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Posts tagged ‘The Daring Cooks’

Orange Polenta Cake with Blackberries & Plums


Desserts in the summer should be delightful.  Fresh and vibrant.  I think you get a little more leeway with summer desserts…it can be an unexpected little something to try…so serious expectations.  So I say, run with it.  Try something new, be a little different and surprising!  Polenta cake fits the bill.  Think of this as somewhere in between corn bread and a citrus cake.

(Although I did not get the post up right on time, this cake was inspired by the Daring Cooks August Challenge…credit where credit is due!)

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Original recipe can be found here at from the Bon Appetit website and is also on epicurious!

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-fine polenta or organic cornmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole-milk greek yogurt
3 plums, sliced with pits removed
½ pint blackberries

Preparation

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.  (I used a mini bundt pan and a quarter size loaf pan which seemed to hold all the batter.)  Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

I used Golden Pheasant Polenta and the texture was perfect – coarse enough to notice but not so much that it ruined the texture of the cake batter!

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with yogurt in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread batter evenly in pan.Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes (my mini pans took less time…I started them with 35 minutes and tested every few minutes after).

In the meantime, prepare the plums and blackberries so they have enough time to macerate.

Halve the plums (I used 3) and remove the pit and then slice somewhat thinly.  Add in a handful of blackberries and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar.

Toss gently and let sit for at least an hour.

Transfer to rack; cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run knife around cake edges to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then invert again on rack (top side up). Cool completely. 

Cut cake crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; serve with sugared plums and blackberries.

And for a little extra ummmpffff…top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

{Epilogue}

This cake was delicious the next morning, sliced, toasted and spread with just a bit of butter.  I may have eaten it for a week straight this way!

Enjoy!

Smoky Peppadew & Paprika Potato Salad


Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

What says summer more than potato salad?  School’s out, the days are long, the weather is delightful okay…actually…our weather is fine…but June Gloom is in full effect!  A quick look outside would make you think it was chilly and dreary…but by 4 o’clock the sun is usually burning through the clouds and making an appearance.  We felt like breaking out our barbecue for the first time this year, throwing some hot dogs on the grill and eating on the patio.  Woody insisted on straightforward sides – as in cheetos…but don’t worry…we bumped the level of sophistication by getting the Baked Cheetos (did you know they make these…and they are delicious…there is hardly any difference in taste from the real fried ones…makes me wonder why they fry them in the first place!…I digress).

I love a good ‘ole standard mayo-based potato salad…but the Daring Cooks challenge calls for a healthier version., and we switched up the flavor profile a bit to make it a little more interesting.  Never a dull day around here!

Smoky Peppadew & Paprika Potato Salad

Servings: 4
Ingredients:
1 pound small red creamer potatoes or any other baby reds
3 peppadew pickled peppers,diced small
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing Ingredients:
½ cup greek yogurt (we use Fage Greek yogurt)
½ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ to ½ tsp. harissa paste (to taste)
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. of Pickapeppa sauce
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. of sea salt and a grind or two of pepper

Directions:
1. Scrub potatoes and leave on skins, cut into quarters
2. Boil potatoes till tender, about 15-20 minutes
3. Drain and cool
4. Dice peppadew peppers
5. Mix dressing, add peppadew peppers, taste for seasoning, and then toss in the cooled potatoes
6. Add in the sliced green onions and fresh cilantro and toss gently to mix
7. Chill and garnish with fresh cilantro and serve!

Yogurt.  Put it in the bowl.

Peppadew peppers are delicious…a mild and sweet pepper that is pickled and originates from South Africa.  Our favorite way to serve peppadews is whole, stuffed with goat cheese and topped with some fresh ground pepper and parsley.  These peppers have become very available in the last few years, you can find them in jars on the pickle or roasted pepper aisle in the grocery store, or more recently, they are pretty common in the olive bar area as well.

Slice and dice the peppers and set aside.  Harissa is hot chili paste used in many parts of North Africa and adds another complex flavor and a bit of heat to the dressing.

Add the peppadews, paprika and harissa to the yogurt along with a squeeze of lemon.  The peppadews add a bit of vinegar to the dressing, so not much lemon is needed.

