23 December 2010

An Almost Cristmassy Lunch

~ Menu ~

Creamy Chicken Liver Pâté with Cranberry Port Glaze
Various Toasts
Cuvée Prestige

= a great Almost Christmassy Lunch


Chicken livers are really luxurious – we used to have them on the menu in Cornwall sautéed in butter, deglazed with brandy and finished with cream.  I don’t know why but I always seemed to cook one liver too many per order and had to eat it.


They make a delicious pâté; I have read a lot of recipes for it but I don’t know what all the fuss is about, making chicken liver pâté is a very quick doddle. The following recipe, my standard for my entire adult life, results in a rich, luxurious and delicious pâté in about 10 minutes – and no messing.


Chicken Liver Pâté


380 g chicken livers
15g butter, oil or (really good) bacon fat (don’t try and be healthy because the next ingredient is …
60 g butter
1 tsp tomato purée
good grind of black pepper
medium sized slurp of brandy


~ Prepare the livers by separating the lobes (the nice bits) from the sinew (the nasty bits). Throw away the nasty bits.
~ Season the livers and sauté them in your chosen fat over high heat till they have firmed up and have brown crusty patches. Don’t over cook – they should be a little pink in the middle.
~ Transfer to a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and purée as smooth as poss.
~ Taste and season.
~ Transfer to a pretty dish and cool.
~ If not eating immediately you need to seal the top to stop oxidization – melted butter is good for long term storage, cling firm works too but is less tasty!


Of course you can add things to this and in the past I have had on various menus such things as Chicken Liver and Toasted Walnut Pâté, Chicken Liver and Calvados Pâté (with little dice of caramelised apple in it) and Chicken Liver Pâté with Frazzled Prosciutto but its all the same stuff, subtly fiddled with.


So I made this pâté yesterday whilst I had a spare 10 minutes and then, being in a strange kitchen, couldn’t find anything to put it in. Finally found this glass dish in the back of the pantry. With such a large surface area I didn’t want to cover it with butter to seal so I spread some recently made Cranberry and Port Conserve (as I like to call it – recipe below) on top – the sweetness is, in any case, a great foil to the unctuousness of the pâté.




The wine is the one I usually drink – it is a cheap red from Tesco called Cuvée Pestige which my friend Carol I both find most acceptable.


Cranberry Port “Conserve”


500 g fresh or frozen cranberries
200 g sugar
juice of 1 orange (or the equivalent in water)
75 ml (or whatever) of ruby port


~ Put the cranberries, sugar and orange juice or water into a pan and stir over low heat till the sugar has dissolved or melted or whatever it does.
~ Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat and cook gently, stirring from time to time till the berries are popping.
~ Stir vigorously (but carefully so as not to receive a burn) to a chunky sauce.
~ Stir in the port to taste.
~ Cool – or at least I think so!


Now then I don’t know about you but there is no time in the year that I feel more like a nog than Christmas morning. Egg nog is a serious Christmas tradition in America and also, therefore, in the Caribbean Islands and I have become acclimated to it as the Americans say. It is often served with an additional little something if you know what I mean. I haven’t seen any in the shops so here is what I made …


Very quick and easy Egg Nog


If you are worried about raw eggs then I’m afraid this isn’t for you.


2 lovely fresh eggs
90 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract – the real stuff, of course
225 ml double cream
300 ml cold milk


~ Whisk together the eggs and the sugar till starting to thicken.
~ Whisk in the vanilla and the double cream till well combined.
~ Lastly whisk in the milk.
~ Chill till needed.


HANDY HINT! - For storage I decanted mine into an empty Brandy bottle I had (where do they come from?) so that the aroma can infuse into the nog. See I even hate to waste smells! Serve chilled with a tot of brandy, rum or bourbon in it and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.


From my Caribbean stash! …







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