Christmas gatherings would not be complete without pate’. For many people, pate’ brings to mind a fancy goose liver-based hors d’ oeuvre spread — but not all pate’ is made from liver!
While traditionally served baked in a crust, today pate’ simply describes a wide variety of smooth blends of meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, dairy products, liquors like sherry or cognac with herbs and spices.
Pates’ can be smooth and creamy (mousse) or firm and chunkier (country style). Mousses spread effortlessly on crackers or bread while country style varieties can be sliced or cubed for appetizers or sandwiches. Equally flavorful hot or cold, pates’ are best served at room temperature.
Recipes are not always extravagant and widely vary from the humble appetizer prepared at home to one of the most expensive dishes served in world renowned restaurants.
There are no rigid rules for cooking or serving pate’. Nearly any flavor profile that appeals to you can be made into one. Today I wanted to feature a couple of very simple but tasty pates’ you might enjoy to try somewhere throughout the Christmas season.
In a food processor, combine turkey, onions, sour cream & mustard; process until mixture is well blended & smooth. Add relish; process about 30 seconds or until JUST combined. Spoon into lined bowl; cover with plastic wrap & press gently. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to blend flavors.
Unmold onto serving; remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios; gently press onto plate. Serve with a variety of crackers. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.
Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant & lightly browned.
In a large skillet, saute shallots in butter over medium heat until translucent.; add chopped mushrooms, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Process toasted walnuts & olive oil in food processor until mixture forms a thick paste. Spoon in the cooked mushroom mixture; process to desired texture. Pack mixture into a well oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Serve on baguette slices or crackers of your choice. Yield: 20 servings
Creativity and imagination is part of the fun of baking from scratch. The pairing of flavors been going on ever since people put food to mouth, but the science of it has now become big business.
As a rule of thumb, desserts usually have one or two predominate flavors, but some may have small amounts of additional flavor elements to help support the main flavor combination.
I have always loved the sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnuts especially in baking. The other day I was thinking about a square my mother used to make at Christmas. It had a very simple ‘shortbread’ base that was neither too sweet or buttery. My next thought was to pair hazelnuts, dried cranberries and glazed citrus peel to form the top layer. To add a little pizzazz, I baked them individually in different shaped tartlet pans.
I was real curious to see what Brion would think of these little ‘bites’. After tasting one, he felt they had good flavor but were a little dry. My solution to this was to make an orange coulis sauce to serve with them.
There’s something about the citrus notes of orange with the tarty sweetness of cranberries that makes for an aromatic amorous marriage of flavors. The end result produced a great tasting Christmas dessert!
Hazelnut & Dried Cranberry Bites with Orange Coulis
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt & orange zest. Add butter, mix until well combined. Divide shortcrust among 24 tartlet pans. Evenly press pastry on bottom & up the sides of each. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar, flour, extract, corn syrup & melted butter. Fold in chopped hazelnuts, cranberries & citrus peel.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place tartlet pan on a foil lined baking sheet. Carefully fill tartlet pans (should be enough for 24). Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Peel orange in a circular fashion, being careful not to go to thick & getting the pith. Cut in slivers. Juice the orange, straining into a small saucepan. Heat water, orange juice & sugar, bring to a boil. Add slivers of orange peel; simmer about 15 minutes until peel is cooked.
When ready to serve, make a design with some coulis on dessert plates, place tartlets on top. Decorate with a bit candied orange rind!
If you don't care for the orange coulis, try serving these little bites with a bit of Grand Marnier flavored whipped cream OR some white "Old English" cheddar.
Dinner in a bag! When I first saw the ‘Look’ oven cooking bags years ago, I just had to try them. It seemed like a no brainer. What could be better than cooking your entire meal in this bag, getting perfect results and then the ultimate bonus —no clean-up! Of course, along the way the aluminum foil pack cooking has been used as well. As research suggests, small amounts of aluminum may leach into our food with higher heat so that brings me to cooking in parchment paper. It certainly seems like the best alternative. Not only is the technique easy to do but is healthy as well. You barely need any oil or fat to cook because the food effectively steams inside the parchment. Your result is very tender meat and veggies, flavored with whatever herbs, spices or sauces you have included.
Instead of roasting chicken parts today I am doing the whole chicken in parchment paper with some brown mushrooms, onions & herbs. Should be great!
