Sunday, December 26, 2010

Beef Wellington

About 2 months ago Ryan saw a recipe in the Wall Street Journal for Beef Wellington.  We decided to try and make it for our Christmas Day Dinner.  The recipe was adapted from Tyler Florence's show 'Tyler's Ultimate'.  He uses mustard instead of truffle butter.  We were fortunate enough to have my mom staying with us for the holiday and partake in this extravagant meal.

Step 1:  I made the duxelles, a finely chopped and then sauteed mixture or mushrooms, garlic, shallots, and thyme.  Thank goodness for the food processor, otherwise I would have been chopping those mushrooms all day.
Step 2: Making the 'veal stock' for the mushroom gravy.  I couldn't find any veal bones at the grocery store, so ours was doctored up beef stock.  I still chopped the carrot, onion, and celery and roasted them and then simmered it all in (no salt added) beef stock and red wine.  We keep a container of leftover red wine in our freezer for times when recipes call for it, but we don't want to open a bottle.

Mom and I also made brownies

Step 3:  Ryan seared the Beef tenderloin.  (Our cut of meat was not quite what the recipe called for and it still had the silver skin on it.  I highly recommend you get it cut off if you attempt this recipe).

Step 4: We shingled the prosciutto onto cling wrap, and spread the duxelles on-top.  The beef was then slathered in black truffle butter and rolled up inside the prosciutto.  This was then set to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile... I was also making roasted potatoes.

Step 5:  The beef came out of the fridge and was wrapped in puff pastry.  We thought we might not have enough, but with a coaxing we stretched it out.  The whole thing went into the oven for 45 minutes and came out looking and smelling incredible.
Step 6:  I finished making the mushroom gravy by sauteing mushrooms and shallots in the pan used to sear the beef.  I added the stock I made Friday and simmered it for 10 minutes.  I'm not a huge gravy fan, but after one bite decided I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I might even embrace our current southern situation and try it over biscuits...  I could drink it, it's that good.
We topped our dinner off with steamed green beans, which were tasty on their own, but even better with a little gravy on them.  Overall this is probably the finest meal we have ever created, and one of the best I've ever eaten.  I thought about figuring the calorie content, but decided I would drive myself nuts trying.  According to a serving of Beef Wellington has 354 calories, 22g fat, 11g carb, and 25g protein.  But they do not give a recipe so it's hard to say how that compares to ours.

This was a good instance of how cooking at home can save you money.  Overall, this meal cost between $75-$100 to prepare. (I added in a few cents here and there for all the oil, salt, pepper, potatoes, green beans...)  Per person that is $12.50-$16.60 figuring that it serves 6 people. in an upscale restaurant this could easily have cost $21 or more.  Ryan found a restaurant in NYC that will serve a three course meal for $75, but adds $8 if you want the Beef Wellington.

We all agreed that we would make Beef Wellington again, but not for quite some time.

Friday, December 10, 2010


"Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy marshmallows; and that's kind of the same thing."

Being the ex-girl scout that I am, I have a soft spot for properly toasted marshmallows.  I fully realize they are completely devoid of any nutritional value, even more so than ice cream which at least has some protein and calcium in it.  But for me they bring back sweet memories of camping with my parents and tossing them to the raccoons.  And sitting around a fire with 24 other campers on the verge of a mass sugar rush.  There is an art to properly toasting a 'mallow' and I am about to walk you through it.

1.  Make a fire and let it burn until there are red/white coals at the bottom with very few flames.
2.  Find a 2-4 foot stick with the diameter of a small knitting needle.  If the end is round or blunt, use a pocket knife to sharpen it.  This will make poking the marshmallow and then removing it much easier.
3.  Push the marshmallow onto the stick until 1/4th of an inch of the stick shows through the top.  This will make it harder to accidently loose your mallow as it becomes soft.
4.  Begin roasting.  Keep the marshmallow high enough above the coals that it does not brown immediately.  The idea is to slowly turn it (like a spit) so that all sides get evenly brown. 
5.  The mallow is done when the outside is golden and it starts to melt off the stick.  Quickly pull the  delicate marshmallow off the stick and proceed to eat it, or place it between two graham crackers with a square of hershey chocolate AKA: S'more 

The perfect marshmallow takes time, but it's worth the wait.  
Ryan at the Thomasville Christmas Festival

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sports Nutrition Workshop

This weekend I had the very exciting opportunity to meet Nancy Clark MS, RD, CSSD, FACSM and William (Bill) Evens PhD, FACSM.  For those who do not know, Nancy wrote one of the most widely used books concerning the topic of Sports Nutrition, Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook.  She and Bill have collaborated on other works and research.  Bill is the Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Senior Research Fellow Dept. of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center and has specialized much of his research in the area of aging and has also written several books.  The workshop started Friday afternoon at St Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, GA and continued Saturday morning.

