Monthly Archives: June 2012

Creamy pâté

So it turns out I make a mean pâté.

The kitchen is a place for experimenting. I spent hours in the kitchen as a kid, shucking corn, snapping the ends off of string beans, and stirring sauces as an aid to my mother. I watched and learned from her as she experimented with new or familiar dishes, adding perhaps one different ingredient, or altering the cooking method.

As I got older, I started experimenting on my own. I used to make “fancy” sandwiches for my brother and sister, using the broiler to melt cheese on bread and layering slices of meat and red onion on top. Then I started taking on homemade mac n’ cheese, cooking butter and flour before incorporating milk and then handfuls of grated cheese. As a kid, kitchen experiments were simple and fun. As an adult, they are getting a little more difficult, but even more fun!

Every now and then I get a bee in my bonnet about making something that I’ve never made before, challenging or not. Over the last year or so doing this blog, I’ve taken on: gumbo, red flannel hash, mochi (which didn’t turn out so well) and of course, there was birthday cake.

Pâtés are one of those things that are seemingly intimidating, but actually quite easy to make; and yet for some reason, I kept putting off making one. Then a week or two ago, I got that bee in my bonnet to make some pâté – driven mostly be my desire to pickle cherries, which are now in delicious abundance.

I am completely obsessed with charcuterie. I wasn’t always this way; in fact I the first pâté I ever tried, I hated. But then I tried a good one, a really good one, and then I tried rillette, and other delectable, meaty treats and I was hooked. My ideal lunch would be a good baguette, a little wedge of stinky cheese, and a little charcuterie. And then, the other night, while dining at the newly opened Campo Fina, I had an awesome pâté, and so I finally decided this week, its number was up.

Despite my family’s ancestry, I believe there must be a bit of French in me. Not the haughty, cigarette-smoking kind, but more the rosé-sipping, pâté-eating type. If you asked me if I could be anywhere in the world right now, there’s a good chance that I would answer in the south of France, sipping drinking rosé, and eating bouillabaisse on a beach; followed by sipping on pastis and soaking up the sun.

But alas, I am not in France. So instead, I thought I would bring a piece of France to Healdsburg.

With a little guidance from friend, Chef Peter Brown, I woke up Tuesday morning and headed to the market for chicken livers and duck fat. Unlike most of life’s little luxuries, chicken livers are still incredibly cheap. Seven ounces of rendered duck fat however, not as cheap; but when making pâté, its important to cut it with something unctuously fatty, and what better than duck fat?

The experimental kid inside me was disgusted as I trimmed the sinew and blood away from the slippery, burgundy organs. The experimental grown-up loved every second of meticulous dissection. The payoff: delicious, creamy pâté. I took it with me to share with friends during our weekly Tuesday on the Plaza shindig. There was much swooning, and several people told me it was the best pâté they’ve ever had. Even Mom strolled down to hang out for a bit and gave me what I can only describe as the motherly look of approval: as she chomped away at her first bite, her eyes began to twinkle, and it’s almost as if her knees went week as she bends and chews slower, with a growing grin. I’d chalk this one up to a success.

Creamy pâté with pickled cherries

Pâté:

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 pound chicken livers

Salt

1/3 cup cream

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon

Trim livers of sinew and blood spots and transfer to a plate with paper towels to let some of the moisture soak up before cooking.

Melt 2 tablespoons duck fat in a skillet over medium-high heat;  add shallots and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add livers to pan and sprinkle with salt and add chopped garlic; cook livers on one side until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes, then flip them and cook the other side. Be sure to keep heat relatively high so that the outside of livers sears and inside stays pink.

Put shallots, livers and their  juices into a food processor or blender with butter, cream, spices, and bourbon. Purée mixture until it is smooth; taste and adjust seasoning.

Put pâté in a terrine or bowl, smooth top and put in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or until fully set. Serve on bread or crackers. For an extra kick, sprinkle a little truffle salt on top 🙂

Pickled Cherries (adapted from Bon Appétit June 2011)

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Bring first 5 ingredients and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a medium stainless-steel saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a medium bowl; return liquid to pan. Add cherries and thyme to saucepan. Simmer until cherries are tender, 3–5 minutes. Transfer cherries and rosemary to a 1 quart mason jar. Pour in enough pickling liquid to cover cherries. Cover and chill.

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Goooooooats!

I’m not kidding around – this post has three parts. What we have here in this post is the perfect trifecta: an adventure, recipe, and Sunday bottle, all in one posting. Pretty awesome day if you ask me…

I’m writing from the comforts of my old workstation – my local coffee shop, The Flying Goat. I figured a good way to reboot my writing is to go back to the place where so much “magic” has happened. Also, I thought it fitting, because this weeks post starts with goooooooooooats!

Yes, gooooooooooats! As Amber so affectionately bellows when referring to them. The amount of o’s you use depends on how excited you are by them at that present moment; for Amber, there is always more than one o. Amber has a love affair with goats, especially the “kids;” (the babies) and I have to admit, after spending the afternoon, cuddling with them while they chewed on the flaps of my pockets, I’m in love with them too.

What’s not to love? Little, cute, innocent faces with all the energy of a puppy, and all they want is your attention and loving. The pen attendant at Redwood Hill Farm even said, “they’re just like puppies.” There were several different breeds, all with different demeanors, but none were afraid to crawl in your lap or eat anything that might be dangling, loose, or even tucked into a purse.

