Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's dinner

I decided to make Beef Wellington for our Valentine's Day dinner last night. I have two recipes I have used before. The first, which I made several times back in the 70s is in The French Chef Cookbook. It involves a whole beef tenderloin and making pastry from scratch which you prebake into a shell...very complicated. More recently I have used the recipe from The New Basics. It uses individual filets and frozen puff pastry. Last night I took the best of both recipes and combined them.

This is the part from the French Chef. You make duxelles by chopping mushrooms very finely and squeezing the liquid out of them through a towel.

Then you cook them with butter and shallots.

You then add dry Madeira, cook until that evaporates and incorporate some pate.

The Madeira sauce is also from the French Chef. You take the reserved mushroom liquid and cook it with beef broth and bit of tomato paste. When it has been reduced you add some cornstarch dissolved in Madeira.

The rest of the recipe is from the New Basics. You rub individual beef filets with Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and dried thyme.

You then sear them in melted butter. At one point I was actually using four of the five burners on my cooktop.

I somehow missed taking a picture of topping the filets with the duxelles. You just spread it thickly over the top and sides.

This is the part I really like. Cover the filets with a circle of puff pastry, brush with beaten egg and decorate. Then bake at 425º for 15 minutes.

I'm not sure where we got this lovely bottle of Côtes du Rhône, but it was a nice accompaniment.

As was the asparagus with hollandaise. The Madeira sauce was served on the side.

I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter for the puff pastry decoration.

And for dessert there was chocolate crème brûlée,

with raspberries, Mike's favorite.

I don't cook like this often, but when I do I remember how much I enjoy it. I spent a good portion of the day planning and prepping, but there was very little to do at the last minute, so I was able to relax and enjoy our dinner. Give me that over a restaurant any time...