Preheat oven to 375 F. Season chicken inside & out. Season cleaned mushrooms & moisten with oil. Place as many mushrooms as possible, together with some of the thyme, inside the chicken cavity. Season the shallots & moisten with oil.
Place chicken in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper. Place the remaining mushrooms, shallots, garlic & some thyme underneath the chicken. Moisten the skin of the chicken with olive oil. Wrap up in the paper & roast for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours, or until browned & very tender.
Serve with the roast mushrooms & shallots, topped with the roast juices.
Fall has definitely arrived! The leaves are turning their beautiful gold and crimson colors and there is a chill in the air. Years ago, when Brion and I made the choice of what trees, shrubs and flowers to plant in our yard, our plan was to showcase the colors of every season. For me, being a farmer’s daughter, watching this seasonal beauty each year has been priceless.
The ‘flavor of fall’ brings pumpkin to mind. When I was a kid, I thought they looked great, made wonderful jack-o-lanterns but didn’t care for the taste at all. Then one day mom made a pumpkin ‘chiffon’ pie and I was hooked.
In the winter of 2011, Brion and I traveled Turkey for a month. We were meeting our Trafalgar tour group in Istanbul. Arriving a day early gave us time to ‘snoop’ around a bit. Next to our hotel was a ‘Starbucks’, so we went in. When Brion ordered my coffee they gave me a ‘Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte’ by mistake. That pumpkin chai flavor was just incredible. I have been addicted to it ever since.
The Starbucks original pumpkin spice latte turns 14 years old this year. In January 2003, they started developing it to expand their line of seasonal winter drinks. In 2015, real pumpkin puree was added to the drink.
A stay in Istanbul would not be complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores are a mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to shore-front wooden villas, marble palaces in contrast to rustic stone fortresses and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages. Since Turkey actually straddles two separate continents, its culture features strong elements and traditions from both east and west. At that point in time we found Turkey a relaxed country to travel in which made our time there very enjoyable.
I came across a recipe on a website called greatist.com for a DIY version of Starbuck’s PUMPKIN SPICE CHAI LATTE. I couldn’t resist trying it.
In a small dish, combine 'Pumpkin Pie Spice' ingredients & store in a spice jar with a lid. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, milk, syrup & vanilla. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to steam. Remove from heat & pour mixture into a blender. Cover, hold the lid on tightly; blend for about 15 seconds or until frothy.
Brew the coffee. If you like extra milk foam on top, pour a few tablespoons of milk into a glass jar with a lid while coffee is brewing. Tightly seal & shake for 30-60 seconds. Remove lid & place jar in microwave for 30 seconds.
Divide coffee & milk mixture between 2 mugs. Top with extra milk foam (if using) & sprinkle with a bit of pumpkin spice.
I’m sure you use or are probably aware of the technique of cooking in parchment paper. The French call it ‘en papillote, the Italians ‘al cartoccio but we Canadians just call it cooking in parchment. This simple, yet elegant culinary tradition infuses the meats, vegetables and herbs together to create unbelievable flavor. Not only does this enclosed packet keep delicate foods like fish moist and intact but cuts down on your clean-up time. It is a super easy way to cook for one and not have lots of leftovers.
Since fall is upon us and we are back to more of those oven meals, HONEYTERIYAKI SALMON is the perfect, no-fuss Sunday meal.
In a small saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, 3 Tbsp water, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger & sesame oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbsp water until well combined. Pour into sauce mixture; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly about 5-10 minutes.
Salmon & Veggies
Toss broccoli & carrots in olive oil; season with salt & pepper. Cut 4 sheets of 14-inch lengths of parchment paper. Divide broccoli & carrot mixture among sheets layering in center in an even layer. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture then brush bottom sides of salmon fillets with a scant tablespoon of the sauce then rotate the salmon over veggies.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush tops of salmon with another scant tablespoon of the sauce mixture. Pull sides of parchment inward & seal then roll edges up, leaving a little room for heat to circulate, not wrapping to tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve with white or brown rice if desired & remaining sauce. Sprinkle with green onions.
I never seem to get enough of making use of my rhubarb plants, since this is probably my 4th ‘rhubarb’ blog so far this year. I’m sure any of you that are following my blog stories are tired of hearing about rhubarb but ……… At the risk of boring you with this subject, I still want to share a few other ideas for this seasonal plant.
