Tag Archives: canapé

Chicken Liver Pâté

Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pâté

This recipe comes with a health warning – for me at least.

There are some foods I love to eat, scratch that, there are many, many foods I love to eat, but have accepted the fact it’s probably not such a fantastic idea I learn to cook all of them as I’m too scared to have them in the house because I know I’ll keep eating until they’re finished.  I’ve broken this agreement a few times over the years, you’ll not be surprised to hear, and the most recent transgression is Chicken Liver Pâté.  I am a fiend for all types of pâté, rough, smooth, every type of meat, en croute, rillette (oh, melting into warm toast – you see, even writing about it is a bit too much for me to bear)  love love foie gras even though I know it’s terrible for the poor geese, sorry.  If there’s pâté on the menu you can bet I’ll order it.  And around the festive season I allow myself a treat and buy some for myself.  But now, I’ve made it and of course true to form, I ate all of it within 3 days, with only a little help.

Preparation Time:  40 minutes
Setting Time:  A couple of hours

Ingredients
A splash of olive oil
400gr / 14 oz. fresh chicken livers
300gr / 10.5 oz. unsalted butter
2 x banana shallots chopped finely
2 x large garlic cloves, chopped finely
Leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Leaves from 3 sprigs of sage, chopped finely
½ a freshly grated nutmeg
3 x tbsp Glayva whisky liqueur
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken Liver Pate

Method

  1. First you need to clarify some of the butter to make the seal on top of the pâté. Place half the butter in a pan and set the heat for it to melt.  Be careful it doesn’t burn or take on any colour.  Once melted take the pan from the heat and let the white milk protein float to the top – scoop it off with a spoon and discard.
  2. Heat a little oil in a sauté pan and add the shallots and garlic, stirring them occasionally until they have softened.
  3. Add the thyme and sage to the pan and stir through then empty the contents of the pan into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add another little bit of oil to the pan and heat it, then add the chicken livers. This should be done on a relatively high heat and in a pan large enough that the livers can be spread out without overcrowding it.  Cook for only a minute or two on each side, the centre of the liver should be cooked but still a little pink.  If you overcook them, they will be rubbery and dry.
  5. Pour the Glayva into the pan to de-glaze it, allow the liquid to evaporate, add a little salt, the nutmeg and pepper. Once cooked remove the livers and put them into a food processor along with the shallot, garlic and herb mix.
  6. Whizz the mix until it is very smooth, taste for seasoning and pass the pâté through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. You will need to work it through – I find the back of a large metal spoon works best for this, or a plastic spatula.
  7. Pour the pâté into sterilized jars, then pour the clarified butter over each, carefully, until it is about 1cm thick.
  8. Seal the jars and put them in the fridge to set.

Tips and Variations

  • You can use brandy, Calvados, Marsala wine or normal whisky instead of Glayva – I like the touch of sweetness it brings, and of course, being Scottish, I always have some in the house.
  • The pâté keeps for about a week in the fridge.
  • You don’t have to use the top butter layer when serving, it’s more there to protect the pâté. However, you can if you wish, it is nice when you scoop out a little butter with the pâté to spread on warm toast.
  • I like to serve my pâté on oatcakes with a dab of cranberry compote, but it is also nice with some pickled onions and cournichon.

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Chicken Liver Pate

Savoury Sundried Tomato Pinwheels

Savoury Sundried Tomato Pinwheels

Savoury Sundried Tomato Pinwheels

There’s a balance to be struck when you’ve got people over for drinks and nibbles.  The thing is you don’t (or at least I don’t) want to give them stuff I’ve bought ready prepared – no matter how posh, it’s not the same as making the effort and never as tasty.  And those awful snacks from supermarkets – yuk!  Expensive and salty!  And the other side is, you don’t want to be in the kitchen for hour’s or worse, stuck melting your make-up off at a hot oven while your guests are enjoying drinks without you.  So, I normally keep it simple, maybe a nice cheeseboard, some brown shrimp in small glasses, some cured meats like salami etc. on a rustic wooden board, maybe an olive or two and then a couple of things I make myself, like a hummus dip or my red pepper dip,  (which I make in bulk and usually have in the freezer ready to go) and then a nice warm pastry that’s easy to make and can be prepared in advance – this one you can make a day early.  The only thing I feel I need to warn you about with this recipe is make sure you make enough.  These are a real crowd-pleaser, and the smell of them baking in the oven seems to get everybody a bit crazy – even with those people who always say ‘Oh, looks lovely but I won’t.’  This is the time when they definitely will.

The Recipe

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time:  20 to 25 minutes
Makes: About 22 pinwheels

Savoury Sundried Tomato Pinwheels

Ingredients

450gr / 16 oz. ready-made puff pastry
200gr / 7 oz. sundried tomatoes – drain the oil and pat them dry to remove excess
2 x large cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x tbsp of dried oregano
1 x tbsp of dried mint (or an extra oregano if you don’t have mint)
100gr / 3.5 oz.  grated parmesan cheese
A little plain flour to help you roll out the pastry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x beaten egg to brush over the pinwheels before baking

Savoury Sundried Tomato Pinwheels

Method

  1. Set your oven to heat to 200°C/400°F and line a roasting tray (or two) with baking paper.
  2. Place the sundried tomatoes, garlic, a little salt and pepper into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust the salt, or you may wish to add more garlic or pepper.
  3. Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a cool, dry, clean surface and roll out the pastry, turning it over occasionally until it measures about 46cm / 18in. x 35cm / 14in.
  4. Place spoonfuls of the sundried tomato mix at random intervals over the pastry and spread them together with the back of a metal spoon until evenly distributed – get the mix as close to the edge as you can.
  5. Sprinkle the herbs over evenly, then the cheese.
  6. Then it’s time to roll. Be quick, firm and smooth with your actions.  Roll from the longest side, make sure your pastry is even when you roll and not loose.
  7. Take a sharp knife and slice the pastry roll into 1cm pinwheels and lay on your baking trays – not too close together – this is puff pastry after all, about 3 to 4cm / 1.5in between each wheel should be enough.
  8. Brush each pinwheel with the egg wash and place in the oven, for about 20 to 25 minutes, but check after 15. They are ready when golden brown and crispy.

