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Pâté et Pain - Daring Cooks Bake in June

Chicken & Mushroom Terrine with Italian Bread 2

Yes indeed! We were asked to bake this month for the Daring Cooks Challenge. I am not all sure if it should not have been one for Daring Baker's but, I suppose, given it is a savory dish, it was a cooking challenge?!....

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.

We were challenged to make atleast one Pâté from the listed options and one bread of our choice. Most of the recipes for pâtés use liver, which, I quite dislike. So, I scoured around for a recipe that did not use innards and such. Quite accidentally, I remembered a book I had bought a while back in an effort to make chicken more fun to eat (for me!). There I found a recipe for a Terrine made with chicken meat and mushrooms...

Chicken & Mushroom Terrine

There is some debate on what is and isn't a Pâté. You may have noticed, I mentioned Terrine before; that's what I made..

Our hostesses said - Technically, a terrine is a baking recipient, usually ceramic or porcelain, with a lid – but it can also refer to the contents of the recipient. And some of the pâtés we looked at were designed to be unmolded onto a dish and then sliced, while others were meant to be left in the jar or baking dish they were prepared in, and merely used as a spread.

Wiki concurs - In French or Belgian cuisine, pâté may be baked in a crust as pie or loaf, in which case it is called pâté en croûte or baked in a terrine (or other mold), in which case it is known as pâté en terrine.

Italian Bread

I decided to proceed with my Chicken and Mushroom Terrine recipe! For authenticity, I did bake it in a porcelain mold... I used chicken thigh and leg meat and combined it with red wine sauteed portobellos. Now, the recipe I was adapting called for fresh herbs and since I was making this late in the night, I was a bit short on most herbs.

I used what I had, which made for interesting flavors. I used mint and Fenugreek. Fenugreek is a bitter herb that is used a lot in Eastern cuisine. We use the leaves and seeds for cooking and it's bitterness is supposed to be good for the digestive system (or perhaps that was just made up so children would eat it!). Nevertheless, it does have much nutritional value.

As to the bread, Mr.FSK does not much gravitate towards the crusty varieties. So, I chose a bread with a softer crust. I have wanted to try baking an Italian loaf and this seemed the opportune moment. I followed Peter Reinhart's recipe to the T (Although I did substitute a third of the flour with whole wheat). We loved the bread. It was soft, filling and flavorful. And, the house was filled with such lovely aromas! :))

Chicken & Mushroom Terrine with Italian Bread

Verdict: A fun challenge, especially since I love to bake, even though, it was a bit hot around here for this exercise. I enjoyed the pâté but, perhaps, because I did not use the fattier innards, it was a tad dry and not creamy like I am used to it being. If I ever get the courage to cook liver and such, I may give it another try.. The bread, on the other hand, is definitely a repeat! :)

P.S. : I am sending my Italian loaf to YeastSpotting..



Chicken and Mushroom Pâté

2 shallots, chopped
2 generous cups, mushrooms, chopped (no stems)
1/4 cup dry, red wine
2 chicken thighs, skinned and chopped
1 egg
2 T fresh breadcrumbs
2 T chopped mint
4 T chopped fenugreek

optional: For serving, pistachios, tomatoes and mint

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook the shallots and mushrooms with wine in a sauce pan over low heat until the vegetables are soft and the mixture is dry. Transfer to a food processor along with the chicken, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning and process coarsely. Add the herbs and pulse briefly.

Spoon into greased molds and smooth the surface. Cover with foil and bake fpr 30-35 minutes until juices are no longer pink. Remove from oven and place a weight on top leave to cool and then chill.

Serve with roasted pistachios, thinly sliced tomatoes and garnished with mint.

Zucchini-Cocoa, Lime-Ginger and Smoked Salmon Mousse Verrine - Velveteers March 2010

Verrine

The Velveteers band again. This month we decided to challenge ourselves with making savory Verrines.

A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack (source: Wikipedia).

Around the blogosphere, there have been many a verrine showcased but they were mostly of the sweet kind. And, so, we decided to go savory (I must say, that, was well received by Mr. FSK as well!). To push the envelope even more, each of us, Pam, Al, Aparna and I, chose one ingredient that must be used in our verrine. So we came up with - salmon, chocolate, cheese and squash; quite an eclectic combination, especially with the chocolate throwing one off the loop!

