Beef Liver Pate

Beef liver pate is a bit of a departure from your typical pate. It doesn’t typically come out quite as smooth as, say, chicken liver pate. If you happen to have a tammis handy you can probably come close, but I find beef liver lends itself to going for a country style pate anyway. It is after all, much more intense in flavor so trying to make it refined seems a bit contrary to the product at hand. 

This recipe originally came from Paleo Mom, as usual I tweaked it a bit. Feel free to play around with the flavors. 

Beef Liver Pate

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. liver
  • 2 shallots, minced 
  • 2T canola oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-7 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary 
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 c sherry (spring for the good stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, add more to taste at the end
  • 1/2 c butter

Method

  1. Peel and cut liver into 2” chunks and remove any vessels
  2. Line a 7.5″x3.5″ Loaf Pan with parchment paper
  3. Heat canola in a large skillet over medium high heat
  4. Add onion, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft
  5. Add liver to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on the outside and still pink in the middle
  6. Add sherry to pan, cook 2-3 minutes
  7. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf, rosemary stem, and thyme stems. Add salt and butter
  8. Pour hot liver mixture into a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  9. Pour into the prepared loaf pan
  10. Let cool for 20 minutes, cover tightly with plastic wrap (plastic wrap should be touching the pâté with no air bubbles) to reduce oxidation 
  11. Refrigerate overnight before eating 

Lasagna

imageOh man, life has been wild for the past couple of months. Working six, sometimes seven, days a week and some personal changes have kept me from getting much time in front of the computer. When life is going off the rails I often find eating is something that gets set off to the side, which is ironic given what I do for a living. I spend all day making other people food, make sure my kids get fed, and then find myself drinking a glass of water and heading off to bed at the end of the day. So, when there is something I’m interested in eating, I’m all over it. This week it’s lasagna. While I’d love to say I’d made the pasta, ricotta, and sausage by hand, the reality is time doesn’t allow for such luxuries right now and that’s perfectly ok. What I did have were pumpkin cream and tomato sauces I had made from scratch hanging out in the freezer, plus some frozen ramp greens preserved in olive oil that I froze in cubes last spring. All of that certainly makes a strong case for making sauces in large batches and canning or freezing them for later use!

To make my lasagna even easier to make, I used noodles that don’t require being boiled and pre shredded cheese. Now, I know the cheese has stabilizers and preservatives in it and that there’s something that’s probably equally as bad about the par cooked noodles, but when time is in short supply and life is stressful, eating a homemade meal takes precedence over some other things. So onward and upward we go.

Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 package par cooked noodles
  • 1 quart sauce–tomato or cream sauces are equally tasty, pesto is a lovely addition
  • 1/5# sausage
  • 1 1/2-2# shredded cheese–mozzarella, parmesan, provolone blend is best
  • 1 pint ricotta
  • you can add mushrooms, olives, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, thin sliced squash, or anything else that suits your fancy

Method

  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Pour a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 8×12 cake/casserole/baking dish
  3. layer enough noodles to cover the bottom, pour enough sauce over the top to coat (reserve enough sauce for each layer
  4. spread a layer of cheese over this (reserve enough for each layer, plus the top)
  5. continue to layer all of you ingredients in this way until your dish is full
  6. pour the remaining sauce over the top, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes
  7. remove the foil and sprinkle enough cheese to just cover, return to oven and bake 15 more minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown

I recommend putting your dish on a baking sheet, just in case your sauce spills over. It’s far easier to clean up a baking sheet than a dirty oven!

Serve with a green salad if you have the wherewithal to get that far and regardless, enjoy your lasagna!

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Banana Angel Food Cake

I am always looking for a good way to use up the egg whites that get tucked in the back of the freezer. Usually, we have about 2 cups before one of us throws up our hands and proclaims it’s time for egg white cake. I’ve never been much of an angle food cake person, but it seems the best way to use them so I’ve been experimenting and I think I may have found my winner. It’s not as delicate as your typical angel food, which is probably why I like it. It’s also a way to get out of the banana bread rut I often find myself in when using up the bananas that are also lurking in the freezer. I made this as a birthday cake and it was a big hit, it would also be a welcome addition to a summer bbq. I poured warmed caramel over the cake and topped it with chopped pecans, walnuts would be fabulous too.

