Beef Wellington, Topless Seafood Pies, Rice Pudding

beef wellington

Ha! The French, inventing a dish that used the favourite meal of the English, the rosbif, and then naming it after
a waterproof boot. Touché! as they say

This is an exercise in deciding how much faffing around you want to do with a meal, and in this case I had a day to idle away. Busier folk could simply wrap a log of spam in store bought puff pastry and then place it in the bin.

The recipe is a combination of a few recipes from my handy Le Cordon Bleu at Home and on the internets. This was actually one of my first fancy dinner party meals when I was at uni and for some reason I decided to make it in the middle of summer. Moving the table out to the back garden helped matters. Although I managed to offend two guests by describing new railway stations their friend has designed as “a large superphosphate shed and a greek temple for the gods of suburban blah”. Would I offend again? The weather was better though.

-homemade puff pastry (not something I do often/ever)
-shiitake duxelles
-a herb crepe wrap

welly wrap

I’m not going to tell you how to make puff pastry, I just diligently followed a cookbook but it is doable and give yourself a fair amount of time as it needs a couple hours of refrigeration in the process of making it. What is made is a large number of buttery layers with six rotations of a triple fold. So I guess it would be something like- three layers, nine layers, 27 layers, 81 layers, 243 layers, 729 layers.

I got the beef eye fillet (1.2kg for seven people) from Jeremy’s (and nice it was). Tie it in five places to keep its shape and sear on all sides for about five minutes. Place it on a chopped carrot and a sixthed onion and cook in a 200C oven for 20 minutes. Remove the fillet and allow to cool and then cool in the fridge. Roast the carrots and onion for another twenty minutes and then deglaze the tin with brandy and port. Keep the liquids and the solids to make the sauce later and scrape off any fat that appears on the surface.

I used a combination of 300gm of fresh shiitake and fresh field mushrooms and cooked in a pan for 15 minutes with two finely chopped scallions. Add half a cup of cream and a couple of tablespoons, chopped, of fresh herbs – parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme (stoppit) . Puree to smooth. It ends up looking like a pate which is interesting because one alternative to duxelles is to coat the fillet with pate (as in the liver paste) or fois gras and then warp it in pastry. Chill in the fridge

I saw this on the net and then couldn’t find it again but then I found another recipe which suggested using rice paper so the pastry doesn’t get soggy. So I thought the crepe would do the same trick.
Just your basic crepe batter with the aforementioned herbs mixed in. I was going to add porcini dust but they didn’t have any at Herdies so no to that.

Assembly and Cooking
Remove the string from the beef fillet.
Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and trim. Place crepes in the middle and spread a layer of the duxelles and place the fillet on top. Spread duxelles over the fillet. and top with a crepe. Fold the pastry over lengthwise. Seal the ends with a roller and fold the ends over. Turn the beef wellington over with the seal down and brush with egg wash. You can decorate with strips of spare pastry if you like and brush again with egg wash.
Allow to cool in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Place a metal cone (from a pastry bag or bong) in the middle to allow steam to escape and prevent it going soggy.
Place in a buttered baking tray. Cook in a 180C oven for 40 minutes and then allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Strain the deglazing liquids and then reduce in a pan with beef stock and red wine.

Parsnip, Sweet Potato and Leek Cake
A large roti that seemed to resemble coleslaw. Not as successful as I’d hoped as a cake tin dooesn’t allow for the right amount of crisping without burning that a pan does.
Julienne the sweet potato and the parsnips and parboil for a minute. Julienne a leek and cook in goose fat until soft and then add the parsnip and sweet potato. Mix through and season and add to a cake tin and cook along with the roast.

welly stovetop

Tasty although I don’t know what I was thinking with the application of the jus, Decided to go all Jackson Pollock, who liked a drink or two I hear.

