Monday 13 April 2009

Beef fillet wrapped in prosciutto with mushrooms

Hmmm.... beef....

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

For the beef

700g Beef fillet
1 tbsp Olive oil
(500g mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned
OR dried mushrooms rehydrated with boiling water for 20 mins)
1 clove Garlic, crushed
2 big sprigs fresh Thyme
2 big sprigs of Rosemary
2 Shallots, finely chopped
25g Butter
12 slices Parma ham, or prosciutto


1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
2. Season the beef fillet and bring to room temp.
3. In a pan, heat the olive oil and toss in the mushrooms, garlic and shallots. Add the butter and fry for 3-5 minutes. Season and set aside in the pan to cool.
4. Remove the stalks from the herbs and chop the leaves finely
5. Lay out a large sheet of greaseproof paper, oil a little to stop the prosciutto sticking, and cover with overlapping slices of prosciutto. Scatter over the cooled mushroom mixture. Roll the beef in the herbs and then lay the beef in the centre. Using the paper to help you, roll up the prosciutto so that it wraps around the beef fillet and secure with string.
5. Lay the wrapped fillet in a roasting tray and roast in the oven for:
25-30 mins (rare)
30-40 minutes (medium)
40+ (cremated)

6. For the sauce, heat a little port or red wine and stock in a saucepan, plus some of the mushroom liquid if you used dried mushrooms and reduce by two thirds. Finish with a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
7. Allow the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes before carving and serve!

Works well with wilted spinach, baby carrots and mash....

Monday 20 October 2008

Italian thin and tasty pizza

My own recipe for thin and crispy Italian pizza... 

Ingredients for base
  • Italian "00" grade flour (about 125g per pizza)
  • Warm water (heat up a pint)
  • Dried yeast (see packet for ratio, normally 2 teaspoons to a pint of water) plus teaspoon of sugar
  • Good pinch of salt
  • Olive oil (about half a tablespoon)
  • Polenta
  1. Weigh out the flour, and add the salt.
  2. Add the yeast to the warm water (must be about blood temperature, no hotter) and add teaspoon of sugar. Stir well, leave for about 15 mins until starting to froth. 
  3. Once it has frothed up, add enough of the mix to the flour to create a soft dough, together with the olive oil. A pint is enough to mix with up to about 600g of flour, so add slowly!
  4. Once you have a soft dough in the bowl, leave to stand for about 5 mins.
  5. Turn out and knead well for 5-6 mins, turning and kneading/stretching until you have a nice soft, stretchy dough.
  6. Return to the bowl and put somewhere warm (but not hot) for 30-40 mins, it must be covered (damp tea-towel is ideal)
  7. Meanwhile, put oven on to heat up, about 230c, hotter if it will go. Take a baking sheet (thinner the better), and lightly dust with the polenta (stops the pizza sticking but avoids oil)
  8. Once it has risen, up to about double in size (not critical if it is less than that), turn out of the bowl onto a  lightly floured surface and knock it down.
  9. Cut into as many pieces as you need for pizzas...
  10. Form into a rough rectangle shape, now the cheating bit.... use a rolling pin to roll out to a very, very thin pizza the size of baking sheet. Carefully lay on the polenta sprinkled baking tray. Put somewhere cool until you are ready or place topping on immediately.
All sorts work with pizza... I would suggest a good tomato sauce (homemade if you have time):
  • Fry gentle some chopped onion, garlic in olive oil.
  • Add glass of red wine and reduce by 50%
  • Add 1-2 tins of chopped tomatoes plus up to half a tablespoon of mixed dried italian herbs
  • Cook for 30-40 mins on a low heat and until reduced, stirring occasionally. Add seasoning to taste.
If you don't have enough time spare, then a tin of plum tomatoes, with most of the juice squeezed out, and then chopped lightly also works. Otherwise, a can/jar of passata or tomato based pasta sauce mix.

Add toppings, put in the very hot oven for 7-12 mins (depending on how many you have in, and how many toppings). With the sprinkled polenta on the tray, it should just slide off the baking tray.

Serve with green salad.

Favourites (with tomato sauce base):
  • Mozzarella and basil (basil added after cooking)
  • Tuna, red onion and olives
  • Smoked mussels, tuna and white onion
  • Seranno ham, a little cheese, and break a fresh egg into the centre before cooking
  • Thinly sliced fennel salami, capers,baby tomatoes and mozzarella
  • Tomatoes, cheeses and anchovies
  • 3/4 cheeses (any four that melt well - tallegio, mozzarella, some blue cheeses. Avoid dry/crumbly cheese)
And with other bases:
  • Cook a pizza base, then add several teaspoons of green Pesto (instead of using tomato sauce), pop back in the oven for 1 min, then take out, add handful of roughly chopped rocket and a good mozeralla torn into chunks.