Mix it all up.

Add in the potatoes and stir gently.

Add the green onions

Chill and serve.

BONUS!  I didn’t stop at one potato salad…nope…I made two.  ‘Cause I’m crazy like that!  This next one is a bit more traditional but still on the healthy side, recipe is a variation of Jami Sorrento’s Creamy Yogurt and Dill Potato Salad, our hostess for the June Daring Cooks Challenge.

Creamy Yogurt & Dill Potato Salad

Servings: 4
Ingredients:
1 pound small red creamer potatoes or any other baby reds
1-2 Celery stalks, sliced thinly

Dressing Ingredients:
3 tablespoons fresh dill
½ cup greek yogurt (we use Fage Greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of ½ fresh lemon
Dash of Champagne Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Dill for garnish

Directions:
1. Scrub potatoes and leave on skins, and cut into quarters
2. Boil potatoes till tender, about 15-20 minutes
3. Drain and cool
4. Slice celery
5. Mix dressing, taste for seasoning, then add cooled potatoes and celery
6. Chill and garnish with dill sprigs before serving.

Together at last…

Sit down and enjoy…hot dogs, baked cheetos, greens and of course – Potato Salads!

So Good Soba & Tempura Greatness


A little late I know…but better late than never… (and it is, technically, still February!)

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com.

Having never made soba noodles before, I was unsure of what to expect.  In fact, although there are many steps in making cold soba and tempura…it is actually quite a simple dish.  You start by boiling the soba noodles.  I followed the directions on the package and let them cook up for 4 minutes, drained them and then plunged them into cold water to stop the cooking.

Next up was the broth for the soba…

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

Ingredients
2 cups basic vegetable stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

Heat the mirin gently and then add in the soy sauce and vegetable stock.  The Mentsuyu is typically made with Kombu Dashi, which I did not get my hands on soon enough, so I substituted vegetable stock and added just a bit of powdered miso soup broth for a little more flavor.

Vegetables, a beautiful thing!  All the fresh ingredients for the tempura on the right and all the toppings for the cold soba in the upper right.  Clockwise, starting at the tofu:  tofu, edamame, nori, julienne of cucumber, green onions, sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and green beans!  Time to make the tempura batter…

Tempura batter works best when it is very cold.  Although it’s a bit hard to tell…pictured above is a clear mixing bowl set atop some ice water in a metal mixing bowl.

Ingredients
1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup (240 ml) iced water (or
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
oil, for deep-frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Directions:

Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well.

Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be between 320° and 345°F. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.  I used an electric fondue pot, which has a variable temperature dial.  I checked to make sure the oil was hot enough with a thermometer.

Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, which won’t leave a strong odor in the oil.   Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep-frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.

Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.

Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.

A quick dipping sauce can be made with garlic paste, soy sauce and ponzu, and if you like it spicy, add a small dollop of Sriracha!  We enjoyed the tempura with a crisp white wine with some acidity to it, which is always great with fried food.

We made sure to gobble all the tempura while it was still hot and crispy, so we saved the soba for our second course.

Besides the broth, there is an additional dipping sauce for the soba.

Ingredients
¾ cup green onions finely sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon  granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon English mustard powder
1 tablespoon grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

All the ingredients should be chilled or room temperature.  To build your dish, pile noodles into a bowl.  Spoon 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of the broth over the noodles, and then begin adding toppings per your tastes.  I used julienned cucumber, nori strips, edamame, green onions and a dot of Sriracha.  Serve with the dipping sauce on the side, grab noodles with chopsticks, dip into sauce, and then slurp it all up.

Kanpai!

Pierogi with Chive Oil & Crisped Prosciutto


The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

As I’ve discussed previously, I have a love for mashed potatoes…pretty much in all forms.  So, who could say no when the Daring Cooks challenge for August was to make some Pierogi.  I opted for a traditional filling of potatoes, onions and cheese…topped with some crisped prosciutto and chive oil.

I read many a recipe, flipped through many a cookbook, and after much research, determined that cake flour is an important component of tender, non-rubbery pierogi. (No one likes a doughy, thick or rubbery pierogi!)

Many recipes were light on eggs…I doubled my recipe…which meant 4 eggs.

