DUCK LIVER & MUSHROOM PÂTÉ

It has been well over a year since my last post and so much life has happened since then. I got engaged, bought a house, got married, received a wonderful promotion at work and am so happy to share that I am expecting a little one in May 2017.

Looking back, the time has been short and amazing but not without hardship. While I will not hash out the details, I am happy to say that I am thankful for how things have worked out. As cliche as it may sound, the dark has put the light into such stark contrast and maybe it’s just my pregnant hormones, but I have cried happy tears almost daily for the past two months. After the sleepy fog of my first trimester, I am starting to reemerge in my kitchen. Before conceiving my little one, for a myriad of health-related reasons I transitioned to a VB6 (Vegan Before 6) diet, in which I was exclusively vegan before 6 PM  I pescatarian after 6. I was quite happy with this lifestyle change but to my dismay, the only thing that kept my morning sickness at bay was animal protein – meat, eggs and cheese. Nothing else worked. I could consume 4o g of protein but if it was plant-based, no luck. Interestingly, my earliest pregnancy cravings were all beef-related. I’m not proud to admit that I once spent 40 minutes in line at McDonald’s one afternoon for a steak, egg and cheese bagel and LOVED every last bite. I’ve come to terms with my return to an omnivorous diet but plan on switching back to my ways once Baby H arrives.

With all that said, I’ve been a bit of a renegade pregnant woman in that I will consume the occasional small glass of red wine, eat sushi if I feel the inclination (yes, the raw kind) and sometimes enjoy some brie. I’m a firm believer in moderation being the key to a balanced diet and I have not changed my way of thinking since discovering the little life within me. During my time TTC, I began educating myself on the pregnant body and came to the conclusion that mainstream prenatal/maternal care in the U.S. is sadly and horrifically anti-woman, including the heavy restrictions with which pregnant woman are continually bombarded. This brings me to pâté, which I adore and is on the long list of pregnancy n0-nos. While recovering from a nasty sinus infection post-Thanksgiving and with a lovely whole duck on my hands, I had a hankering for charcuterie with all its accompaniments. The only thing I happened to be missing was pâté. My original plan was to make a simple mushroom pâté but then I realized I had duck liver and BOOM! deliciousness.

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DUCK LIVER & MUSHROOM PÂTÉ

2 cups mushrooms (I used baby bellas), sliced
1/4 c chopped leek greens
1/2 c unsalted cashews, roasted
1 duck liver
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 oz red wine
2 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
Sea salt & pepper
Splash heavy cream

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Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat.

Add mushrooms and leek greens, salt and pepper to taste. Lightly saute and place in a bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add duck liver, then wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through but not dry (should be lightly pink inside). Set aside to cool, then chop.

Once mushrooms, leeks and liver are cooled a bit, add to food processor with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Serve with a full charcuterie spread or more simply with warm sliced baguette. Refrigerate. This makes a little more than 1/2 pint and would be an awesome gift if canned in a mason jar!

 

*Special shout-out to this cookbook, published by South Carolina DNR in the 1950s. No recipes for pâté but it does include great simple recipes for wild game, from dove to beaver. img_8284

 

 

 

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Squash Frittata

My favorite thing about summertime is the fresh produce – tomatoes, berries, corn, beans, peppers, cucumbers and last but not least – squash. My in-laws have about 60 laying hens and a large, high-yielding garden and I get to reap the benefits! This Sunday, they brought me zucchini, cucumbers and the pretties yellow squash you ever did see. I love eating squash raw and chopped up, sauteed, in pasta, soups and many other ways but I always seem to get into a rut with squash and find myself racking my brain for something different. There are the ubiquitous dishes like squash casserole and fried squash but I feel that those dishes tend to overcook the squash and really downplay how wonderful it is.

I remembered a beach trip last spring during which my fiance and I stopped at a lovely cafe for brunch and I had the best quiche of my life. I could make a squash quiche! No.. too heavy for the 100 degree weather yesterday and I really didn’t want to bother with a crust. Squash frittata it is! Like quiches are frittatas are made for, the ingredients in this frittata are items from my refrigerator desperately needing to be used up. That’s the beauty of frittatas – you can add just about anything your heart desires. I feel like this would have been good with turkey and brie as well but I didn’t happen to have those on hand. I had this for supper but you can have frittata any time of day.

Squash Frittata

2 medium yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz deli ham, chopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 c chevre, crumbled
1/4 c hard cheese, such as manchego
sea salt, pepper, to taste
olive oil

Heat oven to broiler setting.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, squash and ham to pan and saute until vegetables are just softened. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl to cool. Wipe out pan.

Squash Frittata 3

Add vegetable mixture, parsley and cheese to lightly beaten eggs. Stir until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat 2 T olive oil to nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Pour in egg mixture and cook until edges start to solidify. Place pan in oven and allow to cook for about 3 more minutes or until set.

Squash Frittata 2

You may flip over onto a serving plate or just serve straight from the pan.

