Stolen Christmas

I used to love Christmas.  I don’t anymore and this year it was stolen from me. My late husband’s brother invited two of my three sons to join them for Christmas in San Diego without my knowledge. Not that they would spend it with me, but knowing I was not invited and my third son was not invited, hurt. I am happy that they will get together, but so sad that they they did not bother to even let me know, so hurt my feelings.

What is Christmas? Is it about love? Is it about family? Anymore, I don’t know what it is about. My husband’s family decided they hated me this last year for reasons I will never really understand, so we don’t have them coming for Christmas. I feel the love is gone for the holidays. I feel I have lost my family for holidays. I am so sad for the holidays and they no longer exist for me.

I have the fun minions in the driveway, the decorated tree in the house and presents under the tree for part of the family, but the joy of Christmas is gone for me.

As you grow older, are you the forgotten part of Christmas? Do your children no longer care about you at Christmas? Where is the Christ in Christmas? It is gone. I feel more alone tonight, on Christmas eve than I have felt in years.  I have one son coming tomorrow for Christmas dinner, but the other two can’t bother. I turned off my cell phone because I don’t want to be disappointed that no one will call.

I hope you are happier than I am on Christmas.  For me it is one of the saddest days of the years.

Stolen Christmas

How to keep that All-Clad clean!

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 10.05.11 AMOver the years, I have had many pans that I loved and that I hated.  I love all my All Clad pans and their Slow-Cooker is the most even one I have owned.  That being said, my dear sweet husband likes to help clean up the kitchen, as he does not ever cook and I love cooking.

All Clad are not as easy as Teflon, but with a little man-power or woman-power and little help from a couple friends, they can remain spotless.  I keep SOS or Brillo on hand and scrub away every use.  I do use a new one every time, as I can’t stand the yucky thing after it has been used once, and luckily they are really cheap.  They even sell them at the local Dollar Store.

If I can’t get it clean with just SOS or Brillo, I add Bar Keeper’s Friend to the mix.  I read somewhere that people thought it was toxic, so I looked up their website to see what they had to say.  Here is it, and it is quite natural.  You might want to wear gloves, but it is not going to hurt the environment any more than rhubarb or spinach, as it contains natural oxalic acid.

Family-owned, Customer-driven

After World War II, U.S. Army veteran Dr. Beurt SerVaas found that the customers at his small plating shop kept asking him how to clean metal items. “My grandmother used Bar Keepers Friend,” he told them. Inspired to serve his customers, Dr. SerVaas purchased Bar Keepers Friend from the Gisler Polish Corporation in 1956.

Over the years, more and more people got in on the secret of Bar Keepers Friend, and found ever more varied and unique uses for our oxalic acid-based cleaning powder. We’re still a family-owned company manufacturing in Indianapolis, and we’re still motivated by solving problems for our customers. Bar Keepers Friend now goes to market with minor variations in ingredients and packaging, but our products remain essentially the same as the ones that polished bar rails over a century ago.

  • “Bar Keepers Friend is extremely popular among musicians, especially drummers. It is excellent at removing stains, fingerprints and stick marks from cymbals”
  • My mother always told me to use Bar Keepers Friend to keep my stainless steel pots clean, and she was right. I finally tried it and was so surprised it worked great. Thank you so much
  • Thanks for making a product that actually cleans my sink and pots and pans without tons of elbow grease. I use Bar Keepers Friend for all kinds of clean up around the house. Thanks for making a superior product!
  • This is my favorite kitchen cleaning product! Saves so much time and effort when cleaning baked-on and stained items. You have a customer for life! Thanks
How to keep that All-Clad clean!

Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!

amer

I love the smell of cooking garlic and try to grow it in my garden every winter.  This year some critter enjoyed a lot of it before me, but there is still quite a bit left growing.

One of my friends on FB posted that we are now importing more garlic from China, so I was interested in the difference between the two.  First of all it is quite easy to identify the imported garlic, as the root has to be cut off to meet exportation law.

3-chinese-garlic-664x443

Or here is another photo:

china

Garlic is a nutritious vegetable that makes for a savory addition to many recipes. Yet new information has come to light that’ll probably change the way you buy and eat it.