Verrine from top

I have long wanted to make verrines and have dreamed up quite a few flavor combinations, sweet and savory, that I have jotted down as drafts in my mailbox, my virtual notes diary. I had even bought glasses for them a couple of months back. But, this was the first I was actually executing. So, I was really thrilled and looking forward to it.

I was reasonably sure on how to use the squash, salmon and cheese but the chocolate was testing me quite a bit. Finally, I decided to use cocoa and pair it with zucchini (for the squash) because honestly, I could not think of anything to pair with that made sense with the rest of the ingredients.

Verrine 1

I had decided to make a Zucchini-Cocoa Mousse and Salmon Mousse. However, they did not quite seem to just go with each other on their own. I felt there needed to be a coordinating layer or sorts. When I tasted the zucchini-cocoa mousse, I felt like it needed a bit of kick. So, I went back to the drawing board.

I wanted something light so as to not overpower either the zucchini (which is quite delicate in flavor) or the salmon and yet connect them seamlessly. Citrus popped into my head as did ginger. Both, I think pair very well with zucchini and salmon individually and I figured that should work. So, became my middle layer of Lime and Ginger Mousse.

I made the zucchini and lime layers with whipped cream and used Cream Cheese to make the salmon mousse, lending it a richer texture. To top it off, I made a chilli-cocoa crusted zucchini chip.

Verrine 3

Verdict: The verrine was really good. The flavors came through individually and melded well together. The citrus kick was just enough to lighten the richness of the salmon mousse and brighten the zucchini. I think the chip was a bit overpoweringly bitter, probably because I used a lot of cocoa. Next time I think I'll sweeten it with some honey for a mellower flavor. All in all, Mr. FSK polished them off eagerly; So, I call it a success!


Zucchini-Cocoa, Lime-Ginger and Smoked Salmon Mousse Verrine
(serves 2)

Zucchini-Cocoa mousse:

1 zucchini, sliced; reserve some long strips for the chips
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp dried zucchini powder
1/2 cup whipping cream (you will use only half of it, reserve the other for the 2nd layer)
1/2 tsp of gelatin or agar-agar
1 T hot water
salt and lemon pepper per taste

Blanch the zucchini in hot water until translucent. Transfer immediately to ice cold water to retain the green color. Let it cool. Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in a tablespoon of hot water.

Puree the cooled zucchini with the gelatin water to a smooth texture. Fold in cocoa, dried zucchini powder and season with salt and pepper. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold in half of it to the zucchini mixture.

Divide the zucchini-cocoa mousse equally between two glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours to let it set.

Note: You can make zucchini powder by thinly slicing zucchini and letting it sit in an off oven overnight or until it has completely lost it's moisture content and then grinding it to a fine powder.


Lime-Ginger Mousse:

zest of half a lime
juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp gelatin
1 inch chunk of ginger, grated very fine
remaining half of whipped cream from above
salt to taste

Combine the zest, juice and ginger. Add the gelatin and heat the mixture until the gelatin dissolves. Season with salt. Fold in the whipped cream and layer over the zucchini mousse layer. Let set in the refrigerator for atleast 4 hours.

Smoked Salmon Mousse:

3 T smoked salmon of your choice + more for garnish
3 T cream cheese at room temperature
1 T heavy cream
1 T hot water
1/4 tsp gelatin
salt and pepper to taste

Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Whip all the ingredients together to make a smooth, creamy mixture. Pipe into the glasses over the lime mousse layer. Allow to set for atleast 4 hours.

Chilli-Cocoa Crusted Zucchini Chips
(this is the modified version based on my experience and what I think will work better)

2 zucchini slices, sliced lengthwise with skin on
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together the honey, cocoa, paprika and salt and rub the zucchini slices generously. Cover with wrap and let marinate for a few hours. Deep fry them to crisp and sprinkle with sea salt crystals.


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Velveteers was started by Aparna, Asha, Alessio and Pam, who are passionate about different cuisines and food in general. Each month, we will attempt a new dish and share our experiences and the recipes we used. If you’re interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment.

