“Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.
Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.
Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.”
The last thing I’m usually thinking about at 5 am is reading a book, but this book caught my attention while I was at the airport. Behind Closed Doors had me searching for every excuse to read. There were times when I agreed to go to the gym with Kyle so that I could read my book on the stationary bike. Who does that? I couldn’t put the book down! I finished it in two days. I’m not an avid reader, so that’s a big step for me. I can usually choose my computer or a movie over a book, but not with this one. I just had to know what happened next because I hardly ever predicted it. The author, B.A. Paris, created real emotions and fear inside of me for the characters. Sometimes I just wanted to throw the book across the room because I was so mad. I found the book on Amazon (for much cheaper than the airport) if you’re interested.
After reading this book and getting so many questions about it, I came up with the idea of a book review & recipe post. I’d love to do this every month with a new book. I talked everyone’s ears off about this book, so it’ll be fun to discuss the book with you all! Now, please remember. I don’t claim to be an excellent writer or a very descriptive person, so I’m going to try to do my best! The point of creating a recipe that goes along with the book and adding in a book review is to get me to escape from the technology world at least an hour a day to read. And if no one cares about the book, there is always a recipe to try!
I do not want to give anything away about the book or give you any spoiler alerts. I’m going to do a little discussion at the bottom of the post. You’ll see the words **SPOIL ALERT** and know when to stop reading. If you’ve read it, let’s chat all about it! If you haven’t read it, come back, and I’ll still be around to discuss! And feel free to interact with other people’s comments about the book! This is the type of book that you either loved or absolutely hated. It had a really sick plot, but it kept pulling me in for more. You’ll start to find yourself a bit more curious about the couples that live a “perfect life.” Sometimes, I found myself reading pages over and over again because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The psychological thrillers are always my favorite genre, but I’ll try to pick something much softer for next month’s read.
“She waits until Jack has carved the beef Wellington and served it with a gratin of potatoes, and carrots lightly glazed with honey. There are also tiny sugar peas, which I plunged into boiling water just before taking the beef from the oven.”
Why couldn’t Grace, the protagonist, have made an easier meal? Because Grace made beef Wellington, I knew that would be the recipe to go along with my review!
But guess what? You’re not off the hook. If you make a beef Wellington and take a picture of it with Behind Closed Doors next to it, tag me and use the hashtag #simplytaralynnbookreview you’ll be entered to win a $100 Barnes & Noble Gift Card! I’ll be hosting a giveaway each month to go with my book reviews. Winners will be announced in January!
“Serving anything that is less than perfect—isn’t an option.”
Back to this beef Wellington. It’s not as hard as it looks. In fact, I’d be fine making this meal again and again. It’s a dish you can make in advance and place it in the fridge the night before cooking. If you want to get fancy this Christmas, make this recipe, refrigerate it and bake it an hour before dinner! It’ll save you a lot of time.
So what the heck is beef Wellington?
“Beef Wellington is a preparation of filet steak coated with pâté(often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Some recipes include wrapping the coated meat in a crêpe to retain the moisture and prevent it from making the pastry soggy.”
When I read that and googled a photo of it, I was intimidated.
I decided to start looking up a ton of different recipes for beef Wellington. Mushrooms? Seriously? How was I going to make this work? I hate mushrooms. When I was walking around the grocery store looking for a “mushroom alternative” I saw the big giant eggplants staring back at me. I’m not huge eggplant eater, but they remind me of mushrooms. I decided to cook with those instead. However, if you do like mushrooms, just replace the eggplant with mushrooms.
I watched Gordon Ramsy’s video about five times before I became confident enough to master the beef Wellington. He made his a bit fancier than mine, but I’m very proud of the way mine turned out. My parents came over to eat it and so did Kyle. They both loved it. He also made it look so easy, which gave me more confidence in myself. It’s not one of those recipes that you have to work super quick. You can have a glass of wine, relax, and cook at your own pace. Another nice part of this recipe is the cost. Some people think beef Wellington is super fancy and expensive, and it is at restaurants for sure! You’ll probably pay $30+ a plate. All of the ingredients for the beef Wellington cost me $45, and that is much cheaper divided up than all of us ordering beef Wellington at a restaurant.
This recipe was inspired by Chef Gordon Ramsy, but I made a lot of changes!
