Mushroom Wellington

Mushroom Wellington is a vegetarian spin on the French classic ‘beef wellington’. The original is an elegant meal, using a beef tenderloin covered with liver pate’, wrapped in pastry and baked. The key to preparing items in this fashion, is that however long it takes to bake the pastry to a golden brown is how long it will be in the oven. In other words, the filling needs to require less time to cook.

A plant based filling makes that even easier to achieve than its meat filled cousin. The use of different types of mushrooms cut into varying sizes gives the dish texture and heartiness along with an earthy flavor. The secret to a deliciously juicy yet flaky mushroom wellington is to drain everything dry and make sure it is completely cold before wrapping it in the puff pastry. Skip this step and your pastry is not only going to be soggy, it will tear when you try to wrap up your wellington. Believe me — ‘bin there, done that’!

Although this would probably be the center piece of a vegan meal, it works beautifully as an accompaniment to meat and roast veggies as well.

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Mushroom Wellington
Instructions
Mushroom Wellington
  1. In a skillet, fry diced bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels & blot dry, leaving drippings in skillet. Chop mushrooms, onion & garlic. Saute veggies with spices in bacon drippings until moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat, add bacon & drain or blot off any excess moisture. Cool mixture completely then add cold, cooked Basmati rice, stirring to blend. While the mixture cools prepare vegetable gravy if you are using it.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line your choice of preferred baking pan mold with thawed puff pastry. You should have excess enough to fold over the 'top' of filling. This will form the bottom of your wellington when baked. In each wellington, place 1/4 of the filling, topping each with 50 gms of the cheese. Divide remaining filling between the two wellingtons & fold the excess pastry over it.
  3. If you choose to make a decoration for your baked wellingtons, cut it from some of the excess before closing them. Bake the decorations on a separate pan. Place molds on a baking sheet & bake for about 35 minutes or until pastry is cooked. Remove from oven. I like to flip them onto paper towel at this point just to blot off any excess butter from pastry. Do what you prefer in this case.
Vegetable Gravy
  1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add bouillon powder, garlic, carrot, celery & onion. Cover & simmer until veggies are very soft. Remove from heat & cool slightly. Puree in food processor or blender. Combine cornstarch & water in a small dish. Stir into puree; return to heat & stir until boiling & slightly thickened. Stir in sour cream IF USING. Serve over mushroom wellingtons.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer, omit bacon & use butter to saute your veggies in making it a more vegetarian friendly entree.

Pasta Shells with Beef, Artichokes & Roasted Red Pepper

Creating interesting, flavorful meals with the smallest number of ingredients and the least fuss, lets you explore new avenues. Using roasted red pepper puree can do just that. To give an example, spoon some puree on a plate, lay a piece of grilled chicken or fish on top. Next sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs and you’ve got it — stunning and delicious!

Roasting red peppers not only makes them easy to peel but incredibly sweet and flavorful. When pureed, they give an amazing boost of flavor to whatever you choose to use them in.

I’ve always loved stuffed pasta shells, Brion probably not so much, but once in a while it works. Instead of using a pasta sauce in this version, I decided to go with the puree. Since a jar of roasted red peppers is a staple in my pantry, I’m doing a short cut idea. It actually worked out quite well.

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Pasta Shells with Beef, Artichokes & Roasted Red Pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large stockpot, boil jumbo shells in salted water for about 15 minutes; drain & rinse under under cold water. While pasta is cooking, stir-fry ground beef & drain on a paper towels; set aside. Add oil & butter to saucepan & saute garlic, onions, mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes. Add chopped red peppers & sun-dried tomatoes; cook another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Cool slightly, transfer to a food processor & process mixture ( you should still have some texture in the peppers when finished). Pour puree back into the skillet; add broth, spices & Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce, combine well. Add a small amount of sauce to ground beef; mix well.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread some sauce mixture over bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Inside of each pasta shell place a piece of drained artichoke; divide beef mixture between the shells.
  4. Stand filled pasta shells, single file on top of sauce. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with grated parmigano-reggiano cheese. Cover with foil & bake about 35-40 minutes.

Mushroom Caps with Spinach Souffle

I’m sure the appeal of mushrooms isn’t for everyone. For me, I love that earthy taste. There is hardly anything you can’t use mushrooms in from appetizers to main course.

I remember when I was growing up on the farm we would sometimes find edible mushrooms especially on humid days. My father had an area where hay bales where kept for feeding the cattle in the winter. It seemed this was where these mushrooms would pop up. There was never any great amount — just enough so we each had a taste. Mom would fry them in butter and they were so good.

For company barbecues, I used to make a stuffed mushroom that everyone really enjoyed. The recipe used a frozen souffle product from the Stouffer company. The only problem was every time I needed it I couldn’t seem to find any to buy. Since there are endless kinds of stuffed mushrooms, why not just make a different kind? That would have been too easy! In this recipe I tried to achieve the same kind of spinach souffle.

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Mushroom Caps with Spinach Souffle
Nice light, tasty little morsels, great as hors d' oeuvres or part of the main meal
Instructions
  1. In food processor, combine eggs, soup, onion, garlic powder, & salt; pulse for 30 seconds. Add spinach, bread crumbs, thyme, nutmeg & Parmesan. Blend for another 30 seconds. Set prepared souffle mixture aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove stems from mushrooms. Wipe mushrooms with a towel as opposed to rinsing them with water. Dip outside of 'cap' in bottled, Zesty Italian dressing. Place in a shallow baking dish; stuff caps with souffle mixture & sprinkle with a few more seasoned crumbs. Bake 15 minutes or until souffle mixture is set.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe is easily halved or make the amount of mushrooms you need then bake the rest of the souffle mixture in a casserole dish.
  • Mushrooms can be made earlier in the day & placed in refrigerator until ready to bake & serve.
  • If you prefer, use an extra topping such as grated cheddar or bacon bits.