Let me just start by saying I am sorry I haven't been posting as much. Things have been a little busy around here, with little miss being done with preschool for the year and the getting her ready for last week's ballet recital (so cute!!). I promise I will be better about posting again soon. But now it is Daring Cook time, so you are guaranteed a post.
It is always so fun and exciting to try to guess what the food challenges will be each month. Doesn't matter how many of these I've done (not that I've done ALL that many so far...), the anticipation is always exciting. I love expanding my food horizons each month.
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.
I will admit that I had mixed reactions when I read this. Pate would be a tough sell in this house. And, despite the fact that I know for a fact that I ate (and liked) chopped liver as a kid, the thought of actually handling and preparing liver... wasn't overly appealing to me. However, our hosts provided us with four different recipes, as well as leeway to find a recipe that would fit each cook's personal tastes. And anyway - any challenge that includes making fresh, homemade bread just has to be good.
I started with the bread, since the baguette recipe provided by our hosts required plenty of time to complete. The first step was to make a starter - a simple combination of flour and water that cultivates natural yeast and gives the finished bread a really great rise and flavor. I have made starters before, but never quite like this. This starter had a much higher proportion of flour to water than what I had made in the past, and thus made for a very thick "dough." I made the starter before going to bed the night before I planned on actually making the baguettes and pate, and was curious as to what this "dough" would look like in the morning. Well guess what flour + water + time does? Exactly what it is supposed to - creates a natural, flavorful yeast. Just look at all those bubbles! The starter was so sticky and elastic, too. Definitely fun to watch nature at work.
The biggest challenge, then, was deciding which pate recipe to go with. I knew I was going to go veggie on this one, and thought that simple would probably be best. I chose to make a simple vegetarian (vegan, actually) mushroom pate based a combination of many different recipes that I found online by simply searching for "vegetarian pate."
My pate had three main ingredients: mushrooms, garlic and vidalia onions. I started by sauteeing the garlic and onions in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, then added the sliced mushrooms to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste, and once the mushrooms began to caramelize, I added a very little bit of water to the pan, lowered the heat and covered the whole thing to let everything soften and come together.
Once the vegetables were cooled a bit, it was time to turn them into pate. A whirl in my trusty mini blender did the trick, and then the pate was packed into ramekins to set in the fridge until dinner time. We did give the fresh (and still warm) pate a taste test, and it was pretty tasty, so I was pleased with my choice.
In the meantime, however, the baguettes needed plenty of attention. The starter was turned into a dough that needed what I call the magic ingredient in bread making - time. The dough is set to rise for there hours, with only minimal interference throughout that time. After three hours, the dough is then shaped and allowed to rest yet again.
But all of the waiting was more than worth it for the smell in the house when these finally went into the oven. And the crisp crust and delicious flavor of the baguettes were even better.
So how did everything come together? Deliciously. The fresh flavor of the mushroom pate was great, and the crusty, chewy, delicious bread was fantastic. Especially considering my initial reservations about this challenge, I was very pleased with the results. And the pate makes a great sandwich spread for lunch, too.
Now, I had planned on making a second pate - a dessert one - prior today's posting date, but time was not on my side for getting that done. Expect another post, either later today or tomorrow with that one. Because I promise you - it will be made, and I am 99.9% sure that it will be delicious. :)
Evelyne and Valerie, thank you very much for this challenge - I can honestly say that it is something I would not otherwise have tried, and I am so glad that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and participate in this month's challenge.
To see the amazing variety of concoctions that were created by the other Daring Cooks this month, check them out here.
Edited to add: I posted my dessert pate! Check it out here!
2 days ago