- 1 (1.5 -2 lb) Center Cut beef Tenderloin Roast (chain removed)
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 Large Shallot
- 1 1/2 Medium Onion
- Salt/Pepper/Onion Powder/Dill Weed
- 6 Garlic Cloves (peeled)
- 2 Tbsps Dry Red Wine
- 2 Cups Chopped Eggplant
- 1 Large Egg (beaten)
- 1 Sheet (1/2 package) Frozen Puff Pastry (make sure you thaw it out)
- Fresh Thyme
- 1 Tbsp Honey
Preheat oven to 425 Degrees
Season the beef with pepper, sea salt, onion powder, and dillweed.
In a large skillet on medium-high, add one tablespoon of olive oil and heat until hot. Once the olive oil is hot, use tongs to brown all sides of the roast evenly. Do not cook for too long, but remove from heat and set the roast on a plate when all sides are brown. (make sure to watch the video)
Spread the honey mustard all over the browned beef and set aside.
Add onions, garlic, eggplants, and the shallot into blender or food processor and pulse on and off until finely chopped. You don't want to over blend, or it'll be a sauce! You need some chunks in there.
To the same skillet with the oils from the beef, add the blended ingredients in with salt and pepper. Cook for about four minutes on high and then add two tablespoons of the red wine, honey, and a pinch of fresh thyme. Cook for one more minute.
Flour a surface and unfold the thawed puff pastry dough. Roll the dough out and spread the eggplant mixture onto the sheet of dough. Leave about 1/2 inch around the dough uncovered. Set the roast in the middle of the dough and fold the dough carefully around the roast. The dough is a bit stretchy so don't be afraid to pull it a bit. I tucked the seems underneath on the sides.
Spread the beaten egg over the outside of the dough to help give the beef Wellington a crispy texture.
Slice a couple of cuts (they work as vents) on top of the beef Wellington.
Bake the roast for about 40-50 minutes (depending on the size.) The outside dough will be golden brown, and your thermometer should read between 150 degrees (medium rare) to 180 degrees (medium) I've always liked my roast beef to be cooked well.
Unlike Grace, I purchased the red wine on the bottom of the shelf. I couldn’t taste the difference, nor would I ever be able to tell the difference between expensive and cheap wine.
After rubbing the beef with all of the right seasonings, you’ll want to brown all the edges on a high heat with olive oil. Be aware of the splatters. Chef Ramsy tilts his pan to the sides to cook the edges of the meat, and you’ll definitely want tongs.
You could add the dijon to your pâté or spread it on the browned roast. I just copied chef Gordon Ramsy!
You can use a food processor or blender to make the pâté. Just pulse a couple of times! You don’t want to overdo it.
I used the leftover oils from the beef to cook the pâté. It gives it a lot of extra flavor!
Just don’t drink all the wine before adding it in! 😀 I had to pour myself a glass while cooking.
I love a little sweetness in my recipes, especially ones that call for dijon. You don’t have to add the honey, but I think it gives it amazing flavor.
Break apart some thyme and add to the pan.
Before you start cooking anything, make sure your dough is out on the counter thawing. You’ll only need one sheet of the pastry dough.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface.
Top the dough with the cooked pâté and leave about 1/2 inch around the edges.
Fold the dough over the roast and tuck the seems underneath. Spread the beaten egg over the dough to give the beef Wellington a crispy texture.
Slice the top of the pastry puff to give the roast ventilation for cooking.
Top with a stem of thyme for decor. I think it adds a little something special 😉
Roast the carrots with garlic, pepper, olive oil, sea salt, and honey.
Like Grace, I lightly boiled the peas! They were so good, and I’ve made them twice since learning how to cook them like this. They don’t need any seasoning because they are naturally sweet.
Stick the thermometer into the roast to determine if it’s done!
When the beef Wellington came out looking like this, I almost cried because I was so proud of myself. You may be rolling your eyes behind the computer screen, but I did not think I could do it. I took about a billion snaps and sent them to my family and friends. That is also why you’ll see so many photos in this post. Just let me have my proud moment for like ten seconds.
I served the beef Wellington just like the Angel’s did. I did skip out on the gratin potatoes though! I bought all the ingredients but opted out. I also decided not to make her perfectly crafted dessert. The beef Wellington was enough. I had to keep telling myself that it’s just a book because I almost started comparing my talents to theirs. “how did they make this and the dessert?” Oh…because they didn’t.
Whether you read the book or not, this is a recipe you’ll definitely want to make. It’s guaranteed to impress pretty much anyone. Someone messaged me and said they made a “turkey Wellington” and now I’ll have to try that one out. If you’re not sure what to prepare for the Holiday season, give this a try! You can do what Chef Gordon Ramsy does, and make it the night before and just pop it into the oven before dinner. Smart thinking and I may even do that for our Christmas dinner. And I highly recommend serving it with red wine. Also if you’re not a wine drinker, pour a shot glass and sip on it before each bite. It brings out the taste of the beef Wellington and takes your tastebuds into overdrive.
