Tag Archives: pâté

chicken liver pâté julia-style for the MLFB

pate-platter-toned1

This past Sunday I finally got the chance to meet some of my fellow MLFB’ers (that’s Michigan Lady Food Bloggers to the rest of you) at a get-together at Rena‘s lovely Ann Arbor home. I can’t pate-in-moldquite recall how our theme was chosen, but it was decided that we would all bring a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I. Now, this may come as a shock to some of you who have ever seen my cookbook shelves, but I actually don’t own any Julia Child cookbooks. I guess I always thought of MtAoFC as démodé and somewhat irrelevant to the modern kitchen. Still, I got a copy from the library and flipped through, settling on the recipe for Mousse de Foies de Volailles as my contribution. mustard-ingredientsAs I read through, some of the recipes did seem obtuse, but others were definitely appealing. Most of all, I was pleasantly surprised and amused by the voice in which the book is written. I also read Julie & Julia over the weekend and will do a book review of that soon, but for now, suffice it to say that it probably aided my appreciation for MtAoFC.

I wasn’t able to find fresh raw-chx-livers-crop-1chicken livers at the grocery store, so I wound up using frozen, but the taste of the finished product was still good.  Since cognac was not in the budget, I substituted brandy, which worked just fine.  I had some quatre-épices (a French spice blend of pepper, clove, nutmeg and ginger, typically used to season pâtés), so I substituted that for the seasonings the recipe called for.

the-spread-11

the spread

soup-wine

chicken and sausage "bouillabaisse"

The pâté came together just as easily as the conversation among the group that day (aided, I might add, by a lovely selection of French wines, chosen for us by Matt Morgan of Morgan & York in Ann Arbor).  My friend Kate came along with me and was just as excited as I was to sample the dishes of these talented ladies.  It was great to finally be able to put some faces to the names of bloggers I’ve been following and corresponding with for several months now, and I regret having missed the last gathering (Summer in January). But I’m confident there will be many more to come, and that the food will be just as delectable!

quiche1

quiche à l'oignon

Some of the offerings Sunday included quiche à l’oignon, tarte Tatin, a country pork liver pâté, champignons à la Grecque, some chocolate-filled choux pastry puffs, a chocolate crème brulée, some baguette and cheeses, and a wonderful chicken and sausage stew with rouille made by our hostess.  I wanted to pace myself and taste different

tarte-tatin

tarte Tatin

foods with different samples of the wine, so I was making my way rather slowly through all the goodies on the table.  Much to my dismay, when at last I got to the desserts, the tarte Tatin was completely gone! I had to content myself with a little scraping of the crust, which tasted heavenly… I think I may have to make one for myself in the near future to make up for this disappointment.  🙂 In spite of that, Kate and I left the party blissfully satiated, and she was cool enough to let me nap in the car on the way back

dessert-plate

Kate's dessert plate

since I was exhausted (long weekend!) and had band practice immediately upon returning home.  There are no rewards without time and hard work though, and that goes for music as well as cooking.  That said, this recipe is an easy one that you can put together in 30-40 minutes the next time you want to add a little French sophistication to your appetizer spread.

Mousse de Foies de Volailles aka Chicken Liver Pâté (adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I)

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livers-in-pan1 lb chicken livers
1 stick (4 oz) + 2 tbs butter
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup cognac or madeira (I substituted brandy)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp quatre-épices
1/2 tsp salt

Rinse and drain the livers and remove the stringy fatty bits.  Julia instructs removing any green or black spots (eww), but my livers fortunately did not have any.  Cut the livers into 1/2-inch pieces. Melt the 2 tbs butter in a heavy skillet and sauté the shallot until it begins to soften, then add the livers.  Cook until firm but still rosy on the inside.  Scrape pan contents into the bowl of a food processor.

Return pan to heat, adding the cognac.  Reduce to about 3 tbs, then add to food processor.  In the same skillet, melt the remaining stick of butter.  When melted, add this, the cream, and seasonings to the processor and blend until smooth.  At this point, it will look like nothing so much as a meat smoothie, but don’t worry- all the fat in there will harden up just fine when it gets chilled.  Julia instructs pressing it through a sieve, but I didn’t want to make that much of a mess, and mine still turned out plenty smooth.

Line a small loaf pan or a few large ramekins with plastic wrap or wax paper if you want to be able to unmold your pâté.  If you’re ok with serving it straight from the container, you can skip this step and just pour it in.  Put in the refrigerator until completely chilled and firm.  If serving at a party, keep in mind that it will become quite soft if left sitting out, due to all that butter.  Serve with water crackers or little toasts or baguette slices, good mustard, and something pickled.

pdx = food lover’s paradise! (day 1: 11/13/08: bijou café & navarre)

made-in-oregon-crop

A couple of months ago I had some frequent flier miles burning a hole in my pocket, and decided to plan a trip to visit friends in Seattle. When my old college roommate Kathy heard I was going out that way, she insisted I swing by Portland and stay with her for a couple days. We hadn’t talked in about 10 years but had recently reconnected on Facebook… I have to admit I was a little hesitant about whether it would be awkward after all that time, but I noticed from her Facebook page that she was into cooking and good food in general, and she won me over with the promise of teaching me how to make her mom’s recipe for guo tieh(aka potstickers)!  I was sold.