Serve while hot with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Squash Frittata 1

Graze – Quick Review

In our day of emails and texts, real mail is fun to receive. That being said, I’m a huge fan of boxes. I’ve been receiving Birchbox for about a year now and have never been disappointed. I also enjoy Julep, which sends fabulous nail polishes monthly. My newest box to try is graze; originally from the U.K., graze is a snail mail box-delivery providing snacks. The company launched in the United States in December 2013 and have had huge growth as a result. With a price tag of just $6/box, I decided to give it a whirl.

You get to decide how often you receive your snack box, whether it be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. You also get to rate snack items; doing so determines what you’ll receive. They offer great variety of options, with both sweet and savory items well-covered. I received my first box today at my office and love it. The snack sizes are just perfect and everything tastes great. I always try to include ‘healthy snacks for work’ in my weekly grocery shopping but oftentimes end up forgetting my tasty treats in my pantry at home, completely defeating their purpose. A weekly graze box takes care of that. Since they’re snacks of the no-refrigeration-required variety, I can just pop my box in one of my desk drawers (or leave it in the office kitchen). It’s easy, everything is super tasty and I don’t have to do a thing but rate snacks on their site.

FullSizeRender_1My favorite from this box would be the apple and cinnamon flapjack. Although like I said, it’s all delicious. I also really like that they include nutrition facts in the little booklet. If you’re into boxes and food, this is definitely worth trying out.

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Smoked Pork with Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce and Cheddar Biscuits

Once again, it’s been awhile. When constantly out of town, recording recipes seems be one of the things I let fall to the wayside, kind of like dusting. Inspired by the end of summer and the onset of fall and after spending time in what I call yankeeland (aka anything above North Carolina), I needed a good dose of Southern food.

After spending a couple days with his family in Waxhaw, Caleb came back with a TON of smoked pork shoulder and beef brisket from his dad and lots of peaches from his mom.

Of course pork and peaches are a stellar match; I shredded up some of the pork shoulder and decided I’d try my hand at a peach bbq sauce. Rather than serving with buns as pulled pork sandwiches, I made good old biscuits with sharp cheddar and green onion and served with simple cut green beans with nothing but garlic, salt and pepper.

The biscuits are pretty non-traditional and super simple but the ingredients are not measured at all. I fix biscuits this way when I plan on serving them with something heavy on top, in this case, pulled pork.  

Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

1 large peach, peeled, pit removed and finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 T butter
1/4 c spicy peach preserves
1/3 c honey
1/3 c dijon mustard
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/2 c chicken stock, optional

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and add chopped red onion. Saute until translucent.

Sauteeing Onion

Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring frequently.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients

If sauce becomes too thick for your liking, add chicken stock and increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

Cooked Sauce

Set sauce to the side. If smoked pork shoulder is hot, allow to cool completely. 

Smoked Pork

Using your hands and a fork, pull the pork apart. It does not need to be perfectly shredded.

Pulled Pork

Pour that yummy Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce on top and stir it up real good. Serve it on top of sliced biscuits and make sure the biscuits are covered completely.

Pork with BBQ SauceCheddar-Green Onion Biscuits

Instead of a list of ingredients, I’ll just provide basic instructions for these. 

Preheat oven to 400 F. 

Add desired amount of flour (any kind of your choosing, I use whole wheat) to a large mixing bowl. Stir in a good pinch of baking powder and salt.

Little by little add in yogurt, stirring as you go. Stop adding yogurt once mixture is crumbly and yogurt and flour and evenly distributed. Now, stir in cream until dough becomes a thick and discernible ball.

Stir in freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped green onion.

Place dough on a well floured surface and roll out to 1/2″ thickness. Using a biscuit cutter (or top of a mason jar, like I like to do), cut out biscuits and place on greased baking sheet.

Biscuits Before Oven

Cook for about 15 minutes or until golden. If using whole wheat flour, biscuits will be significantly darker than usual. 

Cooked Biscuits

Keep in mind that the texture of these biscuits won’t be quite the same as a traditional, fluffy Southern biscuit. They are however, very tasty and still definitely biscuits.

Gaulart & Maliclet Fast & French

I have to brag on my favorite little place to grab a bite in downtown Charleston, Fast & French. Mon favorit petit café is now 30 years old. It’s a bit of a hole in the wall and yet well-known enough to be packed every time I go. I would eat there every day if I could and with their prices, it wouldn’t be unreasonable if I lived or worked downtown. One of the great things about it is the crowd. College of Charleston students, lawyers, businessmen/women, locals, Europeans, any person imaginable. They can all be found here.

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My poor attempt at a panoramic shot.

Don’t go expecting the average American dining experience. This is a quintessential European nook on Broad Street. The seating is communal and servers are not there to be your buddy but are still plenty cordial. Go to enjoy some simple yet delicious café food. The lunch special is always to die for and comes with a glass of house wine (or other beverage). When available, I highly recommend a bowlful of their vichyssoise but all of the soups are delightful. I used to hate mushrooms with a raging passion but this place helped change my mind with their earthy pâté.