Spiced Rhubarb Relish : Place 8 cups chopped rhubarb, 2 cups chopped onion, 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 cups sugar & 1 1/2 tsp salt in a large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer & cook uncovered on low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until onion becomes tender & mixture thickens. Pour into hot sterilized jars & seal. Nice to serve with red meats. Stewed Rhubarb: In a medium saucepan, heat 4 cups sliced rhubarb with 2/3 cup sugar over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir often. Rhubarb Smoothie: To cold stewed rhubarb add your choice of frozen berries, low-fat yogurt, orange juice & a banana. Mix in a blender & add honey to taste. Rhubarb Muffins/Scones: Add 1 cup of finely chopped rhubarb & zest of 1 orange to your favorite batter. Rhubarb Applesauce: Heat 3 cups of peeled, sliced apples, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup chopped rhubarb over medium heat until apples are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir often. To enhance flavor, add raisins, cinnamon or ginger to taste. Rhubarb Cherry Pie: Stir 1 cup coarsely chopped rhubarb with 1 – 540 ml can of cherry pie filling. Bake the same as you would for a cherry pie. Savory Rhubarb Pork Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups sliced rhubarb with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp cider vinegar & 3/4 tsp fresh, grated ginger. Simmer until soft.
Hopefully you will find one of these ideas useful. Enjoy!
In a food processor, place flour, cornmeal, salt & sugar; pulse several times to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. While machine is running, pour the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, until the dough just holds together (do not process for more than 30 seconds). Turn the dough out on work surface. Place dough on plastic wrap. Flatten to form disk; wrap & refrigerate at least 1 hour.
In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, both sugars, cornstarch & salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb releases its liquid & begins to breakdown, creating a thick, chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat & stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
On a lightly floured work surface, Divide dough into 16 pieces. Line 8 mini flan pans with bottom crusts; rolling the remaining 8 balls into circles for top crusts. Pace circles on parchment paper. Refrigerate bottom & top crusts again for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Divide rhubarb filling among the 8 tarts. Cut a design of choice in the top crusts & fit to mini tarts. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar. Bake until crust is golden & filling bubbles a little bit, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
These little minis would also be nice made as fruit galettes for something a bit rustic looking.
Can you believe it — Labor Day Weekend already! In our part of the world it signals the last of those coveted summer days. Celebrated in Canada as a national statuary holiday week-end. With the many picnics, gatherings and what have you, this specialty sandwich came to mind.
The ‘pan bagnat’ originated in Nice, a city in the south of France that borders the Mediterranean. The name translates to ‘wet bread’ due to the fact that the traditional sandwich is filled with a ‘Nicoise’ salad. This salad generally consists of leafy greens, olives, hard cooked eggs, with the main proteins being tuna fish and anchovies. It is then dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette.
Although it is typically a French sandwich, it is enjoyed by people all over the world. Overtime, many variations to the classic pan bagnat have been made. For those not fond of fish, ham, chicken and salami are good alternatives. For the vegetarian, artichoke hearts, raw peppers, steamed green beans and shallots. The bread used is usually a round, hearty artisian style bread so that the texture is both crusty and chewy.
To make the sandwich, the center of the loaf is scooped out and the filling is layered inside. It is then refrigerated for at least 2 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Once the flavors all meld together the taste is incredible, the perfect sandwich for a crowd.
Slice the bread in half horizontally. Remove some of the soft interior from both halves; removing MORE from the bottom half than the top. Brush interior of both halves with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. (If you prefer, you can use mustard/mayo instead)
Layer the meat & cheese inside the bottom half of bread loaf. Begin with ham followed by salami, chicken & cheese. Layer the tomato slices on top of the cheese, followed by the iceberg lettuce Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil & the vinegar over the lettuce. Season with salt & pepper.
Place the top half of the bread on the lettuce & press down lightly. Tightly wrap the sandwich in 2 layers of plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Sit something heavy on top.
Unwrap the loaf; using a long, serrated knife, cut the loaf into 8-10 wedges.
It seems logical, since new potatoes and fresh dill are available, to make some of these special little quiche.
When I think of salmon, dill immediately comes to mind. One of the few herbs you can purchase fresh in the supermarkets year round. Dill is a very pretty herb with its feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. A member of the parsley family, it can bring out the flavors of other herbs.
Dill is a commonly used herb in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Fresh dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads, fresh baked breads and soups as well as making a very gourmet looking garnish.
