MxMo4 (Apéritifs): The Food Pairings

I was particularly excited when Mike told me about the fourth installment of Mixology Monday, which focuses on apéritifs. I always enjoy my husband's experiments with spirits, but I feel bad sometimes that my contribution to cocktail hour is generally little more than "thank you, honey."

bubbling away

When MxMo 4 was announced, we both thought it presented a perfect opportunity for me to take a more active role by preparing a series of appetizers to pair with our drinks. After all, apéritifs are traditionally accompanied by a little plate of something savory to whet your appetite before a meal. We discussed it over the course of a few weeks, then decided on three pairings based upon the spirits we wanted to play with and ingredients which we thought would complement their flavors. Here's what we came up with.

serrano ham, black fig, blue cheese, sherry

First Course: Roasted black figs stuffed with Old Chatham Hudson Valley Ewe's Blue and wrapped in Serrano Riserva
Paired With: Adonis

Salty blue cheese and Serrano ham really just call out for Sherry, to me. I had a few ideas about how to serve them, but when I saw these gorgeous black figs at Greenwich Produce, I knew I'd revisit an old favorite recipe. I make an "X" cut in the top of each fig, stuff a chunk of blue inside, then wrap them in a thin sheet of Serrano - simple but elegant. Since our oven is still out of commission, I used the toaster oven my parents got us as a housewarming present. The stuffed figs were roasted at 450 for about 10 minutes, until the ham crisped at the edges and the cheese became melted and gooey. I love these little sweet-salty bites, and we agreed they went really nicely with the softly sweet, yet smokey flavor of the Adonis.

Second Course

Second Course: Crab-Stuffed Baby Artichokes
Paired With: Cynar

What else could I pair with an artichoke liqueur than, well, artichokes? I love the combination of artichokes and crab, so I decided to stuff the cooked halves of baby artichokes with a lemony crab salad. After cleaning the 'chokes and boiling them until tender, I drained them and laid them on a baking sheet. I combined fresh crab meat with a little mayo, copious amounts of fresh lemon juice and zest, some minced shallot, sea salt, cracked pepper, and some fresh thyme and chives from the garden. Each 'choke was topped with a heaping spoonful of the crab mixture, then a thin slice of Ouray cheese. They went into the toaster oven to broil until the cheese was browned and bubbly.

We had these with the Cynar, which Mike simply poured over ice and garnished with a lemon wedge. It was... different. Not at all unpleasant, but probably not my favorite thing. The drink did work well with the dish, though. My only complaint about this course is that I think the 'chokes could have taken a stronger cheese - perhaps something a little saltier or sharper, which might also have tempered the sweetness of the Cynar. Mike agreed, but was still popping cooled leftover 'chokes into his mouth as he mixed our next drink. A success, but with the caveat to try a different cheese next time.

Third Course Seelbach

Third Course: Duck Rillette Toasts
Paired With: Seelbach

Since the inception of our Fizzy Friday tradition earlier this year, a glass of something sparkling has become one of my favorite ways to preface a meal. With this in mind, I requested a champagne cocktail of some sort, which I intended to pair with some of Mike's delicious duck confit rillettes. He discusses why we settled on the Seelbach here, and I will just go on record here and say that I think the choice could not have been better. The rich, creamy rillettes with their little bites of vinegary wholegrain mustard and slivered cornichon were a perfect foil for the complex layers of flavor in the Seelbach, the bourbon and bitters echoing some of the warm spices in the cure mix Mike had used in the duck confit. It was truly a sensual and luxurious mingling of flavors and textures, and was my favorite pairing of the day.

How we had room for dinner and wine after all this yumminess is still beyond me, but we did it. We went to bed with full bellies and happy taste buds, and the memories of the wonderful food and drink made my slightly fuzzy head the next morning totally worthwhile.

