This month’s Daring Cooks Challenge was very special to me, as I had the immense privilege of co-hosting it with fellow Montrealer and friend Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz. It was a wonderful experience. But first, the blog-checking line (which looks a little strange here):
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.
So, why pâté? Well, we brainstormed back-and-forth for a bit, before Evelyne came up with the idea. Coming up with something that is stimulating, versatile, season-appropriate, and potentially vegan and/or gluten free is a challenge on its own! Pâté just seemed to fit the part. As soon as we agreed on it, the possibilities almost overwhelmed me. But since pâté is rarely eaten on its own, we added homemade bread to the challenge, to complete the dish.
Despite being a big fan of meat-based pâté, I had never made it myself before this challenge, and I knew I wanted to try a traditional recipe. Unfortunately, such recipes often involve cooking with liver, which I am not a fan of: I’m a little squeamish around offal in general (except tongue: I love tongue!), and the texture of liver, whether raw or cooked, has never appealed to me. But hey, if the hostess isn’t daring, how can she expect the participants to be? So I rolled up my sleeves, stifled my instincts, and made Stéphane Reynaud’s Chicken Liver Terrine.
Trimming the livers was pretty much as unpleasant as I’d expected. I also disliked the smell that emanated from the cooked livers, even after flambéing them in brandy (another first for me, as I had always been too scared to flambé anything before). And puréeing them in the food processor… ew. By that point, I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
However, once the vile mixture had been mixed in with the ground pork, cream, bacon, and spices, my optimism returned. And I was so happy with the baked result: it tasted better than the store bought variety, which I will never buy again! Rich, creamy, and yes, you could taste the livers, but they now blended with the other ingredients for a wonderful flavour. And I still have enough frozen leftovers to make lunch sandwiches for weeks to come!
However, not everyone likes meat-based pâté. So we made sure to test alternative recipes. Evelyne, who made a wonderful spiced pork liver pâté, also tested a layered veggie pâté (both of which I got to sample – and they were things of beauty), while I tried a seafood version. The recipe I used was actually suggested to my by my father-in-law, who got it from someone else. It’s a trout and shrimp terrine, very simple, but elegant, with clean flavours. I could eat this every week.
For the bread, Evelyne volunteered to test a baguette recipe. A nice, crusty baguette really is the best thing to serve with pâté, in my opinion. But baguettes can be difficult and time-consuming to make, especially if one has never baked bread before. So I tested a quicker loaf recipe, that was very versatile: you can make it all-white or whole wheat, in loaf form or as rolls. In the end, many Daring Cooks ended up going for the baguette, which I can only applaud: there really is nothing like it.
Ideally, I would have made another pâté as a participant for this challenge. I certainly have a list of recipes I would have liked to try out, such as duck terrine, or wild mushroom pâté. Not to mention dessert terrines, involving fruit or chocolate! Unfortunately, as you know, I’ve been travelling nearly all month, and only just got back from Japan. If I hadn’t been a hostess, I probably would’ve had to skip this month’s challenge altogether! Funny how that worked out…
I’m going to go look at everyone’s challenge posts after this, but I’ve already gotten some insight on what people have been up to on the Daring Kitchen forums. As anticipated, some people were a little hesitant about making pâté (especially the meat versions), but everyone was a good sport and at least gave it a try. It especially warmed my heart whenever someone stated that they had been pleasantly surprised and were now pâté converts. And of course, some Daring Cooks threw themselves passionately into this challenge, and completely blew my mind! They’ve been experimenting, and have come up with some really beautiful, delicious-sounding creations, using really original ingredient combinations. I already knew the Daring Cooks were an awesome bunch, but I was reminded again with this challenge.
It was a real treat co-hosting this challenge, and I want to thank my awesome co-hostess and all the Daring Cooks who cooked with us this month. And, as always, thanks to Lis and Ivonne for being the heart of the Daring Kitchen and making all this possible!
Hop on over to the Daring Kitchen to check out the recipes we offered, an look through the blog roll to see all the amazing accomplishments this month.