Saturday — A First

Today, I made Beef Wellington.  It is something I’ve been dying to try since watching the hell Chef Ramsay puts contestants through on Hell’s Kitchen.  It has always seemed to me to be a dish of such distinction, and he (Ramsay) is obviously very passionate about it.

I started by researching his recipes and found a couple of variations he uses online.  I chose the one that does not use mustard.  I watched a couple of videos of him preparing it.  It seemed simple enough.  Though I’ve heard it took him 10 years to master the perfect Beef Wellington.

Because it was Valentine’s Day this week, I decided that this weekend would be the perfect time to try my hand at this dish.  I made a special trip to a local butcher to purchase the tenderloin to ensure that I had the best cut of meat.  And then I waited for today to roll around.

Here’s just a little bit of background about BW:

Beef Wellington is a traditional English preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Some recipes include wrapping the coated meat in a crêpe to retain the moisture and prevent it from making the pastry soggy.

The origin of the name is unclear.[1] Some theories suggest beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington; other theories go a step further and suggest this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but with a noted lack of evidence to support this.[2] Other accounts simply credit the name to a patriotic chef wanting to give an English name to a variation on the French filet de bœuf en croûte during the Napoleonic Wars. Still another theory is the dish is not named after the Duke himself, but rather the finished fillet was thought to resemble one of the brown shiny military boots which were named after him.[3] Clarissa Dickson Wright, celebrity chef and co-host of the BBC cooking show Two Fat Ladies, maintains that the dish “has nothing to do with that splendid hero, the Duke of Wellington; it was invented for a civic reception in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a splendid addition to any party.”[4]

“Wellington” is sometimes informally used to describe other dishes in which meat is baked in a puff pastry; the most common variations are sausage Wellington, lamb Wellington and salmon Wellington.

The above taken from Wikipedia.  This link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_Wellington

With recipe at the ready I began prepping this morning.  I made the duxelle and wrapped the tenderloin (much trickier than Chef Ramsay makes it seem in his video) and put it in the fridge.  I was actually surprised at how simple the recipe really is.  I think where the mastery comes in is in the wrapping and presentation.  You will see from my pictures that mine is not as fancy or as perfect as something coming out of a Michelin starred restaurant.

I even managed to get in a nap this afternoon, that’s how low-key I found making the beef Wellington was.

There was only one hiccup — for some reason when I put it in the oven to cook for the last 20 minutes the pastry didn’t brown and the oven did not seem hot enough.  So, I had to put the oven on convection and increase the time by 15 minutes.  I was worried it would be over-cooked.  But far from it.  It came out perfect.  Exactly the way we like it — medium rare.

To accompany this special dish I made roasted white and sweet potatoes seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, and oregano.  I blanched some broccoli and made a baby romaine and strawberry salad with a vinaigrette dressing of lemon infused olive oil and white balsamic vinegar seasoned with lemon-lavendar salt and fresh ground pepper.

My husband was very impressed.  And so was I.  It might not be the prettiest Wellington ever made, but for my first attempt I’m pretty damned proud of myself.

I would definitely make this for guests.

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The sound of silence. . .

. . . I am alone today.  For the first time in over 3 weeks.  It is a wonderful feeling.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the company I’ve kept over that time — most certainly not.  But now that the house is mine and mine alone again I am fully enjoying it.

Although. . .

. . . my house is a bloody mess.  But in a good way.  It’s the mess my three grandchildren have left in their wake.  And this morning as I wove my way through a maze of toys and crayons and dress-up clothes and rocks and crafts and towels and. . . I smiled as I thought about how much fun we had.  It’s going to take a day (or two) to get the house back to the way I normally keep it, but that’s okay.  I’ve got time.

I am now going to make the most of the rest of my holidays to relax and go at a leisurely pace.  There are still chores to be done, but I’ll poke away at them without being stressed.  I want to gut the kids’ room yet and repaint, but I think that will be a project for the Fall now.

What’s most important is Tim finishing the deck.  He’s been doing all the work himself — and it’s a big job.  Especially in the heat we’ve been having.  I worry sometimes about him overdoing it and nag him to quit and come inside for a break.  He hates taking breaks, says it’s harder to get back to work when he does, but I’m persistent.

