Recently I joined an online group called the Daring Cooks. It is a forum for those, such as myself, who are obsessed by all things culinary; most are bloggers, some are not . Each month, a different food blogger hosts and puts forth a challenge that everyone is to make and that challenge is not to be revealed on your blog until the 14th of the next month. I was very excited when I found the Daring Cooks because to me it sounded like so much fun…..and I was right, it was.
Here’s this month’s challenge:
When I first saw the challenge and saw that I had to make bread, I was a little taken aback because I’m a cook, not a baker. I have always perceived baking to be an exact science that requires precise measuring and measure schmeasure is what I usually say. Not to mention the fact that pate usually involves liver. Eww, right? I quickly got over it and decided to suck it up. I am glad that I did because I tried some recipes that I might not have otherwise; some to be repeated, some not so much.
Note: I changed a few things with the recipes provided and my revisions and notes are in red.
This is the first one that I tried because how could I go wrong with seafood, right? It was not bad but I felt that it could have been a little more flavourful. This could have something to do with the anemic trout that I picked up at the grocery store. It would have probably been way better made with a fresh rainbow trout but would a fresh rainbow trout actually make it into a pate. Hmmm. Maybe not.
Trout and Shrimp Pâté
(Daring Cooks Recipe)
Yields one 6×3 inch (15×7,5 cm) terrine or loaf pan
1 tbsp / 15 ml butter
1/4 lb / 4 oz / 120g medium raw shrimp, deveined, shelled and tailed (about 12 medium shrimp)
1/8 cup / 30ml Grand Marnier (or cognac, or another strong liqueur of your choice) (optional)
1/2 lb / 8 oz / 240g trout filet, skinned and cut into thick chunks
1/4 lb / 4 oz / 110g raw shrimp, deveined, shelled and tailed (any size)
3/4 cup / 180ml heavy cream
Salt, to taste
Green peppercorn, coarsely ground, to taste
Chives, for garnish
I put a little chopped fennel into the mixture and then used it as a garnish
Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
In a heavy, flameproof frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Sauté the 1/4 pound of medium shrimp, stirring often, until pink and cooked through. Remove the pan from heat. (NOTE: These shrimp will be used to form layers within your pâté. If you feel they are too thick – like the ones in the photograph, you might want to slice them in half lengthwise.)
Pour the Grand Marnier over the cooked shrimp. Light a match and carefully ignite the alcohol, to flambé the shrimp. Wait for the flames to go out on their own, carefully tilting the pan to ensure even flavoring. Set aside.
Put the trout and the remaining raw shrimp in a food processor and pulse. Gradually pour in the cream and keep pulsing until you obtain a smooth mixture that is easy to spread, but not too liquid (you may not need to use all the cream). Season with salt and green pepper.
Butter a 6×3 inch (15×7,5 cm) loaf pan or terrine, then line it with parchment paper. Spoon in half the trout mixture, and spread it evenly. Place the flambéed shrimp on top, in an even layer, reserving 3 or 4 shrimp for decorating. Top with the remaining trout mixture.
Prepare a water bath: place the loaf pan in a larger, deep ovenproof dish (such as a brownie pan or a baking dish). Bring some water to a simmer and carefully pour it in the larger dish. The water should reach approximately halfway up the loaf pan.
Put the water bath and terrine in the oven, and bake for 35 minutes. The pâté should be cooked through and firm in the center.
Remove the pan from the water bath and let cool. Carefully unmold onto a serving platter. Decorate with the reserved shrimp, and sprinkle with chopped chives. Cut into thick slices and serve at room temperature, with crusty bread.
At this point, I wasn’t quite ready for the bread thing so I made crackers instead. We really enjoyed these.
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease two large cookie sheets. Combine the dry ingredients, and then stir in the water and oil and then mix until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough in half and flatten each half on a cookie sheet. Use a small rolling pin or even your fingers for a rustic, uneven look. Once the dough is spread thin, use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares. The crackers will shrink slightly when cooked. Sprinkle or spray with olive oil. Top with your choice of herbs or spices. I used sea salt and a mixture from Victorian Epicure called Herb & Garlic Dip Mix.
Next, I made the veggie pate. This was probably my favourite. Big Flavour.
Tricolor Vegetable Pâté
(Daring Cooks Recipe) Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
I used four ramekins instead
Line your pan with plastic wrap, overlapping sides.