You’d think your produce is grown in nearby farms, right? That could be wrong! You could very well be eating something that traveled halfway around the world to get to your grocery basket—and if you’re not careful, it may cause serious health risks.

In our culture, 80% of the garlic comes from China. In 2014, the United States imported over 138 million pounds of Chinese garlic, and each year the trend appears to grow. Since you’ve likely been eating this garlic for so long, you may not think it’s a problem—until you learn it’s often covered in bleach and pesticides.

Having driven by Gilroy and smelling it there, if you have been in the area you might assume all your American garlic comes from that area in California: Gilroy- “the garlic capital of the world”). Considering it was once the world’s largest supplier of garlic, that statement might’ve been true. That’s changed in the past few years.

In the US, it’s become cheaper and easier to import garlic from places like China. The unfortunate side of this is that China isn’t as stringent with its safety regulations. Reports run rampant of garlic bleached in chlorine, fumigated in pesticides, grown in untreated sewage water, and even contaminated with lead. If you have ever been to China, that would not be a surprise to you.

The bleach is used to cover up dirt spots, even though they’re perfectly natural. According to the Australian Garlic Industry Association‘s Henry Bell, while bleaching kills insects, prevents sprouting, and helps whiten the bulb, it’s fumigated with a dangerous toxin called methyl bromide. When taken in high doses, methyl bromide can cause central nervous system and respiratory problems. According to the UN, it’s 60 times more dangerous than chlorine—so the lower cost is not worth the risk. Luckily, you can easily tell the difference between Chinese and American garlic as I displayed in the photos above.

  1.  Look for the roots. Chinese importers have to remove the roots to abide by regulations, but American farmers have no such rule, and often leave them attached.
  2. Weigh it. Chinese garlic contains more water, so it’s lighter. It’s actually 37% solid, compared to the American 42%. To test it, give it a squeeze: a firmer bulb is the way to go!
  3. Taste it. Chefs swear that garlic from China has a bit of a metallic taste, while American bulbs are more flavorful. American garlic contains more allicin, which is the dominant factor in determining that distinct taste and smell we all love. CA garlic routinely scores a higher BRIX scale rating (sugar content)

Fun fact: garlic from China contains 3500 ppm (parts per million) of allicin, while American garlic has 4400 ppm.

It may cost a bit more, sure, but buying American garlic is safer and well worth it. If nothing else, it simply tastes better!

China is putting California garlic growers out of business, and YOU can stop it. Less than ten years ago, all of our garlic was grown in this country, primarily in CA. Now less than 40% is grown here and most of it (60%) is coming from China.

The roots being removed is required by the Ag Dept. to prevent soil-borne plant diseases from entering our country. If the roots are still there it is California garlic. The Garlic Growers Assoc. says not one single US grower cleans out the root end.

Share this important information with your friends!

Some, but not all information found on “Boredom Therapy”.

 

 

 

Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!

Creme of the Crop

nonfeatured-secret-weapon-creme-anglaiseFound this interesting article on Tasting Table.

Executive pastry chef Daniel Skurnick of NYC’s Le Coucou and Buddakan is the brain behind many fascinating desserts, like double dark fermented soy sauce ice cream served alongside a chocolate walnut tart. And pipe tobacco ice cream, which contributes an almost warm raisin flavor to a dish, with hints of bacon, chocolate and whiskey. From passion fruit to pandan leaves, Skurnick steeps flavor into his food through his Secret Weapon: crème anglaise.

At its simplest, crème anglaise is a rich, sweet sauce composed of cream, sugar and egg yolks. One of the sauces all professional cooks must master, it traditionally requires tempering and constant stirring as the dairy and eggs cook—details many avoid at home altogether. At the helm of two busy restaurants, Skurnick makes 20-quart batches in one go, or up to 40 gallons in a single weekend. “We don’t have time to make sure milk on massive burners doesn’t burn if we walk away,” he says. And so he’s made his crème anglaise recipe as easy to nail as possible.