Posted by jenblossom at 07:38 AM

Chickpea Stew With Tomatoes

I live with one vegetarian and one all-organic (mostly veggie) toddler, but hot veggie entrees aren't really in my repertoire. Meriko loaned me what's become my new favorite cookbook, bills open kitchen by Bill Granger, and I dug into it for a veggie dish for tonight's regular Sunday Night Dinner date with the Borogoves. Chickpea stew with tomatoes and green chilli is what I landed on, but omitted the chillis in consideration for my baby's palate. I had never cooked chickpeas, never made veggie stew; from what I hear the results were pretty good!

Chickpea Stew With Tomatoes (And Green Chilli)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 or 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup water
2 14 oz cans chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric (optional)
freshy ground black pepper
500 g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
100 g (3 1/2 ounces) baby spinach leaves

Serve with: plain yogurt

Heat a large deep frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add the chickpeas, 1/4 cup water, cumin, tumeric and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until the water evaporates. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to soften. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Stir through the spinach and top with yogurt.

Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side.

I also made a killer Spicy Beef with Corriander Relish also from the same book for the meat-eaters. I'll save that post for a rainy day. :>

Posted by rebecca at 09:48 PM

Cornmeal-Crusted Seafood with Mint Chimichurri

Anyone else notice how the perfect summer weather seems to have started this week? (Maybe I'm noticing because I'm just coming off a few days at a beach resort!) With my final day off, I wanted to cook something light and summery for lunch, and this recipe from Cooking Light (May 2005, pg 128) was just the ticket. Chimichurri is thick herb sauce typically served with meat in Argentina; this version is lightened up by mint, making it ideal for seafood. I substituted shrimp for the scallops, and served it over a plate of melon seed pasta with an Anchor Summer Beer to wash it all down: a perfect summer lunch! This dish would have been right at home, poolside at the resort. Oh, Cabana Boy?

Cornmeal-Crusted [Seafood] with Mint Chimichurri
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced seeded serano chile
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove
3 tabelsppons yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (I used the equivilent in shrimp)
1 tablesppon olive oil

Put the first 9 ingredients (mint through garlic) in a food processor; finely chop and set aside. Put cornmeal in a shallow dish. Dredge seafood in cornmeal, then cook in oil at medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Scallops should be about 3 minutes on each side or until done - shrimp will pink up and curl. Serve with chimichurri.

Yeild: 4 servings.
Calories 237 (19% from fat); fat 4.9g (sat .6g, mono 2.6g, poly .9g); protein 29.g; carb 17.3g; fiber 2.1g fiber 2.1g; chol 56mg; iron 1.4mg; sodium 576mg; calc 68mg

Posted by rebecca at 01:14 PM

garlicky spinach dip with hearts of palm

I decided that tonight's gathering to view Kung Fu Hustle needed a crazy dip to go with it. Hence this recipe from the March 2005 Cooking Light. The baked corn chips were sturdy enough to stand up to the thick dip...perhaps they were even a bit too sturdy. But no matter, everything was still damn tasty. Next time I might put the dip together ahead of time and stick it in the fridge until I'm ready to bake it. Golly, 5 kinds of dairy in one dip. It's enough to make my Dutch heart sing.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To prepare chips, arrange 22 (6-inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 8 wedges, in a single layer on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat wedges with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until wedges are crisp and lightly browned.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

To prepare dip, combine 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese, 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream, 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic, 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and chopped, 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry, 1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened, and 1 (6.5-ounce) tub light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese (such as Alouette Light), stirring until well blended. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Asiago. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm with chips. Yield: 22 servings.

Posted by astraea at 11:11 PM

Oysters "they taste like the ocean"

So a recent entery to my 2005 uberlist was to show my partner how to shuck an oyster at home. We randomly found some Pacific BBQ Oysters at Whole Foods today and his eyes lit up and he all but shouted in one long streaming sentence:
"wecouldbuyoystersandtakethemhome! - andyoucouldshowmehowtoopenthem!"

I'd never had this variety, but they were large-shelled and the joints were easy to view - I figured it was a good "starter oyster" for him. I grinned like a kid, agreed happily, politely shunned the first bottle of "cocktail sauce" he picked up, and showed him the Mr. Today's brand with horseradish and a mean kick.

