Beef Wellington


My-oh-my aren’t we getting fancy pants! You know you have arrived at a high quality restaurant when they have beef Wellington on the menu. The process can be rigorous and requires the right ingredients for perfection. However, I have been graciously granted a humble version of beef Wellington. It favors realistic ingredients and ease without
sacrificing flavor.

Beef Wellington is a preparation of filet steak coated with pâté–often pâté de foie gras–and duxelles wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Some recipes include wrapping the coated meat in a crêpe to retain the moisture and prevent a soggy pastry. There are theories that suggest that beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Some theories go a step further and suggest this notion was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine and pâté cooked in pastry: there is a noted lack of evidence supporting this. “Wellington” is sometimes informally used to describe other dishes in which meat is baked in a puff pastry. The most common variations are sausage Wellington, lamb Wellington and salmon Wellington; however, few compare to the noteworthy beef Wellington. The pricey ingredients and tedious preparation make the dish a companion in fine dining.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. I use a few baby carrots chopped finely, but I recommend buying a large carrot and chopping it finely.
  2. I used about ¾ a celery stalk. I wanted to keep the ratio of carrots to celery rather equal.
  3. Use a small potato and be sure to chop it in similar fashion and size as the carrots and celery. You want the potato to be able to cook through.beefwellington2
  4. I used one large Portobello cap mushroom. If you use button mushrooms, you are skimping on taste for my preference.
  5. I used dried thyme. I sprinkled what I thought would be equvaliant to the sprigs of thyme. Thyme is a little less potatant than rosemary, and I believe it compliments the ingredients better: you be the judge.
  6. I suggest using frozen peas because fresh peas will become too mushy while being cooked. The frozen peas allow for thawing and cooking to be done within the pastry.
  7. Graciously coat the exterior pastry with the egg. It will create the browning effect that Wellington is notorious for possessing.
  8. I suggest using the ground beef to try and make the stuffing as close to true Wellington
    as possible.
  9. I used 1 package of puff pastry; however it was only 250 grams. You need the full 500 grams or you will have to lessen the amount of stuffing.
  10. The pastry needs to be rolled thin so that it can cover stuffing. Folding it burrito style is the best chance at keeping the juices from leaking out and making the bottom soggy.
  11. My pastry was not large enough for my stuffing; thus, I have problems keeping my pastry shut when I flipped it over.
  12. I had leftover filling that I cooked separately in the over; however, the pastry adds a steaming effect that drastically enhances the flavors which were missing from the
    plain filling.

beefwellingtonHumble man’s beef Wellington and a surmountable flavor profile define this dish perfectly. The ingredients and steps are easy to follow that sings an ode to the delicious side of meals. Paired with a leafy green salad or wilted spinach and mash, the dish can be elevated to rival those of sophisticated diners. Go ahead and conquer the unthinkable with the fabulous
beef Wellington.

Leave a comment with your favorite beef recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.


Pineapple Fried Quinoa


Vegan, vegetarian, or just full out flavor love?! The pineapple fried quinoa is a meal for all.  With a blast of flavor and healthier ingredients, it is a great combination for any family dynamic.  The rich, sweet flavors of the soy sauce (tamari) and maple syrup create real depth in the dish.  The fresh kale, shitake mushrooms, onions and pineapple give it a nutritional variety and color blast. The most surprising fact is the additional flavors the tahini and pineapple juice dressing provides the dish.  It creates a well-rounded nutty flavor with an acidic bite.  The nutritional yeast adds some nutrients to the dish and makes the quinoa fluffier.  Quinoa is a great substitution to rice and other grains because it contains more protein than other whole grains, which is necessary in diets like veganism and vegetarianism. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. This dish can be made vegan by following it exactly.
  2. In place of tamari, I used soy sauce because they are equivalent in taste the difference is that tamari is a vegan version.
  3. Four cups of quinoa is 1¼ cup dry quinoa.
  4. I used about ½ tbsp more soy sauce to give it more flavor.pineapple-fried-quinoa06
  5. I nixed the mint from the garnish and the dressing.  I felt that the dish was already fresh enough.  If using mint, remember less is more because it is so potent.
  6. I replaced the dried jalapeno with chili powder.  You can use any spice that will give it the kick you desire.
  7. I used chicken broth because it is what I had on hand, but vegetable broth works for both vegans and vegetarians.
  8. I cooked the quinoa and sautéed the tofu, onion, mushroom mixture separately.
  9. After the tofu is cooked remove it until the dish is complete.
  10.  Add all the ingredients to the pot of cooked quinoa and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.  You just want to mix everything and heat up the chopped pineapple.  Don’t over cook it.
  11. Then, add the tofu and dressing. Mix it well.
  12. There is no need for fancy plating unless you want to impress someone and you think the taste alone won’t blow them away.

I made this dish for a potluck with friends, and it was a real winner-winner not so chicken dinner.  It is a bombshell of flavor and nutrients that was simpler to make than it sounds.  Don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients and give it a try.  You cannot go wrong with this dish, and it’ll blow your vegan family tongues out of the water.  Who knew vegans could have such fun flavors!

Leave a comment with your suggestions and other vegan recipes you’d like me to try.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

P.S. Pictures are thanks to the original blogger.

