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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apricot Brie En Croute

WIBW 13 News - Live Morning Segment with Dave and Amanda, December 29, 2010

One of my favorite holiday party recipes using Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets from the Hy-Vee Freezer Section. Keep a box of puff pastry sheets in your home freezer for creating quick desserts and easy savory dishes.  My boys love it when I make Chicken Pot Pie with puff pastry shells and I can have these on the table in no time!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 wheel of brie, 13 oz.
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place parchment paper onto baking sheet.  On a lightly flour surface, roll out puff pastry sheet, just slightly.  Spread apricot preserves in a circle, approx. the size of your wheel of brie, in the center of puff pastry sheet; sprinkle preserves with red pepper flakes, then toasted almonds. Unwrap wheel of bire, then place on top of almonds. Using a paring knife, cut all 4 corners from puff pastry sheet, rounding it slightly.  Gently pull puff pastry up around brie wheel, then invert onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake, uncovered, for approx. 20-25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Serve with your favorite crackers - delicious with hearty breads, too. 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Building Beautiful Holiday Cheeseboards!

As featured in the Topeka Capital Journal, December 22, 2010

A gorgeous cheese display makes a beautiful centerpiece for the holiday parties. Back it up with simple appetizers prepared ahead of time. If you are hosting a holiday open house, keep it effortless by limiting your bar to just wine and beer. Assorted bottled beers on ice and wine in carafes are easily accessed by guests who can pour for themselves.

•Yes, the platter matters! Choosing a simple background as the base for your cheese platter will optimize the presentation of each cheese. I like to use a basic white platter or even better, a very large natural wood cutting board. Natural stone or ceramic tiles also work very well as cheese trays.

• Showcase with style - build your cheese board atop a beautiful holiday runner or cloth to protect your tabletop. Use overturned glasses to vary the height of your cheese board. Hide the glasses behind Christmas greenery, flowers or clusters of grapes and dried fruits.

• Choose a combination of cheeses that offer a nice variety for your guests: sharp cheddars, goat cheeses, bleus, etc. Sometimes it’s nice to place the tips of the wedges toward the center of the cheese board, taking care not to place them too close together. Add whole fruits, such as nicely ripened pears or apples that can be sliced just before your guests arrive.

• Cheeses can be labeled, but often hosts opt not to since unidentified cheeses do make for good conversation starters!

• Most cheese should be served at room temperature to allow the flavors and textures to really come alive on your palate. Remove cheese from refrigeration 30-60 minutes before you set your cheese board out for guests.

• Allow your guests to serve themselves from your cheese board – there is no need to pre-cut or slice the cheese ahead of time.

• Back up your cheeses with baguette slices and crackers along with an assortment of nuts. It is also nice to offer at least one chutney as well. This is delicious as a topping for any soft cheeses that are spread over the baguette slices or crackers.

• Plan ahead by knowing how much cheese you will need for your guests. Most party planners advise providing 2 oz. of cheese for each guest as a tasting, 3 oz. for each if serving as appetizers or 4 oz. for each if your cheeses are the main-stay of your party.

Happy Holidays!
Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beef Wellington for Christmas Dinner

1 beef tenderloin, 2 1/2 - 3 lbs., trimmed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb. baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 lb. frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Tie beef tenderloin with kitchen twine in 1-inch incrments to form a nice, even piece. (Kitchen twine will keep beef holding it's shape while cooking.) Sprinkle 1 tsp. kosher salt over tenderloin, then season with black pepper; let tenderloin rest for 1 hour. After tenderloin has rested for 1 hour, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat; add olive oil. When oil is hot, add tenderloin to the pan, searing on all sides, and ends until very well browned.  Place tenderloin onto cutting board with drainage well and let rest until cooled.  Chill tenderloin for 1-12 hours or until ready to assemble and tenderloin is well chilled.

Add onions to pan juices and saute until softened, approx. 5-6 minutes; add mushrooms and sherry and cook 10 minutes longer, or until all sherry has incorporated or evaporated..  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Let mixture stand until room temperature or refrigerate up to 2 days.

On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry sheet into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick and large enough to encase beef tenderloin. (You may need to use 2 puff pastry sheets, overlapping them slightly, and pressing into 1 large piece.) Plaace puff pastry over the bottom of a shallow baking sheet.

Cut strings from chilled beef tenderloin, then place on top of the prepared puff pastry sheet.  Spread prepared onion/mushroom mixture over tenderloin.  Fold up long sides of the pastry to enclose the tenderloin, brushing edges with beaten egg to seal.(Trim any excess puff pastry dough as you go, if needed, reserving this dough.)  Turn encased tenderloin carefully so thata the seam side is on the bottom. Roll out any remaining puff pastry dough and cut into holly or other holiday shapes and place on top of Beef Wellington.  Brush entire Beef Wellington with beaten egg.  Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Make 2 -3 slits in the top of the Beef Wellington for venting steam. Bake, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes or until Beef Wellington is golden brown and beef registers 135 degrees at center when testing with an instant-read meat thermometer, for Medium Rare.  Cover Beef Wellington during last few minutes of baking time if puff pastry becomes too brown.  Let Beef Wellington stand for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.  Delicious served with you favorite Horseradish Sauce!!

Serves 8-10

Hope this makes the perfect centerpiece at Christmas Dinner for your friends and family!

Merry Christmas,
Chef Alli