Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year! Let's make 2011 even more delicious than 2010!

I hope you are all resting up and recovering from the past month and week of Holiday celebrations! If you are like me you may be looking forward to 2011 with a list full of resolutions for yourself and a heart full of promise in the newness of a fresh year and a start full of potential!   2011 can be the best year yet should we choose to live with vigor everyday. Let's make another memorable year, a great start to a new decade and an even more delicious 365 days together. 

New Year's always holds an extra layer of promise for me because it is not only a new calendar year for me every January 1st but also a new year in my life as my birthday is also the first of the year. This year I rang in a new beginning with friends at a pre-party at my house then off to a rockin' Black 47 concert just a block away from the hub-bub of Times Square. 

I served some delicious prepared appetizers from Whole Foods but also made mini beef wellington appetizers to add that special taste to the evening. I call these "Poor Girl" beef wellington because I used eye of the round steaks, which is a much much less expensive cut of meat than the traditional filet mignon but has the same shape and limited marbling. Also, phyllo dough is usually less expensive to get than puff pastry. Maybe you will make these for your next special occasion or birthday! Enjoy!

Poor Girl's Mini Beef Wellington Appetizers
1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 stick of butter, + more melted butter for final brushing before baking
1 lb. eye of the round steaks (about 2 half inch thick steaks)
Oil cooking spray
12 sheets of phyllo dough, defrosted

Using the mushrooms, salt, shallot, vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of the butter and follow Judith Jones' directions for making Duxelles on page 138 of The Pleasures of Cooking for One.

Next, tenderize the eye of the round steaks with a meat tenderizer. Cut into 1" cubes and trim away any fat. Season with salt and pepper and let the steak pieces reach close to room temperature before cooking. 

In the same pan you made the duxelles, spray with cooking spray and sear two sides of each steak cube. *Do not cook all the way!* Just brown for flavor. The meat will finish cooking when baked in the oven. 

Lay the sheets of phyllo dough out and keep a moist towel over them. Melt the remaining stick of butter. Using a pastry brush, brush one sheet of phyllo dough with butter then lay another on top of the buttered piece. Continue to stack and butter the sheets until you have a stack of 6 sheets. Using a paring knife make 16 triangles over the pastry, like in the diagram to the right. 
To each triangle add some mushroom mixture and one cube of steak. Pinch the sides together and place each pastry onto a baking sheet lines with parchment. Repeat for the next 6 sheets and remaining mushrooms and steak. 

Using remaining butter brush the tops of each pastry and then bake in a 400 degree oven until the pastries are golden brown. You may keep the prepared appetizers in the freezer on the baking sheet before they are ready to be baked. I would not freeze them for longer than an hour. 

Serve and enjoy! Makes about 30 appetizers. 

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