Like most people, as much as I try to vary my diet, there are some definite tried and tested favourites that I return to, time and time again - either through ease, those dishes you can churn out without recourse to cookery book; a wish to make people happy, one of my prime motivators in cooking, I'm the consumate people pleaser and so love doing the meals that Andy counts as his favourite; or just good standby recipes for those days when the supermarket has evaded my to-do list yet again.
My guilty pleasure, though, is cookbooks. I have, quite literally, hundreds of them - it is a genuine addiction, a growing collection, and in my opinion, once something classes as a collection, it is A Good Thing to add to it. I have a hobby! I am a well-rounded individual! One of my favourite mantras about reading is to describe it as 'where time out meets time well spent', and I have no hesitation in adding my cookbook hoard into that part of the Venn diagram entitled How I Spend My Time. Got to be honest: time spent browsing Go Fug Yourself takes up way too much of the rest of my free time, and can't really be classed as time well spent, so I'm shoehorning cookbooks into the quality time category.
So when I saw a blogging monthly challenge involving random recipe selection, I knew instantly they were on to a winner, and I had to join in, no question. I'm going to write more details in the next post, as that is the real entry into the challenge, but Andy, my willing accomplice in choosing a random recipe, was so enamoured with the idea that he wanted in, as well. He turned around while I ran my hands up and down the cookbook towers (surely an earthquake risk in Wellington?), said stop, and then stopped me again as I flicked through the book.
The book he chose was very apt - The Return of the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver. This was actually a perfect choice for Andy - because I am so overwhelmingly controlling and bossy in the kitchen, he doesn't get a chance to cook as often as such a talented chef should. He's used Jamie's recipes in the past, and for the most part, gets on really well with them, so I was super excited when he randomly chose the recipe on page 186, Roasted Fillet of Beef Rolled in Herbs and Porcini and Wrapped in Prosciutto
After a false start with the grocery shopping - we'd run out of dried porcini and couldn't find a replacement in a couple of stores (although I'm guessing Moore Wilsons would have had them), so he subbed a combination of dried shiitake and fresh brown mushrooms - he was off. And you know what, it was really delicious. Tasted almost decadent to have something so rich for a midweek dinner, but without being too heavy - it was almost like a lighter, pared-back version of Beef Wellington. The beef fillet was done to a perfect medium (pinker than it looks in the photo above), and the real wow for me was the fresh herbs - we took them straight from the garden so they were absolutely fresh - the rosemary and thyme really made both the beef and the mushrooms pop with flavour. If anyone's looking for a last-minute Valentine's dinner, this could be The One.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 packet prosciutto or Parma ham
2 cloves of peeled garlic
1 handful of shiitake mushrooms, soaked in around half a pint of boiling water
1 handful of brown mushrooms
2 good knobs of butter
Juice of half a lemon
sea salt and fresh black pepper
450g fillet of beef, left whole
A good handful of fresh rosemary and thyme, leaves picked and chopped
2 glasses of red wine
Preheat the oven and a small roasting tray that will fit the beef snugly to 230 C. Lay the prosciutto out so they are all overlapping, leaving no spaces (this was one of the hardest parts; the prosciutto slices stuck together). Chop a garlic clove and fry in one knob of butter with the mushrooms (drain the shiitake first but keep the water). Add half the soaking water, simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes then stir in the lemon juice, the rest of the butter, salt and pepper.
Spread the mushrooms out over half of the prosciutto, keeping a few back for later. Lay the chopped herbs out on a board, then roll the beef in these herbs so they stick to the outside. Place this on top of the mushrooms and prosciutto, and slowly roll up the meat in the prosciutto. Secure with either string or, like us, you can use toothpicks as that was first to hand.
Put the beef in the hot roasting tray with the remaining garlic and cook for 40 minutes for medium (plus or minus 10 minutes for well done or rare). Half way through the cooking time, add the red wine to the tray. When it's had its time, remove it to a board and let it rest. In the meantime, put the tray on the hob, scraping up any bits from the bottom or side so they all go into the gravy.
We served this with potatoes, which were fantastic for soaking up all the winey juices, and spinach sauteed with the reserved mushrooms.