Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Smooth and Creamy Pâté in Minutes

The Daring Cooks' Challenge for June was Pâté. Our hostesses thought it would be perfect for a summer picnic in the park, because it's light, incredibly versatile, and has the potential to be beautifully presented.  I couldn't agree more, since we're all about summer concerts and picnics in the park this time of year!

In keeping for our theme for out second Concert in the Park Culinary Challenge, Home on the Range, and knowing John and I would be just returning from our trip to Idaho and Triple Creek Ranch in Montana, I found a recipe for Ranch House Pâté with Cognac, originally featured in Saveur #26. A ballerina named Carmeleta Maracci offered this recipe to Alan Hooker, founder of the Ranch House Restaurant in southern California's Ojai Valley. "There are those," Hooker once observed, "who will consider the addition of cream cheese a sacrilege, but it smooths the pâté so beautifully that we disregard the purists."

The Ranch House serves its Pâté, which resembles a big scoop of mocha ice cream, with Ranch House Rye bread, cucumber chips, caper berries, and spanish olives.  I chose to serve it as presented in Thomas Keller's Bouchon, as an assiette de charcutier, with a tasting of dry-cured sausages.  Knight Salumi Company, in San Diego, sells rustic Sopressata and Tuscan salami at our Little Italy Farmers' Market.

John and I recently attended Thomas Keller's book signing of his latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, which now completes our Keller collection of cookbooks! This collection should keep me challenged for the rest of my life!

Home on the Range Pâté
Adapted from Ranch House Pate

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1 black truffle (optional), shaved
3⁄4 lb. chicken livers
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
4 ounces cream cheese
2 Tablespoons Armagnac or Cognac
1.  Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, if using truffle, finely chop all but 4 shavings (reserve these for garnish) and set aside.
2.  Add chicken livers and cook, covered, over medium heat until just cooked through, 5–7 minutes.
3.  Remove pan from heat and stir in salt, mustard, nutmeg, and cloves. Transfer to a food processor and purée until smooth. Continue to process, blending in remaining 4 Tablespoons butter, cream cheese, and Armagnac.  Mix in chopped truffle (if using), then transfer to small bowls or well-oiled molds, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 24 hours.
4.  Serve a generous portion of pâté on a bed of greens with bread, olives, and caper berries, if desired, and garnish with reserved truffle shavings.

The Daring Cooks' blog checking line...

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I'm sorry, Evelyn and Valerie, but I wasn't able to squeeze in the time to bake homemade bread. It's really hard for me to justify baking bread when we have Bread & Cie deliver to Coronado's Tartine every morning. We enjoyed an early morning walk witih the Newfs down to the Ferry Landing and stopped by Tartine for a fresh baguette on the way home.

The recipe I used is really a breeze to put together and is so creamy and smooth with the cream cheese.  Laced with Armagnac or cognac, bits of black truffle, and presented on a platter with dry-cured sausages, olives, and cornichons, it makes a beautiful presentation for a cocktail party or, as in our case, gourmet picnic in the park!

Please visit The Daring Kitchen recipe archives for the complete recipes provided for this month's challenge. You can also visit the Daring Cooks' Blogroll to visit other Daring Cooks' blogs.



Kai said...

I ate that Pate for a week, and it was delicious! I hope you enjoyed your trip, can't wait to hear all about it on Sunday.

Mary said...

Cream cheese! Not what I would have guessed at all! The pate looks creamy and smooth, and the platter is gorgeous! Nicely done.

Carmen said...

Thanks for the reference to The Knight Salumi Company. I'll pay them a visit for sure.

Barbara Bakes said...

Love your presentation. Looks like you could make a delicious meal just out of this.

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro said...

What a great idea! I love pate, and we do a lot of summer concerts in the park. AND, I have a copy of Ad Hoc at Home. It's a fun book, and less daunting than The French Laundry. :)

Lovely presentation! [K]

Cristina said...

Beautifully presented, Denise. I'm gonna have to look it up in TK's Bouchon book. What a fun experience meeting Thomas Keller at his book signing at WS.

Congrats on your Daring Cooks challenge.

MIssy said...

LOVE your blog! As a fan of both cooking and newfs, I really enjoy reading your posts! We moved to Shanghai 3 years ago with our 'old man' Bacchus - now 13. He is winding down but has lived a great life and brought SO much joy to ours! Talk about generating attention though! Even in his old age, he still outweighs 80% of the population! The Chinese are just in awe!