October – Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

October – Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

This is one of the first dishes I served my husband when we were dating; he passed the adventurous eating test on my side to be invited for future dinners. And it must have done the trick for him because he kept coming back for more dates (and dinners).

I think it is worth going into your old recipe files occasionally. Who knows what forgotten memories and fun treasures you will turn up. I haven’t made chicken liver mushroom pate for years and am happy to be reacquainted with it. The recipe was forgotten until I started reading Martin Walker’s excellent detective series (Bruno, Chief of Police). I binge read the entire series while recovering from surgery. The books are placed in Bergerac in the Dordogne region of France. The food and wine of that region are a major part of the books; duck liver being front and center. I’ve only had foie gras once in my life, our French waiter had to strongly recommend it before I tried it accompanied by the traditional glass of sauterne But, its introduction was eye opening! What an amazingly delicious experience! I never would have guessed. This chicken liver and mushroom pate is my poor man’s substitute.  Foie gras (as well as being pricy), is illegal in California. The necessary force feeding of the geese being deemed cruel in our state. Please don’t put the two side-by-side, there will be no comparison with the “real thing”. But this chicken liver and mushroom pate can stand on its own.

Not everyone likes chicken livers but I adore them. This is really more of a smooth spread than an actual pate. It is perfect for serving with crisp bread, melba toast, or crackers as a before dinner snack or on a picnic. A glass of champagne goes beautifully, chardonnay would also be good and would match the creamy richness of the spread.

The original recipe was written in a small book (almost more accurately a pamphlet as there were only a dozen pages), published by the winery Paul Masson. The recipes in the book highlighted their wines, of course. It was published in 1968 but I came across it in the mid 70’s. I don’t remember exactly how I acquired it. The stamp on the front is a liquor store in Burlingame, CA and my first apartment when I moved to California from New York was in Burlingame. Maybe the store was handing them out to encourage wine sales. Burlingame is very near the airport and at the time I was waiting to see if my transfer request with United would go through, something that didn’t happen.

I passed this recipe to my mother, and it became a favorite of hers. Along the way we made some modifications. The original recipe called for dill and I just couldn’t see it with chicken livers! Not to mention I am not a big fan, although I like fennel. Taste is strange isn’t it? Anyway, I substituted herbs de Provence, one of my favorite blends. You could also use thyme, it would be a classic combination with the rosemary.

Paul Masson published 1968

Over the years there have been other adaptations and alterations. My recipe calls for a little less butter (hard to imagine!), less wine and the addition of a spot of brandy as well as the switch of herbs.

The pate freezes beautifully, I freeze portions in 4 oz wide mouth canning jars. It will keep at least 3 months in the freezer, maybe longer, with no loss of flavor. The recipe makes enough for 4 small jars. Glaze the surface with a slick of melted butter after you fill them. It will protect the pate from freezer burn. Simply remove a jar from the freezer a day before you want to serve it, defrost in the refrigerator overnight. This is a perfect snack to have on hand for guests; add some crisp bread, cheese, maybe some salad and wine. You have an instant mini meal.

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate (makes about 1 1/2 pints)

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1/2 a stick for finishing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. of chicken livers
  • 1/2 lb. of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions plus some of the green tops
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 small or 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, I use Coleman’s
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of brandy
  • kosher or sea salt as needed

For finishing:

  • About 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  2. Add the chicken livers, mushrooms, onions, and salt; saute for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally
  3. Add the wine, garlic, mustard, herbs, rosemary, and brandy. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat.
  4. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until livers and mushrooms are tender.
  5. Uncover and continue to cook on higher heat until almost all of the liquid has disappeared.
  6. Whirl in a blender until almost smooth, add the 1/2 stick of butter and continue to blend until smooth.
  7. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  8. Pack in small crocks or canning jars, wipe the edges and coat the top with melted butter.
  9. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or more.

The pate is best served with crisp warm sourdough bread or large sesame crackers.

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Chicken Liver Mushroom Pate

Bon appetit!

I am taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #194 hosted by Angie. Please stop by to see all the goodies our friends have brought to the party and add your own link if you are a food blogger. The cohosts this week are Petra @ Food Eat Love and Vanitha @ Curry and Vanilla.