He first combines both milk and cream in a large pot: too much cream and the high-fat ratio won’t pour as a sauce, but too much milk and it tastes “watery and boring.” In a bowl, he whisks egg yolks. He warms the dairy and to it adds 90 percent of the sugar, whisking the remaining 10 percent into the yolks. “Heat acts as sharp knives thrown at your protein, and sugar acts like bubble wrap against it,” he explains. By adding this sugar-wrap to both proteins, he’s solved the burn risk. Instead of slow cooking, he brings the dairy to a quick boil, removes the pot from the heat, whisks it into the eggs, pours the lot back into the pot and furiously stirs for five seconds. Then, he pours it all into a container set over ice and walks away.

“Once everything is weighed out, the process takes 15 seconds,” he promises. “Boom, boom—go.” When chilled, the crème anglaise works as a plate sauce that gets spun into pistachio, cardamom and Vietnamese coffee ice creams, and transforms into coconut bavarois or chocolate crémeux. “There’s a blanket fear that pastry is scientific and exact,” Skurnick says. “And that’s true in many ways. But pastry has a fluidity to it, an art to it, where you’re allowed to put your creative touch.”

Photo: Brendam McHale

Crème Anglaise Flavoring Basics

At its core, crème anglaise has a recipe ratio of one cup of milk (liquid) to one cup of cream (fat) to four egg yolks and half a cup of sugar. “Once you learn that, you can start playing,” Skurnick says. For the milk, try subbing in equal parts raspberry purée or dark soy sauce. For the cream, try cream cheese or coconut milk. For sugar, dry sugars like coconut, date or molasses shift the flavor profile while keeping the process steady.

Beyond substitutions, flavorful steeping options are endless, like vanilla, espresso beans or cinnamon sticks. “Not every flavor works,” Skurnick warns. “There are certain things egginess just does not lend itself to.” Through years of experimentation, he’s learned grapefruit does not pair as well as lemon. Passion fruit, however, tastes heavenly—papaya does not. “But even when it’s bad, you can turn it into ice cream or pour it over chocolate—it still works. Have fun with it. Steep something interesting: doughnuts, corn bread, oak chips, dried leaves.”

Once you’re done subbing and steeping, use Skurnick’s Secret Weapon in these classic and festive ways throughout the holidays and well into the New Year.

 Simple Sauce for Cake

The texture of straight crème anglaise “makes a lovely sauce poured over chocolate cakes or sticky pudding.” For festive winter flavors, think adding warm winter spices, like tobacco or applewood chips, to your base. Or sub out the cream for cream cheese, and you have the perfect sauce for carrot cake.

 The Very Best Eggnog

“For Christmas, an anglaise will give you the very best eggnog you’ve ever had,” Skurnick promises. Toast whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and allspice until aromatic. Add your milk and cream. The next day, strain out the spices, add the alcohol, and you’re good to go. It’s like drinking straight crème anglaise with a boozy kick to it.

 Make a Mousse

Use the aforementioned ‘nog for the booziest mousse in town. Skurnick instructs to go heavy on the spices, “’cause we’re gonna add another pint of plain unflavored whipped cream to it.” To the warm eggnog anglaise, add four sheets of bloomed gelatin (or eight grams of powdered gelatin). Meanwhile, whip one pint of cream to soft peaks. Add a tablespoon or two of booze to the mix if desired, but not too much—it’ll alter the consistency of the mousse. Once the gelatinous anglaise is cool to the touch but not set, fold in the whipped cream, then set in cups or mugs.

 Frozen Custard Cream

Once the crème anglaise is set, toss it into any standard ice cream machine and spin until a decadent frozen custard forms.

 Classic (or Candy Cane!) Crémeux

“I like to think of crémeux as ganache’s more decadent cousin,” Skurnick jokes. Stir the anglaise into a pot with equal parts melted chocolate until the two are fully emulsified. Once set, it’s crémeux. Use it to fill cake layers or sandwich cookies, plate artfully alongside another dessert, “or just eat it straight from the container.”

