It’s a Gamble…Ramble…

Lord knows that most the time I rarely use a recipe, and if I end up using one I never follow everything to a T.   I am often inspired to make something sporadically but rarely do I ever know how to recreate it.  So as soon as I figured this recipe out I knew I just had to write it down.  This recipe was created for my client.  This same recipe will also be used for a baby shower for which I will be catering later next month.

I adapted this recipe from  Saveur.com and it was one of Richard Olney’s recipes for a poultry liver terrine, from Simple French Cooking.  I assumed that pâté should have a certain consistency.  I was worried about not having a proper machine to make a smooth pâté but surely enough the idea of a very earthy and herbaceous chicken liver spread delighted my senses.  The instructions called for hand minced liver, and a bit of weight was lifted from my worries.

Everything and the kitchen sink in this one.  I opted for more butter, the addition of creme fraiche  and a bit more herbs.  So, forgive me if this isn’t the normal protocol for creating a liver spread.   It was a bit of a gamble to create something like this and not really knowing how it would turn out.  But to my surprise I had the upper hand on this one.

This spread is enriched through bacon fat, the creme fraiche, and butter which becomes extra decadent when it solidifies.  But it doesn’t taste heavy or overly rich at all.  So with my handy scissors I went out to the garden and cut up a few sprigs of sage, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.

If you do not have Creme Fraiche handy I am sure you could work with sour cream. Bacon fat is also optional.  However, I would have really liked to have used Duck Fat.  It would have lent a bit of a cleaner taste and would have been really pretty to have a nice set layer atop the spread.

 
 
 
 
 
Rustic Chicken Liver Spread w/ Garden Herbs 
 
1 1/2  lb Chicken Livers
1/2 C.  Creme Fraiche ( I used Cow Girl Creamery)
1/2 C.   Softened butter
1/2 T.  Fresh Rosemary
1/2 T.  Fresh Marjoram
1/2 T.  Fresh Thyme
1/2 T.  Fresh Sage
1     Medium Yellow Onion
2  Cloves Garlic s
3 T.  Bacon Fat or Duck Fat or Goose Fat
2     Medium Eggs
1/2 C.  Milk.
1 1/2 C. White Bread Crumbs
1 T. Freshly cracked black pepper
1/8 C. White Wine
Salt

 
 
Directions
 
Things to Prepare and Set Aside…
  • Have your butter at room temp.
  • Finely dice your onions, almost a mince.
  • Make very skinny slivers of your garlic.
  • Clean your livers of any discolorations or sinewy pieces. Chop your livers for a small (not fine) consistency.
  • Take pull apart the fragrant leaves from the stems of the herbs and fine chop.
  • Lightly toast your bread, remove the crust and place in a plastic bag.  Crush with heavy object to make the crumbs.

Turn on your skillet to high let skillet come to temp, and add a bit of olive oil.  Add your onions and garlic let cook till softened.  Add your livers and cook till there is no longer any visible pink.  Add your wine and scrape bottom of pan, now add all your herbs.  Season livers with salt to taste.

In bowl combine your breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, and creme fraiche.  Season with salt about 1/2 a tablespoon.

Take your livers off heat and your fresh cracked pepper.  Let cook to room temp.  Add your softened butter.  Combine bread crumb/egg mixture.  Place in your desired dish. Let cool, and let it set in your refrigerator overnight.  However there is one other important step

Note: I like to use a potato masher or a large fork to further mash the livers after they get off the heat in order to get a much smoother paste-like consistency.


This is why I love cooking.  It’s the ability to make something ordinary like chicken livers into something completely heavenly and scrumptious.  I also love the ability to invent, re-invent, and experiment with the mammoth supply of food items around us.   It can sometimes be a gamble, but at least this time the end result gave me a winning hand.

Holiday Feast – Braised Lamb, apple bacon greens, soft polenta, cornbread dressing

Last minute Christmas feast!  I had the urge to cook…not knowing the who what and where…all that was certain was the WHY.  The WHY I wanted to cook. This was the first holiday season that I was not home with my family.  I spent the time with Daniel at his loft and cooked us endless meals.  It’s usually like that, I start cooking and can’t stop! My mind starts to move in a rapid pace, brainstorming the next flavor.  I just wanted to feed and nourish anybody that was around this holiday season with a warm and comforting meal.