Do, check out what the other Velveteers have created:

Alessio - http://recipetaster.blogspot.com/

Indian Inspired Carrots and Lentil Soup

Carrot and Lentil soup 3

Sometimes, there is nothing better than a simple soup to satisfy the soul. A soup that is easy to make, with familiar flavors but presented differently, that warms you from the inside on a cold, cold day.

Weekends are mostly lazy time. There are days when I wake up with a whole elaborate meal planned out in my head all dreamed up over the course of my restless sleep, muttering about ingredients and sauces and stuff. And, more often, I wake up and open the refrigerator hoping there is something that can be whipped up into something else without a whole lot of effort.

So, when I saw the bag of sweet carrots and pretty much nothing else in the fridge, I stared at it for a while. The idea of heading to the grocery for more stuff didn't appeal. It was one of those muggy mornings and even around noon I was still too groggy (we live such happening Friday nights, you see... slothing in front of the tube and mindlessly watching re-runs of Grey's Anatomy.. very exciting stuff!).

Carrot and Lentil soup-1

Anyway , for as long as I remember, I have not like cooked carrots. I just don't like the texture. So, well, finally, after what seemed like eternity (now that I think back.. at that time.. it seemed much more spontaneous..), it struck me that I could make soup with perhaps something else to add more body to it. More foraging and hazy thinking later, I had an 'Aha' moment. Why not make a dal type soup with carrots. Perfect! It's simple to make. I love dal flavors and it's different without being shatteringly jolting...

So, there it was.. a simple soup with red lentils and pureed sweet carrots with a touch of garam masala for spice and extra warmth. Poured over day old crusty bread and topped with Parmesan it was a fabulously easy lunch and so satisfying too!


Carrot and Lentil Soup

1/2 cup red lentils, washed and drained
1 cup sweet carrots
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 cup water
fresh grated parmesan, as needed
day-old baguette (optional)
salt and pepper as needed
olive oil for garnish


Par boil the carrots in a pot. Drain the carrots and reserve the cooking liquid. Cook the lentils in the carrot water with the turmeric until completely cooked.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the cumin and garam masala and cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the carrots and lightly toss to coat with the spices. Once the dal is cooked, add it to the mixture. Cook for 5 more minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Puree the mixture to the consistency you like. Add the puree back to the pot along with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, place a couple of pieces of day old crusty bread at the bottom of the bowl. Pour the hot soup over the bread. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and garnish with sliced raw carrots and parmesan.

Oil tarts are in!


Yes, you read it right! Not butter.... oil. When I first came across the recipe for a tart shell with oil instead of butter on Passionate about baking, I was instantly inspired to make it! I have long wondered if oil could create that wonderful flakiness that is most loved about a butter crust. After all, the Indian paratha has a lovely flaky texture and is made with oil or ghee. So, armed with a recipe to help me out with the measures, I was ready to test my hypothesis .

Recently, a friend of ours introduced us to a small farmers' market in midtown Manhattan (52nd street between 8th and 9th avenues). Bang in the center of prime real estate, it carried fresh produce at admirably reasonable prices. When I found a butternut squash that was perfectly sized for two, I was sold!

As soon as I saw the squash, I decided to make roasted butternut squash tart with the new healthy version for the crust. That crust experiment unfortunately, did not go as well as I expected. As I followed the recipe, I felt that the dough was a bit dry and tough and it stayed that way after being baked as well. The tart filling was moist but the crust was way too hard. But, I did not give up. I decided to give the oil tart another chance, this time, with some modifications.

For take #2, I decided to make rosemary tart with a layered filling of ricotta, marinara and zucchini, like a lasagna. I made the crust with minced fresh rosemary. I also upped the amount of water and substituted half the olive oil with canola oil. The result was much better than the previous time.

The crust was soft, supple, light yet flavorful. But, it did not turn out flaky! A butter crust definitely has a better texture and arguably a richer flavor. However, I liked the oil crust quite a bit. It is a pretty good, much healthier version, which, is a whole lot easier to work with (especially with no constraint to work quickly to prevent the butter from melting!).