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Banana Angel Food Cake via food.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c rolled oats
  • 3 bananas, ripe, mashed
  • 1 c cake flour (I used ap four, it makes for a denser cake, but just as tasty)
  • 2 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry
  3. Combine cream of tartar, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, oats, and mashed bananas
  4. In a separate bowl combine the flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt
  5. Fold banana mixture into the egg whites
  6. Fold flour mixture into the egg white/banana mixture
  7. Pour batter into two prepared 9″ round cake pans
  8. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, until cake is firm and just beginning to turn golden
  9. Cool for 5 minutes then slip out of pan onto a serving dish

Caramel Buttercream thanks Martha

If you double the amount of caramel you make here, you can reserve half of it to drizzle over the top like I did in the photo above.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened and cut into roughly 1″ cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Caramel:
    1. Pour 1/4 cup water into a medium heavy-bottom saucepan
    2. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear
    4. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming
    5. Let syrup boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is dark amber
  2. Immediately remove from heat; carefully pour in cream (caramel will bubble vigorously)
  3. Stir caramel until smooth
  4. Transfer to a bowl; let cool
  5. Whisk together remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer
  6. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer
  7. Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment
  8. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff
  9. Reduce speed to medium low; add butter, a few tablespoons at a time
  10. Continue whisking until smooth
  11. Switch to paddle attachment
  12. Add caramel and vanilla; beat on lowest speed until combined, 3 to 5 minutes
  13. Let set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before using

Once your cake is cool, use a long knife to carefully cut each round in half to create more layers. You can skip this step if you like, but you may up with extra frosting (buttercream keeps in the freezer for about 3  months).

Happy eating!

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 Chocolate Cupcakes 

I love chocolate cake, I mean really, really love it. If there is a dessert that I would cry to have to give up that would be it. What that means though, is that I hardly ever make it, because if it’s in the house I will eat it. This week I made an exception, and there wasn’t even a birthday at our house!

This week’s recipe was a take on a recipe from gimmesomeoven.com, I changed up the frosting (her’s calls for ganache) because I wanted to play with swiss meringue buttercream this week.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coffee

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. prep cupcake pan as desired (use paper liners or grease and flour)
  3. Make frosting while waiting for ingredients to come to room temperature and oven to preheat

Swiss Meringue Buttercream  a riff on the version in Julia Child’s Baking with Julia

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 c sugar
  • 12 oz room temperature unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 5 oz unsweetened chocolate (you can add a couple more ounces for a more chocolatey buttercream if you wish)
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffee (optional)
  • 1-2 T amaretto (optional, other liqueurs can be used as well)

Method

  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, set aside to cool slightly
  2. You can use the bowl from your stand mixer for the next part, which eliminates a dish to wash, always a bonus!
  3. Over medium-low heat continually whisk egg whites and sugar until it reaches 140 degrees F (err on the side of lower heat and take your time, curdling your eggs means you have to start over)
  4. Return bowl to stand mixer, and using whisk attachment, whisk on high until glossy peaks form
  5. Add in butter, roughly 2 T at a time, allowing it to incorporate before adding more
  6. Remove from the stand mixer and pour in melted chocolate, stirring to combine
  7. At this point I decided my buttercream wasn’t chocolatey enough, so I added cocoa powder, coffee and the amaretto to give it a boost. You could add more melted chocolate to get a similar effect, the cocoa powder is a quick and easy way to get just the amount you like without added more liquid
  8. Let set in the fridge while you finish your cupcakes

Cupcake Method, cont…

  1. Cream butter and sugar with a stand mixer
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  3. Add in vanilla
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined
  5. Whisk together buttermilk and coffee
  6. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture to the mixing bowl, beating well after each addition
  7. Fill paper-lined baking cups two-thirds full
  8. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely before frosting

Once your cakes are frosted, just try to keep everyone in your house away from them, it won’t work, but you can try.

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Strawberry Simple Syrup 

I always get so excited about berry season that I get overly ambitious about buying them. Then I guiltily look at them in the fridge thinking someone should make a smoothie, or ice cream, or a pie, or something out of them before they end up getting tossed. Sometimes I take the stems off, bag them, and get them in the freezer, but this week I decided to take another approach, strawberry simple syrup. It was so easy I can’t believe I didn’t make this sooner, but I tell you what, my summer drinks have just been elevated.

Simple syrup is just that, simple. Traditionally you take equal parts sugar and water, and heat until the sugar is completely melted. That’s it. You can also make a rich syrup that is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, same method, still easy. If you want to flavor the syrup steep just about anything you can think of in the hot syrup until you get the taste you’re going for.

For this batch I put 1/2 sliced lemon in each quart jar, added enough sliced strawberries to fill it about 3/4 of the way, and topped it with mint. Mint can take center stage very quickly so I put it on top for easy removal after about 20 minutes. Once the syrup was cool, I covered the jars, and put them in the refrigerator overnight with the lemons and strawberries. The next morning I tossed the lemons, but put the soaked strawberries in a smoothie. Being able to get a double use out of the berries made me even happier.

You could make the syrup using just lemons, just herbs, berries, melon, or even spices. Play around with how long you steep your ingredients, and taste frequently so you get just the taste you want. We added the syrup to seltzer water to make drinks for the kids, and added a splash of vodka for the adults. It’s a fun way to extend the life of your summer treasures and a great addition to a summer bbq.

