for those rainy days. Again, it was a replacement.


So, the outfits last a long time (5-6 years in my case), they help little guy stay warm and out of rain and they have reflection, which is so needed at night. Happy Ruffs!