Amber and I had waited for this day for months now. Each spring, Redwood Hill opens their farm to visitors for two weekends; there is music, cheese sampling, cheese making demonstrations, and of course, kid cuddling, among other activities available. We were mostly there for the kid cuddling, but we played with the adult goats too, and we sampled some goat milk, which neither of us has had before, kefir (which I’d somehow never had before), and various cheeses, including goat cheddar (also new to me). We also watched a demonstration about how to make “rigotta” goat’s milk ricotta, which is as easy as bringing milk to 200 degrees, and adding lemon juice.

It was about as perfect an afternoon as anyone could ask for, especially since Amber is in the thick of wedding season, and Sunday was probably the last full day off we’ll have together for a while. After goats, we picnicked, ate some cheese that we purchased from the farm, and drank some bubbles at my old stomping grounds, Iron Horse Vineyards – which just happens to be right below the Redwood Hill property.

Then it was home for a little R&R and  dinner.

You couldn’t take the thought of goats out of Amber’s head though; all throughout the day, while picnicking, and while resting on the couch, and while making dinner, and while savoring the last sips of wine, she would spontaneously cry out, “gooooooooats!” with a big grin on her face, and a childish twinkle in her eye. Every now and then, I would egg her on, calling out, “gooooooats!” when I hadn’t heard it from her recently.

“I just love goats!” she kept reminding me, “I love ‘em!”

Temps were in the 90’s that day, which means I was craving was something cool and refreshing all day. We popped this guy into the fridge when we got home to go with dinner.

Kokomo is one of my favorite wineries in Healdsburg. Their entire lineup of wines is pretty stellar, but one of my favorites is their rosé made from Grenache. A few weeks ago while out on a rosé-finding adventure with my roommate, Alex, we popped in and had to coerce the tasting associate to sell us a few bottles, because it was supposedly allocated to wine club members. We had to pull the industry card to warm her up to the idea, and then I had to be the guy to name drop, mentioning that I know Josh and Eric, the winemakers. Long story made short, we left with some bottles, and it was the best rosé I tasted all day.

Rosé has become one of those items, like tomatoes, and days on the river, that defines summer for me. There is nothing better than a warm evening, sitting on the back porch as the sun drops behind the hills, enjoying a glass with all the slow-paced leisure that summer evenings bring. My favorite kind of rosé is one that is faintly pink in color, almost a salmony-orange; crisp and clean. The Kokomo rosé is rich with aromas and flavors of watermelon, strawberry, citrus, with a kiss of minerality, while still lush, round, and above all, delicious.

Dinner? Oh yeah, we had a pretty killer dinner too. Remember when I posted a few weeks ago about grilled pizza? Well I froze some of the dough for later use, and thanks to the warm temps, decided to pull it out for some grilled pizza action so I didn’t have to cook in the kitchen.

Around here, stone fruit is starting to come into season, and I have had some pretty amazing peaches and nectarines lately. I’m a firm believer that anything can go on a pizza, so this time around we decided to do a fava bean purée (to get our last fix of favas before they are out of season), peaches, prosciutto, and chèvre. When I posted this Instagramed picture on Facebook that evening, I had everyone oohing and aahing.

I don’t want to beat around the bush; it was delicious! I messed with the temps on the barbecue, so that the crust didn’t burn, like it sort of did last time, and the crust came out perfectly golden and crisp, with deliciously-sweet bites of peach, laced with salty strips of prosciutto, all underneath earthy, nutty favas with melty, creamy chèvre on top. Commence drooling.

I recommend a sprinkle of thyme and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish it off; all washed down with a glass of rosé. It can be enjoyed further with thoughts of goooooooooats dancing in your head.

Dough: (makes enough for 2)

1 1/2 Cups warm water

1 Packet of active, dry yeast

1 TBSP honey

2 TBSP olive oil

3 1/2 cups flour

I TSP salt

Pizza toppings:

1 Cup Fava purée (see below)

4-5 ounces Parmesan cheese

4-5 ounces chèvre

2 medium-sized peaches

4-5 slices prosciutto

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Purée:

1 pound fava beans, shelled and cooked

1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemons (or juice from half a lemon)

1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

For dough: In a large bowl, add warm water, yeast, and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed. Mix in the olive oil, flour, and salt. Knead the dough on floured surface until it is smooth and elastic and roll into ball.

Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Then place dough in fridge for several hours or overnight, until ready to use.

Fava purée: In food processor, add all ingredients except for olive oil and pulse a few times. Process while slowly adding olive oil until fully incorporated and smooth. Add salt and pepper as needed.

When all toppings are ready, cut dough in half and roll one piece out thin and flat.

Dip a tightly folded up paper towel in olive oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. Then place pizza dough round on a lightly floured, rimless cookie sheet (or pizza peel if you have one). Let the dough slide off the cookie sheet onto the hot grill grates. Close the lid of the grill and let cook for 2 minutes.

Open the grill. Use tongs to rotate the dough 180 degrees and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and move to working surface to apply toppings.

Spread fava purée on cooked side of crust, layer prosciutto, then peaches, and cheese. A little fresh thyme sprinkled on top and a few turns on the pepper mill.

Paint the grill with olive oil again, and place pizza back onto heat. Cook 2 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and cook for another minute or until bottom is browned and edges are crisp.

Remove from heat, slice and serve.

Gallery

One-inch picture frame

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