My little sis, Sara, wanted a pepper grinder for her birthday this past summer. So Lindz and I found her a nice one and gave it to her (it ended up being a couple months late, but we’re pretty chill about this kind of thing in my family). Then my uncle Art discovered it. Mom had written a note to remind herself to tell me that I needed to pick up one for Art. Somewhere along the line, my nephew Cole found said note and added his name to it as well. Christmas rolled around, so we gave a grinder to Art and another one to Cole.
Since Cole has been expressing an interest in cooking, Lindz and I decided to pick him up a cookbook as well. The one Lindz selected was Jamie’s Food Revolution, by none other than one of my favorites, Jamie Oliver. Personally, I like a couple of his other cookbooks better, but I couldn’t argue with Lindz’s logic. This book is a spin off of the time he spent in Huntington, West Virginia, where he started a grassroots campaign to end obesity and to get people to eat healthier. While working a bit with the community as a whole, he concentrated his efforts on the school lunch system because that is where he felt he could do the most good. As a result, this cookbook is geared towards a novice in the kitchen and the recipes tend to be on the easier side. Like I said, I couldn’t argue with her logic.
I ended up giving Cole the cookbook a day early because I told him that I was kidnapping him one day, so we could cook supper for people. (I saved the pepper grinder for Christmas day and judging my how much he was bouncing around, I think he liked it). The recipe I picked out was the Ground Beef Wellington. Before we started, I told Cole that he was cooking and I was just there to make sure he didn’t burn the house down.
- 1 medium Onion
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Celery Stalk
- 1 Potato
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 2 Portabella Mushrooms
- Olive Oil
- 4 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
- large handle of frozen Peas
- 1 large Egg
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- Salt and Pepper
- AP Flour, for dusting
- 2 sheets Puff Pastry
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and chop the onion, carrot, celery, and potato into 1/4″ dice. Finely grate the garlic. Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms to about the same size. Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil over medium-low heat in a large frying pan and place all the veggies in it.
Pick off the rosemary leaves, finely chop them, and add them to the pan. Fry and stir the veggies for around 8 minutes, or until they soften and color lightly. Add the peas and cook for another minute. Put the veggies in a large bowl to cool completely. Crack an egg into a cup and beat it until it is mixed. Add the ground beef to the bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add half of the beaten egg. With clean hands, mix everything up.
Lightly dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour. Lay the puff pastry sheets one on top of the other. Roll out the pastry so it is roughly 12″ x 16″. Dust with flour as needed. Turn the pastry so that the long edge is towards you and place the beef mixture along this edge. Mold the beef mixture into an even log. Brush the edges of the pastry with some of the beaten egg.
Roll the beef mixture up in the pastry until it’s completely covered. Squeeze the ends together. Dust a large cookie sheet with flour and place the Wellington on top. Over all of the Wellington, brush with the remaining beaten egg. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour until golden brown.
Since we were cooking for a fairly large crowd, we did a double recipe. Also, since I am apparently inept at finding puff pastry, I just used the croissant dough in the paper tubes. Cole and I did have a minor argument about who got to pop them open. I thought this recipe was a bit under-spiced, but it was well received by everyone.
And now for the surprise!
Chell tried out a different family recipe for coffee cake. She said it was an easier dough to work with, but she liked the crumbles from the original. I would have to agree with her on the topping. These were a bit doughy instead of a nice sugary consistency. The new recipe had cinnamon in it, which wasn’t a bad addition, but I prefer it without. But most importantly, she made it with a poppy seed filling! And even better, she sent a poppy seed one home with Lindz and me!!!
. . . So I guess I’ll catch up a little on my posts that I’ve been neglecting. I’m going to do the less involved ones, so don’t pretend there is any actual chronological order here. It’s just what’s convenient for me, and that’s what’s important right?
We ate out a couple of times at places that are worthy of posting. The first one is Mac’s Fish and Chips located on the corner of Hamline and Larpenteur in St. Paul. I cannot speak with any authority about any dishes beyond the cod and chips basket, clam and chips basket, deep fried cheese curds, and salt-water taffy. I’ve never been able to convince myself to order anything else because this subset of their menu is just that good. This is a place that I cannot possible recommend enough. BTW, chips = french fries in the British parlance for those not in the know. Oh, I should note that Mac’s wraps the baskets in newspaper like they do back in England. It’s a nice touch.
The other place of note that we ate at was Muffuletta on Como Ave. I had never eaten there before so I was interested in going to an alumni dinner that Lindz’s school was throwing. Ok, I was interested in going for a reason beyond just free food. Maybe Narren was right, I am just a food whore. But I think that is a topic for another post. Anyway, Muffuletta is a bistro style place with a globally inspired menu. Since the school took over the whole restaurant, there was a limited menu. I got the salmon wellington and Lindz got the mushroom risotto. Hers was very tasty but nothing I haven’t eaten / made before. I have to admit that curiosity drove my decision to have the salmon. Ever since we honeymooned in Jamaica where I had the most amazing beef wellington, again a topic for another post, I’ve been fascinated with the dish. The salmon dish was over some roast veggies and some kind of cream sausce that I can’t remember the specifics on. On the whole, the dish was good and put together well. My only complaint about it was that the salmon was over cooked. I don’t know of a solution to the problem, so while it is a critique, it is not a judgmental one. It is just something I would have liked differently. If that makes any sense at all.