Monday, June 14, 2010

Daring to do it: Pate and Bread

(Yet again, this is going to be a long, picture intensive post... Please bear with me!)
Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of 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.

Ok, this was a challenge I was going to have to read before I got either excited or frustrated. Pate is not something I think to make too often. Or at all... The only pates I know of are liver. We used to make chopped liver at home growing up, until we decided that we liked our arteries... Now that I have a vegetarian kitchen, I was really curious to see what would be offered up as a vegetarian alternative to livers. As it turns out, there was an interesting looking vegetarian option, some sources for vegan pates, and research turned up a lot of interesting stuff. So this challenge was going to be a lot of fun for me - as long as no one expected me to stick exactly to the given recipe! (No offence intended - I am sure the carnivorous recipes are good, and the vegetarian one looked great, I just don't know how to leave well enough alone!!) Interestingly - at least to me - the aspect of the challenge that a number of m y fellow Daring Cooks were troubled by was not the pate, but the bread. As it turns out, there are many people out there who do not enjoy both cooking and baking, and for whom the prospect of baking bread is a bit intimidating. Fool that I am, I was excited to try a new bread recipe! Actually, fool that I am, I made three different pates combinations! I know, I am kind of insane...

If you somehow haven't noticed, I am a dessert person. Even when it comes to these cooking challenges, I always imagine some sort of dessert alternative. Well, the first pate I chose to make was a dessert pate. During my research I found that pates and terrines could be made in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. I found some amazing looking recipes for chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, and other dessert type dishes. I decided to improvise and made a chocolate chip cheesecake pate. I didn't really follow a recipe, I just sort of winged it. I used cream cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla... some cinnamon, I think.... and some melted baking chocolate to make a chocolate layer. And, of course, chocolate chips! I cooked it in a bain marie (I think that's how it is spelled...), or water bath, until it seemed set up. Instead of bread I served this pate on a plain cake. It was REALLY good! Hubby told me that it tasted like the filling for a black bottom cupcake, which is praise, since he isn't a huge cheesecake fan but loves black bottom cupcakes!!

For my second pate I decided that I really ought to work from the recommended challenge recipes. Of course, my options were limited, since I could not use any of the meat recipes. But the Tricolor Vegetable Pate looked quite yummy, so I didn't actually feel limited at all. I did, though, make it a two color dish rather than three, as I decided it would be nice to make it such that Little Girl could eat all of it, and I have yet to give her roasted red peppers. I was also interested in making it a slightly smaller quantity, as there aren't enough people to eat that much pate!
I started with the bean layer. Into my food processor went cannellini beans, sauteed onion and garlic, olive oil and spices. It smelled good already, so how bad could this be?! After a couple of quick whirs in the processor, I transferred the mixture to a bowl to mash by hand, as I was afraid the loud machine might wake a sleeping baby-girl... (Usually my cooking time has to be Little Girl's nap time. Even a yummy dish isn't worth waking her and having a cranky girl!!) Into the dish with the first layer...
As I was omitting the red peppers, the other layer was to be a pesto mixture. Yummy - I love pesto! But I don't have that much basil, and I didn't have the chance to get it. But I did have something else green - spinach! So I made a spinach and ricotta cheese layer, adding in the remaining onions and garlic from the bean layer. As Little Girl was still asleep, I again mixed this by hand. I didn't get as uniform a green color as I would have liked, but I did get the nap to extend, so that was a trade I was willing to make! The spinach went on top of the beans, the whole thing got wrapped up and put in the refrigerator to set up for dinner. So far, so good...
As for the bread, I used the given recipe for baguettes. I have made French bread before, using Mark Bittman's recipe from my beloved How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cook book. I was excited to try this new recipe, but a little nervous, too. It didn't call for very much yeast, and I needed to make an overnight starter... This was new to me. But that's what this is all about, right? At around 8:30 pm looked like this:
...somewhat sticky, shapeless, lumpy...
The next morning? I had this:Frothy, light, still sticky, and well risen!! That was really cool to see, at least for me, and looked like a good omen for the breads to come!
Once all of the ingredients are combined, this dough is actually supposed to rise and be punched down three times, then get shaped, then rise again before baking. I was a little surprised how much the dough rose from start to finish. I didn't know how the extra punch downs would affect it, but clearly it works!! I had a nice, puffy, smooth bread dough ready to form into baguettes. The only thing I changed in this recipe was inadvertent - I forgot to spray the loaves with warm water before baking them. Somehow, they were still browned and crispy, so I don't feel too badly!!Put together, the pate and the bread made for a really nice dinner. As the weather has finally been warming up, this was a great meal for a hot day, and Hubby, Little Girl and I all enjoyed it!

