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Fit For a King!

I don't need to make you all groan about my ooey-gooey sweet-enough-to-give-you-instant-cavities feelings, so let me just say that the title of this post refers to my sweet, wonderful husband, Mike. :-) My prince. This past Friday was our five-year anniversary. When deciding on his gift, I simply said, I'll do what I do best. Here's the menu...

Beef Wellington
1 beef tenderloin (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
Ground black pepper (optional)
1/2 of a 17.3 oz pkg Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp butter
2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 med onion, finely chopped (ab 1/2 cup)

Heat the oven to 425° F. Place the beef into a lightly greased roasting pan. Season with the black pepper, if desired. Roast for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 130° F. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 425° F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook until the mushrooms are tender and all the liquid is evaporated, stirring often.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a rectangle 4 inches longer and 6 inches wider than the beef. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture. Spoon the mushroom mixture onto the pastry sheet to within 1-inch of the edges. Place the beef in the center of the mushroom mixture. Fold the pastry over the beef and press to seal. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Tuck the ends under to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and a meat thermometer reads 140° F.

Thyme For Yorkshire Pudding
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup reserved pan fat from Sunday Roast Beef*

*Cook's note: olive oil can replace cooking fat if none is available

Sift the salt and the flour into a large bowl. Add half the milk and all the eggs into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then the thyme. Cover; let batter sit at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes, ideally 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 450° F. Divide the rendered beef fat or oil, 1/4 cup total, between a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin or 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray. Heat in oven until the fat is almost smoking hot. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any fat drippings - this will help prevent any oven fires!

Uncover batter and whisk one more time. Pour batter into each cup, about 3/4 full and immediately place back into the oven. The batter will sizzle when being poured into the hot fat. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown in color. Turn oven off and leave puddings in the oven for just 5 more minutes to help set. Remove puddings and serve while hot and puffed.

Chocolate Molten Cakes
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 percent, plus 8 (1-inch) squares
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 lg eggs
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter 4 (6-ounce) ramekins and set aside.

Over a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the sugar and transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs and flour until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins about 2/3 full. Place 1 of the small chocolate squares right in the middle of each cake and press down with your fingers so it rests in the middle of the ramekin. Bake the cakes until slightly puffy and set around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Don't worry if your cake tester comes out wet, the center should still be loose.

BYOC: Use a nice sea salt to garnish, or try toasted coconut flakes, toasted and chopped nuts, fresh berries in the summer or freshly whipped cream.

I don't really have any individual dish pictures for a while here. From the moment I got home from work, there was a flurry of activity in my kitchen. If I wasn't chopping mushrooms, I was stripping thyme sprigs (a very tedious task, I assure you). If not that, I was mixing pudding batter and so on and so forth. You get the idea. These two pictures show the spread of activity in my kitchen.

I was really very proud of my dish choices and timing. Both the wellingtons and the puddings were ready to go into the oven together at the same time. I have to confess I was a little nervous about using the oven for both at once, which made me wish for double ovens a little bit, but it all worked out great! Also, because I didn't make the roast beef mentioned in the Yorkshire Pudding recipe, I used some bacon grease I had reserved in the fridge. In case you don't know, you can save this great byproduct in your fridge and it'll last for about forever. I keep mine in a little leftover container and use it when making eggs, roasting potatoes, or whatever needs a little fat and flavor.

Ooooooooooooh!!! Seeing these two sights when I opened my oven was just incredible. I don't know if this phenomenon happens to you, but I get joyful when I cook. I use that word on purpose. I mean, I get downright giddy. After pulling these babies out, I was quite literally dancing through my kitchen. How could I not. It's perfect!

While dinner was cooking, I started in earnest on dessert. I have to say that this was the first time I've ever worked with such high-quality, solid chocolate. It was fun!

Here you can see the butter and chocolate in various stages of melting in my double boiler (thanks, Ikea!). The last one is the chocolate with the sugar in it. Hey, what does two sticks of butter and half a pound dark chocolate look like? Pure beauty. It gets so smooth and shiny (much like patent leather actually). Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Here's a cool side effect I wasn't expecting. When I pushed the chocolate pieces down into the batter (careful, it's hot), it made some really neat looking little X's. They looked kind of like stars. :-) By the way, I don't have 6oz ramekins. I have 7oz and 4oz ones. That was some fun math...

Wait. Weren't there six cakes? Yeah, I didn't remember to take a picture until after we had started to dig in.

Dude. Talk about fancying it up. I lit a candle, dimmed the lights, and pulled out a bottle of Golden Rose. Holla back, Beachaven Winery! I also mixed up (from a bag) some Caesar salad. When I do a nice dinner, I do it right.

Don't act like you're not impressed. :-) I was pretty dang proud of myself for planning, making, and presenting this meal. Mike was really, really pleased and said more nice things than I can remember. The only note I can put on this meal is that the molten cakes are really rich. They really do belong in tiny ramekins. You could probably add a little sugar to take the edge off of that richness if it's too much.

Bonus: You may be wondering what Mike did for me for our anniversary. He had his own surprise planned. I got home from work on Friday and was told to pack an overnight bag. Mike then drove me downtown to the historical Hermitage Hotel, where he had rented a sweetheart night package. An "overbooking error" bumped us up from a Junior Suite to the Presidential Suite, where we enjoyed a fabulous overnight stay-cation. Seriously. Best. Anniversary. Ever! And many more... :-)

1 comment:

  1. Oh what a feast! Looks yummy, especially those molten lava cakes!!
    Just stopped by to let you know that I featured your dahlia pillows on facebook this morning - - an extra way to feature more favourites from my Round Tuit linky party!

    Thanks again for linking up! Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success