Pork Wellington

Pork Wellington has been on my list of things to blog for awhile now, waiting for a special time to make it. My husband just had a business trip that was crazy busy and when he comes back from these trips I like to treat him to a special meal. Understandably he gets tired of restaurant food and eating on the run.

The meal had to wait a day as we had tickets to go see Heart. Those two ladies at 65 and 69 years of age can seriously rock. Leaping about and belting out the songs, it was amazing. I would love to have that energy!

This is a time consuming but not difficult meal to make. You can save time by buying puff pastry but making the rough puff pastry is relatively simple and tastes a lot better than store bought pastry.

Technique for Rough Puff Pastry

The main key for a good rough puff pastry is keeping everything cold. Some people will grate frozen butter for this but you can get away with butter from the fridge.

Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour until you have a coarse mixture.

Add a bit of water at a time until the clumps come together in a rough ball. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes. If you find that you add too much water, don’t panic you can fix it when you knead the dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. If you made the dough too wet add extra flour while you are kneading the dough. You don’t want to overwork the dough but you want a smooth ball where you see marbling of the butter. Roll out thinly into something close to a rectangle.

Fold into thirds like an envelope.

Rotate 90 degrees and roll out into a thin rectangle.

Fold into thirds again.

Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes and until you are ready to use it.

Technique for Pork Wellington

Melt butter in the skillet. Season the pork with sea salt and pepper. Sear all sides and cook it to about two thirds done. This is probably the trickiest part as you need the pork to be cooked through by the end of baking but you don’t want it dried out. It’s not like the beef wellington where you want it medium rare.

Remove from the skillet and set aside while you cook up the apple mixture.

Finely chop up the apple, mushrooms, garlic and sage. Add additional butter to the skillet and sauté the ingredients for several minutes until the mushrooms start to brown.

Deglaze with the calvados and cook until the liquid reduces to nearly zero. Remove from the heat.

On cling film lay out the prosciutto and spoon the mushroom mixture onto the prosciutto and spread it out. Coat the pork with the mustard and place the pork in the centre.

Tightly wrap the pork and chill for half an hour. After the half hour roll out the dough, remove the cling film and place the pork in the centre of the dough.

Trim the ends and wrap the pork like a burrito. Place seam down on a baking sheet and brush with a beaten egg.

Bake in an oven set at 425F/220C until the pastry is golden and flaky. About 30-35 minutes.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Though if it is really flaky, the darn thing will fall apart as you slice.

I roasted up a bit of parsnip and made up a side salad to keep the meal light.

This Pork Wellington was well worth the effort and the flavours were even better the next day.

Pork Wellington

A twist on the traditional beef wellington.

Course Main Course
Cuisine English, French
Keyword Pork Wellington
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Rough Puff Pastry

  • 150 grams strong flour
  • 150 grams cold butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60 ml cold water (up to 60 ml)

Pork and Apple Mushroom mixture

  • 1 lb pork loin
  • 1 cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 leaves sage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup calvados 2oz
  • 4-5 tbsp butter
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 6-8 slices thin prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp stone ground mustard

Instructions

Rough Puff Pastry

  1. Sift the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut up the cold butter and add it to the flour. Using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the flour until you have a coarse mixture. Add a bit of water at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. It will be coarse and sticky. But you don't want it overly wet. Cover and chill for 20 minutes.

  2. On a floured surface, knead the dough until it is a smooth dough where you can see a marbling of the butter. Don't overwork the dough.

  3. Roll out thinly into a rough rectangle. Fold into thirds in an envelope. Rotate 90 degrees and roll out again into rectangle. Fold again into thirds. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or until you need it to wrap the pork later.

Pork Wellington

  1. Heat half the butter in a skillet. Season the pork with sea salt and pepper. Sear all sides of the pork. Cook it about 2/3 thirds of the way. When it's done baking at the end you want the pork to be cooked thoroughly but not dry. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  2. Add more butter to the skillet. Add the mushrooms, apples, sage and garlic. Sauté for several minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown. Pour in the calvados to deglaze the pan. Cook until the liquid is reduced to nearly zero.