When considering steeping options, think darker flavors like burnt oranges or strong black tea. “Don’t be a wimp,” he advises, or they’ll be lost among the chocolate. Or flip the profile and go white chocolate and candy cane: Pulse enough candy canes in a food processor until you have half a cup, then sub into your anglaise base recipe. Pour it over 325 grams of white chocolate (add more mint extract if you want it stronger), and you’ve got candy cane crémeux to wow those holiday cookie exchanges.

Creme of the Crop

Chicken or Duck? Which egg for what?

chickenduck-main-1000Turns out, there are pros and cons to the duck egg/chicken egg debate. A lot of it has to do with how you want to cook them. Duck eggs actually have less water and more albumen than chicken eggs. This makes them amazing for baking and pastry work, since that magic combo will make cakes fluffier and egg breads even more delicious than your standard chicken egg. They are richer than chicken eggs, with twice the fat. This means custards made with duck eggs are creamier and they would be glorious for scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches, and the like. A sabayon made with duck eggs is supposedly even more ethereal. And some pastry chefs swear that meringues made with duck eggs get better volume and are more stable.

But that lack of water makes other types of cooking, where the whites and yolks retain their independent nature, problematic. Any type of fried egg, hard- or soft-boiled, or poached, the whites can get very rubbery.

From a nutrition standpoint, they are also different. A large chicken egg is about 50 grams, and a duck egg about 70. But despite only a 20-gram difference in weight, a duck egg is twice the calories, twice the fat, and three times the cholesterol of a chicken egg, albeit the good kind of cholesterol.

As with chicken eggs, if you are being careful about your diet you can make scrambles and omelets with one whole egg and an added white or two for bulk. Duck eggs have more Omega-3s, and stay fresher longer due to a thicker shell. They are also much more expensive, often as much as $1-$2 per egg, depending on your source. The flavor and how different it is or isn’t from a chicken egg is entirely dependent on the diet of the duck, so if you want to use duck eggs in a cooking application where the flavor is egg-forward, you might want to do a test scramble of one egg to see if they are more intense than you might prefer.

If you have a good source for duck eggs near you, they are worth seeking out, especially for desserts. Whether the juice is worth the squeeze, price-wise, for your regular breakfast is very much up to you. But you can bet that now that I know all the benefits of duck-egg baking there is a duck-themed dinner party in my future.

The only minus point that duck eggs have is the considerably higher cholesterol content, compared to chicken eggs. 100 gm of duck eggs will contain 884 mg of cholesterol, compared to 425 mg in chicken eggs.

Another thing to note, is that many people who are allergic to chicken eggs can tolerate duck eggs. But be sure to talk to your doctor before giving that a try.

As an added bonus? Eggs are loaded with antioxidants, which some research suggests could even reduce the risk for cancer. So in general, there are plenty of good reasons to be poaching, scrambling, boiling, and sunny-side-upping.

Chicken or Duck? Which egg for what?

How about Turkey Wellington for Christmas??