January – Roasted Garlic Spice

January – Roasted Garlic Spice

When should a recipe be posted? For me it’s a big question. If something is simple or obvious should it be left un-blogged? When is something interesting enough that you will want to read it? If you have thoughts, let me know because this question weighs on me. My family will say “take pictures and post this” and I think “there are a million similar recipes on the internet, no one will want to read one more”. It’s a problem because I read so many postings from talented home cooks out there, not to mention the professional blog sites.

Once in a while something simple turns out to be far more than the sum of it’s parts. This recipe came from the cookbook “At Home with Michael Chiarello“. I have found all his cookbooks treasure troves of simple and delicious ideas. He suggests using this roasted-garlic spice on potato chips, something I did as a amuse-bouche before Christmas dinner last year. But it has other uses as well.

What is an amuse-bouche and why did you do that” you ask? For the what I turn to Wikipedia:

An amuse-bouche [aˌmyzˈbuʃ] (plural amuse-bouches) or amuse-gueule [aˌmyzˈɡœl] is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre.[1] Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but are served gratis and according to the chef’s selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine.

The term is French, literally translated as “mouth amuser”. The plural form is amuse-bouche or amuse-bouches.[2] In France, amuse-gueule is the proper term normally employed in conversation and literary writing,[3] while amuse-bouche is a euphemistic hypercorrection that appeared in the 1980s[4] on restaurant menus and is used almost only there. In French, bouche refers to the human mouth, while gueule refers to the mouth or snout of an animal, and is used as a derogatory term for mouth or face.[5][6]

And now for the why. I love dinner parties. And many of my friends (I count you in that group lovely readers) are amazing cooks and enjoy giving them as well. I arrive anticipating wonderful food and company. The house is filled with delightful smells. And, laid out on the buffet or coffee table are a selection of delicious pre-dinner snacks. I have no will power, I admit it. I usually make a bee line to the dips, cheese and other tidbits. Most certainly you have more self-discipline than I do! I hit the buffet (glass of wine in hand) and immediately stunt my appetite for dinner. It’s sad!

In France a restaurant will serve just a little something to welcome you and build anticipation for the dinner ahead, I have started to do the same. These potato chips are easy, addictive, delicious, and perfect with a glass of dry champagne.

Garlic Spice Potato Chips

Garlic Spice Potato Chips

Even better, they are quick and can be made ahead. Just make sure the container isn’t in plain sight or they will be gone in a flash.

I used this same spice mix on some chicken quarters before roasting, another success story!

Roast chicken leg quarters with roast garlic spice

Roast chicken leg quarters with roast garlic spice

So without further chat, here it is.

Roasted Garlic Spice

  • 8 fat cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt, preferably grey salt
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch of chili powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the garlic slices in a single layer on top.
  3. Cover with a second piece of parchment paper.
  4. Bake until the garlic is dry and crisp, about 15 minutes. Watch this step carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Ovens vary in their true temperature. My garlic was done in 13 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  6. Grind the garlic and other ingredients in a spice mill (or coffee grinder dedicated to spices) until it is a fine powder.
  7. Store in an airtight container away from light and heat up to 2 months.

The potato chips couldn’t be easier once you have the roast garlic spice.

Roasted Garlic Spice Potato Chips

  • 2 bags of good quality plain potato chips
  • Roasted garlic spice
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spill the potato chips onto a large baking or cookie sheet.
  3. Place in the oven and heat until you start to see the oil on their surface, this will only be a few minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle (while still hot) with the roasted garlic spice.
  5. Cool and serve. You can also store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

What are your favorite tricks for wetting the appetite without overfilling your guests’ tummies?

September in the Kitchen – Tomato Sandwiches and the Kitchen Sink

September in the Kitchen – Tomato Sandwiches and the Kitchen Sink

You probably want to know “What do tomatoes and the kitchen sink have to do with each other?”. Well, I’ll tell you, it has to do with categories of sandwiches. There are dainty tea sandwiches made for white gloves, hearty sandwiches with gravy meant to be eaten with a knife and fork, picnic sandwiches to be eaten outdoors, and ‘kitchen sink sandwiches’ which you need to eat while standing over the sink to catch the drips. This is definitely one of the later. Take a look at all that drippy tomato!

