Tag Archives: Tomato

Give It Some Welly!

23rd October 2013

Beef and pastry – two of the best ingredients in any menu.  I hosted a dinner party recently, and decided to ‘give it some welly’ (see what I did there?!).  I had never made Beef Wellington before, but it seemed like a fun challenge (and I really fancied beef and pastry).

But before I explain the main course, let me show you the starter.  O and I got inspiration for this one at a restaurant we visited in Thailand, and have been meaning to make it for a while.  I will not claim the credit, he did all the work on this course!

Stuffed Tomato

It’s a stuffed tomato, served with the ‘lid’ on.  So, we bought one beef tomato per person, sliced the tops off, and then O got to work scooping out the insides.  These are then chopped and mixed with mozzarella, basil and seasoning in a bowl, before being spooned back in to the hollowed out tomatoes.

Tomato with filling

Lids are placed on top, and then we reduced some balsamic vinegar on the stove to decorate for serving.  The tomatoes look very pleasing when they’re brought to the table – I think this would work with other fillings as well (maybe goats cheese and pepper?).

Stuffed tomatoes

Starters munched, onto the Wellington.  I’d prepared this in the afternoon, so popped it into the oven as we were serving the starter.  It needed about 25 minutes in a hot oven to cook to medium rare. 

Firstly, you need to buy some really good beef fillet.  This should be from a butcher or the meat counter in a supermarket (be warned, it is a bit pricey…).  Around 1kg should serve six people well, but if you can afford more, buy more – you’ll want seconds!

I precooked the fillet (brushed with olive oil) for 15-20 minutes, and then put it in the fridge to chill.  While it’s cooling, throw a load of chestnut mushrooms into the food processor and chop them till they’re quite fine.  These are then pan fried with butter, oil, thyme and white wine to make the ‘duxelles’.  

Use cling film to wrap the fillet in prosciutto ham, with a layer of duxelles between the ham and the beef.  The duxelles keeps the beef moist, and the ham will help to prevent the pastry becoming soggy. 

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When the beef is wrapped, put it back in the fridge to chill (wrapped in cling film still), while you roll out a sheet of puff pastry.  You then need to place the fillet on the pastry sheet, and brush the whole lot down with egg yolk.  Lay another sheet of pastry over the top, and seal by pressing a spoon around the edges.

Trim the pastry and then decorate the Wellington with the excess, before brushing more egg yolk over everything.

Beef Wellington ready for the oven

I blobbed the remaining bits of pastry around the tray, because I know people always like extra pastry…

The Wellington can be chilled like this for up to 24 hours before you put it back in the oven.

Cooked Beef Wellington

To my blogging shame, I was too excited with the result and forgot to take a photo of the beef when I’d carved the Wellington into slices.  But I can say following reviews that it looked (and tasted) pretty good!

As a side dish, I served an Ottolenghi dish I’d been recommended by K – sweet potato gratin.  You can find the recipe on that link.  I will hands down be making this again – minimal prep (especially if you can slice the potatoes with a food processor), and so, so delicious.  The short story is, you roast sweet potatoes, sage, garlic and cream in the oven and create something magical.

Ottonlenghi Sweet Potato Gratin

As you can see, the finished gratin will make a big impact (the colour is lovely).

Pudding was raspberry pavlova, washed down with Amarula.  We were joined after supper by some neighbours across the road who spotted us dancing through the window.  (A little strange, but why not?)  So we danced the night away…

Raspberry Pavlova

Raspberry Pavlova

What are your go-to dinner party recipes?

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Summer Salads, Spanish Omelette

24th July 2013

I am always happy when I get to tick recipes off my very long ‘to make’ list.  

I was meant to be meeting N and K for drinks last week, but given that every restaurant and bar with outside space in London is full to bursting at the moment, we made a last minute decision to cook at home.

I decided on two summery salads and a Spanish omelette – a light colourful dinner that we could eat in the garden.  

The first salad is a simplified version of Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate.  The second is a recipe I found on BBC Food.  And the omelette is a Jamie Oliver classic.  Here’s how to make them…

Chop red and yellow tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, red onion – and chuck it all in a serving dish.

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Drizzle the mixture with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Finally, garnish with pomegranate seeds and oregano leaves.  (Hint – you can buy pomegranate seeds packaged separately from Waitrose.  It’s way easier and quicker than getting them from the fruit yourself!)

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Easy to do, but it looks beautiful.

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Next salad up!

Lightly toast some almonds in a pan – this will only take a few minutes.

While the almonds are toasting, lay out some mixed salad leaves – ideally spinach, watercress and rocket (the bitter flavour will contrast well).  

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Chop up some crumbly feta…

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The almonds should be ready by now, so take them off the heat.

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More pomegranate seeds go on this salad as well, so make sure you have enough. Shake the feta, seeds and almonds onto the green leaves.  

This one also gets a dash of olive oil, but add some sesame oil too (just a little).  Season, and squeeze half a lemon over everything before tossing it.

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Last but not least – the omelette.  I wanted to add a bit of body to the meal, and this is a good option – not too carb heavy, but still satisfying.  

Boil a few potatoes until cooked, and then cut them roughly into slices/chunks.  While you’re waiting for the potatoes to boil, beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a fork.  I used ten eggs and this was plenty for four people as an accompaniment to the salads.

Cook the potato pieces and a bit of chorizo and onion in a large frying pan until they’re golden.  Add some fresh rosemary after a few minutes.  

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When the rosemary is crisp, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

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Cook on the hob for another minute or so, and then pop the frying pan into a preheated oven (about 200ºC).  When the omelette is cooked through in the middle, it’s ready.

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Take everything outside and serve with white wine (and in our case, Summer Fruits squash as well – why not hmm?!).

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A plate full of goodness…

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And what else to finish?  Strawberries, of course.

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It was a lovely girly evening of food, gossip… and snapchat.  Everyone loves a bit of snapchat.

Here are the original recipes if you want to browse:

  • Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate recipe
  • Leafy salad with feta and pomegranate recipe – BBC Food
  • Jamie Oliver’s Potato and Chorizo omelette recipe