Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Creamy Chicken Liver Pate with Dates

It's hard for me to be thinking about the holidays and winter weather when it's almost 90° outside today IN OCTOBER!

But, nevertheless, cold weather and Christmas parties are just around the corner, so I thought I'd share this amazing chicken liver pate spread to take to your next fall picnic or holiday gathering.

It's totally delicious and you will impress all your friends and guests if you show up with this fancy appetizer. And for some reason, when ever I think of chicken liver pate, I think of it being served at fancy parties with Champagne, which by-the-way is a perfect drink to serve with this. It also pairs wonderfully with a full-bodied Pinot Noir, or really any full-bodied red wine.

Now, to be fair, not everyone likes liver pates (think liverwurst or Braunschweiger), so it might be wise to find out what the people you are sharing this with enjoy. But then again, if they don't like it...more for you!

Serve this creamy spread on warm, crusty bread or pumpernickel toasts with a small "schmear" of Dijon mustard. Heaven!

Creamy Chicken Liver Pate with Dates
Recipe modified from: Wine Bites: Simple Morsels that Pair Perfectly with Wine

1 lb. chicken livers
2 cups milk
*4-6 shallots, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons butter, sliced
4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 T sherry vinegar

*Note: If your shallots are large (the size of a golfball or bigger), use 4.

Drain the chicken livers, rinse well, and remove any connective tissue. Place chicken livers in a bowl, pour the milk over, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the shallot pieces and garlic in a small roasting pan or pie plate, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Roast until soft and golden, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Drain and rinse the chicken livers again and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over med-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add a few of the chicken livers (don't crowd) to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and firm but still slightly pink in the center, 4-5 minutes. Don't overcook!

Transfer cooked chicken livers and roasted shallots/garlic to a bowl with the chopped dates. Drizzle with the sherry vinegar and let sit for 2-3 minutes to blend flavors.

Add chicken liver mixture to a large food processor bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup of butter. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer pate to a serving dish (or 2 smaller ones) and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

This pate freezes wonderfully for future parties - Spoon into in a freezer-safe container, press some plastic wrap onto the surface of the pate, cover with a lid, and then freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator several days before use.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

This is all I've felt like doing lately...sitting around, looking outside, and waiting for the leaves to change...

Which probably explains for the lack of content here on ye' olde blog.

I can't believe the temperatures outside will be almost 90° for tomorrow and Wednesday in Northern Virginia. Our average first fall frost date was yesterday and the leaves have barely begun to turn color. I'm just ready to pack it all up and head inside for a break, not turn on the AIR CONDITIONING IN OCTOBER!


Back to waiting.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday - Redirected Aggression 6 Months Later

There has been a very happy "Thang" around here lately. See Exhibit A:

A Happy Thang
She has completely recovered from her redirected aggression episode 6 months ago, off all meds, and is probably even happier than before. Last month we took her to get her teeth cleaned and found out she needed 3 teeth pulled, as they had turned into cavities. She has a history of Feline Odontoclastic Resorbtive Lesions (FORLs), which can be very painful. Our vet told us that cats are like people, some have good teeth, and some don't. Brushing helps A LOT, but FORLs are hereditary and there is no known cure or prevention for them in cats.

The last time she had her teeth cleaned, they pulled 3 other teeth, so now she basically has no teeth on her bottom jaw except her canines and the small teeth in between her canines. At some point in her life, she may very well have all her teeth pulled, but no worries, as toothless kittehs can live perfectly happy and healthy lives.

After her recovery, she has actually been happier and more playful than we've seen her in at least a year or two. It was 2 years since her last cleaning, so I'm wondering if her earlier grumpiness with Leo had anything to do with it. A mouthful of painful cavities can definitely affect your disposition! Still, she showed no symptoms of having any issues, especially with eating. She continued to have a healthy, VERY food motivated appetite.

That's the thing with cats. They are very stoic and often don't show pain, so a behavioral issue may have a physiological origin. Who knows if this is/was the issue with Miss Thang.

We are back on a regular (every other day) brushing regimen. I had started with her when I had Leo, but things got pushed to the back in the aggression aftermath and then her having teeth pulled. I'm hoping this will make a difference for the future.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September in the Garden

Ooof, I'm exhausted. These past 2 weeks I've been planting and moving things around in the yard/garden, which is why I've not had any energy to blog. So far, I've planted:
  • 18 irises
  • 4 daylilys
  • 2 hucheras
  • 1 hosta
  • 6 black raspberry bushes
Under "normal" conditions, I would have been able to handle something like this in 1 weekend...maybe 2, but I have hard-ass clay soil, which makes digging a simple hole in the ground similar to prospecting for gold. 

