When I was a kid, I used to eat chopped liver like it was going out of style. It was a treat at every family gathering during holidays, whether it be Thanksgiving or Passover. I would sit within inches of the bowl and dip away (this was back in the Pre-Seinfeldian era,when double dipping wasn”t even a misdemeanor – so I double dipped my heart out..ICK, right?), cracker after cracker after cracker (or matzo cracker, after matzo cracker, after matzo cracker) – taking ownership of this bowl of brown stuff with chopped eggs in it.
One day, my grandmother informed me what chopped liver was made with. Yes, I knew what ‘liver’ was, but for some odd reason, I didn’t associate it with ‘liver’, just a yummy treat that happened to be called ‘liver’. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to separate the true meaning from this yummy spread – aka – it was so good, I didn’t want to know? In any event, I watched my grandmother make it from scratch before one holiday dinner, and lo and behold, as she explained, while pulling these blood clot looking lumps out of the wrapping from the butcher, these were ‘organs’ from chickadees. From that moment on, I never touched the stuff. Sad, but true. I tried, but suddenly I tasted liver! Damn! Why am I talking about liver? Well, when one thinks of pates, it’s usually liver that comes to mind – AND, two of my fav chicks are hosting this month’s Daring Cooks challenge, which happens to be well, pate..with homemade bread, which always excites me.
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.
One of the keys to all those lovely holes is a wet dough and very little handling of the dough- -more folding with a bench scraper, in lieu of kneading.
As mentioned above, liver seems to be the norm when it comes to your basic pate, and if it isn’t all liver, it always seems to have some bit of liver in it. Of course, two out of the four recipes given to us are liver pates. Am I making those? NO. Am I making two yummy pates minus the liver? YES.
Inititially, I was going to go off the beaten path, but then decided to keep things simple, making the tricolor vegetable pate recipe provided, and this awesome pate by the Two Hot Tamales, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (Remember them? From the days when the Food Network was mostly about real chefs and real cooking, not entertainment 24/7) called Killer Chilied Mushroom and Cashew Pate. The great thing is, neither of these pates are cooked (unless you count the sauteeed ‘shrooms, onions and garlic), and both are (would you believe it, on my blog?) vegetarian! Also, the mushroom-cashew pate looks like liver pate (translation – molded dog food), but it tastes so bleepin’ good, you must try it! (I say that a lot, don’t I?).
Regarding the bread, the really fun part for me, I made Craig Ponsford’s Ciabatta, which I covered back in 2008. In lieu of the traditional Ciabatta shape, I ended up forming all of the dough into one large, torpedo loaf, slashed down the middle prior to baking in my steam filled oven. It turned out lovely and delicious with a beautiful ‘holey’ crumb, but ginormous in comparison to my miniature pates. Well, that’s what bread knives are for, right? That said, they weren’t going to be pretty, perfect slices, like a baguette would have given me. Actually, who cares? Why do I get so anal over these things? Repeat, I am not a food stylist, I am not a food stylist.
With that said, I served the chilied mushroom-cashew pate with the bread and blue corn tortilla chips. The reason for the chips? So people would eat it! It’s weird, everyone loved the ingredients that went into these pates, but didn’t flip over the ingredients being ground into a paste like spread then molded. I don’t.get.it. The combined ingredients, pre- food processed/mashed/pulverized –whatever, they gladly would have eaten, but once molded into a smooth, pretty mini loaf, it suddenly wasn’t as appetizing. WTF? The tortilla chips provided a vessel which said “Dip me into this mushroomy-nutty MEXICAN DIP”, yep, that’s what it is..NOT PATE, a MEXICAN DIP! Once the tricolor veggie pate was spread on the bread..it was bread with spread, NOT PATE, just BREAD WITH SPREAD. Once again, I just don’t get it. I think it’s a texture thing and some see it as something akin to pureeing a steak in a blender when the golden years come knocking on our toothless mouths and sensitive stomachs.
Finally, when it came to the tricolor veggie pate, in viewing some of the Daring Cook’s results prior to posting day, I really felt the bean layer dominated the pate too much, hiding the lovely and flavorful red and green layers. I decided to half the recipe for the bean puree and use equal amounts in each mold so the lovely red-orange bell pepper-feta layer and green pesto-ricotta layer got equal billing. It also made for a prettier presentation, reminiscent of the Italian flag.
To get the recipes for the tricolor vegetable pate, a wonderful seafood pate and the ummm..two liver pates, click HERE. To see all the lovely and creative pates and breads, plus takes on the challenge pates and breads, click on the links at the Daring Cooks Blogroll. Also, I’m submitting the Ciabatta bread to Yeastspotting, a weekly bread baking event hosted by Susan at Wild Yeast. Au Revoir until next time!