beef wellington – a classic

There are classics and then there are classics. Beef Wellington is one of THOSE amazing classics that never gets old and I couldn’t imagine any other meal for my dinner table on the 1st day of 2022.
A succulent, lean, juicy cut of meat coated with mushroom duxelles (and in this case also bacon), encased in puff pastry and then baked and served with a homemade red wine jus, creamy mashed potato and buttery aged carrots.
It was the perfect meal paired with a special Pinot Noir from a very special place called Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo.

I must admit that the process behind making this spectacular dish can be quite lengthy. But honestly, good things come to those who wait and the time and effort here is well worth it. Time and time again.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | a challenge
1 beef fillet, about 700g, trimmed
1 roll ready made puff pastry, thawed and chilled
1 egg, whisked with a splash of water
500g mushrooms (i used button, black and shitake)
small bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
2 cloves garlic, crushed
9 slices streaky bacon
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2T dijon or English mustard
glug olive oil + extra
salt
black pepper

method
Chop the mushrooms in a blender in batches.
Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and cook the mushrooms with the garlic, thyme and parsley to cook out all the moisture from the mushrooms. Spread out to cool.
Rub the beef fillet with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat a large pan and sear the meat for about a minute each side until nicely browned.
While the meat is still hot, rub with english or dijon mustard and set aside to cool.
Line a large cutting board with three sheets of clingfilm.
Place the slices of bacon in the centre of the clingfilm, overlapping one another. Spread the cooled mushrooms duxelles over the bacon.

Lay the fillet on top of the duxelles and using the front end of the clingfilm, start rolling the bacon around the fillet, tightening and pressing as you go to form a cylinder.
Twist the ends to secure and chill for about 30 minutes to set the beef and to keep its shape.

On a lightly floured surface, gently roll the pastry out to a large rectangle.
Unwrap the fillet and place it in the centre of the pastry. Brush the sides with the egg mixture and fold the ends over. Wrap the pastry around the beef, cutting away any excess pastry.
Turn the wrapped fillet over onto a piece of clingfilm with the seam underneath and roll up the clingfilm to tighten the pastry and fillet.
Place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove the clingfilm from the fillet and score the pastry down lengthways and then sideways at 1cm intervals taking care not to cut all the way through the pastry.
Brush the pastry with the egg mixture and place the fillet on a baking tray.
Bake the fillet for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 180C and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with your choice of sides and sauce.




breakfast – coconut pancakes with banana & walnuts

Mornings are a very beautiful and special part of my day. It normally starts very early with a run in the gym and then I fall into the kitchen and start cooking breakfast. My favorite meal of the day.
I firmly believe that if your morning starts well it paves the mood for the rest of the day. And this includes a good meal. I make pancakes at least once a week not only because I love them but my toddler ABSOLUTELY loves it!
This recipe is a delicious alternative to my usual pancake recipe and yields beautiful light and fluffy little pancakes.
I added some sliced banana, toasted walnuts and maple syrup.
Another great addition is natural yogurt or creme fraiche, just to add to the moreish’ness of this delectable delight. And if you have time to spare, these will also love a drizzle of homemade salted caramel sauce.
To save you time in the morning, the batter can be made the night before, wrapped with clingfilm and stored in the fridge.

ingredients | makes about 12-15 | easy
1.5C plain flour
2T castor sugar
2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t fine salt
1/4C desiccated coconut
1 can (400ml) coconut milk
2 eggs
1t vanilla paste or 1.5t vanilla essence
bananas, to serve
maple syrup, to serve
toasted chopped walnuts, to serve
creme fraiche / natural yogurt to serve
icing sugar, for dusting

how to
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Using a handheld blender or whisk, beat until smooth.
Heat coconut oil or olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and drop about 1/4 cup batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook until you notice little bubbles on the surface, about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 30 seconds to one minute until lightly browned.
Serve warm with your choice of topping.

Yours in food x


leftover chicken & veg packed pocket pies

It is hard cooking for two (and a little 1 year old) and not have any leftovers. Especially with dishes like roasts. In our industry we waste nothing and so i recycled the chicken meat for these lovely, tasty puff pies. They are so easy to make and are a great way to sneak vegetables in for the kids.
These pocket pies freeze really well so i usually make a whole batch, freeze them, and then bag them for later use. Simply pop them into a hot oven straight from the freezer and you have a great lunch or light dinner when time is of the essence. The size of the pies depends on yourself. I used a fairly small tea saucer to cut out my rounds but you can use a side plate or any other round mould.
Grated cheese is another ingredient that works well in these pies although i did not add it this time.

ingredients | makes about 10 – 12 | easy
2C chicken, deboned and roughly chopped
2T olive oil
2T butter, & extra if needed
1 onion, chopped
1t crushed garlic
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
2C mushrooms, sliced
1C frozen peas & corn mix
2T flour
1C chicken stock
1/4C cream
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
salt to taste
black pepper
2 rolls puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
flour for dusting

how to do it
In a large skillet, heat olive oil & butter and sauté the onion until it has a nice gloss and is almost tender. Add the sliced mushrooms the pan & an extra tablespoon of butter. Cook for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, while stirring.
Add the grated carrot & zucchini and cook for about two minutes. Stir the flour through the mixture, cook for one minute and pour the stock into the skillet.
Allow the mixture to simmer for about five minutes until reduced and thickened. Add the chopped chicken and fresh thyme, stir it through and cook for a further five minutes.
Pour the cream into the skillet and add the pea & corn mix. Stir and cook for five minutes more. Season with salt & pepper.