Now, here is when Woody will tell you, that I went wrong.  I’m fortunate to have a kitchenaid mixer…and I love it.  But every once in a while, I think that a recipe might benefit from a little hand mixing…or that I might reach a higher level of baking by doing it the old-fashioned way, that there is something to be gained from flour underneath my fingernails and the never-ending task of scraping off the amazingly cement-like glue that liquid mixed with flour makes off of your hands.  This is almost certainly not true…but I am certain that I will continue to make this mistake again and again.

The non-mechanical method involves making a well in the center of the flour mixture and adding the egg mixture.

Mix slowly with a fork and then with your fingers, slowly incorporating the flour along the edges of the well.  You’ll know it is working if your hand looks like this.  (This is when Woody said ‘why didn’t you use the kitchenaid’…and I had no answer.)

So…I stopped everything and used the kitchenaid and it was wonderful!  It did all the work for me!

And I ended up with a nice looking, if still a bit sticky, dough ready for resting.

While the dough is resting…it’s time to start making the filling.  Peel and boil your potatoes until tender in salted water.

While the potatoes are cooking, dice an onion.

Soften the onion over medium heat in a little butter and remember to season with salt.

While your onions are softening, drain the cottage cheese.  Or if you are lucky enough to find dry cottage cheese at the market, no draining is necessary.

Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them up…just crush, smush, maul, beat, and mangle them to your heart’s content.  Smoother is better so your filling does not rip open a hole in your dough.  Add into the smushed potatoes, onions, cottage cheese, chopped fresh chives and lots of salt and pepper.

I have only eaten pierogi’s from a restaurant once in my life, and it was in Juneau, Alaska at an ungodly hour in the middle of the night during the Juneau Folk Festival.  Apparently it is really the only place open in the middle of the night, in Juneau, where you can get sustenance to help the night keep chugging along…and it is really more of a food stand than a restaurant, as there is seating for 8 and you order through a window.  If this place were relocated to L.A., it’d be the newest trendy food truck.

The place – Pel’ meni. They serve one thing and one thing only…pierogi’s (pel’ meni in Russian) topped with curry powder, tabasco sauce, chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

(photo compliments of Yelp.com)

Alright, back to my cooking…I opted to add a little color to my dish while sticking to the same flavor profile…enter chive oil.  Herb oils are fantastic.  Not only infused with flavor but the color and texture can add layers of depth and appeal to a dish.  I simply warm up a little olive oil or grape seed oil over a medium flame, remove it from the heat and once it has cooled a bit, dump in the herb of choice.  Anything will do…just avoid deep-frying the herb in oil that has heated too long.  Let it sit and infuse and cool completely.  Once cooled, puree the mixture.  I use my hand blender, but a standard blender would work just as well.  You can leave as many chunks as you would like…I prefer to blend it as much as I can.

The color is amazing and it plates very well.  I love using it in any dish…all the time…for everything…not that I’m obsessed or anything!  (Woody might compare my love for herb oils to my love for small bowls…we’ll discuss later.)

The mixture was a bit crumbly and to help it hold together, I added a couple of tablespoons of melted butter and an egg…which worked smashingly!

Onto the dough…

Roll out the dough.  I needed quite a bit of flour in order to keep the dough from sticking to the counter, and my fingers, and the rolling pin, and the pierogi cutter.  It is important to roll the dough quite thinly – otherwise your pierogi’s will be thick and chewy and pasty.

Cut rounds using a cookie cutter, jar, drinking glass, or any round item you might have.

Now you have two options at this point, you can fill the dough with a teaspoon of filling and seal the dumpling with a fork using the tines to mesh the dough together.  Or, you can find yourself one of these inexpensive and multitasking tools.  I love this.  I love that I can use this for any stuffed dough endeavor, gyoza, potstickers, empanadas, hand pies, pasties…the list goes on.

It’s so simple.  Just add filling and fold and press.

And you get the added bonus of having the dumpling looking almost perfect!  Isn’t it pretty?

As you make them…set them on a tray…you will most likely have enough pierogi to feed an army.  Who knows, maybe the army is stopping by for dinner…it’s good to be prepared.  If they begin to dry out, place a tea towel over them to avoid cracking.