Turkey Wellington

SERVES 10
 From Jamie’s Oliver’s “Christmas with Bells On”837_1_1439210788

Ingredients

  • 1.6 kg turkey breast , skin off, preferably higher welfare
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme , leaves picked
  • 1 x 340 g jar cranberry jam
  • 25 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 rashers quality smoked streaky bacon , thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 600 g mixed mushrooms , chopped
  • 1 turkey leg
  • 1 carrot , roughly chopped
  • 1 leek , trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 knob unsalted butter
  • 2 x 500 g packets all butter puff pastry , chilled
  • 1 large free-range egg , beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Place the turkey breast upside-down on a board. Gently slice into the natural join of the breast muscle to open it out and make a sort of pocket. Season well and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over half the thyme leaves, then spread over an even layer of cranberry jam, pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. Fold it back into shape to seal the mixture inside – swiss roll-stylie – and push a few cocktail sticks into the seam to keep it together. Transfer the turkey to a roasting tray, season the outside with the remaining thyme leaves, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Rub it all over, cover in tin foil and roast in the hot oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until just cooked through – using a thermometer, you want it to be 72°C at the thickest point.
  2. Meanwhile, soak the porcini in a dish of just-boiled water. After 5 minutes, stir with a fork so any bits of grit sink to the bottom. Add the bacon to a large frying pan with a splash of oil on a medium heat and fry for 5 to 10 minutes, or until beautifully golden and super crispy. Strip in the leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs for the last 30 seconds or so. Remove everything from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon fat behind. Add the fresh mushrooms to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drain and chop the porcini, saving the water, then stir into the pan. Add a splash of the water, avoiding the grit, then cook for around 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pan starts to sizzle again and the mushrooms are golden, soft and sticky with caramelly edges.
  3. To make the gravy, cut the thigh off the turkey leg and slash into it slightly. Throw the leg and thigh into a pot along with the carrot, leek and onion. Stir in the flour, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and 2 litres of boiling water. Add a heaped tablespoon of cranberry jam, the balsamic vinegar and remaining rosemary sprig. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for around 2 hours, or until thick. Strain it through a sieve and reheat before serving.
  4. When the mushroom pan is dry, add a knob of butter and toss to coat. Tip the mushrooms into the food processor and whiz until you get a good mixture of smooth and chunky. Leave to cool. Once the turkey breast and stuffing have cooled, you can get on with assembling the wellington.
  5. Dust a clean surface with flour, then roll out each packet of puff pastry to the size of a shoe box (one will be the base, one the lid – roll the lid ever so slightly bigger). Line a large roasting tray with greaseproof paper, dust with flour, then add the smaller piece of pastry. Spread half of the mushroom stuffing onto the middle of the base to cover an area the same size as your turkey breast. Remove the cocktail sticks, then place the turkey breast on top and spread the remaining stuffing over the top packing it all in and smoothing it out so that the whole breast is covered. Sprinkle with the crispy bacon and rosemary, then brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Lay the second sheet of pastry over the top, gently mold it round the shape of the breast, pushing all the air out and seal together. Trim the edges to around 4cm, then pull, twist, tuck and pinch in the pastry (like in the picture).
  6. Brush the whole thing with beaten egg then all the hard work’s done. Leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight until you’re ready to cook. On Christmas day, cook at 180°/350°F/gas 4 for 50 to 60 minutes, or until risen, puffy and beautifully golden and the turkey is piping hot throughout. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for around 10 minutes before carving. Serve carved into 2.5cm with the gravy and all the usual. Christmas in a mouthful.
How about Turkey Wellington for Christmas??

The Yam vs Sweet Potato Controversy

IMG_6854 couple of days ago I bought sliced sweet potatoes at our local wonderful market and just sautéed them in butter with a little salt and pepper.  It was delicious.  I have always wondered what the difference was between sweet potatoes and yams. I found the following article online and borrowed it from Bon Appetit Magazine to share on my blog.  I thought it was  most interesting.

Sometimes life puts you at a crossroads: Do you buy yams or sweet potatoes? They often look identical, but I’ve found that “yams” can be as low as 79 cents per pound, while “sweet potatoes” cost $2.49 per pound. So, what’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? At most grocery stores, absolutely nothing. It’s all a facade! “Most of the so-called yams you see in American grocery stores are actually orange-fleshed sweet potatoes,” explains Mary-Frances Heck, author of new cookbook Sweet Potatoes (and former BA staffer). The reason for the name mix-up, she explains, is because Louisiana sweet potato growers marketed their orange-fleshed as “yams” to distinguish from other states’ produce in the 1930s—and it stuck.

yam-vs-sweet-potato

The skin of a yam (left) looks kind of like tree bark, while a sweet potato (right) is more reddish-brown.

Real yams are entirely different root vegetables that are more like yucca in texture and flavor. They have bumpy, tough brown skin (that looks almost tree trunk-like) with starchy, not sweet flesh. Yams are more easily compared to the texture and flavor of white russet potatoes (with more fiber and complex carbs) and are best boiled and served alongside hearty braised meats. The neutrally-flavored yams are often used in Caribbean or West African cooking, and are difficult to find in the U.S.. Sometimes you can pick them up at specialty grocery stores.

To make life even more complicated, there are a handful of varieties of sweet potatoes: orange, white, and purple.