White Bean Layer
2 x 15-ounce / 900 ml cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained thoroughly
I used 2 19-ounce cans
1 tbsp / 15 ml fresh lemon juice
I used the juice from half of a lemon, about 3 tbsp
1 tbsp / 15 ml olive oil
I used 2 tbsp
1 tbsp / 15 ml minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
I used about 3 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, pressed
I used 4 cloves
Mash beans in large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread bean mixture evenly on bottom of prepared pan.
Red Pepper Layer
7-ounce / 210 ml jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, chopped
I had some peppers in the freezer so roasted them in the oven and used them
3/4 cup / 180 ml crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
Combine peppers and feta in processor and blend until smooth. Spread pepper mixture evenly over bean layer in prepared dish.
2 garlic cloves
1 cup / 240 ml fresh basil leaves
1 cup / 240 ml fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup / 60 ml toasted pine nuts
3 tbsp / 45 ml olive oil
1/2 cup / 120 ml low-fat ricotta cheese
Mince garlic in processor. Add basil, parsley and pine nuts and mince. With machine running, gradually add oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in ricotta. Spread pesto evenly over red pepper layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
I found it easier to unmold when I froze the pate beforehand.
To unmold, invert pâté onto serving platter. Peel off plastic wrap from pâté. Garnish with herb sprigs and serve with sourdough bread slices.
When I unmolded the pate, I put the pesto layer on top. It was more attractive than the bean layer.
I was still not ready for the bread so I decided I would try to imitate those Raincoast Crisp crackers. These were delicious and in honour of our beautiful, rainy home I have renamed them Wetcoast Wafers.
Stir the above ingredients together until blended. Don’t overmix!
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans/walnuts/almonds)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds (ground or whole)
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped (or more, or dry would also work, adjust proportion to taste)
Pour into two 4″X8″ greased pans. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees F or until springy. Cool completely on rack and put in the freezer. When the loaves are totally frozen, cut into very thin slices. Lay slices on cookie sheets and bake 15 minutes at 300 deg. F. Turn the slices over and bake another 10 or 15 minutes.
Finally, I made the liver pate. There were mixed reviews. Those that usually like liver pate really enjoyed it. Some of us just can’t get it out of our heads that it is “offal”.
Three Spice Liver Pâté
(Daring Cooks Recipe) Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
I made smaller portions using a ramekin and small loaf pans
1 lb / 454 grams pork liver (or beef or combination)
I used beef. I couldn’t find pork
1/2 lb / 227 grams ground pork
1/2 lb / 227 grams pork fat (or pork belly)
2 cloves garlic
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 2 ml coriander (ground or crushed)
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cumin
3/4 tsp / 3 ml salt
1 tbsp / 15 ml coarse freshly cracked peppercorns
2 tbsp / 30 ml cognac
2 bay leaves
1 package of bacon
Preheat oven to to 350ºF (180ºC).
Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Grind until smooth.
In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the cognac and eggs.
Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. Place a bay leaf on the bottom and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with another bay leaf and then overlapping pieces of bacon.
Place in oven in the larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs.
The pâté will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices. Remove any excess bacon and discard the bay leaves. I left the bacon on – how can you go wrong with bacon – and I sprinkled chopped green onions over top for some colour.
The lovely french baguette slices in the picture above are not mine. These below are mine. Notice the deformed one on the right. They didn’t rise as much as I would have liked and I probably should have baked them a little longer. Oh, well all is not lost. I now have my first attempt at bread behind me and I will definitely try it again. I ran into Tina Bacon from the Pink Spatula and was telling her of my bread dilemma. Tina teaches baking classes at Well Seasoned in Langley. She directed me towards this site for Artisan Bread. This is the one that I will be trying next. I love that the results are quick. I will let you know how it goes.
(Daring Cooks Recipe)
yield: Three 16″ baguettes
1/2 cup / 120 ml cool water
1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup / 240 ml flour
1 tsp / 5 ml active dry yeast
1 cup to 1 1/4 cups / 240 ml to 300 ml lukewarm water*
all of the starter
3 1/2 cps / 840 ml flour
1 1/2 tsp / 7 ml salt
*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water, then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly.
Mix active dry yeast with the water and then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer.
Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15″ log. Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans.
Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they’ve become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450ºF (240ºC).
Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8″ vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.
Bake the baguettes until they’re a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2″, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.
Whew! I am now officially a Daring Cook. This challenge was a lot of fun and I look forward to next month’s challenge. The recipes are revealed to us on the 17th of each month and on the 14th of the month following, I can post my results here for you to see. I wonder what it will be…. Log in next month to find out.