Kitchen sink tomato sandwich

Kitchen sink tomato sandwich

Make this while summer tomatoes are at their most ripe and delicious. The ingredients are simple but need to be the best…ripe tomatoes, crisp good quality sourdough toast, sweet onion, garlic, sea salt, and mayo. That’s all.

Although you could add bacon…just saying.

Kitchen Sink Tomato Sandwiches

For each sandwich you will need:

  • 2 slices of good sourdough bread, toasted crisp
  • 1 clove of garlic, cut in half
  • 1 slightly over-ripe tomato, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • 1 ripe tomato sliced thinly
  • Sea salt
  • a few thin slices of red or other sweet onion
  1. Start by toasting your bread, it should be crisp.
  2. Rub one side of each slice with the cut side of the garlic clove, be assertive.
  3. Rub that same side with the cut side of the over ripe tomato, squeezing to coat with juices.
  4. Top that with a thin smear of mayo
  5. Layer the tomato juice side of one slice with the thinly slice tomato, sprinkle with sea salt (I used salt I purchased when we were in Key West earlier this year), top with the onion, then the other slice of toast (tomato side down). Press lightly together.IMG_3524
  6. Eat over the kitchen sink.IMG_3522

Lunch! Or a very delicious snack. So simple, so wonderful!

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The idea for this came from the N.Y. Times food section.

June in the Kitchen – Daughter of Seedy Mix

June in the Kitchen – Daughter of Seedy Mix

My Seedy Mix has turned out to be a popular condiment in my household. It adds crunch, a dose of flavor, and a boost of protein to all kinds of salads and vegetables. Use it as a finishing garnish (it’s more interesting than parsley). The original Seedy Mix was posted last April and has been undergoing some alterations over the past few months. Here is the updated and improved recipe:

Daughter of Seedy Mix

  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup of hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Urfu Biber pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  •  2 teaspoons dried garlic flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put the sunflower and sesame seeds in a shallow oven proof plate like a metal pie plate. Toast in the oven until golden, shaking the plate a few times. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl to cool.
  3. Heat a small dry frying pan on medium heat, add the poppy seeds and toast for 5 minutes. Remove them to the bowl with the sunflower and sesame seeds.
  4. Add the nigella seeds to the skillet and toast for 2 minutes. Remove to the bowl with the other seeds.
  5. Add the cumin and mustard seeds to the skillet and toast for another 1 to 2 minutes until golden. You might want to cover the skillet with a splatter screen as the mustard seeds will jump around. Add to the bowl with the rest.
  6. Add the onion, garlic, Urfu Biber, and salt to the bowl. Stir to mix. Cool completely.
  7. Once cool, transfer to a jar with a tight lid.
Seedy Mix II

Seedy Mix II

Sprinkle the seeds over vegetables or scrambled eggs, salad, roast chicken, or anything needing an extra embellishment. I couldn’t resist them as a quick snack while I was preparing dinner.

April in the Kitchen – Prosciutto Wrapped Mango with Mascarpone and Aged Balsamic Vinegar

April in the Kitchen – Prosciutto Wrapped Mango with Mascarpone and Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Really I don’t know why I even bother to write out this recipe, it’s all there in the title. With all the fancyness going around these days I think we forget that sometimes the simpliest recipes are the best. This is one of the easiest, freshest, and most delightful of dishes to serve with a before dinner with a glass of wine (rose or sparkling would be lovely) or drinks. And, it is light enough not to spoil everyone’s appetite. I know I have a tendancy to fill up on all the wonderful starters laid out before a dinner party, sometimes I’m quite full by the time dinner is served. And that is a sad thing when a hostess has gone to so much trouble.

I used mangos this time because they have just started showing up at the market, but you could make this with melon or peaches or plums. Use what is in season and looks best at the market.

Proscuitto Wrapped Mango

Prosciutto Wrapped Mango

  •  Cubes of mango or other fruit is season
  • 6 thin slices of prosciutto
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  1.  Wrap bite sized cubes of fruit with a thin slice of prosciutto.
  2. Smear a dollop of mascarpone cheese across a serving dish.
  3. Set the wrapped cubes of fruit on the cheese to hold them in place.
  4. Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.

That is all there is to it. I’m going to take this to Fiesta Friday to serve to the Angie and her friends. There are so many delightful dishes served at the party, this won’t spoil anyone’s appetite.

