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


pork & pear casserole

Another one pan wonder with beautiful, fresh flavours that is perfect for your family dinner table. Pork and pear make a delicious combination in an earthy sauce, packed with vegetables. I use cider in this recipe, which can be replaced with more stock.
Best served with creamy mashed potato.

This is a dish you will return to again and again.

ingredients | easy | serves 4
8 pork sausages / bangers
olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed or sliced
2 carrots, peeled & sliced diagonally
5 celery ribs, sliced diagonally
2T tomato paste
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
2T flour
300ml chicken stock
15 sage leaves, plus extra for garnish
1T dijon mustard
2 large pears, cored & sliced
knob of butter
1 savanna cider
large bunch thyme, leaves picked
1T sugar
lots of black pepper
zest of 1 lemon
salt to taste

how to
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and brown the pork sausages all over. Set aside.
In the same skillet, without wiping it clean, add a large knob of butter and cook the pear slices until tender. About 8 – 10 minutes.
Set aside.
Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and sauté the onion until glossy and fragrant. Add the tomato paste, sugar & mustard and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrots & celery, stir to coat and cook for about a minute.
Add the flour, stir and cook for 1 minute. Pour the cider and the stock into the skillet. Stir, bring to a light boil and cook, while stirring, until reduced and thickened. About 8 minutes.
Add the quartered tomato, garlic, sage & thyme, stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
Add the pork sausages to the mixture and place the skillet in the preheated oven.
Bake for about 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and add the cooked pear. Place the skillet back into the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Garnish with the extra sage leaves & lemon zest and serve with creamy, buttery mash.




any occasion asparagus & leek risotto

This is another toothsome vegetarian meal, perfect for meat-free Mondays or really, any occasion. Risotto, a special kind of Italian rice that can easily absorb a fair amount of liquid without become mushy, is cooked with broth until it reaches a beautifully creamy consistency.
Some of the main ingredients used when cooking risotto are onion, white wine, parmesan, butter and broth.
Although it seems like quite a lengthy process, it really does not take much time to cook. Risotto simply needs a little patience and good fresh ingredients, to make it a mind-blowing meal.

ingredients | serves 4 | a little effort
1 medium sized white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
1C white wine
3C chicken or vegetable stock
3 leeks, sliced diagonally
200-300g fresh asparagus, sliced with tips left whole
1C risotto rice
juice & zest of 1 lemon
3T butter
1C cream, full fat
bunch fresh thyme, stalks removed
1C finely grated parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
2T olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
creme fraiche, optional (garnish)
chopped chives, optional (garnish)

instructions
Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Submerge the sliced asparagus and tips into the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute. (This is called blanche). Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and dunk it into iced water. Leave to cool for 1 minute, remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pot. Add the chopped onion & garlic and cook until glossy. Add the sliced leeks, stir to coat and cook for about 3 minutes.
Tip the risotto rice into the pot and stir to coat. Mix the wine and stock and pour a ladle full into the rice mixture. Cook on a low simmer until mostly evaporated before adding another ladle of the stock & wine mixture.
Repeat this process until you have used all of the stock mixture. Add the blanched asparagus, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and thyme, combine and cook for about 2 minutes while stirring.
Add the cream, lemon juice, zest and parmesan, combine and cook for about 5 minutes, while stirring, until thickened and the cheese has melted into the sauce.
Taste and season with salt & black pepper.
Stir the parsley through the mixture.

Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, shavings of parmesan and chopped chives and serve with a side salad or roasted vegetables.