Beef Wellington With Honey

wellington

Beef Wellington is one of the best holiday meals. It looks fancy, but is actually easy to prepare. It also pairs well with yesterday’s Honey Roasted Root Vegetable and Arugula Salad.

No one is sure where the dish’s name came from. Some sources insist it isn’t named after the Duke of Wellington himself, but rather because the finished filet resembled one of the brown shiny military boots which were named after him.

I like my beef like I like my boots – Welly.  :-)

Yield : Serves 6-8

Ingredients

½ oz dried porcini

2-3-lb center-cut tenderloin roast, trimmed

Salt and pepper

3 Tbs butter

2 shallots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

8 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

6 oz chicken liver pate

6 oz prosciutto, sliced

2 tablespoons honey

All-purpose flour for dusting

1 package puff pastry, about 1 lb

1 egg, beaten

Directions

Put the dried porcini in a heatproof bowl and cover with ½ cup boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes, then drain, reserving the liquid. Chop the porcini, and set them and the liquid aside.

Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Melt half the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When foaming, put the beef in the pan and brown all over for 4-5 minutes, taking care not to burn the butter. Put the beef on a plate and set aside to cool.

Melt the remaining butter in a separate frying pan. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the porcini and garlic, then the reserved porcini liquid and the cremini mushrooms. Increase the heat and cook until the mushroom mixture is dry. Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme, then set aside to cool.

Put the pate in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add the mushroom mixture and stir well. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Use a metal spatula to spread half the mushroom mixture evenly over one side of the beef. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the work surface and arrange half of the prosciutto on it so that the slices overlap. Place the beef mushroom-side down on the prosciutto. Spread the remaining mushroom mixture over the beef. Wrap the rest of the prosciutto slices, overlapped, over the top. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of honey. Wrap the whole thing in the plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Take about one-third of the puff pastry from the package and roll it out to a rectangle 1/8 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the base of the roast. Transfer to a baking sheet. Prick well with a fork and bake until brown and crisp, 12-15 minutes. Let the pastry cool, then trim it to the size of the roast.

Take the beef from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Brush the beef all over with some of the beaten egg, then place it on the pastry base.

Roll out the remaining pastry to a rectangle about 12 by 14 inches. Use this to cover the beef, tucking the sides under the base and sealing the edges. Brush with the rest of the beaten egg. Place the Wellington on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes for rare to medium rare beef, and 45 minutes for medium.

Remove the Wellington from the oven and let it stand for about 10 minutes before slicing. .

Winter Salads – Honey-Roasted Root Vegetable And Arugula Salad

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist — the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one’s vinegar.”  Oscar Wilde

Makes 4 servings

Roasted Vegetables

1 pound medium beets, with 1 inch of the stem attached

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 small white onions (about 3/4 pound), cut into 2-inch wedges

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons honey, warmed

1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves

4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup minced fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon and flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salad

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon minced herbs, such as chives, tarragon and flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups packed arugula leaves (from two 4-ounce bunches)

Preheat the oven to 400°. Tightly wrap the beets in a double layer of aluminum foil and roast them on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, divide the carrots, parsnips and turnips between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Toss the vegetables in each pan with 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Arrange the onion wedges on the baking sheets, keeping them intact. Brush the onion wedges all over with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Generously season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes. Brush the vegetables with the warm honey and sprinkle with the sage. Continue to roast the vegetables for 25 minutes longer, or until they are tender and glazed. Loosen the vegetables with a spatula and let them cool to room temperature in the pans.

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the herbs and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with the vinegar, garlic and herbs; season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the arugula with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and arrange on plates. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Top the arugula with the vegetables, dot each plate with small spoonfuls of the herbed goat cheese and serve.

The Beaver Moon

November 28 marks the last full moon before the formal arrival of winter.  It is known in folklore as the Beaver Moon.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the Beaver Moon marked the time for setting beaver traps so there would be a sufficient supply of fur for the upcoming winter months. The beavers themselves are preparing for winter around this time of year. This full moon has also been called the frosty moon.