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Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

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February in the Kitchen – Crispy, Crunchy Flour Tortilla Chips

February in the Kitchen – Crispy, Crunchy Flour Tortilla Chips

Have you ever had chips made from flour tortillas? If not, you are in for a treat. You won’t find these in a store because they are too fragile (read crispy, crunchy) for commercial interest. But, they are easy to make and once you do…you will be hooked. Good bye regular corn tortilla chips. A favorite Berkeley Mexican restaurant serves them only on request. That’s the only place outside my kitchen I have ever seen them. Who needs Mexican food when you can have flour tortilla chips and bean dip!

Flour Tortilla Chips

Bean dip with Crisp Flour Tortillas

These are even better with stale flour tortillas that have been in your fridge for ? (maybe I’d better not ask it your fridge is like mine).

The chips bubble up not unlike pastry when it is fried. And, these are much easier than making pastry. Use the chips with dips, salsa, or as nachos.

There isn’t much of a recipe; here is the basic method.

Flour Tortilla Chips

  • 1 package of flour tortillas (stale is good)
  • 1/2 inch of oil in a pot suitable for frying
  1. Heat the oil over medium to medium-hot heat.
  2. Cut the tortillas into triangle shapes, or any shape which strikes your fancy.
  3. Drop the tortillas into the hot oil a few at a time. They will cook quickly so do this in batches. Turn them after a few seconds to brown the other side.
  4. Drain on paper towels or newspaper.
Chips

Fried Flour Tortilla Chips

These will keep for a day in an airtight container (once cool), you can reheat and crisp them in a warm oven.

The trick is to cook them in oil that is hot, but not so hot that they brown before crisping all the way to the center.

If you are still searching for something different for Super Bowl, gives these a try.

January in the Kitchen – Sausage Rolls

January in the Kitchen – Sausage Rolls

These sausage rolls have been a big hit at parties, movie nights, and TV sporting afternoons. Sausage rolls are part of my English heritage, I remember my grandmother making them. She was wonderful with all kinds of pastry; I’m not nearly so clever. For those of you who are not familiar with them, sausage rolls are similar to “Pigs in Blankets”, an American favorite. But, much, much better! They are traditionally eaten on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas when the servants had a day off (if you lived in the Downton Abbey era).

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

I’m going to give two sets of directions, one with the sausage made from scratch and one with doctored store bought sausage. I’ve done them both ways, both are good. I’m not talented with pastry and used commercial all butter frozen puff pastry from Pepperidge Farm; but I invite you to make your own if you are so inclined. They would be even better.

This recipe was adapted from one in the New York Times by David Tanis.

Sausage Roll recipe #1 (from scratch)

  • 2 pounds port shoulder, not too lean, have it ground coarse (you can have the butcher grind it for you or do this in a food processor with the metal blade)
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sausage Roll recipe #2 (Cheater’s rolls)

Before you make the “cheaters rolls”, check the seasoning of your sausage by frying a bit in a skillet. The sausage may not need any extra spicing up and could be fine as is.

No one needs to know you didn’t make these from scratch.

  • 2 pounds mild pork sausage either bulk or removed from casings
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or ½ tablespoon dried

Pastry and Assembly

  • 1 package all butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  1. Defrost the pastry if frozen.
  2. Mix the pork with all the seasonings in a large bowl, incorporating evenly.
  3. With wet hands form the sausage into 4 logs or rolls about 9 inches in length. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  5. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper
  6. Working one at a time, roll each pastry sheet into a rectangle approximately 9 by 10 inches, cut in half to make 2 pieces each about 9 by 5 inches.
  7. Unwrap each sausage roll from the plastic and place it in the center of one rectangle. Wet one of the long edges with a bit of water to seal the pastry and roll it up, tucking in any pastry at the ends.
  8. With the seam side down, cut each log into 8 pieces.
  9. Lay the pieces pastry side up (seam down) on the baking sheets and brush with the beaten egg.
  10. Repeat with the other pastry sheet.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and brown, and the sausage cooked.

Cool for a few minutes before serving, these are good warm or served at room temperature. They are even good for breakfast the next day reheated in the oven. Serve with a good spicy brown mustard such as the one here

These are excellent with a cold beer (or champagne).