Thursday, 31 December 2009

Jo and Emma's Festive Feast: Bites of Beef Wellington, duck breast with duck hash and braised red cabbage, satsuma granita cranberry soup

I finally cooked for Emma yesterday in the festive no-man's-land that is the days between Christmas and New Year. There was no need for Jo to text pictures this time. The remit was for a sumptuous dinner containing duck and red cabbage. There were also 15 no-no's including baked beans (has anyone actually served baked beans at a dinner party?), "lemon based savoury dishes" and my favourite "egg-sandwich style eggs". After much planning the menu was:
Bites of Beef Wellington
Duck breast with duck hash and braised red cabbage
Satsuma granita
Cranberry soup with floating islands

Bites of Beef Wellington

Succulent fillet steak on puff pastry with a duck pâté and mushroom duxelle. You only need a small amount of duxelle otherwise it overpowers the beef.

Duck breast with duck hash and braised red cabbage
Duck breast with a hash cake made using duck leg meat with red cabbage braised in balsamic vinegar

Satsuma granita
Refreshing crystals of satsuma ice to cleanse the pallet, presented in the shell of the satsuma

Cranberry soup with floating islands
A cranberry soup with poached meringues. Dried cranberries are incorporated into the meringues to give another texture. The soup has a bitter after note and needs work. The only fault of the menu.

Bites of Beef Wellington
100g beef fillet
Fresh thyme
Puff pastry (ready-cook)
100g Duck pâté
[NOTE: I used the magnificent Duck Liver Paté with Apricot Brandy from Patchwork Pâté. Foie gras would work very well too]
1/2 onion, finely chopped
100g button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 egg yolk

1. Roll out the pastry and cut in to circles about 1.5" in diameter. You'll need three circles per person. Glaze with egg wash and prick with a fork (to prevent the pastry puffing too much) then bake as per the packet instructions, typically 15min at 220°C.
2. Once baked remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3. Fry the onion in butter until soft. Add them mushroom and cook until dry.
4. allow the onion and mushroom to cool and then mix thoroughly with the pâté.
5. Liberally "season" your chopping board with thyme, salt and pepper. Roll the steak in the herbs until thoroughly coated on all sides. Wrap in cling film and chill.
6. To cook the steak, make sure it is at room temperature, then sear on all sides in a hot pan to get a brown crust and a rare interior. Leave to rest for a few minutes before carving into thin slices.
7. To serve, put two slices of steak on each pastry disk and top with a quenelle of pâté.

Duck breast with duck hash and braised red cabbage
1 duck leg and 1 duck breast per person
1 medium potato per person
1 onion, finely chopped
For the braised cabbage:
1 red cabbage, shredded
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 English eating apples, sliced
1 pack of smokey bacon, chopped
1oz demerara sugar
150 ml balsamic vinegar
1. Roast the duck legs for about an hour at 160°C. There's no need to add any oil or fat. Once cool strip all meat from the bone.
2. Fry the onion in butter until soft.
3. Boil and mash the potatoes.
4. Mix all the ingredients, then shape into rounds. Fry in butter until brown on top and bottom. Transfer to a baking tray. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.
5. Combine all the ingredients for the cabbage and either bake, covered at 160°C or put in a pan over a low heat until the cabbage is soft and vinegar has been absorbed/evaporate. This could take anywhere from 1-3 hours.
6. For the breasts, slit the skin to reveal the fat layer. Fry skin side down for about 6 minutes. turn and brown the under side. Then transfer to an oven at 180°C for 6-8 minutes (this will give a pink finish to the duck).

Satsuma granita (taken from Simon Hopkinson's Week In, Week Out)
500ml satsuma juice (14-20 satsumas)
4oz sugar
Juice 1 small lemon
1. Put a metal tray in the freezer.
2. Whisk all the ingredients together.
3. Pour the liquid into the tray and return to the freezer. Leave for 20 minutes.
4. Once ice crystal have formed about 2-3" from the edge of the tray lift the crystals into the areas in the middle where the liquid has not frozen.
5. Repeat every 20 minutes for approximately 2 hours, until the liquid has all frozen into soft crystals.
6. Serve the granita heaped into reserved satsuma cases.

Cranberry soup with floating islands - WORK IN PROGRESS
150g cranberries per person
1/4pint water per person
1oz butter
1 orange, juiced and zested
4oz sugar
For the meringues:
2 egg whites
2oz caster sugar
3oz dried cranberries
4oz caster sugar
1/2pint water
1. Fry the orange zest in the butter and remove before it colours.
2. add the cranberries and water to the pan and bring to the boil. boil until the cranberries start to split.
3. liquidise the mixture and pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan.
4. Reheat and add the sugar (or more to taste).
5. For the meringues, whisk the egg white until stiff. then gradually add the sugar until stiff. fold in the cranberries.
6. In a frying pan dissolve the remaining sugar in the water. Gently poach quenelles of meringue in the sugar stock for 4 minutes.

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