Friday, August 1, 2014

A Grimm Feast: Explosively Good Beef & Mushroom Tartlets (S3E3)

This is the episode when Monroe and Rosalee went to a fine local establishment for a romantic dinner…only to discover later that the restaurant was run by vengeful Bauerschwein who were using their culinary know-how to murder Blutbaden.  Apparently there is a certain truffle from the Black Forest that is toxic to Blutbaden, for definitions of “toxic” that include “complete loss of faculties followed by exploding.”

This truffle was served up in an irresistible beef tartlet to all customers, though only the Blutbaden were affected.  Fortunately, Monroe brought along his trusty vegetarianism and an adorable Fuchsbau who was more than happy to eat his tartlet.  Remember, folks: if your significant other steals food off your plate in a restaurant, it’s because they love you and are trying to save your life.

For our version, we’re gonna skip the exploding doom-truffles and go with cremini mushrooms instead.  I had originally planned on using morels, as they’re one of the few true wild delicacies that still remain.  (And also, they’re delicious.)  However, by the time this recipe is posted, morels will no longer be in season.  That would just be unfair to all of you.  Also, their flavor may or may not have been overwhelmed by the other stuff in the tartlet.  So creminis it is.

Ingredients
8 oz beef (I used a couple of cube steaks because they were on sale, but sirloin tips or tenderloin would be good.)
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms (a.k.a. baby portabellas)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp thyme
3/4 cup burgundy cooking wine
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
garlic powder
black pepper
salt

Roux:
1/4 cup burgundy cooking wine
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter

Directions

Step 1: Heat the oil in a skillet.  Season the steaks with garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.  Brown them for a few minutes on both sides, to around medium doneness.  (Okay, that was probably too much oil.  Whatever, I’ll reuse it when I cook the mushrooms.  It’ll have tasty beef flavors infused into it then.)


Observe the sexy, sexy cast iron skillet.  That’s a zombie-killin’ skillet, right there.



Step 2: Remove the steaks to a plate and let them rest uncovered until step 13.

Step 3: Remove the mushrooms from the IMPENETRABLE FORTRESS OF ISOLATION that the grocery store apparently saw fit to package them in.

Elle: “Aaaaargh!”
Anna: “You know that’s what they make knives for, right?”
Elle: “Shut up.  I will release them from their Saran Wrap prison with my bare hands.”
Anna: “…at least it’s not the kraken.”

Step 4: Observe the sexy, sexy knife.  (Below.)  This is my kaizen knife.  “Kaizen” is Japanese for “I AM THE SEXIEST KNIFE IN THE WORLD.”  Gently wash the mushrooms, then chop them coarsely.

Step 5: Wave knife to chase away assailant who keeps eating your mushrooms.

Step 6: Dump mushrooms into the skillet with the remnants of the olive oil and beef drippings.  Cook over medium heat.


Step 7: Go “Oh crap!” as you remember that there was supposed to be garlic in this.  Hurriedly mince garlic and throw it into the skillet, along with the thyme.  Stir gently.

Step 8: Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Step 9: Remove the sheet of thawed puff pastry from the box and unfold it onto a baking sheet.  Or a clean counter.  Whichever.  Note that it’s probably been folded into thirds, which works great in this case because my muffin pan has six spaces.  Using a butter knife, cut along the folds to get three even strips, then cut each strip in half.

Step 10: Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.  I’m using a silicone pan because I feel that’ll make it easier to pop the tartlet shells out later on.  We shall see.

Step 11: To form the tartlet shells, lay one section of puff pastry over the top of the muffin hole.  (Note to self: never use the phrase “muffin hole” again.)  Very carefully push the pastry down into the…space…using both hands to guide it so it doesn’t tear.  Let the edges bunch up artistically.  If there’s a gap on one side, carefully stretch the pastry and pinch the edges together.


Step 12: Bake pastry shells for 15 minutes.  (I’m putting my silicone pan on a metal baking sheet for structural integrity.)

Step 13: While shells are baking, slice the beef thinly.  Look at it again and decide that it won’t fit in the tartlets quite right like that.  Chop it instead.

Step 14: When the mushrooms are tender and the garlic has softened, gently fold in the beef chunks.  (Note to self: never use the phrase “beef chunks” again.)

