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.




mediterranean chicken for the season

This recipe is so simple and can be made ahead of time. The chicken pieces can marinade for no less than 30 minutes or overnight and after that it is really just about combining everything together in one tray and baking it for about an hour.
The end result is fragrant, tender meat with a crispy skin and delicious, colourful vegetables, that remind me of the Mediterranean.
I served couscous alongside and homemade chilli paste.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
8 chicken thighs
2t crushed garlic
2 lemons, juice of 1 and the other one quartered
3 rosemary stalks
3T olive oil + more for vegetables
good grind of black pepper
1t dried oregano
1 whole garlic bulb, halved
2 red onions, quartered
8 baby potatoes, quartered
200g pitted green olives
bunch fresh thyme
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
1/2C dry white wine
1 chicken stock cube, crumbled
1/2C water
salt to taste

In a large resealable bag, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice and quarters, rosemary, olive oil, oregano & black pepper and shake to combine. Add the chicken pieces, squish it around in the bag, seal the bag and place into the fridge to marinate.

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Combine the whole garlic, red onion, potatoes, thyme & tomatoes in a large ovenproof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, toss and season with salt & black pepper. Add the crumbled stock cube, white wine and water.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top along with the remaining ingredients in the plastic bag.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully remove the dish, add the olives and bake for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crispy and browned.

Serve with your choice of couscous, rice, crispy bread or salad.


creamy one pan marsala chicken

Marsala, a fortified wine that is either dry or sweet, is frequently used in cooking. One of the most popular Marsala recipes is chicken marsala, in which chicken breasts are pounded, floured and braised in a mixture of marsala, olive oil, butter, mushrooms and herbs.
Of course there are many delicious chicken marsala recipes one can try and by no means am I saying mine is the best.
I do, however, think my chicken marsala is delicious and worth giving a go if you are looking for an easy meal with a lot of flavour that doesn’t take much time to prepare.

ingredients | serves 4-6 – easy
8 chicken thighs
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
olive oil
knob of butter
3/4C marsala wine
1 1/2C chicken broth / stock
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 white onion, chopped
a good bunch of fresh thyme, half of which the leaves are picked, the other half left whole
1C cream
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1T dijon mustard
bunch fresh parsley, chopped
chives, chopped (garnish)

Preheat the oven to 185C. Lightly oil the chicken thighs with olive oil and rub the onion & garlic powder into the skin. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, ovenproof skillet. Place the thighs skin side down in the pan and brown on a moderate heat until the skin is nicely coloured and crispy. About 6 minutes.
Turn and lightly brown the other side. Set aside.
In the same pan, heat about 2 more tablespoons olive oil and a knob of butter. Sauté the onion until fragrant and glossy. About 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.
Add the mushrooms, mustard & the thyme leaves and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are just cooked.
Pour the marsala into the pan, deglaze and cook for about 5 minutes to reduce.
Pour the broth into the pan and simmer on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Add the cream, gently stir and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt & pepper if needed.
Nestle the chicken thighs back into the pan, skin side up.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the thighs are cooked.
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and garnish with the parsley and chives.

Serve with rice, couscous or fettuccini.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x


haddock curry

This recipe is a simple one, with a delicious masala and coconut flavour. At first I was a little apprehensive of using lightly smoked haddock but I can honestly say that the mild smokey flavour only enhanced this dish. And I loved it!
If you like curry as much as I do and are looking for a delicious, healthy and easy mid-week meal, then this recipe is for you!
Contrary to the norm, I cook, eat and enjoy curry all year round. This one was particularly well suited to a warm, summers evening.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
300g lightly smoked & uncooked haddock, cut into chunks
1 white onion, finely chopped
3t crushed garlic
2T tomato paste
2T masala curry powder
2C cherry tomatoes, whole
1T ginger, grated
1t ground cumin
1/2t mustard seeds
1/2t fennel seeds
1/2t red chilli flakes, optional
1T turmeric
1T brown sugar
1 1/2C fish stock
200g green beans, sliced diagonally
1 lime, juice only
2T olive oil
1T butter
salt to taste
good grind of black pepper
fresh coriander, to serve
basmati rice, to serve
natural yogurt, to serve (optional)
toasted almonds, to serve (optional)

method
Heat olive oil & butter in a pot and sauté the onion & garlic until translucent. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the ginger, masala powder, chilli, cumin, mustard & fennel seeds and turmeric, stir to combine and cook until fragrant. About 2 minutes. Pour the fish stock into the pot, stir and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and leave to simmer on a medium heat until slightly reduced and thickened. About 10 minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes and green beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Lastly, add the haddock and simmer until cooked through. Squeeze the lime juice into the pot and stir.
Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Serve with basmati rice, fresh coriander and yogurt.



red pork curry

I love and enjoy a good, strong curry and since I had pork neck steak in my freezer, I gave a delicious shop bought red curry paste a go for this dish.
Rich in flavour with very tender cubes of meat, this a simple recipe and one I will definitely be returning to. Very, very soon.
I served couscous, natural yogurt and lots of fresh coriander as sides to the curry. Delicious alternatives are noodles, pineapple or mango salsa or sticky rice.

Fragrantly delicious, this easy one pot meal brought back fond memories of Thailand holidays.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
900g pork neck, cubed
1 white onion, fine dice
1/4C white wine
4 garlic cloves, diced
2T red curry paste
2t grated ginger
1T fish sauce
1T brown sugar
1 can (400g) crushed tomato
200ml chicken/vegetable stock
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
good grind of black pepper
200g baby corn, halved diagonally
handful fresh coriander (cilantro), for garnish
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally, for garnish
2T olive oil, for browning meat + 2T extra
knob of butter

method
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the meat in batches until browned on all sides. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and knob of butter without wiping the pot clean.
Sauté the onion and garlic until glossy, taking care not to burn the onion. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and reduce completely while scraping the bits of the bottom of the pot.
Add the curry paste, ginger and brown sugar, stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomato, fish sauce, vegetable stock & lemon juice, stir and bring to a light boil. Carefully tip the cubed pork back into the pot, stir and bring to a simmer.
Pour half of the coconut milk into the pot, cover with a lid but leave a small gap, and gently simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Pour the remaining half of the coconut milk into the pot, add the lemon zest and baby corn and cook for a further 20 minutes, uncovered until the meat is beautifully tender.
Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Garnish with coriander and spring onion.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x