Topless Seafood Pies

seafood things

These came to me in a dream. Not a very well detailed dream with a complete recipe and I can’t remember if in the dream the shortcrust shells were supposed to look like an ashtray made in year 3 art class. But the idea was pastry in a dariole mould and filled with prawns and scallops. The prawns and scallops and red emperor fillets were chopped into bitey bits.
Wan’t sure about the sauce but I found a crayfish head in the freezer. I removed the shell and the legs and crushed them. The flavour of the shells isn’t soluble in water, only alcohol and fat (mmmm) so the shells were sauteed with some celery as an aromatic, flambeed with brandy and then simmered in cream for 40 minutes.
I then added a few strands of saffron and seasoned. A small amount kept as a sauce and with the rest, an egg yolk and some finely chopped parsley and then poured over the seafood in the shells.

Rice Pudding
rice pudding

The rice to milk ratio is very small 4tbs of short grain rice to 800ml of full cream milk. Bring to a boil in a Creuset dutch oven with a vanilla pod and 2tbs of caster sugar and cook in a 150c oven for 90 minutes. Keep an eye on it or you’ll, as I did, run out of milk and scald the pot.
You’re supposed to then stir in some whipped cream but I forgot that bit at this blurrier end of the eveing but did manage to remember to mix in some fresh passionfruit pulp and decide to caramelise some caster sugar on top with the kitchen torch.

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  1. bramble’s avatar

    Lordy lord! That’s a day and a half of work. Perhaps it’s a form of culinary revenge for Wellington’s multiple defeats of Napoleon.

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    The two pastries were most of the work but once the preps done, it does leave you nicely set up for the evening,

    It’s seemed a much nicer time. The French get defeated and make a tasty dish in Wellington’s honour who in turn says the finest commander he ever faced was Napoleon. So very civil.

  3. The Daily Magnet’s avatar

    very civil, except for the capital punishment thingo.
    How’d ya stop the puff pasty on your Wellington from getting too brown Anthony?

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Yes but in the 19th century a lady felt safe and you could leave a five pound note on your table, leave the back door open, and when you came back – it was still there.

    Nice question. The cooking time in the oven gets it up to a perfect medium done and a nice golden hue. This is due to pre-cooking the fillet but if you were, for example, using a thicker fillet, you could just cover it with alfoil when it was brown enough.

  5. deborah’s avatar

    looks and sounds delicious. i’ve got to try making a wellington thingie before winter is out

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    Quick! Quick! The blossoms are upon us.

  7. Kate’s avatar

    I feel guilty for scoffing it so quickly now.

  8. deborah’s avatar

    yer… i know.

    i also wanted to have a fondue thingie before winter is out.

    i just re-read the rice pudding instructions so you can disregard my flickr comment.

  9. Jeanne’s avatar

    “coat the fillet with pate … and then warp it in pastry”

    Warp it? Show it dirty pics?? Offer it hard drugs?? :o)

    Great post – and yes, I was wondering about the Jackson Pollock effect. I think it contrasts nicely with the Rothko-like protein monolith that is the beef Wellington and the almost Mark Tobey-esque spirit writing that is the vegetable rosti. Nice one.

  10. Anthony’s avatar

    Scoff if you must.
    Apologies for blanking out somewhere between dessert and seeing people to the door. I knew there was a good reason for having cheese before dessert.
    I had fondue a few weeks ago. It’s a great larf if you chuck mozarella.
    Blow torch. yeah which is a worry.
    Oi! Editors weekend off. If anyone’s getting hard drugs it’s not Puff bloody Pastry
    I blog so I can see things like
    “Rothko-like protein monolith”.

  11. Gracianne’s avatar

    I had no idea this was called boeuf Wellington, I used to call it “filet de boeuf en croute”, but I am feeling wiser now, thanks to you.
    This is a wonderful meal, I have to try the puff pastry one day, maybe when I have two days ahead of me.
    I love the seafood pies too, you really have nice dreams.

