Boot Campers’ Best Yet

photo 3Little, romantic, delicious Individual Beef Wellingtons with asparagus. YUM.

Last night, between sips of wine, my Asphalt Green BPC students pulled together a wonderful compilation of Chateaubriand/Duxelle/Mousse and Pastry better known as Wellington. Here are our results and below is our working recipe. Please know that the directions are geared for people with basic cooking skills – if you want a more detailed instruction list, please comment below and I’ll send you the deets!

xo

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INDIVIDUAL BEEF WELLINGTONS

Recipe Yield: 4 servings

Ingredient

Amount

Fillet Mignons 4 2” thick steaks
Olive oil 3 tablespoons
Kosher or sea salt To taste
Black pepper To taste
Mushrooms (crimini or button) 15 small-medium, minced
Garlic clove 1 minced
Unsalted Butter 3 tablespoons per person
Shallots 1 medium or 2 small, minced
All purpose flour ¾ cups
Fois Gras (or Duck liver Mousse) 4 tablespoons
French Spicy Mustard 2 tablespoons
Sherry or Tawny Port 2 tablespoons per person
Puff Pastry 2 sheets per person
Egg wash 2 eggs beaten with water

EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR RECIPE:

Aluminum Foil Chef knife Boning knife
Baking Sheet Sauté Pan Pastry Brush
Sauce pot/pan Small cookie cutters (optional)

Recipe Instructions:   

  1. Preheat Oven to 400 F
  2. Prepare Filet and divide into portions – Dry off and set aside to come to room temp.
  3. Make the mushroom duxelle (chop shallots, garlic and mushrooms) then sauté in a pan until mushrooms are soft and dry) – deglaze with sherry or port…reduce again until mushrooms are soft and “dry”.
  4. Season  – and sear beef in sauté pan.
  5. Roll out pastry dough – moving as fast as possible – shape into a circle and cut off corners of circle (save scraps) to shape the pastry into a thick cross shaped piece.
  6. Assemble Wellingtons: Quickly dry off beef with a paper towel and place in middle of pastry cross. Brush with mustard, then layer on fois gras, then a tablespoon of duxelle. Brush ends of pastry with egg wash, then wrap the beef with the pastry, pressing the seams together. Glaze top with egg wash, decorate with leftover pastry dough if you like.
  7. Place in Freezer for 15 minutes to re-set pastry dough
  8. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and continue baking until puff pastry has risen and is golden brown. Check temp of beef – should be around 125 for rare.
  9. Remove from oven and let rest.
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Chicken Pot Nummie

ImageNight 2 of Culinary Boot Camp at Asphalt Green in Battery Park City.  We’ll be using our knife and roasting skills from last week and adding some new techniques: making sauce, sectioning a chicken, making stock, blanching veggies and drinking wine (oh, wait, we have that skill perfected already). Tonight’s class we’ll be making Chicken Pot Pies from scratch, or as my son call is Chicken Pot Nummie. Kids love it, adults love it, cats love it – what can I say, it’s the perfect dish.

This is the recipe from which we’ll be working. Any questions, please ask! I’ll be adding our class pictures to this post tomorrow.

Recipe Yield: 4 servings

Ingredient

Amount

Whole Chicken 1
Olive oil 3 tablespoons
Kosher or sea salt To taste
Black pepper To taste
Homemade Chicken Stock 5 cups
Unsalted Butter 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks)
Yellow Onions, chopped 2 medium
All purpose flour ¾ cups
Heavy Cream ¼ cup
Carrots 2 large
Fresh or Frozen Peas 2 cups
Fresh Parsley 3 stalks
Fresh Thyme 3 stalks
Pastry Dough 1 recipe

EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR RECIPE:

4 aluminum containers per person (small/round) Chef knife Boning knife
Large boiling pot Roasting pan or baking sheet Aluminum foil
Saucepan x 2

Recipe Instructions:   

  1. Break down chicken (set legs aside for frying/left over carcass should be used for stock). Drizzle olive oil and season chicken breasts and roast with skin and bone in a 350 degree oven on a baking sheet for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Heat up chicken stock in a saucepan.
  3. While chicken is cooking, prep vegetables. Dice carrots, dice onions. Blanche carrots, set aside.
  4. When chicken breast is finished, remove skin and bone; dice
  5. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and sweat the onions. Add the flour and make a roux. Slowly add chicken stock, mixing until thickened.  Season and add cream. Add chicken cubes, vegetables and herbs. Mix well.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 375 F.
  7. Divide the filling into 4 oven proof containers.  Divide the dough into quarters and roll each into an 8 inch circle. Mix egg with a little water and put egg wash on outsides of each circle. Place the dough over the filling/containers, pressing the egg side down onto the outside of the containers. Brush dough with egg wash, sprinkle with s/p and make 3 slits in top of each. Place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling hot.

Note: You can make your own pastry dough, or purchase one from the store. If you like a fluffier crust, purchase puff pastry dough instead. You will still use the egg wash to stick the dough to the top of the ramekins.

xo

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Back to School Back Bags

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Modcloth Back Pachyderm – $69

Backpacks are trending hard this fall.  My daughter is starting preschool Monday, so I’m investing in a super cute new back pack for her, as well as for my son, who’s entering the 2nd grade. I thought I may pick up one for myself while I’m at it. I totally forgot how comfortable it can be to schlep my goods on my back. Carrying everything in my super-huge mom bag on my left shoulder has left me somewhat lopsided. Check out the cute back-bags below – most of which can be carried by modern mommies and fashionable teens.