  3. On a piece of cling film lay out the prosciutto. Spoon the mushroom and apple mixture onto the prosciutto and spread it out. Coat the pork with the mustard and place the pork in the centre of the apple and mushroom mixture. Tightly wrap the pork in the prosciutto and seal with the cling film. Chill for 30 minutes.

  4. Roll out the pastry thinly. Place the pork into the centre. Trim the sides and wrap the pork like a burrito. Place on a baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.

  6. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

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Apple Brie Chicken

“Out of the mouth of babes” is a very apt phrase.  Obviously it’s important to listen to your children.  Aside from the fact it’s healthy for them and can be a lot of fun for all, you never know when they will be a source of inspiration.  

One of my son’s chores is to help me walk the dogs.  It’s my favourite “task” to have him do as it means one on one time with him.  I get to listen about his day, find out how things are going for him, etc.  We also, surprise, surprise talk about food.  He mentioned trying a frozen stuffed chicken with apples and brie/camembert.  Ooh, I said, that sounds really good.  It promptly went on my list of thing to make.

Technique for Apple Brie Chicken:

This is a quick easy meal to put together with breaded chicken and a mushroom garlic sauce.

Sweet apples with brie is a lovely flavour combo.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Slice pockets into the chicken breasts and fill with the apple and brie.

Coat the chicken with beaten egg and dredge in panko bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown the chicken on all sides.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven.  In the same skillet add the mushrooms.  Sauté for a few minutes before adding the garlic and rosemary.

Add the butter and wine and simmer for a few minutes.  Once the chicken is finished cooking serve with the mushroom sauce spooned over the chicken.

I served this with corn and roasted potatoes.  See, it does pay to listen to the kids. 🙂  

Apple Brie Chicken

A quick meal with apple and brie. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Apple Brie Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 slices brie or camembert
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine 3oz
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

Chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

    Slice pockets into the chicken and stuff with the brie and apple.  Dredge in the beaten egg and Panko bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Brown all sides of the chicken and finish cooking in the oven.

Mushroom Garlic Sauce

  1. Sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil in the skillet for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and rosemary.  Cook for a few more minutes.  Add the wine and butter. Simmer for a minute or two.  

Serving

  1. Slice the chicken and spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.  

Pork Pie with Apple and Thyme

Those that have followed my blog for awhile know I have a list of food I like to eat when we go back home to the UK.  Fish and chips, sausage rolls and pork pie.  Obviously I don’t eat them the entire time we’re there, I have to fit in the plane seat on the way back.  But I do get through the list!

It’s been on my to do list to make homemade pork pie for quite awhile now.  When my father in law mentioned that he loves pork pie as well I decided now was the time.  They’ve gone home now and it’s strange not to have them here.  We really enjoy visiting with them.  Holidays seem to go by way too fast.  We are already planning the next few visits and the way time flies, well it won’t be long.

Technique for the pork pie filling:

Now, I won’t lie, this is a time consuming dish.  Worth it, but yes it will take awhile.  Mainly because of finely chopping the meat.  I didn’t want to use mince for this.

The recipe I used as a guide was from the BBC for Raised Pork Pie but with my twist.  As it is apple picking season, any excuse to use up the apples will do.  Pork goes really well with sage, thyme and apple.  Finely chop the meat, apple and garlic. When you chop the meat remove any hard fat.  You do want a balance of fat but you want that fat to render into the meat when cooking.  Add the herbs, sea salt and pepper.

Mix well and set aside.

Technique for pastry:

Next prepare the baking tin.  I used an 8″/20cm springform pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper.  In a saucepan melt the butter in the water.  Bring it to a high simmer but don’t boil.

In a large mixing bowl add the flour and make a well.  Carefully pour the liquid into the flour.

Mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon.  When it becomes cohesive turn it out on a floured surface.

This will be fiddly!  Make no mistake.  Knead for a minute or so then divide it 1/3 and 2/3.  Cover and set aside the 1/3.  Flour the rolling pin to minimise the stickiness.  Roll out the pastry out thinly.  Fold it into a quarter.

This helps get it into the pan a bit easier.  Gently unfold it and press it up the sides.  Make sure there aren’t any holes or cracks.  Use your knuckles as nails are not your friends here!  Add the filling pressing it firmly into the pastry.