And lo and behold there was an oyster knife nearby to purchase as well, sort of necessary, and really the only thing keeping me from buying oysters hence.

Anyway, it was funny watching the checker try to hide her profound digust. She couldn't resist her "but they taste like the ocean" comment, which brought back fond memories of scuba diving in college. In truth, she's right. They do. But each species has their own unique twist. This comment was met with another dubious look. We tilted our bag of ocean booty at her in thanks, and we were off.

After some ooohs and ahhhs while demonstrating for him once we got home and chilled up the oysters - he soon had toweled oyster in hand, and oyster knife at the ready. Then the cursing started. Then the "I can't believe this" and "this cheap piece of..." The curse? The oyster knife made by Oxo. Don't go there. Bad. When we were done with 12 oysters it looked more like taffy than a blade.

Anyway, after cleaning and chilling your oysters for about an hour, make sure all are tightly closed. Discard those that aren't. Place an oyster with the flatter side up in a towel so the pointed end (hinge of the oyster shell) is facing you. Oyster shells can be rough, pointy, or slippery - hence, that towel. Get a good grip on the oyster and place the tip of your oyster knife in the hinge - look for a good spot (there's usually a very visual gap), but if you get a crumbly spot move to another one. Wedge the tip of the blade into the hinge, then push and twist the knife until the hinge separates (sometimes with a satisfying "pop"). Open the oyster and slide the blade under the meat of the top half to cut the muscle and meat away from the shell. Do the same with the bottom. Pick out any bits of shell (but try to save the juice!). It gets easier with practice. Really!

All told - a mixed experience preparation-wise. There was the first-timer shell-shattering, an oyster down the kitchen sink, and oh yes, there was the cursing, but all in all I think he'd be very interested in trying the seasonal varities in the future. Now we just need a better knife....

Posted by adam at 03:45 PM

cumin curried hummus

Everything in my kitchen is yellow. You see, this evening I made Cumin Curried Hummus from the November 2004 Cooking Light and bore witness to the remarkable staining power of certain spices. The flavor of the hummus comes out similar to Indian lentil dal, and let's just say I've never attempted to make my own dal but the hummus was ready in about 15 minutes flat. I served it with wedges of lavash and baby carrots for dipping.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 3 garlic cloves, chopped; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Place garlic mixture, 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained, in a food processor; process until smooth. Yield: 3 cups.

Posted by astraea at 11:53 PM

corn fritter casserole

Apparently I didn't get enough cornbread while I was on the Mississippi River because I just made this Corn Fritter Casserole from the September 2004 Cooking Light and devoured a quarter of it in one sitting. It's a cross between corn bread and corn pudding and technically it's a side but there's no sides category so I stuck it under apps. I left out the onions and peppers for my version.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine 3 tablespoons butter, softened, 3 large egg whites, and 1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened, in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained, and 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can cream-style corn; mix well. Add 1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy) and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, stirring until well combined. Pour into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Yield: 9 servings.

Posted by astraea at 07:08 PM

hummus with ground lamb and pinenuts

A few weeks ago I picked up the cookbook by Moro - a restaurant in London that serves Spanish, Morrocan, and other Moorish food. The hummus and lamb recipe went over incredibly well at a recent dinner party. The touch of cinnamon on the lamb reallly tied the dish together - I was surprised at how the dish melded.

(The cookbook is British - I've left the units as the original, but noted the American equivalents.)

200 g (7 oz) chickpeas, soaked overnight with apinch of bicarbonate of soda (I used canned chickpeas instead.)
6 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 large Spanish onion, diced finely
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with salt
3-4 tbsp tanihi paste
170g (6 oz) lamb, minced
2 tbsp pinenuts, lightly toasted
1 medium bunch flat leaf pasley
a sprinkling of paprika
salt & pepper

Rince the chicpeas under cold water, then place in a large saucepan. Fill with 2L of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming off any scum as it bnuilds up. Cook for 1.5-2 hours, or until the skins are tender. Remove from heat, pour off excess liquid until level with the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil over low to medium heat and fry the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and sweet. Remove from heat and add the cinnamon.

