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.




beef sausage lasagna bake with orecchiette

One of the things I so love about cooking is finding inspiration from items I have in my fridge or freezer. A simpler version of lasagna using beef sausage, vegetables and orecchiette pasta, this dish cooks a little faster than your traditional lasagna as the pasta is cooked before adding it to the meat sauce.
Because sausages are packed with so much beautiful flavour I always remove the casing to enhance the dish. I used orecchiette pasta but any other pasta like penne, rigatoni or fusilli are great alternatives.

Serve this comforting meal with a simple garden or avocado salad and shavings of parmesan.
A delicious, budget friendly family meal!

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
600g beef sausage
1/2 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
150g button mushrooms, quartered
2 zucchini, grated
1t dried oregano
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
2T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
1T paprika
2T brown sugar
1C cherry tomatoes, whole
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1t salt
good grind of black pepper
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
2T olive oil
1T butter
2C grated cheddar
3C orecchiette pasta, cooked according to package intstructions

white sauce
35g butter
4T flour
2.5-3C milk
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper

method
Preheat the oven to 190C/170 with fan.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large, ovenproof skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until glossy. Remove the sausage meat from the casings by pressing it out, into the hot pan, like little meatballs. Discard the sausage casings and brown the meat all over. About 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
Add the grated zucchini, rosemary, paprika, oregano, sugar, salt & pepper, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the crushed tomato into the pan and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the cherry tomatoes, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the parsley through the mixture. Set aside.

make the white sauce
Melt the butter in a small pot on medium heat. Add the flour and mix using a wooden spoon.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using a whisk, add the milk while rapidly whisking. Place the pot back onto the heat and continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Leave to gently simmer for about 10 minutes, while stirring. Add more milk if the sauce is too thick. (You must have a pourable sauce.)
Season with the salt & pepper.

assemble
Spoon the cooked orecchiette pasta onto the meat sauce. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and top with the grated cheddar cheese and thyme leaves.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until browned on top.




porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







herby beef fillet with flavoured butter

Rosemary, thyme, garlic &. butter are four key ingredients to a super delicious, flavourful steak and are four ingredients I seldom cook without. Steak is rarely cooked in my kitchen as we prefer to cook it outside, on the ‘braai’ which is customary to our heritage and tradition.
In fact, ‘braai’ is such a big part of South-African tradition there is a day that has been dedicated to it. (Heritage Day.)

Although you can easily cook this recipe on the fire my preferred method is in a griddle pan on the stove.
A griddle pan uses less oil, ensures even cooking and provides those beautiful char marks we all find so very appealing. The compound butter enhanced and complemented the meat beautifully and since you serve the steak topped with extra butter, you don’t need a sauce.

ingredients | serves 4 | a little effort
for the fillet
4 portions beef fillet
8 rosemary stalks
16 thyme sprigs
3T olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper

for the compound butter
130g butter, room temperature
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
1/2t crushed cumin seeds
1/4t red pepper flakes
1/2t onion powder

method
In a bowl, combine the compound butter ingredients and mix well using a wooden spoon. Lie a piece of clingfilm on a work surface and spoon the butter mixture onto the centre of the clingfilm. Roll the butter into a log and twist the ends to seal well.
Place into the freezer for at least one hour.

Tie the rosemary & thyme around the fillet steaks using cooking string.
Drizzle the steaks with the olive oil and gently rub it into the meat, around the herbs. Season with salt & pepper.

Slice the compound butter into rounds using a sharp knife and discard the clingfilm.
Cook the steak in a hot griddle pan, turning as you go. Add about half of the compound butter halfway through cooking to baste the steaks until you have reached the preferred doneness.

Rest the meat for at least ten minutes before serving, topped with a round of compound butter.


I


parmesan loaded meatball & orecchiette skillet

As pastas go I don’t have one specific favorite. I love all kinds, for very different reasons.
The general rule of thumb is that wide, flat pastas like pappardelle or tagliatelle love cream based sauces and long, round pastas, like spaghetti, are best served with a good drizzle of olive oil or draped in tomato based sauces, which beautifully coats each strand evenly.
“Rigate” means ridges, which makes it easy for sauces like pesto to cling to the pasta.
Short shaped pasta varieties, which includes orecchiette, are ideal for holding rich, hearty sauces with textures from vegetables or proteins.

Since making meatballs can be a little time consuming I make it worth my while by making two batches. One to use immediately and the other to freeze for a different occasion or dish. They freeze really well and bake beautifully straight from frozen.

These mini meatballs are packed with parmesan and herbs giving them a lot of flavor so they are perfect on their own as a snack or canape, served with spaghetti or in a beautiful creamy pasta dish such as this one.

ingredients | makes about 30-35 mini meatballs | a little effort
500g beef mince
1/2 white onion, very finely chopped
1t finely chopped garlic
5 thyme stalks, leaves only
2 rosemary stalks, leaves finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2C finely grated parmesan
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
1 whole egg
1T worcester sauce
2T chutney (I used Mrs Balls, original)
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
2-3T olive oil for frying

for the sauce
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1t crushed garlic
3T sun-dried tomato pesto (optional)
1 can crushed tomato
1 1/2C – 2C beef stock
1 1/2t dried oregano
1T brown sugar
1t fine salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2C orecchiette pasta shells
1/2C cream, full fat
fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro, garnish
fresh parmesan, garnish

the method
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in large bowl. Using your hands, mix well until combined and then, with the palms of your hands, roll into balls just larger than bite size.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat and melt the butter and cook the onion until glossy. About two minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the oregano & pesto and cook for another minute, while stirring.
Pour the beef stock & crushed tomato into the skillet, add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir. Add the pasta shells, stir to coat and then nestle the meatballs into the sauce.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until the pasta is cooked. Stir the cream through the pasta mixture.

Garnish with fresh parsley & cilantro and top with large shavings of parmesan.