Thursday, September 20, 2007

There's something inside...

Stephanie gave us a quirkier challenge for this month’s blog party – “It’s What’s Inside” and immediately I started to think of mini Beef Wellingtons.

This isn’t a big surprise as I am a huge fan of Beef Wellington and I have been pondering miniaturising this fabulous meaty treat for a while. I didn’t really follow a recipe, I had a plan which was vaguely like the details that follow and intended to make a few dozen of these little babies but then my fellow fans of Beef Wellington in any size turned up early. So then it just became critical to get as many as I could into the oven as quickly as possible and then photograph them swiftly before they were inhaled. So speedily I may add that I was unable to light them properly hence the 70's style cookbook food photography - and would the little darlings stay still on the plate whilst I photographed them? The answer is a resounding no! I am pretty sure that the speed that they vanished meant that they were popular; I will definitely be making these gorgeous little Wellingtons again.


Ready rolled puff pastry
Brussels pâté
Beef fillet cut roughly into 2cm cubes
1 lightly beaten egg

(Unfortunately I didn’t make a note of the quantities, I made about 24 but they mysteriously disappeared so I didn’t get to count them and I still had a lot of beef, pâté and pastry left so I could have made a few more plates worth but instead I moved swiftly onto the starters instead)

- Preheat the oven to 200°c.
- Roll out the puff pastry and cut into 4cm squares. My pastry was pre-rolled but I felt it needed to be a little thinner for these canapés.
- Smear the point of a spoon of pâté in the centre of each square and top with a seasoned beef cube. I had pondered making some mushroom duxelle but as one of my prospective diners lives a mushroom-free life I decided to leave it out.
- I tried to fold the pastry over the beef and neatly tuck in the corners like a larger Beef Wellington but on this scale this proved tricky. I preferred to roll each into a beefy ball and line up them all up on a baking sheet.
- Carefully brush each ball with the beaten egg and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pleasantly puffed and golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly, (if permitted by your hungry guests) and then transfer to a platter to serve.

My next idea was inspired by a Anton Edelmann scrambled eggs wrapped in smoked salmon recipe I’d espied in a Freedom Food pamphlet that came with this month's Fresh. He lined a ramekin with thinly sliced smoked salmon and then filled it with scrambled egg. The overhanging salmon is tucked over the scrambled egg and turned upside-down to make a perfect parcel.

I lined little bun tins with almost transparent smoked salmon slices and then spooned some unctuous and creamy scrambled egg heavily studded with chives into the indentations. I inverted the resultant little salmony discs and placed on ceramic spoons. They were very good also, another winner!

For my final savoury bite I decided to get some good quality lean minced steak and make oozy cheesy meatballs. I tried to get some Tallegio but failed so cubes of Cheddar was enveloped in the mince mixed with black pepper and thyme. I pan fried these until deliciously seared all over and popped them on my lovely new little canapé spoons. These were very fine as well, I am now definitely a huge fan of one delicious ingredient hidden inside another. Fabulous!

The necessary drink proved the usual per monthly challenge, a thought of Coke Float wafted into my mind but I dismissed it and decided instead that my interpretation would mean plump fresh raspberries would be frozen in Evian (to ensure the resultant ice cubes stayed as clear as possible) and then the fruity cubes were plopped into a tall glass of 7up. As the cubes melted the bubbles got captured inside the raspberries and made a fizzy little dessert.

I look forward to seeing what hidden savouries Stephanie's other guests bring.

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