To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, keeping aside the cooking liquid. Blend in a food processor with a little of the cooking liquid. When smooth, add the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and the rest of the olive oil. Add salt and ppper, and some more liquid if necessary. Taste for seasoning and spread the hummus on a plate.

Place a frying pan over high heat. When hot, add the carmelized onion and its oil, and then the lamb. Break up the lamb as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. When the lamb begins to crisp, add the pinenuts and transfer immediately to the hummus. Serve with parsley leaves and paprica sprinkled on top, and plenty of flatbread or pita.

Posted by shock at 12:12 PM


Muhommorah (fondly referred to in our house is Mahna Mahna) is a lovely Mediterranian/Turkish spread made with walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and red peppers. It's sweet, spicy, and savory, and stands nicely alongside hummous, tofu spread, or cheese. You can serve it with crackers, bread, or pita, or even raw veggies. I first had it at Paul K - and made it for both our tree-trimming party and Christmas dinner this year. My recipe is adapted from this one over at Cakebread Cellars.

2 cups walnuts, toasted
16 oz roasted red peppers, drained
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chipotle powder

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Combine the walnuts, roasted red peppers, pomegranate molasses, garlic, and spices in the bowl of a food processor. Start your engines. Drizzle in the olive oil, and continue to process until smooth. Add salt to taste. Adjust pomegranate molasses and chipotle if necessary. You want it to have a sweet note up front, but a tang through the middle, and finish with a mild burn on your tongue. The spread should be smooth throughout.

Posted by shock at 01:36 PM

Jean-Pierre's Cured Salmon

This has come to be my favorite recipe for cured salmon. It involves curing the fish in plain salt for a few days, and then marinating in a bath of tasty things. I have served this a number of times - as a starter at Bornschlegel family vacation, as the protein element for a summer evening picnic-style supper when it's hot, and most recently, at Mother's Day brunch. I'm sure you can vary the herbs to good effect; i have a bit, but i love coriander so much that it stays my base. This recipe is from The Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook.

Jean-Pierre Moulle, a passionate Frenchman, forager, and fisherman, has been the downstairs restaruant chef for many years. He devised this recipe as a first course for a special wine dinner a few years ago. It was so well loved that we now serve it upstairs as an appetizer.

Servers 8 to 10.

1 side salmon, skin on, 2-3 lbs
1 lb rock salt
1/2 bottle sauvignon blanc
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots, diced fine
2 tbsp thinly sliced chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped chervil
2 tbsp white peppercorns, coarsley cracked
3 tbsp whole coriander seeds

The side of slamon will contain little pin bones runnign from the head end about halfway back; they will interfere with slicing later unless removed. They can be easily located with your fingertips and pulled out with small needle-nosed pliers or tweezers. Place the fish in a shallow glass or stainless steel pan, skin side down. Cover the flesh side with rock salt. Refrigerate for at lesat 6 hours, or preferably, overnight. Rinse well, pat dry and return to a shallow pan, this time with the skin side up.

Prepare the marinade. In a glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the wine, olive oil, shallots, and herbs. Pour the marinade over the fish, then cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Strain the marinade through a fine sieve, reserving a few seeds. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Slice the salmon thinly on an angle and arrange a few slices per person on chilled plates. Spoon a little of the marinade over each serving and garnish with fresh herbs and the reserved coriander seeds.

Notes from meriko:
I use kosher salt, about 3/4 inch deep over the salmon. I also used fresh thyme from my garden sometimes instead of chives and no chervil. I have used ground coriander when i had no seeds to good effect. I have kept it in the marinade for up to 3 days.

Posted by shock at 07:08 AM

Millennium Tofu Spread

This is a fantastic spread - the herbs and the miso make it interesting to taste, and with enough time in the food processor, the tofu itself becomes silky smooth. My friends across a range of eating styles enjoy it - the vegans, the vegetarians, and the omnivores. I prefer it to mayonnaise, and happily spread it on bagels and toast - i'll even use it in a tuna salad. It is certainly not a mayo-imposter; it's a different beast that serves the purpose of having something rich and tangy and a little wet on your bread. Texture-wise, it falls somewhere between a smooth hummus and a whipped cream cheese. My niece Allison thinks it's good on grapes, too!