These are the sweet potatoes that you roast for meal prep, use for Thanksgiving’s sweet potato pie or marshmallow-topped mashed potatoes, and snack on as fries and chips. They’re versatile, easy to find, and the varietals within the orange-fleshed potatoes are all “pretty much interchangeable,” says Heck. She notes there will be “subtle differences in flavor, sweetness, and moisture” between Beauregard (brown skin, more deeply sweet, grown in Louisiana), Garnet (red skin, more like pumpkin flavor), and Jewel (coppery-orange skin, mildly sweet and earthy, California-grown).

Heck argues that sweet potatoes should be your new vegetarian meat replacemenbecause they “can carry spices in a way that other vegetables can’t.” Standard white potatoes’ flavor would be obliterated by a heavy seasoning from Spanish paprika, black pepper, and garlic, but it works perfectly as a bacon-like flavor in her Cobb salad recipe or with cumin and coriander for tacos.

 White Sweet Potatoes may look like russets, but they’re loaded with some of the same fiber and vitamins that orange sweet potatoes have—though not as much beta-carotene. Since they’re a little drier in texture, Heck suggests using them for gnocchi so you can control the amount of moisture in the dough. For non-pasta applications, Heck says they go really well with bright, acidic sauces like chimichuri. The texture is more toothsome than mushy when roasted, but if you braise them low and slow, they end up being silky yet still hold their shape.

Purple sweet potatoes have super amped-up anthocyanin like blueberries, which are great for both color and antioxidants. The North Carolina-grown Stokes varietal are the most popular (with a sweet chestnut flavor), but you can sometimes find Hawaiian Okinawan potatoes with purple-speckled flesh that are best boiled whole. To prevent the color from bleeding out when cooking, Heck suggests roasting, sautéing, or frying purple sweet potatoes. One of Heck’s favorite ways to eat them is topped with sambal butter. You can either make your own sambal paste with chiles, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime zest, and salt, or just mix 1 tablespoon symbal oleck with a stick of butter. As it melts into your potato, all your problems may melt away too.

Reprinted from Sweet PotatoesCopyright © 2017 by Mary-Frances Heck. 

Sambal Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place serrano peppers, sugar, salt, shrimp paste, tomato, onion, garlic, and lime juice into a blender, and blend until smooth. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the chile puree along with the lemongrass, curry leaves, and galangal. Cook and stir until the mixture changes color and becomes very fragrant, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tamarind juice, and cook for 1 minute more. Strain before serving.

You can buy Sambal Oleck in your local grocery store or make it with the following recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound hot red chilies, such as red jalapeños, fresnos, or red serranos
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Directions

Place chilies, vinegar, and salt in work-bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chilies are finely chopped and form a paste, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary, Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

The Yam vs Sweet Potato Controversy

Beef Wellington modified to Pork Loin Wellington

IMG_6853

Reading Fine Cooking magazine a couple of days ago, they had a wonderful recipe for Beef Wellington.  I had a nice Pork Loin in the freezer and thought I might try it, using the same idea.  This sounds quite complicated, but with a few changes it doesn’t take that long and really isn’t that much work.  The pork came out incredibly tender.

The Madeira sauce was delightful.  My lovely husband likes to help do the dishes and before I could grab it, the rest of the sauce went down the drain.  He didn’t know it was part of the dinner to save. I couldn’t really get mad, as he is definitely not a cook and did not realize the sauce had been cooking for over an hour, maybe two to get to the right consistency.

Classic Beef Wellington Recipe

Servings: 8

If Britain has a holiday culinary showstopper; it’s got to be beef Wellington. This triumphant marriage of beef tenderloin, sautéed mushrooms, and rich chicken liver pâté (or truffles and pâté de foie gras, if you want to break the bank), rolled first in tender crêpes and then in buttery puff pastry, makes a grand centerpiece. Carved at the table and paired with a classic Madeira sauce, it’s a delicious and decadent meal.