This was the case for this last-minute feast.  I wanted to cook to feed but who? where ? and what would I cook? Luckily we had the fridge stocked with random ingredients.  Some leftover cornbread, fresh lamb shanks from the local butcher, and using what we had in the pantry we accomplished a very very very tasty meal.

Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks W/Herbs
♥Will Serve 4-6

3 Lamb Shanks – Cut into 1/3rds
Zest of 1 lemon – & its juice
Zest of 1 orange – & its juice
2 T. Paprika
1 T. Salt
2 Sprigs Rosemary – Fine Mince
3 Sprigs Oregano – Fine Mince
1 Cup Red Wine
1 Carrot – Large rustic cuts
2 Celery Ribs  – Large Rustic Cuts
3 Cloves Garlic –
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Bottle of Hefeweizen
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:
Rub Shanks with the next six Ingredients.   Add the red wine cover and leave in fridge for about 3 hours.
Cut Celery Carrots Onions and Garlic cloves.  Set Aside.
Heat pan till fairy hot add oil and lamb shanks.  Sear all sides until nicely browned.
While those are searing, take out your cast iron skillet (or any oven ready pot) add the cut aromatics including 1 sprig of rosemary.
Transfer seared shanks into the oven ready pot.  Add the bottle of Hefeweizen (any beer will do) and Apple cider vinegar to the pan and deglaze.

Add ½ cup of H20 to the pan; add 1 T of salt and ½ T. of pepper into liquid pour deglazed liquid into other pan.  Cover with foil and slow roast in oven at 325 for another 3.5 hours.

The combination of wine and beer balances the richness of the lamb.   The light bright hefeweizen calms down the otherwise rich and heavy braising liquid and is a beautifully unites with the citrus notes of this dish.

Slow Cooked Greens w/Apples & Bacon
♥Works well with beet greens, kale, and chard.  For this recipe I used a medley of greens. Together about 1 medium bunch of each.

1 Apple
1 Bunch Chard
1 Bunch Kale
1 Bunch Beet Greens
½ yellow onion
2 Cloves garlic
3 slices of thick bacon
3 Rounds of a lemon 1/3 inch thick
½ cup White Wine
½ Cup Water
2 T. tomato Paste
Salt to taste.

Directions:

Cut the apple into each side to leave a square core.  Slice those sides to fairly thin (but not too thin) crescents.   Set Aside. Slice onions into thin wedges, thinly slice the garlic cloves set aside.  Cut greens into 1 inch ribbons.  Combine the 2 T. of tomato paste with the ½ cup of water and thin out the paste.   Cut bacon into 1/2 inch dices.
Heat pan and add the onions bacon and the garlic when aroma is released (do not let brown) turn heat to medium add the apples cook for 1 minute.  Add the Greens and white wine.   Lightly toss and add the tomato liquid and salt.  Cover and let wilt.  When volume is reduced to ½ add the whole rounds of lemon. Cook on med-low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Cornbread Dressing
1 Carrot
2 Ribs Celery
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Yellow onion
1 Leek
1 Shallow pan  6×8  (pre-made day old cornbread) Cubes
Chicken broth
4 T Butter
Oregano
Rosemary
3 T . Dried Herb Medley (marjoram, thyme, etc)
Salt
Pepper


Directions:

Set oven to 250. Cut the cornbread into small cubes put on a sheet tray.  Oil generously and sprinkle with the dried herbs.  Lightly salt and pepper.  Toast or dry out for about 1 hour.
Dice carrots, celery, onions, and leeks.  Make sure all are about the same size.  Mince garlic.  Heat up a Saute pan, add 1/8th of a cup of oil and the butter add the carrots, onions, leeks and garlic all at once.  Sweat the vegetables until onions become slightly translucent.  Add the chicken broth.
Transfer toasted cornbread into a large  mixing bowl.  Add the liquid mixture to the cornbread.  Add the fresh minced herbs, and a bit more black pepper.  Toss so liquids and vegetables are well incorporated with the cornbread.
Transfer into a baking dish, cover with foil and cook at 350 for another hour.