I told you chive oil was beautiful.

Now here is the clincher – oven-crisped prosciutto!  It’s like bacon, but better!  All that is needed is a little parchment, some thinly sliced prosciutto, and an oven set to 400º.  It can burn quite quickly so keep an eye on it.  Once it has cooled enough, place on paper towel to drain any excess grease.

My double recipe of dough and lack of measuring how much potato mixture I made…resulted in a significantly large batch of finished pierogi.  We had to freeze more than 2/3 of what we made…but they are a perfect freezer meal as there is no need to defrost.  Toss any and all pierogi you intend to eat that night…into some salted and boiling water for 3-5 minutes.

The pierogi will float when they are ready to be removed from the boil.  Each bath of 6 pierogi boiled for between 3 and 4 minutes.

Next plop them into a skillet with some melted and bubbling butter.  This will give them a little crust…of deliciousness!

Now it’s time to plate.  A smear of sour cream, a drizzle of chive oil, a spear of crisped prosciutto and a few fresh chives top it off.  Quite tasty.

I’m glad we’ve got a freezer full of pierogi’s, so come fall, on a weeknight, when we’ve worked late and the energy to plan dinner is nonexistent, all we’ll need to do is open the freezer and boil some water.

High West Chicken Liver Pâté


The Daring Cooks strike again!  And this time…it was Pâté time…!

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

As I logged in to The Daring Cooks website to see what the challenge for June would be…I was filled with anticipation…and then I read the challenge – pâté.  Seriously…pâté, really….?  ‘Cause pâté has not been #1 on my list of things to make…but…okay…I guess.  Pâté it is.  Now if I were going to cook pâté…it was not going to be some vegetable terrine…it was going to be the real thing.  Authentic pâté, like with liver and everything!

So, I set out to collect the ingredients for such a culinary endeavor.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find fresh chicken livers…?  I realize I live in L.A. and can most likely find anything and everything I want or would need for almost any dish…but it’s really dependent on looking in the right place.

My first thought was that I would be able to find all of the ingredients at my local Whole Foods…yeah, nope…not at all…I actually struck out entirely…and almost had to put off then entire project until the next weekend.  I then drove to our favorite Latino supermarket – King Ranch…and yep, they were able to supply half of my list…including pork belly and pork blade, but I was still having trouble finding fresh chicken livers.  On a whim, and not wanting to end up at home with all but one ingredient…I thought, maybe…just maybe, Ralph’s might have them.  Yes and no.  Yes they had them, but no I was not going to buy them.  Soupy, liquidy, pre-packaged livers from Foster Farms…nope…a big fat NO!  I couldn’t do it…especially not for a pâté.

I ended up at home, deflated after a morning spent first at the farmer’s market, and then with stops at no fewer than 3 different grocery stores , and still did not have all that I needed.  But I did have the internet.  After a few searches, including on Yelp… I found a place.  Taylor’s Meat Market in Sierra Madre.  After a quick call, I rushed out the door, fearing that as a small place, they might not be open on Sundays, and it was memorial day weekend…and I assumed they would be closed on Monday as well.

I walked in and immediately knew I had found us a butcher.  A real honest-to-goodness butcher.  Total: $1.77 for 14 oz. of chicken livers…FRESH chicken livers!  I was ready…pâté cooking would commence in the morning.

Onions…?  Check.

Livers…? Check.

Duck Fat…?  Check

It just really wouldn’t be right to start out a pâté with olive oil, and luckily, we happen to still have a sizable quantity of duck fat lying around in our fridge.