You don’t want a very wet mixture so ensure you cook and simmer the mixture enough to allow the juices to evaporate.

Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, place the first batch of pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry out, extending it by about 2 – 3cm on each side. Using a small plate, cut out circles and place it onto a floured baking tray.
Repeat this until you have used all of the pastry.
Now spoon the mixture onto the centre of each pastry round, taking care not to overfill the pastry. Lightly brush the egg around the edges and press one side down on the other side.
Press a fork into flour and gently press around the edges of the pastry to seal the pocket.
Using a sharp knife, make little incisions in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape while it bakes.
Brush the pocket pies with the beaten egg and place the tray into the freezer. Freeze overnight. You can bag the pies and mark it with the date and ingredients.
Once ready to use the pies, heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place the pies into the hot oven on a baking tray and bake until the pastry is beautifully crispy and browned.
Serve the pies with a garden salad and homemade mayonnaise.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x


nutella croissants

Puff pastry is one of those ingredients that i always have in my freezer. The store bought kind is perfect and fairly inexpensive. This buttery, flaky pastry is perfect for almost any sweet or savoury dish, from pies to galettes, pinwheels and tarts, there are so many options!
Breakfast is an important part of my day and I like to keep it interesting. These little croissants are so simple to make and can be made the night before and simply popped into the oven the next morning.
This may not be the healthiest of breakfast options but it sure is tasty and the kids will love it!! Everything in moderation, of course.

Ingredients | serves 4 | easy
2 rolls puff pastry, thawed
Nutella spread (almost 1 cup)
1 Egg, beaten
1T milk

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a baking tray with cooking spray.
Lightly flour the work surface and spread out the pastry. Roll the pastry out to ensure it is flat, smooth & even.
Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the pastry into three large rectangles. Then cut each rectangle into two long triangles. Each pastry sheet should give you 6 triangles.
Place a spoonful of Nutella on the widest end of the triangle and then spread it along the pastry, leaving a small border untouched.
Beginning at the wide end of the triangle, gently roll the pastry into a croissant shape,
Carefully place the croissants onto the baking tray and lightly tuck in the edges, forming the shape of a “U”.

Repeat this with the second sheet of pastry.
Beat the egg and milk together and lightly brush the top of the croissants.
Place the tray into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is beautifully golden and crisp.
Serve warm.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



cheat’s chicken & phyllo pie

With a little one year old running around the house, learning to walk and playing inquisitive games, time is sometimes of the essence. Meaning little time to cook something very amazing that generally takes more than an hour.
This is where my trustworthy pressure cooker comes into play. My INSTANT POT. Most likely one of the best purchases i have made since i started cooking.
Using the pressure cooker, meat cooking time is cut by less than half, and since the machine does all the work I have my hands free to focus on other little things as I pot around the kitchen or run after my daughter.
For this recipe I used chicken breast, which generally isn’t the most tender part of the chicken but the pot changes this reality completely and you are left with tender, pull apart chicken…perfect for this delicious one pan pie, topped with crispy phyllo pastry…

ingredients | easy | serves 6
4 chicken breasts
2C chicken stock
4 sprigs thyme
1/2t fine salt
3T olive oil
2T butter
1 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
5 extra thyme sprigs, leaves only
3 leeks, sliced diagonally
1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, sliced or halved
2 zucchini, sliced in half and chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2T all purpose flour
1.5 chicken stock
1/2C milk
1/4C cream
1/2t onion seeds
1/2t dried oregano
1/4t mustard seeds
1/2C frozen peas
salt
pepper
1 roll phyllo pastry
1/2C butter, melted (you may need more depending on the size of your skillet)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Place the chicken breasts into the pressure cooker. Cover with the two cups chicken stock. Add the thyme & salt. Cover the pot with the lid, seal the vent and set the time to 35 minutes on high pressure. Let the machine do the rest.
In a large oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil & butter until melted. Sauté the onion until glossy, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, grated carrot, leeks & zucchini and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the flour and stir. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and stir well, while cooking on a low heat. Just bubbling. Leave to cook for about two minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add the thyme and garlic and cook, while stirring for about two minutes.
Now add the spices and season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
Manually release the pressure of your cooker. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken breast from the pressure cooker.
Place the chicken breasts on a plate and using two forks, pull the meat apart.
Bring the vegetable mixture to a gentle simmer and add the pulled chicken to the skillet. MIx. Pour the milk & cream into the skillet and stir to combine.
Add the peas and cook for about three minutes. Add more cream or milk if you desire. Flatten the top of the mixture by using a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool while preparing the phyllo pastry.

Roll the pastry out on a flat surface. Cut the pastry in blocks, about 10x10cm. Brush one sheet with the melted butter and place a second sheet on top. Brush the second sheet with butter. Fold the four sides together and place on top of the chicken mixture, like a flower. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and butter until you have covered the top of the chicken mixture.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake until the pastry is beautifully golden and crisp. About 20 minutes.

Serve the pie with basmati rice and a salad of your choice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x