Monthly Archives: April 2009

Individual Beef Wellington

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Making the classic Beef Wellington could be intimidating but it is a relatively easy dish to prepare and is well worth the effort. I have taken liberties with my version, actually two versions, by adding onion to one and spinach to the other. The version here uses onion but by simply replacing the onion in the recipe/technique below with spinach you get a completely different experience.

You will need:
Filet of beef approximately 1 1/2″ – 2″ thick 6 – 8 oz./serving.
Puff pastry – 12″ square piece 1/serving.
Sweet Onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia – 1/4″ slice 1/person (be careful here as you want to keep the slabs of onion intact – you can pierce each with a toothpick to insure the rings stay together).
Shallot – diced fine approximately 1 TBS/serving.
White button or crimini mushrooms – approximately 3 oz./serving.
White wine, Sherry or Vermouth – approximately 1TBS/serving.
Shallot – approximately 1 TBS/serving.
Garlic approximately one small clove/serving.
Egg wash (combine egg with a little water and whip until combined).
Olive Oil/Butter – approximately 1TBS each/serving
Butcher’s twine.

Prepare the filets – Tie each filet, with a piece of twine placed at half the thickness of the beef, tight enough to give the filet some height and uniformity in circumference. In a sauté pan large enough to hold filets without crowding place approximately 1 TBS each of oil and butter. When oil/butter began to bubble sauté filets on both sides until a rich crust is formed. Remove from pan, set aside to cool completely. All you are doing with this step is searing the meat, it will cook through when baking the Wellingtons.

Prepare the mushrooms – (Mushroom Duxelles) – Place mushrooms, shallot and garlic in a food processor and chop until the mixture has a paste consistency. Using the same pan for the beef add more oil/butter if the pan is too dry bring up to temperature and add the mushroom mixture. Sauté mixture until it starts to dry out then add the White wine/sherry/vermouth. Continue to cook until the mixture is completely dry. Remove from pan, set aside to cool completely.

Prepare the Onion – in the same pan used for the beef and mushroom add a little oil/butter if the pan is too dry. Season both sides of onion with salt and pepper then place in heated pan. Sauté onions on both sides until golden brown. Carefully remove onion slabs from pan, set aside to cool completely.

Prepare the dough – It is not a difficult task to do this step. It is easier to give you a visual so I have included this visual aid.

Assembly and cooking – Separate all of the above items into portions equal to the amount of tenderloins used. Place a portion of the mushroom mixture in the center of the dough square spread until it matches the circumference of the steak, remove twine from tenderloin and place on top of the mushrooms, place one onion plank on top of beef, follow the instructions provided to fold dough over beef to form a package. Roast individual Beef Wellington(s) until the internal temperature reaches 130° for rare, 140° for medium. Serve with a vegetable and mashed potatoes.

If you decide to add cooked spinach instead of the onion simply replace it at the step indicated above.

NB You must make sure that all items are completely dry otherwise the dough will become gooey and you will not get a good crisp crust.

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Baked Ham

Easter Dinner

Not only for the holidays, a good baked ham works in so many ways. In some cases, ham tends to dry out on the inside due to the density and cooking time used, one way to insure that you get a nice, moist interior is rather simple. Approximately 90 minutes before you put the ham in the oven place it, with its packaging intact into a vessel large enough to hold the ham with an inch or two to spare. Run your tap, hot water, until it reaches maximum temperature, fill the vessel (with the ham in it) with hot tap water to at least one inch above the product. This technique raises the internal temperature enough so that the cooking time is reduced providing a moist finished product.

You will need:
Roasting Pan
One butt or shank ham* approximately six oz./person
Orange/Cognac Glaze

Set oven temperature to 250° F. Remove ham from water bath and open packaging. With a sharp knife cut grooves into fat/skin side of product just deep enough so that glaze seeps into product. The grooves should be about one inch apart to form a diamond pattern in the fat/skin. Spread one-half of the glaze over ham and place into roasting pan. Roast at 250° F for 20 minutes/pound. Three-quarters way through the roasting cycle spread the other one-half of the glaze over ham. At the end of the roasting period, remove from oven, tent with foil and let the ham rest for 10 minutes. Slice ham to desired thickness and serve.

I served this with Caramelized Sweet Potato/Carrot Medley

*Butt ham is meatier with less fat but is harder to carve due to complex bone structure. Shank ham is not as meaty and has more fat but is easier to carve due to a single bone as compared to the butt.

Sweet Potato/Carrot/Onion Medley

This side dish works well with chicken,turkey, pork or ham the slight touch of ginger enhances the flavor of each product.

You will need:
Sweet Potato approximately 3 oz./person
Carrot approximately 3 oz./person
Pearl Onion approximately 3 oz./person
Butter approximately 1 TBS/serving
Brown sugar (either light or dark) approximately 1 TBS/serving
Ginger Powder approximately 1 tsp./serving
Salt/pepper

Cut sweet potato and carrot into large dice (about the same size as onions used) steam vegetables until just under fork tender. I used frozen pearl onions for this recipe if you use fresh you will need to blanch them until tender remove husks before proceeding. In a skillet large enough to hold all the vegetables place one TBS butter/serving and heat until butter foams, add pearl onions and sauté until just golden, add brown sugar and ginger along with steamed potato and carrot. If you need to add more butter do so at this stage to allow sugar to coat vegetables. Cook until potato and carrot are fork tender, serve.

