Scallops. Beef. Apples.

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We had guests over for dinner, so I picked three most simple but delicious and impressive dishes to make.  The timing of these three dishes can be very tricky, so make sure if you use this combination again, plan ahead your day’s schedule and have everything you need to hand! I started by preparing the vinaigrettethe caramel walnutsthe beef and nearer the time of cooking, the apples.

Warm Pear Salad with Seared Scallops

Here is what you need (Serves 6):

  • 12 scallops (2 per person) at room temperature so that the inside of the scallops won’t still be cold after searing
  • Mixed salad leaves (preferably with a variety of colours, both scallops and pears are very pale in colour)
  • Thick vinaigrette (I used equal parts extra virgin olive oil, orange blossom honey and balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 ripe pear (I used the green-coloured, pear-shaped variety)
  • A handful of whole walnuts
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to season

Here is what you do:

  1. In a saucepan, boil the water and add in the sugar.  Reduce to a low heat and let it caramelise.  Don’t be tempted to stir it! After some time it will turn a golden syrupy colour.  Add in the walnuts and make sure they are all well coated.  Take them out of the caramel and let them cool on some foil.  Spread them out so you can easily break them away when cooled!
  2. Make your vinaigrette in a jar with a screw lid so you can re-use it at another occasion.
  3. Pour over salad leaves and dress well.
  4. Peel and quarter the pear.  Remove the core and cut each quarter in thirds again, so you get 2 pieces per serving.
  5. Heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Pat dry the scallops and season well with salt and pepper.  When the pan is very hot, put in the scallops and fry for 2 minutes until browned on one side.  Try not to move them around too much so you can a nice sear on them, and note down which order you put them in so you can turn them over in the right order!
  6. After those 2 minutes, turn the scallops over to fry for a further minute.
  7. Place salad leaves on a plate, then the pear slices, and lastly the scallops.  Drizzle over some more vinaigrette before serving.  Pop the caramel walnuts on top!

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Beef Wellington 

Here is what you will need (serves 6):

  • 2 x 400g beef fillet (try to choose one that is relatively lean, tight and cylindrical); you can use 1 x 800g instead but there will be more rare pieces in the middle
  • 2 x 400g puff pastry block, thawed (I find pre-rolled sheets too thin)
  • 500g mushrooms (I used a mix of brown and white)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • English mustard (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Beaten egg for egg wash
  • Enough prosciutto/parma ham slices to completely wrap the fillets
  • Lots of cling film!

Here is what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Rub the beef with oil, salt and pepper.  Quickly sear all the sides of the fillets in a hot pan.  Set aside and let them cool down.  Brush with mustard when cooled.
  3. Chop up the mushrooms until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Alternatively you can use a food processor (you will have to pour in some olive oil so it forms a mushroom paste) on a pulse setting.  In a hot pan, fry the mushroom crumbs with about 4-5 tablespoons olive oil (or mushroom paste if using food processor), adding in a handful of fresh thyme, until all the moisture is cooked off. Image
  4. Set aside and let that cool off as well.
  5. Cover a large chopping board with cling film, tucking the edge furthest away from you under the board so that the cling film does not slide around.  Lay out the slices of ham (make a mental note that they must be enough to wrap your piece of beef!), slightly overlapping as you go.  Using the back of a spoon, spread out the mushroom mixture (called a duxelle by the way!) thinly.  This should cover an area big enough to wrap your beef too.  Place the beef in the centre and wrap it up.  As you roll the fillet, you should be tucking it in very tightly and then pulling out the cling film as you go, like wrapping sushi.  Make sure everything is very tight, then roll the two ends of the cling film together like you would see on a piece of candy.  Place in the fridge to chill.Image
  6. When it comes to rolling out the puff pastry, you can do it two ways: cut each block into 2 parts with a 1:2 ratio, so you end up with 2 sets of one large and one small pastry sheets; or, just roll each block out.  These should not be too thin, I rolled mine out to about 5cm thick.  Again, cover a large chopping board with cling film, tucking in the furthest edge again.  Place the smaller pastry sheet on it.  Take out your rolled beef from the fridge.  Brush the whole sheet of pastry with egg wash, then place your beef on top.  (Your smaller pastry sheet should still be slightly bigger than your beef)  Egg wash the larger pastry sheet and put over the beef.  Press the edges together and cut off any excess.  Seal the edges by pressing down with a fork.  Similarly, with a whole pastry sheet, place on top of cling film.  Put rolled beef on top and simply wrap the whole thing up, cutting off excess and sealing the edge.  Don’t forget to egg wash inside!
  7. Repeat for the second beef fillet.  Egg wash outside as well and then let them chill in the fridge, for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  Rest for 8-10 minutes before serving.

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Tarte Tatin

Here is what you will need (for 6):

  • 3 large apples (I used 2 Braeburn and 1 Granny Smith), peeled, cored and sliced
  • 75g butter
  • 9 tbsp caster sugar
  • Shortcrust pastry
  • Lemon juice (a little more than half a lemon will do)

Here is what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.  Fill a large bowl with some water mixed with the juice of half a lemon.
  2. Peel, core and slice your apples.  A very simple way to do this if you do not own a corer is to halve your apples then scrape out the core with a teaspoon.  Try to make sure the slices are of similar thickness.  Pop them into the lemon water while you prepare other ingredients so they don’t discolour.
  3. In a pan, melt the butter then add in the caster sugar.  Let it caramelise and turn into a gold brown syrup.  (Remember this has to be on low heat).  Squeeze in a little bit of lemon juice.  Add in the apples and make sure they are all coated well.  Image
  4. Line the apple slices carefully in your baking tin. Image
  5. Roll out your shortcrust pastry and cover the apples, cutting off excess but leaving a 5cm edge, which you have to then tuck into the tin.
  6. Bake at 200C for 5 minutes then turn the heat down to 180C, and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry has been cooked.  Turn out onto a plate.Image
  7. I enjoyed mine with vanilla ice-cream and a hot cup of Marco Polo tea from Mariage Frères!
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