One of the four aisles of cookbooks at Powell's

One of the 4 huge aisles of cookbooks at Powells

My first day in town Kathy had to work, so I trekked all over downtown Portland.  My first stop was Powell’s Books, where I spent most of my time in their HUGE cookbook section (4 enormous, beautiful aisles…)  I found a book on baking that I had been wanting (on sale, no less) as well as a handful of non-fiction food writing/ memoirs/ etc.  It amazes me but even after working in a bookstore all those years, I can still find room on the shelves for just a couple more books…

Kathy had told me that due to the temperate weather, there were outdoor food carts in various spots throughout downtown (in at least one spot, they take up an entire city block!), some of which I saw but alas did not get a chance to sample.  All types of nationalities and foods are represented and you can apparently get any number of great meals for cheap.  One of many reasons to come back for another visit. 
bijou-exterior Kathy met me for lunch at the Bijou Café, a cute little breakfast/lunch spot on the Eastern side of the downtown area (132 SW 3rd Ave, to be precise).  Apparently Portland is known for being a “breakfast” town (there are several websites and blogs devoted solely to Portland’s first meal), bijou-interiorand with lots of competition there’s no room for slack.  I chose an omelette that was on special, with chanterelles (a local product) and smoked gouda.  The omelette was amazingly fluffy and came with great hash browns; my only issue was that the smoked gouda kind of buried the flavor of the bijou-omelettesdelicate chanterelles.  Kathy ordered a mushroom panini which looked fabulous; I was actually a bit jealous looking at her mushrooms since I couldn’t really taste mine.  I couldn’t believe I ate my entire omelette plus the muffin it came with AND Kathy’s green salad, but I guess that’s what walking all morning will do for your appetite!

Kathy & Thomas outside Navarre

Kathy & Thomas outside Navarre

We had designated Friday as our “potstickers” night, so Thursday we decided to go out for dinner.  Kathy and her boyfriend are fortunate enough to live mere blocks from what is known as “Restaurant Row”, a 3 or 4 block stretch of NE 28th St. just north of Burnside.  After getting a haircut at the neighborhood outpost of Bishops, a local chain of hair salons whose gimmick is to give a free Miller High Life with your haircut, I was feeling good, and ready for a nice meal.  

customers at the bar, Navarre, Portland

customers at the bar, Navarre, Portland

We decided to stick close to home since we had lots of good restaurants to choose from right in the neighborhood.  We ended up at Navarre, a wonderfully authentic tapas restaurant at 10 NE 28th St.  I always lament the fact that there are no “real” tapas places in the Detroit area; everything is more like small plates or appetizers, and usually priced so that you would have to spend an ungodly sum to sample more than a few items.  Not so here!  

a perfect trio

bread, wine & paté at Navarre: a perfect trio

The à la carte menu featured several items in the $5 range and it would have been completely do-able to assemble a filling meal for under $20 per person.  As it was, we opted for the “We Choose” menu at $25 per person, where the chef sends out a variety of dishes.  The wonderful thing about this is that if you have more than one person, they don’t duplicate dishes (at least not that I’m aware; there were three of us and we all ordered the “We Choose” and didn’t get two of anything).  So, happily, I was able to sample many more items than if I had been dining solo or ordering à la carte. The only request we made was that the game bird paté (see above) be included in our menu, and they happily obliged. It was served with a country bread and a little dish of sweet pickled vegetables.  Kathy and I had to restrain ourselves not to polish it off before Garrett arrived- it was one of the creamiest, most delicious patés I have ever tasted (outside of France, no less).

delicious beets & spinach

our salad course: delicious beets & spinach

After the paté we were served a plate of beets and spinach, both lightly dressed and with toasted breadcrumbs for garnish.  Those were followed by trout cooked in parchment paper, which would have been delicious had it not clashed with our wine

trout in parchment

trout in parchment

choice, a 2004 Andrew Rich Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley (my favorite region for domestic Pinot).  After discussing this with our waitress, I was kindly informed by Kathy that the local pronunciation is “Wuh-LAMM-it” (rhymes with dammit), not “Will-uh-METTE”, as I’d been saying.  (Weirdos.) 

waitress at Navarre

waitress at Navarre

sweet, sweet meatloaf.

sweet, sweet meatloaf

 After the fish and veggies, there was a slice of meatloaf in a delicious sauce with an egg baked in the center, as well as two types of legumes: a dish of lentils and a dish of white beans with parsley.  Both were very good, but I was running out of steam at that point.  We sat and chatted and digested; then rolled ourselves out the door, but not before I tried to snap a couple last tipsy photos of the décor (in my defense, it was incredibly low lighting in there and difficult to shoot without flash!).  I was glad for the walk home; the fresh air was refreshing and it was nice to feel like I was burning a couple of the calories off…

navarre-decor-2

décor at Navarre

Stay tuned for Day 2 of my visit to Portland, and the potsticker recipe

(Note: all photos in this post were taken by yours truly EXCEPT the Bijou Café photos, which I found on the world wide interweb.)