Savoury Sundried Tomato PInwheels

Tips and Variations

  • Keep the oil from the tomatoes, you can use it for lots of tasty pasta dishes.
  • The tomatoes need to be drained because if they are too wet the mix will be too moist and the pastry won’t crisp up.
  • You can prepare the pinwheels up to a day in advance, keep them in the fridge and bake them when you want them.
  • You can serve the pinwheels at room temperature, but they are really delicious fresh from the oven, and the smell of them baking gets everyone’s appetites going.
  • If the pastry has become warm whilst you’ve been working with it, it may be difficult to cut into nice slices so place the pastry ‘sausage’ in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill.

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Savoury Sundried Tomato Pinwheels

Manchego Cheese with Thyme and Honey


Manchego Cheese with Honey and Thyme

Manchego Cheese with Thyme and Honey:

I can’t really claim this to be a recipe, it’s more  an idea for something to serve with drinks or just to nibble on.  This is one of my go to snacks on hot summer days – days when turning the heat up in the kitchen can be a slightly unbearable thought, so, dinner ends up being a succession of nibbles and salads.  Nothing wrong with that, in fact, I love to eat this way, I love to spend summer evenings pottering about in a cool kitchen and presenting plate after plate of little delicious things that people think I’ve spent ages working on.

This works best with a salty cheese, I mostly use Manchego, but pecorino is a really good one too.  You can also try it with blue cheese, roquefort or calabres would be where I’d go with this.  I that a goats’ milk or ewes’ milk cheese offers an extra silty quality that contrasts best with the sweetness of the honey and the earthy thyme taste.   If you want to make a more decadent version, try pecorino flavoured with truffle.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Serves 4
12 to 16 slices of mature manchego cheese
2 x tsps of honey
1 x tbsp of fresh thyme chopped finely

Method

  1. Lay the slices of cheese on your serving dish, drizzle with honey and then sprinkle the thyme over your plate.

Tips and Variations

  • Serve with a crisp glass of white Rioja or Albariño
  • Works really well with pecorino cheese too.

 

White Asparagus Parmesan Crisps

White Asparagus Parmesan Crisps

White Asparagus Parmesan Crisps:

Huge confession, I’m not really into white asparagus.  Eek!  I know, that makes me almost an outcast in the Netherlands – the Dutch are obsessed with it, but well, I can take it or leave it.  But, I don’t hate it and I’m always up for a challenge so when the short season comes around I normally have a go preparing and cooking it in a different way.  One of this years successes has been these little crisps – it’s a really tasty combination, but make sure you get a bit of both ingredients in every bite for maximum effect.

They’re a really nice canapé idea for any gathering, especially if you are going the whole hog and preparing a celebratory white asparagus menu.  Serve with a nice glass of Pinot auxerrois, a little sweet with a little bubble from the Alsace.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes

Serves 4  to 6
6 x white asparagus, cleaned, peeled and the first 2.5cm/1in of the stalk removed (the woodiest part).
100gr /  3.5 oz. parmesan cheese, finely grated.
Some freshly ground black pepper.

Method

  1. Using the fine side of a box grater, grate the asparagus. Squeeze out excess liquid.  The best way to do this is to squeeze it through a clean tea towel.
  2. Heat your oven to 180°C/360°F.
  3. Combine the asparagus and the parmesan in a bowl – use a fork, with a spoon the mix will ball and clump.
  4. Line a large roasting tray or trays with baking paper.
  5. Place spoonfuls (about a tbsp) of the mix at about 2.5cm/1in apart on the tray.
  6. Give each little mound a sprinkle of pepper and place in the oven for about 7 minutes. Check after 5.  They are ready when the cheese is bubbling and melted and has taken a little colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before taking the crisps off the tray.

Tips and Variations

  • It is important to combine the asparagus and the cheese evenly so that each crisp tastes of both ingredients.
  • The crisps don’t keep very well, they will go soggy and so are best served within a couple of hours of being made.

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White Asparagus Parmesan Crisps

Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese

 

Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese

So, now that you’ve made your cheese (or maybe you haven’t – don’t worry, I wouldn’t do that to you, there are other options below) here’s a great idea to spice it up.  This is something I ate in Kerala as a starter to a fabulous fish meal at the Bait Restaurant just outside Kovalam.  Some of this cheese, dipped in mint chutney and a cold Kingfisher beer – what better way to start off your curry night? 

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes. 

Serves 4
400gr (just under 1 lb.) of paneer cheese cut into oblongs (about pinky finger sized)
1 x large garlic clove
1 x green chili
1 x tsp nutmeg
2 x tsp honey
1 x tbsp sunflower oil
Juice of a lime (about 2 x tbsps)
A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
4 x tsps of coriander powder
2 x tsps of cumin powder
8 dried curry leaves (or 4 fresh)
A pinch of salt

Method 

  1. Place all the ingredients, except for the cheese, in a food processor and whizz up until everything is very fine. Check for salt.
  2. Rub the mix over each piece of your cheese to cover each side as best you can.
  3. Heat a grill pan until it is very hot. Place each piece in the pan turning them every 30 seconds or so to brown each side and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Tips and Variations

  • If you can’t get a hold of paneer cheese try this with halloumi or tofu.
  • Serve with some mint chutney, mango chutney or chili style dip.
  • Great served with a cold beer.