  12. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Gracianne
    So do you call waterproof boots “pied en caoutchouc”?
    It’s very nice although I can’t say my puff pastry was all that better than the store bought one, maybe just for the pleasure of making it.
    It was a nice dream.

  13. Gracianne’s avatar

    We sure don’t call them “wellies”, you were almost right: bottes en caoutchouc :)

  14. Anthony’s avatar

    Oooooh so close. French, so very pragmatic.

  15. cin’s avatar

    hehe, I like the way you’ve described the pastry cases as looking like ashtrays. I thought about making beef wellingtons at some stage but thought that people would laugh cos it’s too ‘old fashioned’. nice to know that it’s not.

  16. Anthony’s avatar

    Hey Cin
    It also shows I’m old enough to be around when ashtrays were considered suitable crafty gifts for parents.
    Ahh the dilemmas of food fashion. I don’t know which I hate more, gratuitous cutting edge wankery or patronising wank about ‘comfort food’. But yeah go for it it’s tasty combines essential skills of making pastry and cooking meat well or you can always say it’s filet de bouef en croute (and then have a tanty when someone says ‘hey this is beef wellington’).

  17. Ricardoleadieri’s avatar

    To my mind, beef fillet is the most over-ratef cut of beef – I tend to prefer the more ‘robust’ steaks (sirloin, rump etc) – however, Beef Wellington is the exception; just one of the most perfect meals!
    I have (I’ll admit it) never made my own puff pastry, tell us – is it really that much better than good quality bought stuff?

  18. Anthony’s avatar

    I think we should love all cuts of steak for what they are but yes the sirloin is a big fave of mine for just your simple steaky steak but I like fillet for special occasions so I can have a nice lady’s fist sized chunk of meat. I think the T-bone gets a bit too much attention. You can also do a wellington with a sirloin or rump fillet but you’d have to adjust the cooking time appropriately, obvioulsy.
    I confess! The puff pastry I made wasn’t noticably better, not in the way making my own pizza dough was for example.

  19. Helen’s avatar

    …passionfruit? In ze rice pooding? Merde alors! Encroyable! That is gilding, how you say, the lily?

  20. The Daily Magnet’s avatar

    Are there any recipes that’re yummy but not fattening, Anthony?

    I have three years of brain food to lose asap, but everything u make is v tempting & naughty!

  21. Anthony’s avatar

    No No not at all Helen, it’s like polishing the bicycle

    Yes Liz there are but they just don’t do it for me.

  22. Anonymous’s avatar


    it was great to dine with you as always. What a tremendous effort too – that was a marathon feast you created.

    I have a soft spot for rice pudding too, and yours was delightful.


  23. Anthony’s avatar

    Ha! Marathon as in I passed out at the end of it. Very glad you two could make it. Got to do this dinner thing more often.

    Glad to hear about the rice pudding, my sago isn’t bad either (I think baked custard is nect in the series)

  24. Lex Culinaria’s avatar

    Darls! I missed you. Thanks for popping over. I’ve been a slack tart too, so no worries. I spent as much time as poss. this summer outside away from the computer. Re the puff pastry: You are clearly still suffering from that same as yet undiagnosed culinary insanity that inspired you to debone some poultry earlier in the year. Nice to see. I can debone and puff viariously through you and continue eating bony chicken and store bought pastry at home. I forgot your birthday this year. So sorry. No sparkly cake! I will find a way to make it up to you.

  25. Anthony’s avatar

    Missed you too. Where does the time go on the internets. Good on you from keeping away from the computer, I’ve managed to shake my sitemeter addiction.
    Just mastering one essential culinary technique a year at a time and I think I’ve forgotten how to debone a chicken.
    I missed the cake but the auru of goodness should see me through a few birthdays at least.

  26. Allison’s avatar

    Great recipes, but why not try cabbage leaves to wrap the beef wellington in, instead of crepes.

  27. Anonymous’s avatar

    This link takes you to the BEST Beef Wellington recipe ever.
    Melts in your mouth.

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