Right now things are stalled because he had to return to work a couple of days early.  So, the ledger boards, which are giving him a major headache are just laying out there, unattached.  I am trying not to despair. I know he’ll get it done.  My husband is nothing if not stubborn and he’ll do it all without help.  Pride.  The cause of all my worry.

Well, I shouldn’t say he didn’t have any help.  The kids all tried to pitch in and give Grandpa a hand from time to time.  Here’s a picture of them helping screw together a support beam:

They were actually tapping in the screws which was quite a production!  Tim let them hold the drill afterwards, but they didn’t much care for the noise and vibration.

We had such a blast having them here for a week.  Went to the outdoor pool in Redwater three times — absolutely enjoyed that.  We can’t very well go there without any kids in tow — would look like a couple of old creepers!  So, now we’ll have to content ourselves with evening trips to the indoor pool in St. Albert.  Sigh.

I wish I had taken Landon to the pool in Redwater when he was younger.  He would have enjoyed it.  But, when they move here, finally, he and Jenn will be able to take the kids.  It’s a great place, not too crowded and very clean.  Run by a great bunch of young people.  I truly will miss going there with the kids.

A couple of pics of the kids at the pool:

And now, I must go get started getting back to my ‘real’ life.

Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, May 25th

The Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals!

I thought I was going to have a heart attack last night.  Double overtime, Kesler hurt, no one seemingly able to get a shot on net, the worst officiating — EVER — (and on home ice, no less) and Henrik and Daniel unable to bring the magic.  They tried, mind you, they tried.  Watching those two work their passes is something spectacular.  Burrows, as part of their line is always amazing — they set him up and he puts the puck where it needs to be, but for some reason last night it just wasn’t happening.

Kevin Bieksa, the big hero for last night’s game, they’ll be talking about him and his ‘duck’ for quite awhile, I’m sure.  How lucky for him to be in the right spot at that moment and to be the only one who knew where the puck was?  I was on my feet for the last five minutes of the game as the Canucks poured it on, giving it everything they had.

I can’t explain why I am so in to this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs — it’s never happened before.  I think it has something to do with a bit of holdover from the Olympics and the sense of pride I felt in our country, the way, as a nation, we came together to celebrate all that makes us who we are.  At first, I only cared that a Canadian team was in the playoff run, but now, I find myself really rooting for the Canucks.

I admire them and their somewhat muted determination; they seem to exemplify what we Canadians are like. They’re not too flashy, they persevere — doggedly,  they’re unassuming about their wins and yet they have this quiet, reserved strength about themselves that says ‘we believe’.  And, so do I.

Wednesday, May 4th

We're still not looking much better than this -- come on Spring!

It’s a windy day in Bon Accord.  Actually, in all of Alberta.  It is Spring-time, after all.

Today, though, we will have some sunshine.  Yesterday was gray and cloudy and rainy for half the day.  By suppertime the sun had decided to come out.  I wish I had the time to get out and work in the garden.  Hopefully, this weekend, though Heather tells me that rain is forecast.

The Canucks managed to beat Nashville last night — in OT, again.  These OT games are really beginning to wear on me.  I wouldn’t say last night’s game was a thriller, in fact it mostly dragged along.  Pekke Rinne was fantabulous in goal, as was Luongo, (when the puck was in Vancouver’s end); this is seriously going to be a goalie’s series.  I kept hoping and hoping that the Sedin boys would show some magic, but alas, no.  Kessler managed a goal and an assist — that was a long time coming and extremely well deserved.

I did not know a thing about the Canucks going into these playoffs, but I have to say I am really enjoying watching them play.  They’ve got a lot of heart, and some very talented, disciplined players.  For me, it remains mainly a Canadian pride thing — I want a home team in the playoffs, and ultimately to win the SC.  It doesn’t matter that most of the players on the American teams hail from Canada, it matters that they’re playing for US. (that’s us as in us Canadians.)  So. . .

anyway, Go Canucks!

View from the Side’s weekend challenge — January 22, 2011

My contribution to The Challenge this weekend:

 

©Kathy Larson
All rights reserved

 

No Pity

 

I am a very proudful person, she said

So much so, that I have lost my sight.

Now, as I stumble in the darkness

I wonder: what good is this silly pride

I cling to?  The bruises on my heart

and on my body are not badges

Of honour, they mark me as a fool.

I, who would not bend

Am broken.  Had only my hearing

also been taken I would

Not have to suffer your pity.