Monday, November 10, 2008
My pâté epiphany
Saturday night I took a recreational cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), the school where I earned my culinary arts diploma. The theme of Saturday’s class was French cocktails and snacks, and the course was taught by Francine Segan, a culinary historian and cookbook writer who also gives numerous food and drink-related talks around the city. Each of the recipes we prepared are in Francine’s latest book, The Opera Lover’s Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining. As I reviewed our menu for the evening, my mouth started watering…pâté with Chambord glaze, herbes de provence onion tart (a.k.a. pissaladière), tapenade red potato bites, red pepper coulis shrimp toasts and French canapés… just to name a few. My group made the pâté, the canapés, and the steak au poivre. They were all delicious (and the canapé recipes will be posted soon), but the pâté was a revelation.
In my last few weeks of culinary school we made more pâtés then I cared to count, and since then I haven’t been inspired to make a one of them. But this chicken liver pâté with the Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) glaze was so easy and so delicious. The livers are blended with dried apricots and cherries, whose sweetness makes the entire spread divine. Francine was kind enough to let me post the recipe.
Pâté with Chambord Glaze
From: Opera Lover’s Cookbook, by Francine Segan
1 large red onion, minced
5 tablespoons butter
1 pound chicken livers
2 dried apricots, finely minced plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon dried cherries or cranberries, minced plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup Chambord or other black raspberry liqueur
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
Freshly milled pepper
1 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
1 loaf French baguette bread, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. In a medium skillet sauté the onion in 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the onion is golden. Add the liver, apricots, cherries, thyme and allspice and cook for about 3 minutes. The liver should be pink in the center. Add 1/2 cup of the Chambord and cook for about 1 minute until the liqueur is absorbed. Remove from the heat and cover until cool.
2. Place the liver, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cream into a food processor and purée. Add more cream if needed until the pâté is smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Place the pâté in a shallow serving container roughly 9 x 7 inches and top with a scattering of apricots and cherries. Reserve.
4. Place the gelatin in a small bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of boiling water until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of Chambord and stir. Carefully pour the gelatin over the pate and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.
5. Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Toast each side of the bread under the broiler until light golden brown.
6. Place the pâté on a serving platter surrounded with the warm baguette toasts.
Also on the menu Saturday night was coconut berry dacquoise, the gorgeous cake on the cover of Francine’s book. I have to admit that when I first saw the recipe I wasn’t excited about it. I’m usually a chocolate, caramel or lemon dessert person – I like cakes, bars, and custards with density. Dacquoises with their frothy layers of meringue and whipped cream don’t really appeal to me. BUT it was (and is, since I’m eating leftovers as I type) sensational. The chewy coconut, luscious berries and sweet whipped cream are, as the French would say, a combination formidable.