Here in Virginia, most people bring in a dump truck of mushroom compost and build up for flower beds or veggie gardens. I did it right for the veggie garden, but not around the rest of the house. In hindsight, I should have done that, but I didn't know. So, I have to dig a "$50 hole for a $5 plant," which requires using a mattock, several types of shovels, loppers, lots of sweat, and some colorful curse words.

It may be "fall," but the temps outside still say summer and I'm over it! I still have 2 hydrandreas to move, 3 azalea bushes to plant, 1 decorative grass to move, and a few potted plants to heel in before we are done for the season. This doesn't include aerating the lawn, fertilizing, liming, and overseeding. 

See what I mean? EXHAUSTED.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Figwatch 2016 Update

It's time for another edition of...

Over the holiday weekend, look what I stumbled onto out in the garden. It's my very first ripe fig!

I can't tell you how excited I was to see this! I thought I had lost my chance for figs earlier this past month when I went away for a few days on a business trip and my husband forgot to water my potted fig plants. The poor plants had lost most of their leaves, but the figs held on.

I took it inside, cut it in half, put a couple of crumbled pieces of Stilton on each half, and then drizzled it with honey. YUMMMM!

This fig came from my "Negronne" fig tree...

Since this weekend, I've picked 5 more luscious beauties, with even one large brown fig from my "Olympian" tree. 

Here's hoping next year's harvest will be even better!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday/Wednesday...Whatever!

Whew, what a summer! What is it about August that makes you want to hide away inside and not come out until after Labor Day?

I've been slacking majorly, but I've been busy taking care of small projects in the house. The other day I was cleaning my bathroom and came across this sticking out of my bathroom rug:

Hmmm, what could it possibly be?

Why, it's a kitteh "purrito" of course!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Best Ever Crab Cakes

There's something about crab cakes that makes them seem decadent. Maybe it's because crab is expensive and like lobster, when you cook with it, you don't want to mess it up. Or maybe because it's something you don't have very often, so it seems special. Or maybe crab cakes are one of those dishes that seem to be difficult to make, but really they aren't.

All I know is they are delicious, versatile, and can go from casual to classy in a hot minute:
  • Cajun crab cake omelette for breakfast? Sure thing.
  • Crab cakes for lunch with a side-salad dressed in a lemon vinaigrette and a glass of Chardonnay? You bet!
  • Mini crab cake appetizers with a lemon aioli and a glass of Champagne? Yes please!
See what I mean? As a Florida girl who grew up eating great seafood, crab cakes are one of those things I could eat at any given time, and happily will.

I've had this recipe for years, yet I've never made it until this past week. Lump crab meat was on sale at my grocery store a while ago and I bought some (the refrigerated kind in a can) with this recipe in mind.

The truth is, my husband "proclaims" that crab cakes give him gas, so you can understand why I've never indulged. If I wanted crab cakes, I'd have to order them at a restaurant on my own. So, this past week I thought, "Farts be damned. I'm making these crab cakes!"

And you know what?  Not only were these THE BEST CRAB CAKES, hubby was sans farts afterwards. Game on!

Best Ever Crab Cakes
Recipe Source: The Cooking Forum...I don't remember from who.
Makes 6-8 cakes depending on size

1 lb crab meat (either fresh or canned. I used refrigerated, canned claw meat)
1/2 cup crushed crackers, Ritz is best
3 green onions chopped
1 small green bell pepper chopped fine (orig recipe called for 1/2 pepper, but I used a whole)
1/4 cup mayo
1 egg
1 tsp.  Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp salt
flour for dusting
vegetable oil for frying

Over medium heat, pour enough oil in a frying pan to the depth of about 1/8 inch. Really, it should just be enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the flour. Shape mixture into patties, slightly compressing them to squeeze out extra moisture. Dust with flour and place patties, 2-3 at a time, in the oil and fry 2-4 minutes. Carefully flip them over and fry the other side another 2-4 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on a plate with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining patties.

Really, these crab cakes don't need anything to go with them. No cocktail or tartar sauce, but they are yummy with a little lemon or mustard aioli.

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