The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 02.05.07


Valentine, you're food for my soul

From the moment we talked, I started to get
Feelings of hunger that couldn't be met,
Like feelings that come when I see yummy pies,
Well, I get those feelings when I look in your eyes.
The thought of your lips makes my mouth start to water,
'Cause they remind me of barbecue more than they oughter.
Your skin, your hair, and the rest of you brings
Thoughts of chocolate chip cookies and other good things.
When you're near you provide scrumptious food for my soul.
You nourish me, sweetheart; You make me whole.
Keep me satisfied, stay close or I'll pine.
I sure get hungry thinking of you, Valentine!

No romantic pressure this month dear readers. A little planning is all it takes to produce a Valentine dinner for two that he or she will reward you for.

Beef Wellington for Two

Prepare the Beef Wellingtons ahead of time and you'll have enough time to change into something more comfortable before you sit down to dinner. Make this just for the two of you and banish all other distractions from the house. Ingredients

3 tbsp butter, divided
1/3 cup minced shallot or red onion
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup red wine
2 beef tenderloin steaks -- 4 oz. (113 g) each, cut 1-inch (2 cm) thick salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pkg. frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 egg
1 tbsp water

Cooking Instructions

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook, stirring, just until softened-about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms have started to brown. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter to the skillet and increase the heat to high. As soon as the butter has melted, add the steaks to the pan, sprinkling them with salt and pepper and quickly sear both sides until browned-about 1 minute per side. Remove steaks from pan immediately. Let cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the block of puff pastry dough out to a 12-inch (30 cm) square. Cut the square in half, and then cut one of two halves in half again (reserve the remaining half of the dough).
Beat together the egg and the water and brush lightly over the surface of the two small squares of dough. On each square, spoon half of the mushroom mixture and top with one steak. Pull the corners of the dough up and over to wrap the whole thing up like a package-seal up any openings by pinching and folding them together. Turn over and arrange on a baking pan. Brush with egg mixture. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut shapes out of the reserved pastry dough to decorate the top of each packet and brush with egg wash.

You can prepare the Wellingtons to this point as much as 3 or 4 hours before you want to serve them. Refrigerate, covered until about one hour before you want to begin baking.
Remove Wellingtons from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking to allow them to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).

Place Wellingtons in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.