Monday, June 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' June Challenge - Pâtés and Bread


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.

21 comments:

  1. I definitely want to try that trout and shrimp terrine recipe sometime. Thanks for a great challenge; I really enjoyed it!

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  2. 'Vile mixture'! That's not a very hostessy thing to say! I thought putting the liver through the grinder was a bit gross too, but as you say, the results were worth it. Your pates look wonderful! I really wanted to try a duck pate and a dessert one too, but challenges and moving don't mix so well! Thank you for being such a wonderful host, even while you were in Japan!

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  3. Thank you so much for co-hosting this challenge! As someone with a Kosher/vegetarian kitchen, I never would have thought to make a pate were it not for this challenge... I had a gret deal of fun, and look forward to seeing what other things you have up your sleeve!

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  4. Thank you for hosting an awesome challenge Valerie! This challenge was exactly the kind of thing we'd hoped for when we joined the DC's: something we might not do on our own and something that we'd be proud of serving to friends.

    We learned so much and will honestly never buy another pate again. Why would anyone when each of us, guided by your recipes, can make something better than storebought!

    Thanks again!

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  5. I'm actually a little relieved that you hosted the challenge and still had the same livery issues! The recipes were great though. Obviously cooking with liver was never going to be easy for the squeamish, but the end result was so delicious that it made it all worth while. I wish I'd tried all the recipes now. Your shrimp pâté looks delicious. Your plating and photos are beautiful - really elegant.

    Thanks for such a wonderful challenge & I hope you had a lovely time in Japan. :)

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  6. I wanted to say that you two came up with a really great challenge. It is obvious lots of thought went into the recipes you selected. Thank you for that hard work.

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  7. I love your description of cooking with the liver because it is pretty much how I felt too. Ewww! But it all worked out well in the end. Thanks for a great challenge. It was my first and a lot of fun.

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  8. What a fun challenge this turned out to be. I was a flop at bread, but LOVED the pate recipe. Yum.

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  9. Welcome back, hope you had a nice trip in Japan.

    I saw the great-looking pictures of the pate from Evelyne's blog. Great job for hosting such a great challenge. I never made pate, I'm sure going try and make one.

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  10. I could not have wished for a more awesome partner to do this challenge whit. Thank you! Just love your patés and will have to try the shrimp fish one.

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  11. Thank you for hosting this challenge, I really enjoyed every aspect of it :)

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  12. Thanks for hosting such a great challenge and providing a veg. pate recipe!

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  13. I was also really challenged by the process - in my case, it was cleaning and peeling the shrimp - but that's the idea, after all! (And even though I found the shrimp pate too rich to eat more than a few bites, I now have a new skill - two if flambeeing counts. :P) Thanks for hosting it :)

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  14. What a great challenge! So many would have never attempted pate if you guys hadn't put it forth as a challenge. You chose some great recipes for the pates and the French bread is one I'll use again and again. Cool idea to spritz the risen loaves and leaving them to cool in the turned off oven. That tip made a big difference in the outcome of the bread.

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  15. Thanks Valerie, i enjoyed cooking with chicken livers as it's something i would've never picked out if i went grocery shopping by myself. With 2010 world cup going on, i'm sure i'm going to whip up another one of these to nibble on during the games ;) Thanks for hosting this challenge even with your busy schedule!

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  16. Lovely, lovely, lovely. You had me at trout and shrimp terrine. If i were to make pate, that's the recipe I'm going to try with. :) How's your trip to Japan? Was it delicious?

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  17. Welcome back from your trip to Japan!

    You made some special food here.I don't like that taste of meat paté. But my husband does,..he says, it looks very inviting! Well done!

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  18. Valerie..thanks to you and Ev for such a great challenge! EVERYONE who tried the veggie pate LOVED IT! Your pates and bread looks gorgeous, and I cannot wait to try the seafood pate! I ran short on time, hence why I never got there.

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  19. Thank you for co-hosting this month's challenge I just love offal paté and this was a wonderful challenge for me I did a number of offals and I liked them all.

    Your patés looks so good and yes liver can be a bit ekky but the final paté is so worth it.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  20. You did a really fabulous job with this challenge. Kudos. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  21. Ooo, now I am double sorry to find out I missed a challenge that you hosted!!! :(( And pate... I did make pate once before in cooking class and I thought the taste was great and certainly way better then the storebought variety. I do like liver so that is something I would have loved to do.. O well, I am ofcourse not complaining about being in Italy but still... would have loved this challenge!

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