While the overwhelming majority of reviews are raving, I’ve read some of people complaining that the food is bland and poorly prepared – I couldn’t disagree more. They use fresh herbs and ingredients and offer flavorful simplicity. Not to mention the outstanding prices. On my most recent visit, my bill was ~$23 for a soup & sandwich, lunch special with wine and a dessert. Pas mal, n’est-ce pas?

Lunch Special

Lunch Special 8-16-14 : Seafood Creole with aioli, melon, cheese, baguette.

Wine

The house white wine – crisp, dry sauvignon blanc.

 

Peach Almond Tart

Dessert. Peach Almond Tart. This was orgasmic and had the best crust I’ve ever had on pie or tart.

MYTH: Eating Foods With Fat Makes You Fat

In the words of Julia Child, “Fat gives things flavor.”

Happy Friday y’all!

While attempting to put together what I intended to be today’s post, I found this gem of a post. It seems that there is a never ending quest to be fat free in this country. I try to see the good in everything that seems bad and the bad in everything that seems good because there are always shades of gray. Just as not all carbs are bad, not all fats are bad.

My views on fat may be found in my post on Bulletproof Coffee from earlier this week.

Marisa's Kitchen Talk

Good Fat Bad Fat ChartMorning all,

Hope you’re having a wonderful Tuesday.  I came across this article from Jillian Michaels and I thought it would be a great to share with my readers.  For those of us who are on a low carb lifestyle know that fat is NOT the enemy, but we keep having to explain our food choices.

Hope you enjoy this artcle.

Good Fat Bad Fat

MYTH: Eating Foods With Fat Makes You Fat

When it comes to fats, there are some good and bad versions. It’s time to learn how to choose the right ones.
The Truth:Fat doesn’t make you fat — foods that contain fat are part of a healthy diet. You’ve just got to know the right kinds.
What do you think makes you fat?  If your short answer is fat, you’re wrong. But you’re not alone.  Many people believe that eating fats, whatever kinds, is a direct path to weight…

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Crispy Duck Legs with Roasted Vegetables

Simple and delicious. Americans really should consider using duck more regularly.

Cooking in Sens

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Yesterday I went back to the house to get the 2 packages of duck legs, good butter, Jean Louis’ duck breasts, foie gras slices and assorted fish from the remaining refrigerator freezer.  I took some other things out of the freezer also, but honestly, I abandoned a lot.  Sometimes you just have to walk away.  ¯_(ツ)_/¯  I did grab some soy sauce, a few jars of spices and other food enhancers, but who can live otherwise?!

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I must confess that this is not the first time we’ve walked away from perfectly good food but happily we were in underdeveloped countries where many people literally do not know where there next meal is coming from and you could easily and happily just give it away.  In Sens, I often transfer the contents of the fridge and, if I’m going to be away a long time, the freezer to M. Parret who shares…

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Borrowed from the British “A Summer Fruit Pudding” for the Fourth of July

Just a few of my favorite things: irony, berries and bread used in dessert.

food on fifth

summer fruit pudding

“A Summer Fruit Pudding”

This classic British dessert is just the thing to make for the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend. I do hope the irony of this is not lost on you.

All you need is some fresh berries….blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries…any combination of these summer berries and a loaf of day old bread. There is no baking so no heating up the kitchen. It is easy to make, a beauty when finished and the taste is like biting into “summer”…very refreshing, not overly sweet and served with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream or whipped mascarpone cheese.

The most important part is allowing the fresh berries to macerate with sugar for about 30 minutes ahead of time.

summer berries with fruitsugared berries

Choose a bread with some body that is a day or two old and just a bit dried out. I used a Brioche but a loaf of plain old…

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America’s Thai food takeover

One of my favorite cuisines to eat and experiment with. Like most foods of the world, I hate seeing it commercialized and Americanized.

Eatocracy

(Travel + Leisure) — If you’ve eaten at a neighborhood Thai restaurant, you’re likely familiar with pick-your-protein Technicolor curries. Odds are you’ve tried papaya salad, spring rolls, and pad thai improbably made with ketchup and maybe even peanut butter.

While many ethnic cuisines are domesticated to Western palates, Thai food may be the most bastardized in America. “We have the same basic Thai dishes over and over again, many of which have nothing to do with Thailand,” says Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind the bicoastal restaurant empire Pok Pok, known for authentic dishes like charcoal-roasted hen with lemongrass and tamarind.

But for as many sugarcoated Thai restaurants operating in the U.S., there’s an appreciable number of spots doing it right—especially in immigrant-heavy cities like Houston, where Asia Market encourages diners to personally adjust their dishes with condiments like pickled peppers, fish sauce, and chili sauce (nam prik)…

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