Variants and notes
  • Download Pizza Express menu for ideas... 
  • If you make Spaghetti Bolognese, save a mug full of Bolognese in the freezer and use as a topping on the pizza...
  • With a spare base, just add thinly sliced apple, sprinkles of brown sugar and little pieces of butter and cook as per a pizza.
  • Once cooked, will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge (be careful with shellfish as the exception)
  • You can part cook a pizza (say five mins) and then quickly cool, and freeze. Cook from frozen in a hot oven.
  • "00" flour is the ideal, as it is very, very fine and makes the very crisp base and special texture of some Italian pizzas. Can be bought at Waitrose/some health food shops/larger Tescos or Sainsburys + Italian delis. If you can't get it, Strong White Bread flour will also work, with a slightly different texture.
  • Good mozeralla is critical. Avoid the rubber blocks, use the stuff floating in it's own liquid, torn into chunks. 
  • Key with pizza, and to avoid the bases going too soggy is to use a small amount of sauce, and then a selection of toppings scattered across the pizza, but not to cover the tomato sauce - fewer toppings, using better quality ingredients
  • If you prefer the thicker crust, thicker base pizzas then use the above recipe, but add about 50% more yeast, and once you have rolled out the base (but leave it thicker), leave to re-rise somewhere warm for 20-40 mins. Will need to cook for slightly longer.
  • The same dough can be rolled into little balls (about 2cm across), allowed to rise for 20-30 mins, and then baked in the oven for ~8mins. Serve with garlic butter and green salad.
Enjoy :-) 

Fat Rascals


  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150g plain flour (sieved)
  • 150g self raising flour (sieved)
  • 1 tsp baking flour
  • 130g cold butter, cubed
  • 90g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1sp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 150g mixed dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas)
  • 50ml of milk
To finish:
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch salt
  • Glace sherries and blanched almonds to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c, gas mark 6
  2. Sieve both flours and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar, citrus zests, fruit, spices and mix very well. 
  4. Add the beaten egg and enough milk (~50ml) to make it a soft dough, sticky-ish.
  5. Form into 6 suacer sized round shapes, about 2cm tall.
  6. Mix the egg yolk, water and salt together and brush over the fat rascals. Decorate with the cherries and almonds. Transfer to nonstick baking tray and bake for 15-20mins or until golden brown.
Serve warm with butter.
Can be frozen and reheated in a low oven.

Enjoy. Paul :-)

Irish Tea Brack

  • 300ml cold tea ( a strong brew of nice tea...)
  • 130g sultanas
  • 230g currants or raisins
  • 60g mixed peel
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  1. Place the cold tea (that has been previously brewed for 5-10 mins) in a bowl. Add the dried fruit. Cover with cling film and leave 12-24hrs to soak. Stir a few times if possible.
  2. Preheat oven to 180c/gas 4
  3. In a mixing bowl - mix together the sugar, flour, beaten egg, nutmeg, and add the soaked fruit with the remaining tea-liquid, until well mixed.
  4. Transfer the mix to a well oiled/buttered loaf tin.
  5. Bake for 1hr 20 to 1hr 40 until risen and set (in a fan oven you may want to cover with parchment paper for half the cooking time to stop it burning)
  6. Remove from oven and cool for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Serve once cooled. Store in an air tight tin.
Variant: Once cooked but still warm, glaze with a tablespoon of honey.

Enjoy :-)

Irish Wholemeal Soda Bread

  • 3 cups (360grms) wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup (120grams) white bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 375ml - 500ml of buttermilk (must be buttermilk!)
Preheat oven to 375f / 190c (about 10 less in a fan oven)
Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Mix in enough buttermilk to make a soft dough (soft enough that it doesnt crack, but not too sticky). Add more flour if it is too wet, it should hold it's shape.
Knead on a floured board, but only for about 2 mins until soft and smooth.
Place on a well buttered or oiled baking sheet. Slice across the top into a cross shape. 
Bake in the oven for 35-40 mins or until well browned and sound hollow on teh base when tapped. Leave to cool.

Slice very thin, nice toasted.

Add 3-4 teaspoons of sugar (light brown or white) and 2-3 tablespoons of currants, sultanas or other dried fruit, into the dried ingredients. Not a "true" Irish recipe but v nice!

:-) Paul