I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

daring cooks, may

Time to wrap stuff up and bake it! Okay, it was a little more involved than that. And yummy, too.
Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!
This month got away from me so I didn't try variations as I had hoped to do (the portobello mushrooms with brie looked especially amazing); however I did get a beef Wellington done to try out the technique.

Wellington starts with a cut of meat that, while very tender, isn't the most flavour-packed. So, you add flavour to it before encasing it in a nice little package of puff pastry. Mine didn't go quite as planned, but still tasted good. Let's just say I wasn't getting points for presentation this time.

Duxelles, take two.
Extra taste came in the form of duxelles. This word just looks good. And it's mushrooms, chopped very fine, then cooked and cooked and cooked in oil and butter until it's concentrated deliciousness. For my first attempt at this the stove was too hot, and they got more crispy than intended. Back to the chopping block, and the second batch turned out just fine. The challenge then was not simply eating them as they were.

Crepes in progress
I didn't have the pate that is supposed to be mixed with the duxelles, which was a shame as I think it'd  be a great addition. But, I did make crepes! The beef for the Wellington is seared on each side, and the meat is left rare. The duxelles are spread on, but all the moisture would make the puff pastry soggy and so a crepe is wrapped around it to act as a sort of moisture barrier. 
Wellington, Assemble! (I really have been watching Avengers too much with my kids)Once all the individual parts were done, it was time to lay it all on the thawed puff pastry. Except... I hadn't thawed enough to make individual Wellingtons. So we did a sort of group Wellington. All the meat and duxelles wrapped in overlapping crepes, and then one big sheet of puff pastry around the lot.

When it baked, though, the golden-brown flaky crust looked nice and they tasted great! I'd like to try it again with salmon fillet, or the mushrooms. So many possibilities.