Better hurry – I’m ordering that elephant backpack asap!

xo

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Hunter-Jumper: Hot in the Hamptons

I love their shirts - I want one for my daughter and I as well.
I love their shirts – I want one for my daughter and me.

It was an amazing day at the Hamptons Classic yesterday. It was a little crazy to go as a show virgin on Grand Prix day, but it was so worth it. The weather held out and last year’s winner, Kent Farrington, won again. This time, his mount was Zafira. It was so amazing to see such steeds soar. I was happy just getting over a low jump last week; it surely was inspirational.

I have so many pictures and stories I’m weeding through, but I thought I would get some of the more fun pictures up for everyone to see. Please forgive my celebrity pictures – I’m not exactly paparazzi, being on the shy side, so I just took silly pictures from behind the pros. I was more interested in what people were wearing and what they were eating and the HORSES, of course!

My attempt at shooting the fashionable and famous:

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Les Enfants: the Fashionable Small-Set at the show:

Oh, and thank you guys for voting on what I should wear! I have to give props to Haute Hippie for sending me my size in the Paprika Onesie in time for the classic. It was perfect: comfortable, chic and got noticed. They rock!!

More to come!

xo

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Deliciously Danish

Sandwiches from Smorgas Chef Restaurant in the Scandia House Center in New York City
Sandwiches from Smorgas Chef Restaurant in the Scandia House Center in New York City

I’m an American mutt: on my mother’s side, I’m Italian, and on my father’s side I’m Danish.  Years ago, Sundays with Grandma and Grandpa would begin with about 3 hours of Lutheran church (I was jealous of my Catholic friends who got to go home after a 1/2 hour mass). Upon our return, we would all assist in assembling an immense table-full of the week’s leftovers, all rearranged and presented to perfection on thin-sliced heavy pumpernickel bread. In Denmark, this is known as Smørrebrød, meaning “buttered bread”. The bread is traditionally smeared with super thick delicious butter (think Lurpak) before toppings are added (the butter keeps the bread from getting soggy), and eaten with a knife and fork.

These little open-faced sandwiches can get very fancy. Indeed, there are restaurants all over Copenhagen (and a couple here in NYC – my next trip will be to Aamans Copenhagen in Tribeca) that specialize in these tasty morsels. In my family, we concentrated on every bite having a perfect blend of bread, dressing and topping. We didn’t worry too much about garnishing, as we were too busy stuffing our mouths. The adults (in my family, age 16) chased the food down with a Tuborg beer (no all but impossible to find) and a shot of Aquavit: Scandinavia’s potent “water of life” made with caraway.

Smorrebrod at my father's house. You can use anything in your fridge!
Smorrebrod at my father’s house. You can use anything in your fridge!

As a fun idea, you should try throwing a Danish Smorrebrod party. Slice and lay out thin slices of heavy pumpernickel, wheat and baguette bread. Place assorted toppings on small plates or on one large platter in the middle of the table, and let your guests make their own sandwiches. Have plenty of Carlsberg and Aquavit on hand to wash down the morsels.

Check out DanishSandwich.com it’s a wealth of information and tons of traditional recipes for sandwiches, homemade pickled herring, cucumber salad and other must-haves. They are one of my favorite blogs.

MOMMY NOTE: If you have young children, the smoked herring may be too much to ask their little taste buds to gobble – stick with the roast beef and pork options!

Skol!

xo

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Ice Cream Colored Kitchy Kitchen

In a world of Vikings and Wolfs, I think it’s time to bring in a more gentle species with a feminine flair. Enter Big Chill. I have always loved the hominess of 50’s-era kitchens and retro design of older appliances, but using one today would probably bring a private chef to tears. Big Chill has taken the modern commercial grade quality of Viking and merged it with the design aesthetic of Donna Reed – FABULOUS.

Big Chill has a number of appliances to choose from – refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers and toaster ovens in any color of the rainbow. I prefer the pastel, ice cream flavor colors. Big Chill also offers different sizes: large appliances for the dream kitchen in the ‘burbs and smaller sets for the cutest of studio apartments. With refrigerators starting at $2995 and ranges starting at $4295, these are definitely not your grandmother’s appliances, but trust me, her bundt cake will turn out even better when baked in a baby blue oven!

xo

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4 Fabulous Flowers for Fashionable Food

When I’m cooking for clients, I’m challenged to garnish my food in a tasteful yet easy way. I found that flowers are just the touch. Finding edible flowers can be a challenge, but certain smaller gourmet stores carry them on a regular basis. When I cannot find the edible varieties, I use pretty non-edible flowers, stressing to diners to NOT include the flora on their forks.

The following are my top 4 favorites:

1. Violets

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I not only use these pretty pedals as garnish, but also as a salad component. They are slightly sweet, and delicate and are tasty when using soft greens like butter lettuce and a mild and sweet honey vinaigrette.

2. Herb Flowers

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Chives, thyme, garlic, rosemary and other herbs have flowers. They are not always the most ornate, but they do impart extra flavor and color. You can use them in any dish that normally calls for their greens. Be sure to taste them first, as they can be slightly off.

3. Snapdragons

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Not your typical eating-flower, as they are bland and can be bitter, however, they are beautiful. Most people probably won’t try eating them, but they really can gussy-up a plate.

4. Squash Flowers

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These are delicious and many times cooked and eaten as a specialty all on their own. Many chefs deep fry them, but I prefer to leave them pretty much as they are (maybe a quick sauté with butter and herbs). Be sure to remove the prickly green stems before you cook them! I learned this the hard way when I competed on Food Network’s Chopped….

xo

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