Chicken Marsala

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This simple yet delicious recipe will make your dinner guest crave more. As a side I serve this with angel hair pasta aglio e l’olio (garlic/olive oil).

You will need:
Boneless/skinless chicken breast – approximately 6 ounces/person
Flour
Salt/pepper
Olive Oil – approx. 1 TBS/serving
Butter – approx. 1 TBS/serving
Mushrooms – white button or crimini (sliced)- approx. 2 oz/serving
Chicken broth – approx. 1/4 cup/serving
Marsala wine – good quality approx. 2 TBS/serving

Heat oven to 350° F. Place butter and olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold breasts without crowding, heat until butter melts. Dust chicken breasts with flour, pat off excess. Place breasts in sauté pan, presentation side down, sauté until a rich brown crust develops, turn breasts over and sauté until other side develops the same crust. Move breasts to a cookie sheet or oven proof pan to finish (internal temperature should read 160° F (time will be decided by the thickness of the breast pieces).
If there is not enough oil/butter left in the pan add another tablespoon of each. Add cut mushrooms with approximately one tablespoon of flour to skillet and cook until browned and somewhat dry. Add Marsala wine and cook until wine is reduced by at least half, add chicken broth and continue to cook until reduced by half. At this stage season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove chicken from oven and add to the sauce, cover and simmer for approximately five minutes. Place breast on a serving platter and cover with sauce. Garnish with some parsley.

Chicken Provençal* with Rice Mélange

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My version of a classic French sauce that can be used on either chicken or a firm white fish such as cod. The preparation time is relatively short and can be frozen for future use.

You will need:
Boneless skinless chicken breast* – approx. 6 oz./person
Red bell pepper
Onion (sweet such as Walla Walla)
Canned diced tomato
Capers
Black olives, pitted
Fresh Rosemary, thyme and parsley
Unbleached flour
Salt/Pepper
Olive Oil

Cut pepper and onion in half. Remove seed and core from pepper and skin and both ends from onion. Slice onion, pepper and olives very thin (Julienne in cooking terms), set aside. Drain tomatoes in a sieve reserve liquid. Tie fresh herbs into a bundle and place into a sauce pot with reserved tomato juice. Bring juice/herb mixture to a slow boil – remove herbs. Add onion and pepper to pot and cook until both are soft. If there is not enough liquid you can add water or dry white wine so that the liquid covers the vegetables. Add diced tomato, capers and olives to pot, cover and simmer for approximately ten minutes, keep warm.

Heat oven to 350°. Place flour in a receptacle, pat chicken* dry, dredge in flour and pat off excess. In a sauté pan, large enough to hold chicken* without crowding, heat one teaspoon/breast of olive oil, sear chicken until just browned on both sides, put in oven to finish cooking until internal temperature is 160°.

Remove chicken from oven spoon approximately 1/4 cup of sauce on each breast cover pan and let it rest for approximately ten minutes. The heat from the pan along with the sauce will finish the chicken. Serve with Rice Mélange.

Rice Mélange

For this recipe I used Rice Select Royal Blend. It is equal parts Texmati white, brown, red and wild rices.
Finally chop herbs used in the chicken recipe. Cook rice according to package directions. When rice is cooked stir in herbs with a little butter. As an alternative you can purchase individual packages of these or other rices to make your own unique side dish.

*Fresh Cod or other firm white fish.

Cognac Orange Glaze

This is a very simply prepared glaze that can be used on Ham, Chicken or Pork. The total cooking time is less than 10 minutes.

You will need:

Cognac (I used Hennessey VS) 2 TBS
Orange Marmalade (I used Smuckers Simply Fruit) 1 cup
Honey/Dijon Mustard (I used Plochman’s) 2 TBS + 1 tsp
Habanero Pepper 1/2 with seeds (cut pepper in half lengthwise

In a small sauce pot add cognac and habanero pepper bring to a boil to cook off alcohol. Add marmalade and honey/mustard. Turn heat down so that glaze just simmers, put on lid and cook for 5 minutes. Remove habanero pepper. As an alternative you can omit the pepper or use milder Jalapeno pepper. The glaze can be made ahead and reheated when needed. Brush glaze on ham, pork or chicken and roast as you would normally. You can re-glaze the meat half way through cooking time to enhance the flavor.

Whitefish Lake Restaurant

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Having lived in the great little resort town Whitefish, MT I have enjoyed the ambiance and food at The Whitefish Restaurant located on the Whitefish Golf Course.

The golf course is open year around, being used for cross country skiing in the winter. The two seasons, Summer (June 1 – September 20) and Winter (October 1 – April 7) draw the largest crowds that is when the restaurant gets very busy so reservations are recommended.

I have never had a bad meal there and particularly enjoy the Rack of Lamb and Prime Rib Dinner. The Chef has been with the restaurant for many years and is always improving, if that is possible, on the menu. So if you find yourself traveling through Montana make sure to add this place for a great meal.