Finally, the last pate. When I first read the challenge, there actually was a recipe that came to mind before I started getting (or trying to get...) creative... A couple of years ago a friend of the family introduced us to a mock chopped liver. It tastes frightfully convincing. Not identical, and the texture is different, but it is really similar... So I thought it would be fun to make that for the challenge. The problem is that Hubby isn't really a fan, and Little Girl can't yet have it, as it contains nuts. Well, I solved that problem by going to Florida to visit my parents! While my father won't eat this, my mother and I both like it, and were glad to have the excuse to make it!This is a frightfully easy recipe. It calls for four basic ingredients: hard boiled eggs, sauteed onion, walnuts and a can of peas. That's it. Give it all a whir in the food processor (again, while the one year old is not napping!) and get it to the consistency you like! The intention had been to serve this with Friday night dinner, so having freshly baked challah as the bread pairing. But that kind of didn't happen... My mom and I looked at it after it was made and decided that we really had to "test taste" it for lunch with pita chips. So that is what we did...!

Thank you so much to Evelyne and Valerie for this challenge!! I would never have thought to make pate were it not for you, and I had a lot of fun exploring the possibilities!

If you would like to see the amazing (and sometimes frightening!) creations made by my fellow Daring Cooks, then take a look here!


  1. Wow, I love the idea of the dessert pate! And the mock liver pate is interesting, I might try that next time, great job!

  2. WOW so much information and the mock liver pâté sounds like something I should try it sounds so intriguing. And your bread step-by-step photos are amazing. And that sweet pâté is inspired. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. Lovely job on the challenge! Love your dessert version and the spinach pesto sounds delicious.

  4. No no no I think your efforts are wonderful and very inspirational. I learnt about faux liver pâté from your posting and it sounds so good and all Daring Bakers' contribute to the success of the forums like you. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. Your pate looks great and baguettes are beautiful.
    Great job!

    Cheers. Anula.

  6. That dessert pate looks so yummy! You are lucky that your little girl ate the veggie pate. My little girl used to eat everything and now that she's three she pretty much ran screaming from the pate. Great job on the challenge!

  7. I love the idea of a dessert pate - well done!

  8. Cheesecake pâté, love it! You did a great job adapting the challenge! Thanks for cooking with us this month!

  9. Bread looks great Ruth!! You are always welcome to join us for a homemade meal!! Pate and dessert sound just right:)

  10. AWESOME job on this challenge. And I love the sweet version. Glad you felt we were there to support. Thank for participating in our challenge.

  11. Great post, great pâtés and breads! Kudos to you. I really like the idea of your dessert pâté - I also made a dessert version, but that consisted of different sorbets. Yours sounds very tasty!

  12. Great job on the challenge!! Your pates look wonderful, and I love the idea of a dessert pate...who doesn't love dessert :). And your bread looked incredible - nice job.

  13. I love dessert pates, yours sounds really delicious.

    The mock liver pate piqued my interest.:)

  14. I want your cheesecake-chocolate pate!! Brilliant idea! I was going to make a chocolate - pistachio one, but got lazy. Also..I love basil pesto, but truth be told..I'd lve to try the veggie pate with spinach-ricotta too! Fanastic sub for the basil! Beautifully done all around!

  15. I am a dessert person too and thought about doing a sweet version. Yours sounds fabulous. I love your description of the baguette recipe. I may have to give that one a try sometime. Great job on this challenge.