This recipe makes eight large slices of beef Wellington. If I were to round up, that’s about $6 per plate! Not bad compared to restaurant prices. Even though cooking intimidating meals at home can be a pain in the butt, it can pay off. Literally.
Did you guys enjoy the past to present flip?
It’s hard for me to believe that Behind Closed Doors was B.A. Paris, the author’s, first debut. I think the book was written wonderfully, and I loved the pass to present flip. I usually get confused and have to reread pages during past and present books, but the way she told the story fit perfectly with this style of writing. I think the flip between past and present is what builds up the suspense and eagerness to know more. It’s what kept me reading because I just had to find out what happened next. You will honestly feel the anxious tension every single page.
Were there times during the book when you got mad at Grace for NOT reacting?
Let’s talk about Grace. She made me so anxious at times. I kept finding myself upset that she didn’t react differently. I know that Jack was always ten steps ahead of her, but I just wanted her to expose the situation to Esther, or Janice. When she was sitting in the office with Janice, Millie, and Jack, I kept thinking it was the perfect time for her just to react. It seemed as if Janice would have believed her, and Millie was in sight so Jack couldn’t harm her. I just wanted her to react the entire time. I guess this just proves that you have to plan for the right escape and that there is always a strategy? Maybe not reacting the way you’d think one would react is a smart move.
What did you think was going on behind closed doors during the first few pages?
Jack, that nasty human being. When I started reading the first few pages, I was thinking that some Stepford Wives type stuff was going on. I had no idea he was such a monster. I figured he had groomed his wife to be a perfectionist and that he was emotionally abusive. I would never have imagined the dark and evil side that was to come.
Did anyone else predict that Millie’s fall was intentional?
I guessed it right away that Jack had tripped Millie and tried to take her life. What I didn’t understand was why Jack tried to do that to Millie if his ultimate plan was to have Millie as his “prisoner” in the end?
What role did you think Esther was going to play in the ending of the book?
At the beginning of the book, I didn’t like Esther. She reminded me of someone I once knew. That kind of person that just wants to find fault or is curious about everything you do. And then I started to think that she was secretly in on whatever was going on with Jack. But as the book went on, I began to like her. It made me look at those “curious” people in a different light. Maybe it’s good to keep people like that in your life because they’ll be the first ones to know when something is off.
Did you predict anything before it happened?
We knew that eventually, someone was going to find that red room. I was thinking that she could lie and say it was a spot where Jack went before his trials to put him in the mood to defend these women. And that is exactly what happened! Other than that, I didn’t predict much during this book.
Did you like the way the book ended?
I loved the way the book ended. The curious Esther knew that Millie’s favorite color was yellow and that is what color her room was going to be when she moved in. When news broke, and people found out about the disgusting red room, Esther knew what was going on and was quick to help Grace. She wanted Grace to know that she knew what a monster Jack was and she’d be her witness during questioning.
Do you think this book will turn into a T.V. show or movie?
Even though the abuse is rough to get through during this book, they could make it into a T.V. series. The author left the book open to a trial.
What actors would play Grace, Esther, and Jack?
I think Grace would be played by Jennifer Lawrence, Jack would be played by Jude Law, and Esther would be played by Krysten Ritter.
How did you feel about Jack’s death?
Maybe I’m just a sick person, but I was happy that the pills and the fall did not kill Jack. I’m glad that he suffered a slow death of dehydration the same way Molly did. Also, I kept telling myself that it’s just a book and that didn’t actually happen. There were no dogs harmed in the writing of this book.
Do you have any “perfect people” that make you wonder what’s really going on behind closed doors?
This book makes me stop and think about the people around us. We get an impression from a person by the way they dress, the way they talk, or their money status. Maybe instead of being blinded by the flashy and charming things, we should be more like Esther and start asking questions.
Who was your favorite Character?
I think the biggest fighter and smartest character was Millie. I loved that she was thinking outside of the box and saved all of the sleeping pills. I loved that she was smart enough to know that keeping Grace’s secret would protect them, and she caught on quick to Jack’s behavior. I loved her character!
I could go on all day with Questions about the book. I want you guy to ask questions; let’s chat it out in the comments 🙂
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Now, let’s discuss.