Author Archives: bradnjulia

Beef Wellington ( the humble version)

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Ground Beef WellingtonToday is American Thanksgiving and I am quite sure their bellies are going to be full of all kinds of amazing food. I am also sure this post is going to be absolutely irrelevant to the nation quietly snoring on their couches by 5pm. As for the rest of the world…well, we still gotta eat something. What I am bringing to you today is a humble, speedy but no less delicious version of grand Beef Wellington.  Traditionally Beef Wellington is prepared with a good cut of beef but our recipe calls for ground beef which is much cheaper and less intimidating to work with. While I’ve always wanted to make the “real” version I never seemed to be able to justify spending the money on the high priced chunk of beef. When Jamie Oliver came up with this recipe I knew it would become a regular week night dinner option. On a side note, I would like to express my love and devotion to Jamie Oliver. Isn’t that guy amazing?!! I simply adore his food. I follow him on Twitter, I follow him on Instagram, I subscribe to his daily recipe, I watch him on TV and I have at least 5 of his books! Wow, I think I just scared myself with my passion for the man! No intervention needed I think I got it under control.

Right, back to food.This tasty dish is a winner with everyone, from young to old. It’s beautiful and will make you look like you possess chef-like skills in the kitchen while it’s a breeze to make. Ready?

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 potato
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 portobello mushrooms or 5 regular button mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 egg
  • 1lbs of ground beef/mince meat( I used  a half and half mix of extra lean beef and pork)
  • 1 package of store-bought puff pastry -500gr
  • flour for dusting and rolling
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C and take your pastry out of the fridge to soften a bit. Peel onion, carrot and potato. Dice all the vegetables (except the peas!) into similar size pieces, put your frying pan on a medium heat with 2 tbls. of olive oil, chop up your herbs and squeeze the garlic through a garlic press or chop it up with a knife and throw them in the pan as well. Gently saute everything stirring occasionally until your vegetables are tender and onions are translucent. It will take about 5-8 minutes. Then transfer your mixture into a bowl and cool completely.

Ground Beef Wellingon

Once it’s cooled enough to touch add your beef and peas to it. Here is your chance to play with your food-get into the bowl with your hands and start mixing everything together adding salt and pepper and a half of your beaten egg, reserve the rest for the pastry. If you are one of those people who really doesn’t like to touch meat I recommend buying kitchen gloves for instances like that because it’s really important to get into the mixture with your hands to ensure even distribution of all the nice bits plus it’s just fun!

Ground Beef Wellington

Dust your clean work surface with a handful of flour and roll out your pastry to a 1/4 inch thickness or use an already rolled one!

Shape your beef mixture into a log and place it on your rolled out pastry sheet, brush the edges with the reserved egg. Roll it up tucking the ends inside like a giant burrito, brush with the egg all over and place it on a baking sheet seam down.

Ground Beef Wellington

Bake Beef Wellington in the preheated oven for 45 min to an hour depending on your oven until golden.

That’s what mine looked like…

Ground Beef Wellington

Serve your Wellington with a simple green salad or roasted potatoes if you wanted it to be a heftier meal.

Ground Beef Wellington
Enjoy and come back for more!
Ground Beef Wellington

Saturday morning brunch-Russian sweet cheese fritters “Syrniki”

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Syrniki Russian sweet cheese fritters.
As a child I always liked Saturday mornings. They meant special breakfast for us. I grew up with a mom who worked full time. She had an important job as an engineer so every morning my brother and I had pretty simple breakfasts before heading to school. She loved to spoil us on the weekends by making something special for breakfast. I still remember waking up to the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. Syrniki (seer-nee-kee) were one of her Saturday treats and one of my precious childhood memories. I missed them terribly when I moved away from Russia. Syrniki are made from a farmer’s cheese called ‘Tvorog’ in Russian and I couldn’t find a good substitute in the US or Canada for the longest time. It’s very similar to cottage cheese and ricotta cheese but is drier and has a tangy taste. This is what it looks like in texture.

