December 31, 2009

Mushroom Pâté en Terrine

A good pâté is one my favorite things--humble ingredients transformed into a culinary delight. I particularly enjoy a nice mushroom pâté with fresh bread and sweet pickles for breakfast. Another thing I particularly like about pâté when cooked en terrine is that it isn't particularly fussy--a few more minutes in the oven won't make a significant difference.

This process seems a lot more complicated than it actually is. There are lots of steps, but really, it isn't difficult at all and it's very forgiving.

Mushroom Pâté en Terrine
1 oz./30 g dried mushrooms
boiling water
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ pound/375 g fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ onion, diced
sel gris or kosher salt
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
¾ cup/6 oz./180 ml heavy (double) cream
garlic confit (optional)
½ teaspoon herbs de provence
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
4 oz./120 g pancetta, diced (optional)
unsalted butter for the terrine

Prepare the dried mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and covering with boiling water and letting them sit for 30 minutes. Drain and roughly chop the mushrooms. If you wish to save the mushroom stock, drain the mushrooms using a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Roughly chop the fresh mushrooms.

Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C and rub unsalted butter over the interior of the loaf pan or terrine that you'll be using. You'll also need a deep roasting pan large enough to hold the terrine, and enough boiling water to fill the roasting pan with the terrine in it.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a large sauté or frying pan over medium heat until the butter foams, then add the mushrooms, season lightly with salt, and sauté until just cooked. Reserve about a cup of the cooked mushrooms and add the rest to the bowl of the food processor. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the onions to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the cognac, scraping up any brown bits of flavor in the pan, then add the onions to the bowl of the food processor.

Pulse the food processor a few times to chop the mushrooms and onions, then add the cream, garlic confit to taste if you're using any, and herbs de provence. Pulse a few more times until the mixture is reasonably smooth.

Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper, and remember to season aggressively because the pâté will be served at room temperature; pulse two or three times after each addition of seasoning. When you're satisfied with the taste, add the eggs and pulse the food processor two or three times to blend. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the reserved sliced mushrooms and diced pancetta if you're using any. You might also add several whole cloves of garlic confit if you're a fan of garlic, as I am. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan or terrine and pat it down. Cover the top of the terrine with foil.

Set the terrine into the roasting pan and set the roasting pan in the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the terrine. Bake for about 45 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake another 15 minutes or so, until the top of the pâté is slightly puffy and fairly firm to the touch. A cake tester inserted into the middle should come out clean. Remove the terrine from the roasting pan and oven and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

The pâté may be unmolded before serving, or may be served in the terrine or loaf pan in which it was baked. Serve with crackers, toast points, or fresh bread, as you prefer. Some sweet pickles, cornichons, or pickled onions are a nice accompaniment, as is a good mustard. And the leftover pâté makes an oustanding sandwich filling.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator and it will keep for at least a week.

December 28, 2009

Blood Orange and Red Onion Salad

This is a wonderful winter salad that makes an excellent palate cleanser. It needs a little time for the flavors to meld, so you'll want to be sure to put it together while you're waiting for the rest of your meal to finish cooking.

Start by thinly slicing a red onion. If you want to mellow out the raw onion a bit, put it into a bowl with some milk and let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then rinse.  Skip the milk bath for a dairy-free version.

Next, carefully peel blood oranges, removing any pith, then slice them thinly. Pick out what few seeds there are and any center pith.

Mix the sliced onions and oranges in a bowl, drizzle on a small amount of good extra-virgin olive oil, add some cracked pepper, and toss to coat. Add a bit more oil if necessary. Let everything sit for half an hour or so while the flavors get to know one another.

That's it. Serve it in a bowl, or plate it for a more stylish presentation. Once you've tried this salad, you'll find yourself waiting each winter for the first blood oranges of the season.

December 18, 2009

Christmas Giveaway #3

Congratulations to Jullee for winning a copy of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It.

jam it pickle it cure it

Congratulations to Chris for winning Christmas Giveaway #2!

