Monday, December 14, 2009

<Good> Stuff in Pastry

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.
For our first pass, we made the Beef Wellington exactly per the recipe. There were a number of things to like about the recipe, including the  addition of a crepe between the filling and the crust to help prevent the whole thing from getting too soggy. Even better, the filling was wrapped in prosciutto, and of course the more cured pork product in a meal the better.  This recipe includes a shortcrust pastry as well – I liked that idea, as puff pastry, which we’ve always used in the past, gets really rich, really fast.
Here is our beautiful beef filet before and after cooking in a mustard coating:
Sautéed mushrooms and pancake:
Assembling the Wellington (note corpulent monkey on top, who seems to have had a bit too much beef wellington… :-)
And finally – the finished product!
To be honest, the results were OK, but... there was easily enough pastry for another 2 dinners (more on that later). I had to add a lot more water than the recipe called for even though I consider myself pretty adept at making pastry – this was a common theme amongst the other DCers. It definitely needed more salt, and somehow, just more flavor.

For our second pass, we made a Vegetable en Croute, filled with Celery Root (aka Celeriac), Leeks, Potatoes and Mushrooms. And a bonus slice of prosciutto in each parcel!  For once, we planned ahead and took the leftover shortcrust dough from the freezer two days in advance and I left it on the counter most of the day. However, it was still hard as a rock at dinner time. Puff Pastry to the rescue. This was absolutely delicious and honestly quite easy to make – count me a fan of meals that look impressive but can be made with less than 30 min of effort.

We used:
1 small celery root
1 large russet potato
3 small-medium leeks (white part only)
12 oz mushrooms (more or less, who's counting?)
thyme, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce to taste
1 sheet puff pastry or shortcrust pastry
2 slices prosciutto

Peel and dice the potato and celery root into 1/2” cubes. Roast in olive oil with the thyme, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for roughly 30 min or until lightly browned. Dice the mushrooms and slice the leeks. Sauté them in butter until softened. Mix all the veg together, add a dash or two of Worcestershire if desired. Let cool a few minutes so that they don’t melt the pastry.
Cut the pastry sheet in half. Place the prosciutto in the center of each half and then top with a generous scoop of vegetables. Seal the pastry and bake seam side down at 400 for 25-ish minutes until nicely browned. We suggest following the directions on the pastry packet.
As a Christmas gift to you who have bothered to visit, I’ll share what remains my favorite food-in-pastry recipe: Duck and Olives en Croute.

In keeping with our tradition, here is the ultra-detailed recipe :-)

Duck and Olives en Croute

serves 2
1 duck breast
green olives (not the martini ones, real green olives..)
orange zest
1 sheet puff pastry or shortcrust pastry

You just need enough of the olives, onions and bacon to make a little topping for your duck.
Sauté the duck until browned – about 4 minutes.   Don’t cook it thoroughly as it is going to bake longer. I overcooked it a bit in the picture below.
Chop the bacon and onions and olives. Steep the olives in brandy for at least 30 min. Sauté the bacon and onions together. When they are softened, add the olives, brandy and orange zest.
Let the ingredients cool to room temperature.
Slice the puff pastry in half. Slice the duck breast in half and place on the pastry sheets. Top with the bacon mixture, seal and bake at 400 degrees for for 25-ish minutes until nicely browned. (Actually, this time we made it, we used 2 sheets of puff paste, sandwiching the duck between them and cutting out appropriate-sized shapes - I think that this was because the duck was just ever so slightly larger than we thought would fit on half a sheet. Go with what's going to work for you.)
Enjoy! Happy Holidays from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen!
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