I have used well-drained cottage cheese in the past but it really lacks the slightly sour kick of ‘Tvorog”.

However, I am getting reports that all the major supermarkets in North America are now carrying this item under the name of ‘Farmer’s Cheese” and you can always find it in any Russian or Eastern European store if there is one close by. I bought mine from a local Eastern European Foods shop in my neighborhood in London. Imagine my excitement! It’s been so long since I last made the recipe that I had to pull out my Russian cookbooks for a refresher. As I often say I am not a recipe follower, I only use it as a guideline. I had to combine two different ones, tweak them in a few places and this is what I came up with.

Russian sweet cheese fritters "Syrniki"

Ingredients:

Farmer’s Cheese- 1 lbs/450 gr

2 eggs

2 tbsp. oil

4 tbsp. sugar

3/4 c. flour plus extra flour for dusting and rolling

1/2 tsp. baking powder

vanilla

Directions:

The method of preparing syrniki is pretty much the same as old plain pancakes. If you ever attempted to make pancakes you will manage this recipe with ease. Combine cheese, eggs, sugar, oil, flour, baking powder and vanilla in a medium size bowl and mix all the ingredients with a hand mixer until you get a homogenous mass- no longer than 2-3 minutes. The mixture will be very sticky. Don’t panic, that’s what you are supposed to get!

Put your non-stick or cast iron frying pan on the stove on medium heat and add 3 tbsp of oil to it.

Dust a clean work surface with some flour. Take a regular soup spoon and start scooping the mixture from the bowl. Put it directly on the floured surface and roll it in the flour, then flatten it with your palm to make it into a patty. Continue the process with the rest of your cheese mixture until it’s all gone. You should get about 14 patties.

Before you start frying your syrniki make sure the oil in the frying pan is very hot by sprinkling a bit of flour into it. If it sizzles it’s hot enough. Fry your syrniki the same way you would pancakes. When you turn them over they should puff up a bit. The flour coating will make the outside slightly crispy while the mostly cheese filling will taste light and delicious.

Dust syrniki with icing sugar as the final touch and serve them with your favourite jam or a fruit sauce. If you want a truly Russian experience enjoy them with a bit of “smetana”-creme fraiche. I love mine with blackcurrant jam! Yum!  This one tasted just like my babushka used to make. If only my kids had the same appreciation for it. They rejected it and went for the maple syrup. However they LOVED the syrniki and I have one of the pickiest children in the world. I call it- Success!


Russian sweet cheese fritters "Syrniki"

Starting the day right

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Here is my confession. Although I am always cooking something delicious and posting pictures of the great looking food, I am almost always on some sort of a diet. Sometimes it works but more often than not it doesn’t. Sad. This breakfast you see on this picture was this morning’s decision to ditch my Herbalife diet and start the day the way God created it to be, in other words eating real food. Healthy, nutritious and just plain gorgeous! Just look at that!

I am sure you don’t need a recipe for a breakfast sandwich but here it goes anyway. It comes with a few minor tweaks to make more it palatable for this fussy Russian.

Ingredients:

3 cremini mushrooms

1/4 small red onion

1 tsp olive oil

1 egg

1 slice Russian black bread (dark rye bread)

salt and pepper

Directions:

Slice your mushrooms and onions and slightly saute them in the frying pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and onions translucent. When they are almost done make some room for an egg and break it onto the pan. Meanwhile toast your bread and make coffee or tea to go with your scrumptious breakfast. Pile your mushrooms and onions on the toasted bread and top it with a fried egg. As you might have noticed I like my egg “sunny side up”, so I only fry it on one side as I like the look of it and the runny yoke. Feel free to do it however you like but I warn you it’s much less delicious any other way!!!

I am sure you figured it out by now that this recipe is a breakfast for one but could be doubled, tripled or quadrupled. Your choice. I was all alone after my hubby left for work and the kids were dropped off at school. I enjoyed it immensely. Yes to real food! Now let’s hope for no relapse.