Step 15: Pour half a cup of wine into the skillet.  Stare at it and go “Hrm…”  Add another quarter cup.  Stir.  Let simmer for, um…until you’re done making the roux.

Step 16: In a small saucepan, combine the flour, butter, and 1/4 cup of cooking wine.  Stir until smooth, then plop into the skillet with the beef and mushrooms.  Mix it all together to make a nice subtle sauce.


Uh…crap, I didn’t time this quite right.  There’s another 6 minutes on the pastry and the beef/mushroom mix is done.  Turn the burner down to low and throw a lid on the skillet.

Step 17: Remove pastry shells from oven.  Uh…okay, those puffed up a bit more than I was expecting.  Like, there’s no hole to put the delicious meat into anymore.  (Stop laughing, Anna.)  Poke the centers of the tartlets with a fork and gently push the pastry down to deflate the insides, so you’ll have your nice tastiness-holders back again.

Step 18: Remove the pastry shells from the pan.  I did this by pushing up on the bottoms of the cups and guiding them out with a fork, but you could probably also get them out by carefully flipping the pan or lifting the pastry by its corners.  Just be careful not to burn your fingers.

Step 19: Spoon the beef/mushroom filling into the pastry shells.  Each one will hold maybe 1-2 tbsp.


Uhh…okay, I may have seriously overestimated how much filling we’d need.  By, like, a couple cups.  Um.  Congratulations!  You have leftovers!  Go get another sheet of puff pastry and make some Beef Wellington or something.  (Anna: Or just keep eating spoonfuls out of the bowl. I’m just saying.)

Result: OM NOM NOM NOM!


Elle: “How’s the pastry-to-filling ratio?”
Anna: “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sounds of delicious.”

In retrospect, it probably would’ve been better if there had been a teensy bit more room for filling, which might have been accomplished by poking the bottoms of the cups with a fork before baking or by taking them out halfway through and poking them then.  Even if that didn’t make a difference, they’d still turn out excellently.

I recommend either eating two or three with a small side-dish for dinner, (like we did,) or making a bunch more and serving them as hors d’oeurves for guests.  The reason why I didn’t make a second batch was because I only had the one sheet of pastry, having already used the other one awhile ago on a spinach pie.  Most boxes of puffed pastry come with two sheets, though, so you could easily make a dozen of these in one go.  (Or, like I said, make Beef Wellington instead.  It would probably use up more filling.)

Tune in next week for a Monroe-friendly recipe as we revisit Rosalee’s reunion with her family.  Coming soon: Prodigal Green Beans!





Ingredients
8 oz beef (steak, sirloin tips, or tenderloin)
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp thyme
3/4 cup burgundy cooking wine
2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed
garlic powder
black pepper
salt

Roux:
1/4 cup burgundy cooking wine
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add beef, seasoned with garlic powder, black pepper, and salt.  Cook to desired doneness.  Transfer beef to a plate and let rest uncovered.

Wash and chop the cremini mushrooms coarsely.  Add to skillet to cook on medium heat in the remaining olive oil and beef drippings.  Add minced garlic and thyme.

On a baking sheet or lightly floured counter, unfold one sheet of puff pastry into an open square.  Using a knife, cut into equal thirds and then sixths.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.  Lay each section of pastry over a muffin cup and ease it inside, allowing the edges to gather naturally and form a cup-like shell of dough.  If there are gaps, stretch the dough gently and pinch the seams together.  Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.  Put pastry shells in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

Cut the beef into 1/2 inch pieces.  When mushrooms are tender and garlic is soft, add the beef to the skillet and combine gently.  Add 3/4 cup of burgundy cooking wine.  Let simmer until reduced slightly, or 5 to 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, make the roux by combining the butter, flour, and 1/4 cup of cooking wine.  Whisk until smooth.  Add to the beef and mushroom mixture and blend to thicken the sauce.  Turn heat down to low until pastry shells are done.

Poke the bottoms of the pastry cups with a fork to deflate the centers slightly, making room for filling.  Remove pastry shells from pan.  Spoon 1-2 tbsp of filling into each pastry cup.  Serve immediately.

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