Recipe from The Millennium Cookbook.

Makes about 2.5 cups

1 yellow onion, cut lengthwise into thin crescents
3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. dry white white wine, sherry, or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 c. vegetable stock or water
12 oz. firm tofu, drained
1/4 c. light miso

In a large saute pan or skillet, cook the onions, garlic, salt and wine over medium heat until the onions just start to soften, about five minutes. Add the herbs and vegetable stock. Cover and cook until the liquid evaporates and the onion and garlic are very soft and lgiht brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Crumble the tofu into a medium bowl. Add the miso and the onion mixture and blend well. In a food processor, process this mixture, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutritional info per tbsp:
33 calories (27% from fat), 2 g protein, 4 g Carbohydrate, 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 294 mg sodium, 0.3 g fiber.

meriko's notes:
Sometimes i use sherry instead of white wine. I also used about a tsp fresh thyme, a tsp fresh sage, a tsp fresh rosemary,and a tsp dried basil, no oregano, and the appropriate amount of nutmeg. I salted and peppered to taste. Leave this in the food processor longer than you think you need to; and don't worry about the texture being a little weird when it's warm. It will silken out as it cools.

Posted by shock at 05:47 PM

crab, artichoke & potato salad

This turned out to be a very tasty, not-too-heavy, very flexible app. I used it for the fish course at NYF 2002. Beca and Russell don't eat artichokes, Tad doesn't eat meat or fish, and Russell's allergic to crab, so i wound up doing 3 platings as stated in the recipe (photo), one without the artichokes (for Beca), one with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms in place of the crab (for Tad - see photo), and one that was stylistically the same, but had diced avocado and diced raw ahi for Russell (photo). The ingredients are simple, but the lightly astringent dressing on the potatoes really set off the sweet intensity of the crab and the earthiness of the artichokes in a lovely manner. It's a great dish for a dinner party; everything but the actual assembly can be done in advance, and all the ingredients are served between cold and room temperature. The recipe is adapted from Cooking with Patrick Clark. (Note: when looking for a fancy French name for the dish, i changed it to "tour de fruits de mer", or tower of seafood.)

Serves 4.

Make 1 recipe each of the artichoke salad, potato salad, and basil vinaigrette.

Potato Salad
yield: about 1 cup.
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice
1/2 shallot, minced
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Drain and transfer to a paper towel to dry. Place the potatoes in a bowl and toss witht he remaining ingredients. [note: the original recipe calls for some chopped kalamata olives, as well. I omitted them due to guest preferences.] Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use, or for up to 8 hours.

Artichoke Salad
yield: about 1.5 cups
4 large artichokes, cooked
1 tbsp freshly squeezede lime juice
2 tsp olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Remove all of the leaves from the artichokes and completely scrape away and discard any of the fuzzy center. Dice the artichoke bottoms into 1/4-inch pieces and toss them in a bowl with the lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to tate, and refrigerate until ready to use, or for up to 4 hours.

Basil Vinaigrette
yield: about 1 cup
20 fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp fresly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. olive oil
2 tsp cold water
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Purée all the ingredients in a blender for 1 minute, or until they are thoroughly emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. [note: the original recipe left the bits and pieces in, but i wanted a smooth purée for my presentation.] Store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Crab Salad & presentation notes
1/2 lb crabmeat
salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp fresh basil chiffonade

To prepare the crabmeat:
Season the crabmeat lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

To assemble:
Place a ring mold in the center of a plate. Fill the bottom 1 inch of the mold with the potato salad, pressing firmly. Add an equal layer of artichoke salad, again pressing firmly. I found that jiggling the pieces about so they fit in a tight layer was helpful, too. Add a layer of the crab, again pressing firmly. Holding the salad in place, slowly remove the mold. Top the salad with the basil chiffonade, and if you like, add some fancy baby greens on the side of the plate. Spoon some of the basil vinaigrette around the plate.