Oil Tart Crust
adapted from
here

1-3/4 cup spelt wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced rosemary
1/2 cup + 2T ice cold water (I did this more on a add as you go basis. So it could be a bit more or less)
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup canola oil
2 tsp oil

Sift together flour, salt, pepper and rosemary. Add the oil and mix it in with a fork. Add water slowly, mixing it in and kneading the dough until it comes together into a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the out into a circle large enough to fit your tart pan. Transfer the dough carefully into the prepared pan and line it without stretching. Trim off the excess dough with the rolling pin. Refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes.

Blind bake the crust in oven preheated to 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and continue baking for five more minutes. Dial down the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill the tart with filling of choice (suggested recipes below). Return to oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the tart is fully cooked. If using mozzarella on top, reserve the cheese until the last 7 minutes, then sprinkle over and cook until the cheese is melted.

Remove the tart from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top with parmesan, chives or other garnish and serve.

Roasted Butternut Squash Tart

1 oil tart crust blind baked
1-1/4 cup homemade (or store bought) marinara sauce
1 cup roasted butternut squash dices
3/4 cup grated fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tsp chopped chives or scallions for garnish

Spread half the marinara sauce at the bottom of the tart shell. Top the layer with the roasted butternut squash pieces and then a half cup of grated mozzarella. Spread another layer of marinara sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tart in the last 7 minutes and finish baking. Garnish with chives/scallions and serve.


Zucchini Lasagna Tart
adapted from
101 cookbooks

1 oil tart baked as above
1 medium zucchini thinly sliced
1-1/4 cups marinara sauce
1-1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 T grated parmesan cheese

Spread half the ricotta cheese on the bottom of the tart. Then, spread a third of the sauce over it. Line the zucchini slices around the tart in an overlapping fashion.

Repeat the cheese, sauce and zucchini layers. Top of with the remaining sauce and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until tart is fully cooked.

Let tart rest for 5 minutes, garnish with grated parmesan and serve.

Serving up nostalgia in a cup - Curried Egg Pastries


Growing up in India, one of my favorite snacks was puffs. The flaky pastry pockets with a spicy filling of vegetables, egg or chicken were the ultimate after-school/college comfort snacks. They are like the turnovers you get here in US, only savory. My mom would get them from my favorite bakery and it would be waiting, warm and delicious, along with my evening tea. Incidentally, it was also my grandad's favorite snack and tussle we did for the last one! LOL

When I first came across frozen puff pastry sheets at the grocery store, the first thing that popped into my head was "Puffs for tea time, Yipee!!". I think I made them with mushroom filling that time. Oh! were they satisfying?! Ever since, I have made many savory and sweet versions of them. By the way, you can fill them with berry jam and serve warm with a big scoop of ice cream and toasted nuts for a scrumptious dessert!

And, ofcourse, they make perfect finger food at parties. So, that is exactly what I did for a recent house party we hosted. I deconstructed the concept of the puff to make delicate pastry cups filled with curried egg and topped with a dollop of sour cream for a bit of fresh flavor. You can easily substitute the eggs with shredded cooked chicken or shrimps.

Its is just a fancy way of serving up the same childhood flavors that we grew up with and reliving those carefree memories .... :)

Curried Egg Cups
(makes 12)

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
3 eggs, hard boiled
1 medium onion, julienned
2 tomatoes, diced fine
1 T tomato paste
4 Indian green chillies or 1 jalapeno, diced fine
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 T spicy salsa
12 tsp sour cream
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
a bit of coriander/parsley for garnish
salt to taste
2 T oil
1 muffin pan

Saute the onions in oil until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a couple of minutes more. Add the turmeric, cumin, cayenne and season with salt as needed. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and 2 T of water and cook till fully done and the sauce is thick. Rough chop and toss in the eggs into the onion-tomato mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 400 degrees. On a well-floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to an approximate 9" x 12" size. Make 12 square pieces of the pastry. Line each muffin cup with a pastry and arrange so as to form a cup inside. Spoon in egg mixture into each cup.

Place the pan in oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until the sides are puffed and golden. Let the pastries cool for a few minutes. Top each cup with a teaspoon of sour cream and garnished with a spring of coriander/parsley.

Arrange on a decorative serving platter.
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