Ingredients

For the duxelles

  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped portobello mushrooms (from 4 large caps; remove the stems and gills before chopping, preferably in a food processor)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the Madeira sauce

  • 6 cups beef stock,
  • 1 cup Madeira I prefer Sandeman
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, diced

For the crêpes – I just used puff paste

  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter

For assembly

  • 3 lb. center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed, side muscle removed I just used my Pork Loin and it was so tender and delicious!
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 2/3 cup chicken liver pâté, home made or store-bought Recipe below
  • 1 lb. puff pastry,  thawed overnight in the refrigerator if frozen
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter, softened

Preparation

Make the duxelles

  • Heat the butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stir well, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have cooked down to a thick, almost black mixture, about 15 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir in the parsley; then transfer to a small bowl and cool completely. (The duxelles can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Begin the Madeira sauce

  • Bring 6 cups of the stock to a boil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and boil until reduced to 2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the Madeira and continue boiling until the liquid is again reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Finish the sauce just before serving the Wellington.)

Make the crêpes This is where I used Puff Paste

  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Make a well in the center, break in the eggs, and add 1/4 cup of the milk. Gently whisk the eggs and milk, gradually incorporating the flour. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk to make a smooth batter. (The batter can be covered and set aside for up to an hour at this point.)Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan to coat with the butter; pour the excess butter out into a small bowl. Whisk 1 Tbs. of the melted butter into the batter. Reserve the rest for greasing the pan between crêpes. Increase the heat to medium high and pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet. Swirl so the batter thinly and evenly coats the base of the pan.Cook until the crêpe is spotted with brown on the underside, about 1 minute, then flip and cook the other side until lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan off the heat as necessary. Transfer the crêpes to a plate, separating them with sheets of parchment, and cool. You’ll need 4 crêpes.

Assemble and bake the Wellington

  • Remove the beef from the refrigerator about an hour ahead so it has time to lose its chill. Pat the beef dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until very hot. Sear the beef until it is evenly browned all over (don’t worry about the ends), 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a baking sheet and cool.In a medium bowl, mash the pâté and the duxelles with a fork until they form a soft paste.Lay 4 crêpes on a clean work surface, overlapping them just enough to give you a 13×13-inch roughly square surface. Dot the pâté mixture over the crêpes, then use an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the crêpes’ surface.

    Place the tenderloin in the center of the crêpes and carefully wrap them around the filet, pressing and molding them into place. Trim off any excess crêpe at the ends.

    If using store-bought puff pastry that’s packaged as 2 sheets, fuse the sheets together by slightly overlapping them and lightly rolling over the seam until adhered.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 13×16-inch rectangle (for store-bought puff, roll in the direction of the seam).

    Transfer the wrapped beef to the center of the pastry and tuck any crêpes that have come loose back into place. Bring the pastry up around the beef, smoothing out any air pockets. Brush some of the beaten egg along the bottom edge of the seam and then press gently to seal; trim off any excess. Seal the pastry similarly at the ends.

    Lightly grease a large baking sheet with the butter. Lift the Wellington onto the sheet, seam side down. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 3 hours. (If refrigerating longer than 1 hour, let the Wellington sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)

    At least 20 minutes before baking, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475°F.

    Brush the Wellington with the remaining beaten egg. Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the pastry with diagonal lines, being careful not to cut all the way through the pastry. Put the Wellington in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 425°F. Roast for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the Wellington registers 135°F for medium rare, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a carving board and let the Wellington rest for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, finish the sauce: Heat the sauce in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When it begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Do not allow it to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Thickly slice the Wellington and serve it with the sauce.

Make Ahead Tips

There are several components to a Beef Wellington, but you don’t have to make them all in one day. Here’s how to spread out the work:

2 days (or up to 2 months) ahead: Make and chill (or freeze) the beef stock, duxelles, and puff pastry.

1 day ahead: Begin the Madeira sauce. Make the crêpes. Defrost the beef stock, duxelles, and puff pastry, if necessary.

Up to 5 hours ahead: Let the beef sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before searing.

Up to 4 hours ahead: Sear the beef; assemble and chill the Wellington.

Up to 1-1/2 hours ahead: Let the Wellington sit out at room temperature before baking.

Up to 1 hour ahead: Bake the Wellington and let it rest before carving.