Cauliflower Cake


You may think I’m crazy. Cauliflower and cake in the same sentence seems like an alien recipe–with out-of-this-world flavor! I’ve gone crazy with cauliflower in the past. From cauliflower used as a pizza crust to rice, I have learned the versatility of vegetables. Now, this cauliflower cake falls into the frittata family and packed with a combination of savory flavors.

Cauliflower has 16 percent less carbs and 79 percent fewer calories per half cup serving than potatoes and other starches. Thanks to the abundance of pectin–the stuff that thickens jams and jellies–pureed cooked cauliflower has a velvety texture that adds body to soups, mimics potatoes in a mash or tots and can even form cakes and crusts. Its versatility lends a helping hand to a variety of meals.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I kept my florets larger, but I suggest making them the size of a bottle
    cap–personal preferences.cauliflowercake3
  2. Use Pam in place of the olive oil if you have consumed your fats for the day.
  3. Caraway seed pairs nicely with the dill. It resembles fennel seed.
  4. Garbanzo bean flour or another gluten free flour can be used. It will be found in the natural food section of most markets and will need to be refrigerated in an air tight container after being opened.
  5. The mix of eggs and cheese help create cohesion between ingredients; the flours create the cake like consistency although the entire dish resembles a frittata.
  6. I used a fresh red pepper charred stovetop. You can also broil the pepper being sure to turn it charring all sides.
  7. I usually prefer to nix dill from recipes, but it is a necessity in balancing the savory aspects of the dish.
  8. I used Pam along the inside of the springform pan rather than parchment paper.

cauliflowercake2I’ve learned to not judge a recipe by its name. It may sound crazy, but the crazy recipes are the ones that make your taste buds sing. Cauliflower’s timid flavors pair well in various forms. From pizza to cakes, there’s a recipe to expose your family to vegetables in a healthy and flavorful way. Trust me, like the favored cauliflower pizza, you will be begging for more of this bizarre meal.

Leave a comment with your favorite frittata recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Winter Vegetable Dal


Cold days call for warm soups. This winter vegetable dal delivers a warm deliciousness to your tummy. Full of notable Indian spices and deep flavors, it provides a sensational dish without tedious hours of cooking. Within an hour, you can easily create a dish worthy of family night and friendly parties.

Dal refers to a thick stew prepared from dried lentils, peas or beans that have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. The dish is normally paired with rice or bread as a soaking agent to the soup. Dal is a staple food for much of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal known as Dal Baht–literally dal and rice. Dal has an exceptional nutritional profile. It is typically around 25% protein by weight, particularly for those adopting vegetarian diets. It is virtually fat-free and rich with B vitamins, folic acid, iron and zinc.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I suggest using coconut oil for the natural health benefits.
  2. I was unable to find brown mustard seeds; I believe mine were simply called mustard seeds but were yellow.
  3. I used a bay leaf in place of curry leaves. It was what I had in the pantry; the point is to create spice flavor.
  4. Dice the Serrano pepper finely and remove the seeds.
  5. I suggest grating the ginger finely rather than chopping it. The pieces become too small and are difficult to chop.
  6. I used red lentils found in the natural section of my grocery store, but you can use any type of lentils available.
  7. Use “lite” coconut milk whenever possible. The point is to create creaminess without killing your waistline.wintervegetabledal2
  8. Tumeric and garam masala are the important spices to achieve the Indian flavors. Tumeric provides a distinctive, yellow color, and garam masala adds the punch of spice.
  9. Peel, de-seed and cube the butternut squash. The pieces need to be small enough to cook in 20 minutes.
  10. Cube the potato in similar fashion because they will have the same cook times.
  11. I broke my cauliflower into roughly one
    inch florets.
  12. Heating the spices brings their flavors to life and makes the room smell scrumptious.
  13. Frequently stir the ingredients to keep them from burning. Cooking it uncovered keeps the temperature in your control.

I love recreating Indian dishes. Rarely people make these inspiring meals because they are heavily dressed in spices; however, I love the depth of flavor that is created in every inch of the dal. I am constantly surprised at the ease of making such dishes. I am even more shocked to find a way to make the meal healthier. The dish accomplishes both while maintaining flavor and integrity.

Leave a comment with your favorite Indian recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Best of 2013

To ring in the New Year, I’m going to count down the top 10 recipes that you, the readers, enjoyed most. Go ahead and take time to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.  Ring in the New Year with a new recipe!

Here we go! The top 10 recipes are:

  1. Cauliflower Pizza
  2. Honey Roasted Chickpeas
  3. Pumpkin Pie
  4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
  5. Pesto, Shrimp and Tomato Cauliflower Pizza
  6. Pumpkin Pie Spiced Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle
  7. Pumpkin Pecan Butter
  8. Rosemary Cornish Hens
  9. Oreo Truffles
  10. Gnocchi

Be sure to check out the above links to find you new year recipes.  My approach to making recipes even healthier will keep your New Year’s resolution in check.  Now, make a new resolution to check out these recipes and more to come. It looks like 2014 is going to be
pretty delicious.

Leave a message with your thoughts about my top ten. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.