The November 2012 full moon will be the smallest of the year. It will also be accompanied by a subtle penumbra eclipse, during which the moon passes through the light penumbral shadow surrounding the umbra. The umbra is the darkest shadow of the moon cast by the Earth.

A penumbral lunar eclipse is not as obvious as an umbral eclipse of the moon because the moon does not pass directly across the Earth’s shadow. Although the penumbral eclipse will last for over four and one-half hours, viewers will only be likely to notice a slight shading on the north side of the moon for up to an hour or so, centered at the time of greatest eclipse (14:33 UTC).

The farther west and north you live in North America, the better your chances of catching the subtle shadow on the moon before dawn on November 28. The farther east or north you are in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere, the better your chances of seeing the penumbral eclipse after nightfall on November 28. It will take until at least 70% of the moon’s diameter is immersed within the Earth’s penumbral shadow before the eclipse even becomes noticeable. At the time of greatest eclipse on November 28, the penumbral shadow will cover nearly 92% of the moon’s diameter.

No penumbral eclipse will be visible for the east coast of the United States, central and South America, and western parts of the African continent.

Honey Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash (about 2 lbs each)
4 carrots, peeled
½ pound parsnips, peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup honey
3/4 stick butter
9 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon mace
2-3 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Pitch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Cut the carrots and parsnips into small pieces, and scatter them, along with the onion, around the squash. Sprinkle the cut surfaces of the squash with the honey and dot all over with the butter. Pour 2 1/2 cups of the broth into the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake until all the vegetables are very soft, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove the foil and let the vegetables cool slightly. Scoop the squash out of the skins and place it in heavy soup pot. Add the other vegetables, juice from the pan and the remaining 6 ½ cups of broth. Season with the mace, crystallized ginger, cayenne and salt. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or by batches in a blender or food processor until it is very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add extra broth, if necessary, to thin it to the desired consistency. Heat it through. This soup can be refrigerated or frozen, but there is unlikely to be any soup leftover.

Serves 10

Krohn Conservatory

Built in 1933, Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati’s gorgeous old-school greenhouse in Eden Park, is a five-room mega-terrarium filled with over 3,500 species of exotic plants from around the world.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best Thanksgiving Leftovers – Brunswick Stew

Southerners love to debate the origins of Brunswick stew. Virginia,Georgia and North Carolina all claim to be its birthplace, but the truth most likely is that it originated with Native Americans. The first stews of early America contained all sorts of wild game, and folk history recounts that Brunswick stew was originally made with squirrel meat. The modern version is usually made with chicken, but leftover turkey is an ideal substitute.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4 cups leftover turkey, diced

6 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 (16-ounce) can of tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped

2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh or frozen lima beans

1 cup fresh or frozen sliced okra

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1 teaspoon honey, or to taste

Directions:

Add the tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions, lima beans, and okra to the stock. Season with the salt, pepper, and honey. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the turkey to the vegetables and taste the stew for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, or honey as desired. Cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve hot in warm bowls.

The flavor of this stew is even better the next day!

Do Bees Get Grumpy?

Do bees have bad days? Do they get angry? Irritable? Even vindictive?

I don’t know any beekeeper who doubts that bees get grumpy. My bees don’t like wet weather or having their honey taken.

After my spring honey harvest, one extremely pissed off girl chased me for three days until she finally caught me and stung me under my eye. I looked like Popeye for a week.

According to the December 26, 2011 issue of Scientific American, some scientists now believe that bees actually do experience something resembling emotions.

Using simple behavioral tests, Melissa Bateson and her colleagues at Newcastle University in England showed that honeybees under stress tend to be pessimistic, a conclusion few beekeepers would dispute.

Another reason to let our bees be bees and do what they want to, not what we want them to do.