Let's start with the less successful element of dinner first, shall we?
I decided that I wanted to make this gorgeous wholemeal salt-kissed buttermilk berry cake from Arika's blog. But instead of following the directions properly I substituted 1 cup of ground almonds for some of the flour, and decided that they would be a cute dessert done in my individual silicon rose moulds.
Fortunately there was too much batter for the rose moulds, so I also made 4 in friand tins, which is the only reason we were able to serve cake for dessert. I swear those rose moulds are getting kicked to the curb. This is the second thing I have made in them and the second disaster. They are not getting a second chance! I reduced the cook time slightly because I was doing smaller cakes, the knife tested clean, and then when I tried to turn them out they splodged onto my cake rack in a puddle of raw batter and dribbly raspberry juices. What a waste of ingredients!
The ones in the friand tin, however, turned out beautifully. The combination of sweet and salt was delicious - although I wouldn't want to eat a lot of it. And if I make it again I am definitely just making one big cake!
And on to better things...
One of our friends is quite a particular eater. She prefers lean meat, well-done, and will turn her nose up at the delicious crispy burnt fatty bits on a barbecued rib eye steak. Weird-o. So Paul decided to get a nice (and just quietly - hideously expensive) piece of fillet and make one of his famous beef wellingtons.
Although I can't quite figure out how he became famed for his wellington when I make the duxelles that makes it good...
So - I sauteed a punnet of chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped, in butter with some garlic & thyme, added some soaked, drained and chopped dried wild mushrooms (a mixture of porcini, chanterelle and a bunch of other stuff) and a slosh of JD and cooked it slowly until it was really dry, cooled it and then blended it to a rough paste with a spoonful of mustard to bind it. I thought it should have been Dijon mustard, but Paul insisted that hot English was the thing. So English it was.
Paul then panfried the piece of fillet really well to get it nicely browned and half cooked. The problem with a wellington is the pastry insulates the meat and it becomes much harder to judge how well done it is - but you don't want a totally cooked piece of meat to go in because it won't exchange flavours with the pastry properly.
The cooled meat went on a piece of all-butter puff pastry, rolled out quite thickly, then it was smothered in the duxelles.
Another layer of pastry over the top, some crimping and a bit of cute pastry doodad on the top and into the oven.
He started it at quite a high heat, then after about 15 minutes turned it down to 160C for another 35 minutes or so.
It was delicious! The meat was buttery soft, the duxelles added a rich foresty flavour and the pastry shows why butter puff beats the weird pre-rolled stuff with all the hydrogenated vegetable fats etc. Our friend totally demolished her portion, so we'd have to say that, despite issues with the dessert, this was a very successful dinner!