Roll out the remaining pastry then lay it on top of the pie.  Pinch the ends together and take a wooden spoon and poke the end in to make a hole in the top.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F/180C.  Reduce the heat to 325F/160C and bake for 90 more minutes.  Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie with the egg.

Bake for 20 more minutes.  Let cool.  In a small saucepan add the chicken stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil and add the gelatin.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the thyme. Using a funnel, gradually add the stock liquid to the pie.  This takes awhile as you don’t want the liquid to overflow.

Allow the whole pie to chill in the fridge overnight.

Serve with a side salad.  On the table we had salad cream, brown sauce, coleman’s mustard and branston pickle.  Can’t get more English than that!  🙂

 

Pork Pie with Apple and Thyme

A classic English dish with a twist of apple and thyme

Course Main Course
Cuisine English
Keyword Pork Pie
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2.25 lbs pork shoulder/butt 1000 grams
  • 1/2 lb pork belly 200 grams
  • 1 large apple
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh sage
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Pastry

  • 575g all purpose flour
  • 200 grams salted butter
  • 220 ml water

Remaining ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 packets gelatin a packet equals 3 leaves
  • 300 ml chicken stock
  • handful thyme sprigs

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the meat, apple, garlic and herbs.  Mix well and set aside.  Make sure you remove the hard fat.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

    Heat the water and butter until a high simmer.  Add the flour to a mixing bowl and create a well.  Pour the hot liquid into the bowl and mix well.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so.

    Line the bottom of an 8"/20cm springform pan with parchment paper.  Divide the pastry in a 1/3 and 2/3.  Cover the 1/3.  Roll out the rest thinly and place into the pan.  Press the pastry up the sides, make sure there aren't any holes or cracks.  Press the filling into the pastry.

    Roll out the remaining pastry and place it on top of the filling.  Pinch the ends together.  Use a wooden spoon end to create a hole in the top.

  3. Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 325F/160C and bake for 90 minutes more.  Brush the beaten egg over the top and bake for 20 more minutes.  Let cool.

  4. Bring the chicken stock and thyme to a boil.  Add the gelatin and let cool.  Using a funnel, carefully pour the gelatin liquid into the pie.  Chill overnight in the fridge.  Serve with a side salad.  

 

Irish Apple Cake

Usually when our anniversary rolls round we are up to our ears in some house project.  If we were smart we’d do a trip or something fun like we did a few years ago.  But then again the list won’t take care of itself!

A big project is to redo the wrap around porch which means pulling up boards and lay new ones down as we go.  When most of it was done it was time to get in a skip to get the trash removed.  Silly me, I thought we could work on our foyer and walk in closet.  Might as well fill the skip up!

What was I thinking?  Granted it will cross two more projects off the list.  But we’re tired!  In the days leading up to our anniversary my husband took a few days off to make a dent in the projects.  When our anniversary rolled round we hit a wall where my husband had to handle things as I was unable to.  I felt guilty!  So I thought I should bake him a treat.  It was the least I could do.

Given that we went apple picking and we have a ton of apples I had to pick something that would use some up.  I have a great book called “Irish Traditional Cooking” by Darina Allen.  In it is a recipe for Irish Apple Cake.  I mostly followed it.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Irish apple cake 4 2015

In a medium sized bowl add 2 cups of flour, 1/3 tsp baking powder, and 8 T of butter.  You want the butter at room temperature so you can blend the ingredients.  With a pastry fork or your hands work the ingredients together until it looks like breadcrumbs or small beads.

Irish apple cake 1 2015

Mix in half a cup of sugar then add one beaten egg.

Irish apple cake 2 2015

You will need 1/2 to 2/3 cup of milk.  Gradually add a little bit of milk at a time until the dough is soft and incorporated.  This dough will be a pain to work with as it is wet and sticky.  Flour your hands and rolling pin to work with it.

Irish apple cake 3 2015

Grease a 9″ spring form pan.  Roll out half of the dough and place it in the bottom of the pan.