Oh…maybe I should let you in on something…it’s called the recipe…

1 tbsp duck fat, or butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
300g (11 oz) chicken livers, trimmed
3 tbsp brandy, or any other liqueur (optional)
100g (3 1/2 oz, 1/2 cup) smoked bacon, diced
300g (11 oz) boneless pork belly, coarsely ground
200g (7 oz) boneless pork blade (shoulder), coarsely ground (or ground pork see note below)
2 shallots, chopped
1 tsp quatre-épices (or ¼ tsp each of ground pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger is close enough)
2 eggs
200 ml (7 fl oz, 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) heavy cream
2 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
Salt and pepper
NOTE: If you cannot find ground pork belly or blade, buy it whole, cut it into chunks, and pulse in the food processor. You can also replace the pork blade with regular ground pork.
Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
Melt the fat or butter in a heavy frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the chicken livers and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until browned but still slightly pink on the inside.
Remove the pan from heat. Pour in the brandy, light a match and carefully ignite the alcohol to flambé. Wait for the flames to go out on their own, carefully tilting the pan to ensure even flavoring. Set aside.
Put the minced pork belly and blade in a food processor, then add the onion-liver mixture and the
chopped shallots, and pulse until you obtain a homogenous mixture – make sure not to reduce it to a slurry.
Transfer to a bowl, and gradually stir in the chopped bacon, quatre-épices, cream, eggs, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Spoon the mixture into a terrine or loaf pan, and cover with the terrine lid or with aluminum foil.
Prepare a water bath: place the loaf pan in a larger, deep ovenproof dish (such as a brownie pan or a baking dish). Bring some water to a simmer and carefully pour it in the larger dish. The water should reach approximately halfway up the loaf pan.
Put the water bath and the loaf pan in the oven, and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. The terrine should be cooked through, and you should be able to slice into it with a knife and leave a mark, but it shouldn’t be too dry.
Refrigerate, as this pâté needs to be served cold.
Unmold onto a serving platter, cut into slices, and serve with bread.
NOTE: This pâté freezes well. Divide it into manageable portions, wrap tightly in plastic film, put in a freezer Ziploc bag, and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge before eating.

Start out sautéing the roughly chopped onions…making sure to just sweat them, don’t brown or caramelize them as you don’t want that sweetness.

Now, bring in the liquor.  I mean, here are all the other ingredients…or not all, but some.  Okay, moving on.  Oh wait…the Whiskey…I forgot to tell you all about the namesake of the recipe.

High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey – this is not just any whiskey.  This is risky whiskey.  This is Utah whiskey.  Utah…Whiskey…I’ll say it again, because it may not have registered in your brain…those two words… together…at last.  Now the secret is out, Utah is making liquor…call in the reinforcements…the gentiles are out of control.  I think it was only a matter of time; Utah’s long been known for their microbrews, so it is not surprising that someone wanted to brew something a bit stronger…more surprising…is that it’s LEGAL.

High West Distillery is the first legally licensed distillery in the state since the end of Prohibition.  Whiskey takes time, so the Rendezvous Rye whiskey is a blend of a 6 year-old whiskey and a 16 year-old whiskey.  High West blends the whiskey with local Utah waters and bottles it until their ‘distilled in-state’ whiskeys are aged and ready.  But this isn’t moonshine…it is surprisingly good…and even earned a place in the ‘Top 10 New Whiskey’s of 2008″ according to Malt Advocate Magazine.

Okay, back to the stove.  Once the onions have softened…dump in the livers.  Being somewhat gentle with them, toss them around a bit, coat them in onions…get ‘em cookin’.

At this point, it is important to note…that your entire house will begin to reek of LIVER.  You may not think you know what the smell of liver is…but trust me…you do.  If you have a dog…she will be going a bit insane, her nose working overtime, and her drooling uncontrollable.  It’s a meaty smell, not a bad one…but certainly distinct.  Just be prepared…(not that you can turn back now)…but your house will probably smell like liver and onions for 2 days.  Don’t worry, I’m sure the furniture will recover.

Once the liver has cooked through – I think it took about 10 minutes or so…it’s time for the fire.  Yep…not only did I tackle a recipe with organs, 3 kinds of pork, duck fat, grinding, puréeing, and of course…don’t forget the whole unmolding process…but I will also be flambéing.  It’s probably a good thing that Woody was busy at work through all this.

Safety first…I’m always thinking safety first – even though that might not ultimately affect the outcome.  So…first, when you’re ready…turn off the burner and remove your pan from the heat.  Then pour in the alcohol.  Next, light the alcohol with a lighter.  Done properly, you should see a blue flame…done improperly…you’ll need to call the fire department.  Make sure to swirl the pan so the flavor of the alcohol gets incorporated.

