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Friday, March 29, 2013

Beef Wellington for Good Friday


 I am a huge fan of Chef Gordon Ramsay. I know many people will disagree with me but that is my opinion and he is a HUGE inspiration for me (even if he sorts of dislikes vegetarians ahaha!).
I love watching him and his shows, from the F-word, Kitchen Nightmares, Kill Your Meat Before You Eat, to his Great Escape adventures, MasterChef and of course, Hell's Kitchen.
I bet many culinary enthusiasts have come across his video on how to make Beef Wellington. I have always wanted to try it but being that beef filets/tenderloins are uber pricey, I never really dared to think about it. A few days ago, my family and I were brainstorming what to have for the Easter long weekend. We were pretty tired of turkey from Christmas, ham from New Year's, pork from Lunar New Year's, duck from  a dinner a couple weeks ago and chicken from a dinner a couple days ago. My lil bro brought up Beef Wellington, I wanted to make rack of lamb and we wanted to try goose. Geese are hard to come by this time of year so we had to choose between Beef Wellington and lamb. Since the weekend is long and we're food lovers, we decided to have Beef Wellington on Good Friday, possibly Filet Mignon (from the left-over cut we got for the Beef Welly) for Saturday and Sunday and Rack of Lamb for Easter Monday. I'm going to have a huge cooking adventure this weekend. :D

I did a lot of research on Beef Wellington and Gordon Ramsay's version was pretty simple. Some varieties excluded the mustard; used both pate and the mushroom duxelles; and even used crepes to avoid getting the pastry soggy.
I decided to incorporate all versions.
I layered the beef parcel with the homemade crepes, liver pate, prosciutto, and mushroom duxelles. The beef filet was brushed with mustard and I wrapped it all up in some store-bought puff pastry (I have no time to make it from scratch. It's just easier to go buy some.)
I was very, very, very nervous when I placed it in the oven. I was afraid it may come out raw. However, it came out just right: medium rare. And it was a hit with the family! I served thick slices of the Beef Wellington with roasted parsnips, potatoes, carrots, yellow sweet potatoes, onions and mushroom gravy.

Huge beef tenderloin from Costco. Seems like a fortune but it's so worth it, and very good $$/serving
It's beautiful!!!
Browning the filet! Get color to get the flavor.
Layering of crepes, liver pate, prosciutto and mushroom duxelles
(Left) Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Vegetables, Beef Wellington, Portobello Wellington


For myself, I made a Portabello Wellington. I sandwiched  two roasted portabello mushrooms with goat cheese, covered it in mushroom duxelles, crepes and puff pastry. It was fantastic!!
Portobello Wellington!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Plum and Cardamom-Custard Flaugnarde Tart



My apologies for the lack of posts! I am still alive (trying real hard) and I am still cooking, although not many dishes that are deemed worthy to have its own blog post...
If you'd like to follow my daily eats, you can follow me on Instagram at thepurpleshadow or follow online at http://instagram.com/thepurpleshadow/.
I've made this tart a while back and I've finally gotten around to posting the beautiful thing.
It started out with me craving a fruit tart but I'm not really a fruit-lover plus the only fruits I had on hand were bruised bananas,wrinkly apples, plums and canned pineapples. Since the fruits would not compliment each other in a fruit tart, I decided to just use one kind, choosing the plums over the others because there was an ungodly amount and I've never cooked/baked with plums before. I was going to make a fresh plum tart but I wanted to have my fruit cooked and so I opted to baking it with some sort of custard to hold it all together. I wanted to make sure if such a dish existed and was even edible and with a bit of research, the word "Flaugnarde" made its way into my culinary vocabulary.
"Flaugnarde" is a French dessert that bakes fruit in a "flan-like" batter, which to me, means custard.It is usually baked in a buttered dish, without a crust but I wanted to turn it into tart. So I did, muahahahaha!
I also wanted to have some kind of warmth and love added to my dessert thus my custard was spiced with ground cardamom and a pinch of cinnamon. It was fantastic!

Tart Shell
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour and maybe a bit more
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp table salt

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with the softened butter
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and vanilla.
In a food processor, add in the flour, sugar, salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and short-pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse just until it forms a moist, crumbly mass. The dough should hold together when squeezed.
Transfer the dough to the tart pan and press into the bottom and edges of the pan with your hands or the bottom of a dry measure cup. Wrap the pan in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

You need to blind bake the shell to ensure that it doesn't soak up the juices of your fruit and the custard.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Prick the bottom and sides of your tart shell several times with a fork. Place a piece of parchment paper on your shell and fill with rice, beans or pie weights, to ensure that your tart shell doesn't bubble but remain flat. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and pie weights. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 10 minutes until slightly golden browned on the edges and bottom. Cool on a rack.

Plums and Cardamom Custard
6-8 fresh plums, sliced (I had a mix of the black and red varieties; red is sweeter)
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk or half and half cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp cardamom powder
pinch of cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the plums in half lengthwise, and remove the stones. Slice into 1/3" inch slices.
In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the flour and sugar, and then add a bit of milk, whisking until it dissolves and looks like cement. Add the remaining milk, eggs and vanilla, whisking until just combined.
Arrange your plums neatly in the cooled crust, in a single layer if you can. Pour custard gently over your plums.
Bake until the plums are soft, and the custard no longer jiggles in the center and is just beginning to brown, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and let cool before serving. Can be served warm or chilled, with a little dusting of powdered sugar!