Much of what Nancy spoke about I already knew from reading her book and just keeping up on the topic of sports nutrition.  However, it did reinforce the fact that I probably need to do a better job of refueling after my own work outs.

Bill presented on Saturday and the information he gave was extremely interesting.  He certainly makes the case for encouraging more physical activity especially in the aging population.  What I found most intriguing was the study he did on the use of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs).  During exercise muscle fibers are damaged causing inflammation which actually helps in the rebuilding process.  He and his colleagues found that both Tylenol and Ibuprofen inhibit the inflammation (which decreases muscle soreness) however, this also blunts the muscles ability to repair itself.  He recommends icing, heat, massage, rest, and proper refueling/rehydrating as ways to decrease muscle soreness caused by exercise.

Chocolate milk seemed to be brought up quite frequently during the weekend as a an excellent food to use for refueling instead of pricy protein supplements.   It go me wondering if patients in hospitals might be more likely to drink a glass of chocolate milk vs the standard Ensure or Boost?  Personally, I think I'd rather have the milk.  Plus it would be more cost effective when the main concern is calories and protein in a patients diet and not their micronutrient intake.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I have never eaten a persimmon.  But apparently they are in season and there were two varieties at Publix this past weekend.  Being the curious person I am, I picked up two.  I chose the larger ones since they were a little softer than the small round ones.  After doing a little wikipedia research I found out that this is normal, and that I unsuspectingly picked up the bitter variety.  I had them sitting on the counter for a few days, but happened upon an article that said to put them in the freezer and after thawing to use them in persimmon pudding. So that is what I did.  The flesh didn't taste like anything too special.  It had the consistency of a soft kiwi fruit and did leave my mouth feeling a bit funny.  I made a small batch of pudding this morning, it certainly doesn't look very delectable.

The flavor and texture of the pudding is similar to spongy french toast.  There is nothing that screams "PERSIMMON" but it is warm and sweet and gooey.  With a little vanilla ice-cream I can understand why people might enjoy eating it during the holiday season.  I'm finding that it's kind of addictive and I need to put it in the fridge before I eat the whole batch and give myself a bad case of McTummy.

I was hoping that because of it's bright orange color the persimmon would be a super-food (low in calories, high in fiber/vitamins/minerals), but I'm a bit disappointed. One 2.5" fruit contains 118kcals, all from carbohydrate of course, and 6g fiber.  It is very high in Vitamin A and C, but not much else.

Persimmons originated in Asia and are staple in many oriental countries.  In the United States they are indigenous to Texas and Florida, but can be found in the South Eastern half of the country and a persistent farmer may even be able to grow them as far north as Iowa.  There is a variety grown in Mexico that actually turns black when ripe.  As I mentioned above there are two main varieties, the astringent variety which must be mushy soft and ripe before consuming, and the non-astringent variety that can be eaten like an apple.  The astringency comes from it's high tannin content (organic compound also found in under-ripe bananas and dry red wine) and tastes very bitter.

Some people who eat persimmons on a regular basis may develop a bezoar.  First off, I thought bezoars were something that J.K. Rowling made up in one of the first Harry Potter books.  Not until my internship did I find out that a bezoar is a mass of undigested material found in the stomach...aka a hair ball.  The gelatinous consistency of un-ripened persimmons along with the fiber and tannins causes some people to develop diospyrobezoar.  Sometimes they have to be removed surgically if they become too large to pass through the intestines however, doctors have had excellent success in treating patients with Coca-Cola.  That's right, patients drink 1000 ml of soda each day to help dissolve the mass.  This does not make me want to drink a coke, if it can do that to a mass of undigested material, what is it doing the rest of me?  Note: There is even a FaceBook group dedicated to persimmon induced bezoars.  

In conclusion... if you have never tried a persimmon it might be worth doing so.  Just make sure it's very ripe before you eat it.