Before serving: Finish the Madeira sauce.

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Here is the photo of the Fine Cooking Beef Wellington

Chicken Liver Pate’

I just buy a container of chicken livers, throw them in some water and cook throughly. Put them in the cuisinart, add a lot of butter, garlic (4-5 cloves), salt and pepper and leave on everything is creamy.  Be sure to do this when the livers are still hot, so all the butter melts.  I use at least one whole stick!  Yummy on crackers with a bit of cheese too!

Served the pork with curly yams, just sautéed in butter and a simple salad.  Delish
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Beef Wellington modified to Pork Loin Wellington

Mail Vandalism ~ Why???

 

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No one puts money in letters going out anymore, as it is just not safe. If I do want to send my granddaughter a couple dollars, I drop it off at the post office.

So how many of you have ever had something stolen from your mailbox?  When I first moved to Kingston, I put all my Christmas cards in the mailbox to be sent out. About two hours later, someone knocked on my door and said I might want to come out to the front of my house.  My driveway is about 100 long, so I wondered what this person was talking about.  It seems my 150 or so Christmas cards had been strewn out all down the street and this nice person helped me pick up as many as we could.  So my first year in my new home in Kingston, I sent out very muddy Christmas Cards.

This morning I put a card to my best friend in the mailbox to cheer her up a little, as her mother died a week or so ago.  When I came home, the flag was down, the card was gone, but there was no new mail in the box.  Our mail has been arriving later and later with the holidays.  It did not arrive Monday till about 8:30 PM, so it makes it easy for someone to take it overnight.

Our trash can was still up on the street, and empty, so I looked to see if they might have thrown the card in it, when they discovered there was no money in the card.  Why not just leave it, when you discover there is nothing of value in it.  It saddens me to know I can never again mail anything from my home.

We will be ordering a locking mail box and our pretty copper one will be retired.  It has been bashed a couple of times.  Attempts have been made to steal the copper body of the box and it is not looking so good anyway. It is not fun and it is not funny.  Bashing mailboxes goes back as far as I can remember.  My neighbor where I grew up, put a steel rod down the center of the post and set the mailbox in concrete.  The young teenagers that drove by and hit it with a baseball bat ended up in the hospital with a broken arm. It was a very small town.

I am thinking a locking concrete mailbox is looking mighty good!

 

Mail Vandalism ~ Why???

And the chickens went to new yard….

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Gertrude (the white rude one), Henrietta (in the middle) and Hennie all joined other chickens in a bigger yard in a family with children.  Having chickens was quite the experience.

As they got older and bigger, as I opened the back door, they would coming running to greet me.  I think it was because I was the one that fed them.  They would eat grapes out of my hand with very quick and almost scary delivery. They missed once in a while and that was always a bit startling.  They followed me around the yard, sometimes feeling a tad too close.

They started producing eggs at about six months and every day there would be three eggs of varying color and size.  It was interesting what they loved to eat and didn’t love to eat.  They love sardines and shrimp and would leave some bread uneaten. Tomatoes and grapes were the favorites, although they did eat the last of the zucchini from my garden.  It will be a miracle if some of my peonies come up in the spring, as those along with some of my herbs were other favorite meals.

They always stayed in the fenced yard, never attempted escape and fertilized my lawn, so much so, I had a separate pair of shoes for the back area. They loved to sit and poop on the outdoor tables and chairs.  Actually, they loved to poop everywhere.  They dug in all my flower beds, spreading the bark and dirt all over the patios and walk-ways daily and pooped there too.

My gardener came yesterday to take them to their new home.  He has a larger area for them to run free.  The chickens had never gone under the deck till yesterday.  Miguel crawled under the deck to get Henrietta, while Hennie squeezed easily through the fence to enter my neighbor’s yard.  They squawked a whole lot, till they were lovingly held by their new owners.  They calmed down and left in the back of his trailer, in their  coop on the way to their new home.

I do miss their funny noises, fresh eggs, but not the poop.  Chickens are very poopy animals and my back yard was starting to smell very fertilized.  Bye chickies.  We enjoyed having you and have you go.

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And the chickens went to new yard….