Spicy Korean Grilled Chicken

When I was in culinary school one of my instructors, who is from Japan, would often shake his head at us and laugh at the American way of changing traditional dishes from any country, as he would proclaim he was raised to follow tradition in his cooking. This dish definitely falls into the category of veering from tradition–it’s possible the only thing that makes this dish Korean is the use of the delicious Korean condiment, gochujang. I served it on top of Korean vermicelli noodles so I upped the suitability of the moniker, but let’s face it it’s still my Americanized version. I laughed quietly to myself as I remembered my teacher while making this, but I’m sure even he would approve of the taste.

Spicy Korean Grilled Chicken via the kitchn

Serves 4
1/2 minced yellow onion
5 minced garlic cloves (I used a micro plane)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 T  brown sugar
2 T honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 T sesame oil
3# bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I cut up a whole chicken, if you’re buying it already cut, go for thighs, keeping the skin on is important)

Combine the onions, garlic, soy sauce, gochujang, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a bowl and mix well. Place both chicken and marinade in a zip top plastic bag, making sure chicken is well coated. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or overnight, flipping once halfway through, more time is better.

An hour before you’re ready to eat, heat your grill to about 500 degrees F.

Grill the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side, although depending on the cut you’re using this will vary–breasts cook faster, drumsticks take the longest, and wings will be done first. Watch your grill, between the skin and the marinade it will tend to flame a lot. Turning down the flame will reduce some charring (remember you do want some!). If your grill has inconsistent heat you can finish it in the oven so it doesn’t char too much.

Serve with noodles, rice, or salad. Don’t forget napkins!

 

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Braided Lemon Bread

Smitten Kitchen, I love you and frequently use your recipes. And this one was no exception. A rich bread filled with sweetened cream cheese and lemon curd, akin to a lemon cheesecake. I decided to make two while making dinner with some friends. It may seem like brunch fare, but it was a fun treat to make while cooking together, and a dessert/snack for adults and kids alike through an evening of board games. After a cocktail, or two, my ability to focus on the instructions waned a little and resulted in the above crooked loaf (and the slightly goofy braid, I recommend either being happy with imperfection or skipping the cocktails, either way it tastes good). In the end I liked the look of the slightly curved loaf more than the one that turned out straight, like what I think a loaf of challah or pulla often looks like. In fact next time I might make it into a ring. Don’t be put off by the length of this recipe, it’s really quite easy, it’s the braid that will probably catch you up the first time, but you’ll be so glad you made the effort. You can also make the bread a week before eating it by freezing it before the baking stage.

The recipe originally comes from King Arthur Flour and I highly recommend checking out their site for how to make it look much better than mine, but I do like the changes Smitten Kitchen made to the recipe so I’ll preserve her’s here, with my usual edits. And while King Arthur claims this a great recipe for a snow day, I say it’s a great recipe for any day as lemon curd is good for any occasion.

Braided Lemon Bread

Lemon Curd
Makes a little shy of 1/2 cup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Method

  1. Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and egg in a 1-quart heavy saucepan(you can also do this over a double boiler to keep the egg from curdling)
  2. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 4 to 5 minutes
  3. I like to push mine through a strainer just in case there are any lumps
  4. Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour

Lemon cream cheese filling

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Method

  1. blend well
  2. let sit at room one hour before using

Bread

Ingredients

  • Sponge
    • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
    • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Dough
    • Sponge (above)
    • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
    • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 egg plus 1T water for egg wash
    • coarse sugar for sprinkling

Method

  1. Make sponge:
    1. In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients.
    2. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Make dough in a stand mixer:
    1. Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer.
      1. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
      2. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes.
      3. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
  3. Prepare bread:
    1. Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle.
    2. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper, please; I did not and it led to all sorts of trouble.
    3. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns.
    4. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling–go a little further than you think.
    5. Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese filling–less is more, if you don’t use all your lemon curd save it for your toast once the lemon braid is gone.

To form the mock braid:

  1. Cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling).
  2. Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper; if you have a bench scraper, this is a great time to use it.
  3. Smitten Kitchen recommends that you remove the four corner segments. I tucked them into the top making a more bready end, which was enjoyed by the kids that didn’t like lemon.
  4. To “braid” follow these instructions or go to King Arthur for photos:
    1. begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling.
    2. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling.
    3. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out.
    4. You can tuck the last couple that hand off decoratively under the end of the braid.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.
  3. Bake bread:
    1. Brush the loaves with egg wash, and sprinkle with pearl or coarse sparkling sugar.
    2. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and your apartment smells like a doughnut factory (thanks Smitten Kitchen for that one, it really does!).
    3. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.