*Warning*  RAW MEAT!  There are a lot of raw meat photos…if it bothers you…skip down to the end.  Although, if all the porky goodness really bothers you…we might not be able to be friends anymore.

First – bacon.  Raw bacon is added to the pâté mixture after it’s roughly chopped.

Mmmmmmm….pork belly!  Skin and all…it is just what it says…the belly of the pork…err…pig.

Recipe called for ground pork blade…also known as shoulder…I ended up purchasing a package with thinly sliced, bone in, pork blade cutlets.

I trimmed them a bit and removed the bone, and gave them a rough chop.

Before beginning the mixing process, I wanted to have my mis en place ready to speed along the process.

Chopped shallots…

Quatre épices…aka ginger, ground pepper, nutmeg, and cloves.  Woody was a bit worried about these spices…but after tasting the final product…they are completely necessary to get a true flavor of pâté.

Thyme, shallots, and spices

I was unsure of exactly how many pans I would need for the pate…and how full each pan should be.

Don’t forget about the bacon, heavy cream and the eggs.

Grind the pork shoulder in your cuisinart, then dump in your chopped pork belly…and grind again.

Once you’ve reached a pleasant consistency, go ahead and dump in the cooled liver and onion mixture.  Pulse again.

And last into the cuisinart fun pool…shallots.  Toss ‘em in and pulse a few times.

Dump everything into a large bowl.

*Note*  At this point, you might think to yourself…”eeewwwwwww!  It looks (and smells) a little too much like canned cat food.”  You might actually gag a little and feel as though someone has played a terrible joke on you by telling you that this is a real recipe, and ‘I promise…it’ll taste good’.  No…?  This didn’t occur to you…you didn’t have these exact thoughts…?  So you’re saying it’s just me…?  Okay…ummm…yeah…next step, please!

Add in the bacon…

Dump in the eggs…

…and the cream, thyme and spices…

DON’T FORGET TO SEASON.  I say yell this to make sure you won’t forget.  If you look closely, I did season…some salt and some pepper…and then a little more salt.  Hindsight is 20/20 and if you don’t season at every step…your dish will be bland.  Now…of course my pâté was not bland…never, but it could have certainly used a touch more salt.  For the extremely type A/anal/perfectionist cook…there is a fail safe way to make sure that you have the seasoning right…and they make you do this in cooking school…I’ve given fair warning.  Ideally you can bake, poach, fry, cook a small spoonful or canelle of the mixture until it is cooked through, then taste it and adjust the seasoning accordingly.  I did not do this…and the pâté could have used more salt.

Spread the mixture evenly in the dishes…no need to grease the pans…recall the 3 fatty delicious types of pork used!?!

Boil water for the bain-marie (fancy french term for a simple water bath).

Cover all dishes tightly with foil…no one like dry pâté.

*I had a small genius moment…always conscious of the potential for cuts, burns and the like, I thought to myself…”why not put the pans in the hot oven…and THEN pour in the BOILING water?“…all to avoid the sloshing of scalding water onto my delicate hands already scarred from time spent in professional kitchens.  I know, it’s the small successes.  I’m sure you all knew this and have felt smart for years…but let me bask for just a moment.

They go in the oven covered at a high temp, then the oven gets turned down,and they cook for a long time…then you pull the foil off and let the tops brown a bit before pulling them out of the oven and letting them cool.

*Note* Your house will now smell even more like liver…just letting you know.  There’s no turning back.

Make sure to let them cool entirely, refrigerate overnight or even for a couple of days in the pan.  If you unmold them while they are still warm, you will lose a lot of the fat that would get reabsorbed, and even though you had them covered for most of the cooking time…you’ll still get dry pâté.

I waited days, and by then…it looked like this when I unmolded it.

I trimmed just a little, mainly so it would sit flat on the plate, and wiped away some of the gelatin that was in a few places.

Tah Dah!

Slice thinly and plate with cornichon.

Serve with bread of choice, flake sea salt…and enjoy!

Whewwww!  That was a marathon of a post.  Perhaps my longest post to date…but in fairness, also in the top 3 for longest cooking project.  If you’re inspired to make this…please tell me…how did it go for you…?  Do you like pâté?

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