This week I'm giving away a copy of a really useful book for those of you who want to make your own...whatever you want to make. I use this book and find that it has reliable recipes and instructions.

Just leave a comment and you’ll have a chance to win. I’ll mail the book anywhere in the world. A winner will be selected on Christmas morning.

Good luck! And I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, whatever holiday it is you happen to celebrate at this time of year.

December 15, 2009

Peppermint Meringue Sandwiches

Peppermint Meringues

I have to thank Martha Stewart for this one, or, more likely, the unnamed but talented chef Martha Stewart paid for this recipe. It comes from Martha Stewart's Cookies.

Peppermint Meringues
3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix the whites and sugar in a metal bowl or the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the whites and sugar over but not in simmering water until the whites are warm and the sugar is completely dissolved. Beat the whites until soft peaks, add the peppermint extract, and continue beating until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks.

Fit a pastry bag with a star point, then paint one or two stripes on the interior of the bag with red food coloring gel or paste. Fill the bag with the meringue and pipe it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put into a cool oven (175°F) until the meringues are dry. If you make small meringues, it may take as little as 30 minutes to dry them; large meringues can take 1½ hours.

Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup cream

Melt the chocolate over but not in simmering water, then stir in the cream until thoroughly mixed. Let the ganache cool to room temperature.

To make the sandwiches, either use a small spatula or a pastry bag with a plain tip to spread ganache on the bottom of a meringue. Make a sandwich with a second meringue and rest it on a cooling rack until the ganache has set. Repeat until done.

These are rather time-consuming to make, so if you are in a hurry or simply don't have the patience, you could just dip the bottom into tempered chocolate and let them dry upside down. They won't be sandwiches but they'll taste just as good.

December 11, 2009

Christmas Giveaway #2

 Rustic Fruit Desserts

Congratulations to Carol, winner of Christmas Giveaway #1!

This week I'm giving away a copy of my favorite dessert book. It may not have any architectural wonders in it, but Portland chef Cory Schreiber knows that most people prefer a good cobbler anyway, and this book is filled with excellent recipes.

Just leave a comment and you'll have a chance to win. I'll mail the book anywhere in the world.

Next Friday, the third and final Christmas Giveaway!

December 9, 2009

Fairy Glen Cookies

Fairy Glen Cookies

Fairy Glen cookies are an excellent option when you want or need gluten-free cookies. They do, however, require almonds, so if you need to accomodate someone with a nut allergy, these aren't for you.

Fairy Glen Cookies
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1-3/4 cup (350g) sugar
3-1/3 cup (330g) finely ground almonds
1/4 cup (60g) orange marmalade, melted
20 candied cherries, halved

Beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks, then add the sugar and beat to stiff, glossy peaks. Fold the ground almonds into the whites, then fold in the melted marmalade.

Pipe the mixture as 1½" (4cm) rosettes onto buttered cookie sheets, spacing 2" (5cm) apart. Top with half a candied cherry.

Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven until golden, 10-15 minutes.

December 4, 2009

Christmas Giveaway #1

Sweet Scoops
Giving is the spirit of Christmas, so to honor that spirit, I'm giving away three books. This week the book is Sweet Scoops by Shelly Kaldunski.

All you need to do to enter this week's giveaway is comment on this post. Next Friday morning I'll select a winner from among those who've commented and announce the second book I'll be giving away. I'll mail the book anywhere in the world.

Good Luck and Merry Christmas!

December 3, 2009



Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way it's time to make holiday cookies for whatever holiday you might be celebrating. Angeletti are easy to make--kids can mix these successfully--and not too sweet.

angeletti 1Angeletti

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioner's sugar
¼ cup plus 1½ teaspoons water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and eggs until blended. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then stir into the egg mixture. Cover with a towel and let sit for 5 minutes.

Lightly flour your hands and form the dough into 1-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on cookies sheets. Bake until puffed and light brown on the bottom, 7-10 minutes.

When the cookies are cool, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and water, or make another glaze of your choice. Dip each cookie into the glaze and sprinkle with some form of decoration if you wish. Makes about 60 cookies.