Irish apple cake 5 2015

There is a good chance you’ll have to patch holes with this so don’t be discouraged.  Press the dough up the sides a bit.  Slice a couple of apples and layer them round the middle.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the apples.

Irish apple cake 6 2015

Roll out the rest of the dough and place over the apples.  Brush with a beaten egg.

Irish apple cake 7 2015

Bake for 40 minutes or so until the dough is cooked and a nice golden colour.

Irish apple cake 8 2015

Good luck waiting until this cools.  Slice and serve.

Irish apple cake 10 2015

My husband did appreciate this with a cup of tea when he got a chance to take a break and sit for awhile.  🙂

Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pork

With trying to branch out in our cooking and the gluten free experiment I have to get creative in how I use the ingredients.  That includes trying to use veg that I really don’t like.  Being a supertaster I’ve been limited because things like squash, sweet potato, zucchini, etc can be bitter to me.  Fortunately I’m having success in making these ingredients palatable for me but still letting some of that flavour that my family likes through.  Which is great because I’d love to be more seasonal with the local foods.  Kind of makes me wish I tried this before!

There was some sweet potato and rutabaga in the fridge that needed to be used up plus a bin full of apples.  I chopped up the sweet potato and rutabaga and covered with two cups chicken stock and 1 cup water.  Cook on a high simmer until they are about half cooked.

Sweet potato apple puree 1 2014

Add some sage and lemon thyme and one chopped apple.  Finish cooking the sweet potato and rutabaga.

Sweet potato apple puree 2 2014

While this is cooking, brown the pork in a skillet and finish it by baking.  Mix some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Set aside and chop up some mustard greens.  In a food processor spoon in the sweet potato, rutabaga, and apple leaving the liquid in reserve.  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Pulse while adding the cooking liquid a bit at a time until you get the consistency you want.   Layer the pork over the puree and top with the mustard greens.  Dress with the olive oil and lemon.

Sweet potato apple puree 3 2014

Next time I would use a little less rutabaga but we had to use it up.  Other than that I can say I like sweet potato.  In some things.  😉

Blackcurrant Bars – On The Tart Side Of Life

We are looking at a blow for freedom as my mum likes to say.  What is it you ask?  Why getting rid of cable!  The bane of many of us.  I’m sure many of you have heard loads of horror stories lately about what happens when customers try to cancel the cable.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t have issues.  But it’s time to cut the cord as they say.  We only watch a handful of channels so it isn’t economical to have it.  Today we’ve been testing a digital antenna all round the house to find the best spot.  Where we live, we only get PBS but that is fine because with Hulu Plus and Netflix, we are pretty much covered.  The dogs spent the day looking at us funny while we stood in different rooms seeing if there was any improvement!

This weekend we also had a fun date night and went to see the movie Chef.  I really liked that movie.  Aside from a display of fabulous food the music was outstanding!  It was hard not to get up and dance. 

All the blackcurrants have been picked now.  I froze a bunch for later in the year but I saw a link to blackcurrant bars.  When I went to pin it it said it was a spam link but it sparked an idea.  I used my mother’s date bar recipe for the bar portion of it and then made up an apple blackcurrant jam. 

I did the jam ahead of time because the week got a little nutty.  Okay, a lot nutty.  Thank goodness for weekends!  But you can make the jam just before you bake the bars. Either way is fine. 

Blackcurrant bars 1 2014

In a small saucepan add a cup to a cup and a half of blackcurrants and a diced apple.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water and a few splashes of lemon juice.

Blackcurrant bars 2 2014

Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until the fruit breaks down while stirring frequently.  Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of brown sugar depending on your taste.  Some like it to be really tart. 

Blackcurrant bars 3 2014

When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Melt 6 tablespoons in a small bowl.  In another bowl mix 1 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.  This is half the recipe of the date bars as the jam amount for the black currant is about half of what the date bar has.  Add the melted butter and mix well.  Press half into the baking tin.

Blackcurrant bars 4 2014

Spread the jam over the oat mixture.

Blackcurrant bars 5 2014

Put the rest of the oat mixture over the jam and bake for about 25 minutes until golden.

Blackcurrant bars 6 2014

This was definitely tart!  But my husband loved it.  🙂

Wish me luck with the cable company!