Posted by shock at 11:56 AM

pate with porcini and calvados

This is the first (meaty) pate i've ever made! It's nice for a beginner - it's the sort of pate you make, scrape into a bowl, and chill for a few hours rather than the kind that you put in a terrine mold and bake in a fiddly water bath for a long time at a low temp. That's probably also a bonus in the summer, or when you're cooking a million-billion things. It's very tasty, and adds the fun party game of scraping the top layer off to reveal the pink underbelly - which oxidizes quickly enough to see with the naked eye! anne made this for Thanksgiving, and i entreated her to send me the recipe. Aside from that, i'm unsure of the provenence. Oh, and Goblin? She likes it, too.

1/2 oz dried porcini
1 cup chicken stock (full salt)
3 1/2 T calvados
4 T butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T fresh thyme, minced
1 lbs chicken livers, rinsed and deveined
3/4 t salt
freshly ground pepper
2 T heavy cream

Rinse porcini. In a small pan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Pour chicken stock into a small bowl with the porcini. Let sit for 10-20 minutes. Remove porcini from stock and mince. Set aside.

Let stock sit for a few minutes, then pour it back into the saucepan, discarding the sandy stuff at the bottom of the bowl. Add calvados. Simmer until stock is reduce to 1/4 cup. Let cool.

Rinse and devein the chicken livers. Mince the shallots, garlic and thyme.

In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add shallots, garlic and thyme. Cover skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Raise the heat to medium and add chicken livers, salt and pepper. Cook until livers are done but still pink inside.

Add everything (don't forget the mushrooms) to a food processor and process until smooth.

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

This pate oxides very easily, so you probably want to scrape off the top before serving.

Posted by shock at 09:59 AM

rosemary flatbread

An excellent recipe for grilled flatbread hors d'oeuvres from The Best of Sunset Recipes (currently on a Safeway checkout magazine rack near you). Lacking a grill, we popped these directly into the oven on top of a super-hot pizza stone. They turned out fantastic, but I'm sure grilling them would have made them even better. I'm usually scared to death about making breads, but this recipe made it easy to produce what looked and tasted like something you'd find in a first-class trattoria! Here's the recipe:

Grilled Rosemary Flatbreads
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup finely diced onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
fresh-ground pepper

In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/14 cups warm water. Let stand until softened (about 5 minutes). Add salt, onion, 1 1/2 tabelspoons olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Stir vigorously until dough is stretchy (about 5 minutes). Stir in 1 1/4 cups more flour. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky (about 10-12 minutes). Add flour to prevent sticking.

Place dough in well oiled bowl, cover airtight, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about and hour). Briefly knead to expell air, cut into 6 equal pieces and shape each into a smooth ball. Use a floured rolling pin to roll one flattened ball into a 8-inch round. Brush round with 3/4 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon rosemary, 2 tablespoons parmesan, and pepper. Press seasonings into bread and place on a plastic-wrap covered plate. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap. Repeat to roll out remaining balls, adding each round to stack, covering with plastic wrap until all are ready for chilling. Rounds can chill up to 6 hours before grilling.

Place a few dough rounds on an oiled grill, rotating breads for even browning. When bottoms are browned, turn breads over and cook until seasoned sides are browned. (We found that when baking it on a pizza stone, you dont need to flip it at all). After removing from heat, immediately cut each flatbread into 6 wedges. Provide olive oil for dipping.

Makes 6 flatbreads, or 12 servings.

Posted by rebecca at 08:20 PM

onion hell

As I cannot eat onions myself, one might ask what I was doing preparing Roasted Cipollini Onions as my contribution to dinner Sunday night. Why, the ease of the recipe, of course! Except it took three of us (four if you count Sophie) an hour to peel the four pounds of onions the recipe called for. Blanching the onions makes them easy to peel, my ass.

Apparently they were amazing though. The sauce was a combo of dry red wine, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and rosemary sprigs. I'll bet that would go good with some other roasted veggies.

Posted by astraea at 09:10 PM