One of the fun things about working in a (relatively small) grocery store is seeing all of the food come in every morning.  The cheeses, the breads, the meats… all of it gets my creative gastronomic juices flowing.  As I’m stocking the different products, any number of fantastic dishes and menus are formulated.

Most of it is fantasy – I don’t follow through with most of the extravagant things my over-active mind comes up with – but every now and again something clicks and sticks.  Tonight’s dinner is a perfect case in point.

I was stocking the fresh meat yesterday when I spied two absolutely perfect filet mignons.  That in itself is not unusual – our steaks are pretty good. What was unusual is that I immediately grabbed them and put them aside for myself.  My immediate thought was individual beef wellingtons.  I haven’t had or made beef wellington since I made it for Linda and David almost one year ago to the day!  That dish was Julia Child’s classic.  This one was a bit of Julia and a bit of Tim.

Beef Wellington

  • 8oz mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 slices cooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup red wine.

Finely dice the mushrooms, shallots, and bacon.  (I used my trusty food processor.)  Saute the mushrooms and shallot in butter until dry.  Add the brandy and cook until dry.  Add the red wine and – you guessed it – cook until dry.  Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Set aside in refrigerator to chill.

Salt and pepper filets and place them in a HOT skillet and sear both sides.  Seconds, only.  Into the refrigerator to chill.  You want everything cold when you put it together.

I used half of a puff pastry sheet per filet, rolling it a bit thinner to be able to wrap completely around the steak.

In the center of the pastry, I spread half of the duxelle and then topped that with some duck liver pate our friends Nancy and Leigh-Ann gave to us a while back.  (Our kitchen cabinets are a fascinating story unto themselves…)

I wrapped the steaks and placed them on a parchment-lined sheet pan and brushed them with a bit of egg yolk and water.  Into the ‘fridge to chill.

Then I started the:

Duchesse Potatoes

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and pepper

Peel and boil the potato in salted water until done.  Drain.  Add a tbsp of butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Mash really good.  (I used a hand mixer.)  Add the egg yolk and whip it all together.

Place in pastry bag with a big star tip.  Pipe mounds onto a parchment-lined pan.

The Sauce

Julia Child starts her sauce from the marinade.  I didn’t marinate the steaks, so I took the basic ingredients and boiled them all together:

  • splash olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • pinch thyme
  • pinch sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 6 peppercorns
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth

I reduced it all to half, and then strained through a very fine strainer.  Back into a clean pot and then thickened with about 2 tbsp softened butter blended with 2 tbsp flour and whisked into the pot.

The wellington went into a 425° oven for 30 minutes.  After 10 minutes, I put in the potatoes.  Simple math: The potatoes cooked for 20 minutes.


It was downright delicious!

And we have a Traditional English Christmas Pudding for dessert!


This was absolutely delicious!  An English couple who shops at the store brought this in for me!  We’ve chatted about puddings and fruitcakes and the like for quite a while and they brought this in, handmade by a ladies group in Kent, England!

I steamed it and then served it with a sauce made of butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, brandy, and an egg yolk.

It was heavenly!