6 years ago we went out and bought half a dozen bottles of a Katnook Estate ’98 Cab Sav. ’98 because that was the year we got married and half a dozen because I think that’s what we could afford. We enjoyed the last of the six last night and despite chucking a bit of a crust, as they say, it had done nicely over the years. I’m now going to have to trawl the internet auction sites for a replacement (wine that is).
The dinner was a day late because of what we will refer to as “The Gift of the Pixies”, where at one stage I’d unwittingly bought my wife a ticket to go and see a concert with my friend on our wedding anniversary. It worked out well in the end, I was bought a ticket, my Mum looked after young pudding and a complete performance of Doolittle under the stars at Belvoir Ampitheatre with what seemed to be an encore of half of Surfer Rosa was a very.good.thing.
Anyway, recipes …
Entree – Smoked duck, plum and rocket salad with an orange dressing
Easy as it is tasty. The smoked duck breast was from Holy Smoke. I gently warmed it up by frying it skin side down in pan until it browned up every so slightly and released some of the duck fat (more on that later). Slice the duck
Slice the cheeks off the plums – local, fresh and gorgeous – and the remaining bits you can chop up roughly to distribute more finely through the salad.
The dressing was three parts orange juice to one part EVOO and a pinch salt and sugar to taste.
Toss the duck breast and plums in a bowl gently with some rocket and some dressing.
Mains – Individual Beef Wellingtons
Admittedly this does seem like something you’d serve a retired Major but it was a good match for the wine.
It does have additional nostalgic form. We had beef wellington at our first proper, birthday, dinner party; the dessert was done at a catering gig we did, and duck breast is a constant fave.
Season and sear two beef fillets all over and allow to cool. If you tie them in the middle, it serves as a kind of corset, plumping and rounding them up nicely.
Duxelles are a beef wellington must have and you make them by chopping up a good handful of mixed mushrooms, half an onion and a couple of garlic cloves and sauteeing in plenty of butter. Allow to cool.
Roll out the puff pastry, place the fillet in the middle, place the duxelles in any gaps and place a slice of blue cheese on top. Wrap with the puff pastry (I did it with my gift wrapping skills, which are rubbish YMMV) make sure it’s sealed properly. Then brush with an egg wash and cook in a 190C oven for about 20-25 minutes for medium.
Served with brussel sprouts. Peel them back well, as the outer leaves tend to be more bitter. Boil and refesh under cold water and then fry gently in the duck fat you were reading about in the entree. There were baby zucchini which I sliced like a fan and then roasted in the oven with some EVOO.
The sauce was the steak pan deglazed with red wine and then adding some sauteed chopped mushrooms and leaks. A couple of heaped spoons of double cream, stirred in well and reduced.
Dessert – Puff pastry biscuits with berries
Take a spare strip of puff pastry, sprinkle it with caster sugar, roll it up, slice it in half lengthwise (you should have two spirals rather than a series of concentric half hoops), flatten the pieces gently, and cook in the oven for 7 minutes.
Simmer half a cup of fresh blueberries with a good splash of vanilla brandy (keep a small bottle filled with brandy and a vanilla pod in it – endlessly useful) and a teaspoon or two of sugar to make a coulis.
Biscuit on plate, then dollop of double cream, splash of coulis and a scattering of blueberries.