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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Beef Wellington

I was thinking about what to make for Christmas and I decided on Beef Wellington (again). The recipe below is from Martha Stewart Living (maybe last December's issue?), but I used this version of Duxelles from Cooking Light instead of the recipe in the magazine.

Beef Wellington
Serves 12

3 1/2 pound center-cut beef fillet
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz. paté
Duxelles
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 17 1/4-oz. package puff pastry (thawed if frozen)
1 large egg, beaten

1. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Brown beef all over, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Spread paté over fillet. Cover with duxelles, pressing into paté; set aside.

2. On a lightly floured work surface, overlap two puff pastry sheets by 1/2 inch. Roll out to a 12-by-20-inch rectangle. Place beef length-wise in the middle; wrap pastry around beef so long sides overlap. Place beef, seam side down, on a baking sheet, and tuck pastry ends underneath. Brush with egg. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake pastry-covered beef until pastry is golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Tent with foil and continue to bake until center of beef registers 130 degrees (about 15 more minutes). Transfer to a clean wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Meatless Main Dishes

Here are some of my favorite meatless main dishes:

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Grocery Shopping: Health vs. Wealth

Three to four years ago, I probably spent about half of what I spend now on groceries. Back then, I bought meat and fish at Costco or on sale at the supermarket, I stocked my pantry with canned and jarred goods like spaghetti sauce and soup when they were loss leaders, and I bought seasonal produce at rock bottom prices. These days, I spend more money because I buy hormone-free meat and dairy, wild salmon, and organic produce. Canned and jarred goods are mostly limited to organic tomato products, beans, sardines, anchovies and olives.

To be honest, I haven't noticed a difference in my health since switching to more expensive groceries. But I continue to eat this way because I hope to live longer and healthier, and I think this helps. And I'm lucky enough to be able to afford it.

If you're not willing or able to pay for all of the more expensive products but want to eat healthier foods at home, try these tips:
  • Shop at Trader Joe's. They have a good selection of organic produce and growth-hormone free dairy products at great prices.
  • Eat less meat. Organic beans and tofu cost a fraction of organic meat and are better for you. (I'll post some of my favorite meatless recipes this weekend.)
  • Buy meat that doesn't contain growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. It will be slightly cheaper than organic meat (in addition to being hormone and antibiotic-free, organic meat comes from animals who were fed organic grains).
  • Buy dairy that doesn't contain the growth-hormone RBST (available at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods). It will be cheaper than organic dairy.
  • Consider buying organic if a food you eat often is high in pesticides or pollutants. For example, apples have been found to retain a relatively high percentage of pesticides, so you might want to buy organic apples. On the other hand, you'll probably want to stick with conventionally grown bananas, which don't retain the same amount of pesticides. Click here for a list of produce that retains pesticides and here for a list of seafood that is high in pollutants.
  • Avoid genetically modified corn and soy products. The easiest way is to buy organic versions, but you can also check for labels that say "non-GMO."
Of course, it goes without saying that no matter what your budget, your body will thank you if you stick to a diet rich in fresh produce, whole grains, and lean meat.

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