Quiche had become popular in England after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that it really caught on in North America. Today we have many variations in our quiche fillings. There are also crustless recipes of quiche but some would argue that those can only be classed as ‘baked custard’.
Hot or cold, I have always enjoyed quiche. Brion probably could take it or leave it but I think this SALMON, NEW POTATO & DILL QUICHE will be real tasty.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening until it resembles small peas. In a 1 cup measure, place egg & vinegar; combine. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing quickly, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes; DO NOT OVER MIX PASTRY.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut 8 circles about 5 3/4" in diameter (providing your mini tart shell pans are 4 3/4" size). Line mini tart pans with pastry & place them on a baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment in each shell, fill it with dry beans & 'blind' bake pastry crust for 6-8 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F.
Divide grated cheese between tart shells; slice cooked new potatoes over cheese. Top with cubed salmon fillet, green onions & fresh dill. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk & spices; beat well. Carefully pour equally over each tart. Place in oven & bake for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set & slightly golden. Cool in tin before removing to serve. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little bit more shredded Gouda cheese.
Smoked or fresh raw, ground salmon can be used instead of salmon fillet.
European bakeries are famous for their colorful, not to mention, mouthwatering displays of fresh fruit tarts. In France, fruit tarts are one the biggest selling desserts after the eclair and the vanilla custard slice. Many households keep their recipes top secret and the fillings vary according to the region where one lives.
Although there are both savory and sweet variations, over time culinary trends took tarts primarily in the sweet direction. The sheer beauty of the fruit draws one in like no other.
In a blog at the end of June 2016, I featured a FRESH FRUIT PIZZA with loads of variations you may enjoy to re-visit.
Today’s FRENCH FRUIT TART has the simplicity of a shortbread crust combined with the sweetness of vanilla custard and a wonderful blend of banana, kiwi and strawberry flavors. It should make a stunning addition to your summer barbecue.
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with ice water, tossing with a fork just until evenly moistened. Shape into a disk; wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Using a double boiler, heat milk over simmering water just until bubbles form around the edge of pot. Beat egg whites, sugar & salt in small bowl. Beat a spoonful of hot milk into egg mixture. Whisk egg mixture into milk in pot. Cook, stirring, over simmering water until mixture thickens slightly & coats a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease an 8-inch flan pan with a removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a 10-inch circle. Fit pastry into pan; pierce in several places with a fork. Bake just until golden brown. Remove to wire rack & cool completely.
Spoon custard over cooled pastry. Bake for another 18-20 minutes. Remove to wire rack & cool to room temperature. Refrigerate up to 8 hours. Just before serving, arrange banana, kiwi & strawberry slices over custard. Serves 6.
This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. Family birthdays forever bring me back to my childhood days. My mother always made the birthday person’s favorite meal on their day along with a cake. Although she excelled at cooking in general, her creative talent was put to good use when she decorated our birthday cakes.
Brion has always loved pineapple pie. I’m not sure where it came from but could possibly have been from time spent in the Cook Islands years ago.
In 1950, the Pillsbury company (General Mills) came out with a pie crust mix. Their promotion read that ‘the quality was assured by the finest ingredients, scientifically blended and perfectly balanced’. All you had to do was add water and mix. To further promote their product they included a recipe for Pineapple Pie supposedly having been written by ‘Ann Pillsbury’. This was a fictitious home economist created for marketing purposes. She essentially represented the members of the Pillsbury Home Service department. Unlike Betty Crocker, Ann Pillsbury did not catch on and was replaced in 1965 by the Pillsbury Doughboy who we still see in their current advertising.
My blog recipe is a bit different from the vintage one but is one of Brion’s favorites. Over the last six months, Brion’s love and support have helped me recover from shoulder replacement surgery for which I’m very grateful.
In a saucepan, combine cornstarch & sugar. Gradually stir in water until mixture is smooth. Add lemon zest & undrained crushed pineapple. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to boils; reduce heat slightly & continue to boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; quickly stir in butter & beaten egg yolks, mixing well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a food processor or with a rolling pin, crush biscuits finely & evenly. Melt butter; add to crumbs, mixing well with fork. Press evenly over bottom & up sides of a 9-inch flan or pie pan. Refrigerate crust while filling is cooling.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar. Beat until sugar is dissolved. Spread filling evenly into crust; top with meringue making sure to spread it to the edge of crust to form a seal.
Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until surface of meringue is evenly golden brown.