Cocktail Hour

A Festive Fall Fare

Chicken Liver Paté with Caramelized Apples & Onions

 Happy Hour with Style

Happy Hour with Style

If you think you don’t like chicken livers then you probably have not had them prepared well. When buying chicken livers, be sure to go for the freshest, firm, boldly colored lobes. I prefer local free-range farmed chickens from a reputable purveyor. Over cooking chicken livers turns them bitter, chalky, dry and rubbery, spoiling their naturally juicy sweet flavor. I use a blend of plu gras butter or Ghee, mixed with olive oil for the apple onion sauté and the liver sear. The oil/butter mix must be hot enough to make a brown sear while leaving the inside pink. Adding bit of freshly ground nutmeg and finely ground white pepper to the apples and onions while they sauté, adds an earthy aroma and depth of flavor to the mélange. After all of the ingredients are cooked to perfection, I add a generous dash of cognac to the processor to accompany the seared livers with the caramelized spiced apples and onions, using all of the buttery oil from the pan.

Plu gras literally means more fat. European butter has more fat than American butter. It is far better for baking and cooking than the American butter, which has considerably more water content. Ghee can be purchased or made by reducing butter as directed by experts.

 

For my recipe:

Paté Ingredients

  • I pint of fresh plump chicken livers, trimmed of any stringy white bits

  • 1 cup of Vidalia onions, shallots or whatever onions you have on hand - chopped

  • 1 half of a Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, or Honey Crisp apple – chopped

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of plu gras butter or Ghee

  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon of finely ground white pepper

  • 2 ounces cognac of French brandy

  • Salt to taste

2 Tablespoon of plu gras butter or Ghee for sealing the paté – melted

Paté Directions

  1. Trim the liver pieces of any white stringy bits. Cut the lobes into evenly sized pieces for even cooking.

  2. In a large skillet on medium low heat, slowly sauté the onions and apples with the oil and butter and a pinch of salt. About 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the apples and onions with a slotted spoon, leaving behind as much of the oil and butter as possible. Add them to the food processor bowl.

  4. Turn the heat up to medium high heat to sear the livers.

  5. Add the pan contents of livers and fat, along with the cognac, to the apple onion mix in the processor.

  6. Pulse the ingredients, scraping down the bowl occasionally.

  7. Finish processing the mixture until puréed.

  8. Taste the mixture for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or nutmeg if needed. Give the mix another whirr if you have adjusted the seasoning.

  9. In a small saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for sealing the paté.

  10. Pour half of the melted butter into the bottom of a 32 ounce loaf pan, or split it up into smaller containers.

  11. Spoon the paté over the butter. Level the paté.

  12. Evenly cover the paté with the other half of the melted butter, sealing it to preserve the color and flavor.

Food Styling Tip: When I approached this shoot I was showcasing my newest paté recipe. Because of the caramelized apple inclusion in this version, I decided on the fruit and bread crisps to underline and augment the visual flavors. The presentation is my vision of how I would serve it to honored and beloved guests. The table cloth and dish choices were an instinctive decision based on the predominant colors of the fruit and flavors. The bread texture and color seemed to work naturally with the scheme of the whole. The bottle of honey and Mandarine orange are accent touches for balance and interest.

Apple and leaf smaller.jpg

A Jubilant July Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow

Part 1: Red, White & Blue Sangrias

 

 Photos by Michael Marquand  Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon  Welcome to our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of July by the sea. We begin with sparkling fruity Prosecco and Lambrusco Sangrias to sip with fresh oysters on the half shell, adorned with a colorful mignonette sauce, stunning Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with local lobster claws and lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. The main course is scrumptious cheesy Portobello burgers crowned by pickled red onions, avocado mash and baby arugula. Garden fresh grilled vegetable sides of asparagus, fennel and leeks are accompanied by Moroccan spiced corn on the cob. The finale to the feast is homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating.    In this post, I am introducing my  Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias  with their descriptions, ingredients and preparation directions. Each subsequent blog post will feature the next course of the meal.  Part 2  showcases the picnic’s appetizers, toasted by these sensational sangrias.

Photos by Michael Marquand

Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon

Welcome to our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of July by the sea. We begin with sparkling fruity Prosecco and Lambrusco Sangrias to sip with fresh oysters on the half shell, adorned with a colorful mignonette sauce, stunning Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with local lobster claws and lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. The main course is scrumptious cheesy Portobello burgers crowned by pickled red onions, avocado mash and baby arugula. Garden fresh grilled vegetable sides of asparagus, fennel and leeks are accompanied by Moroccan spiced corn on the cob. The finale to the feast is homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating.

In this post, I am introducing my Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias with their descriptions, ingredients and preparation directions. Each subsequent blog post will feature the next course of the meal. Part 2 showcases the picnic’s appetizers, toasted by these sensational sangrias.

  Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias     Sparkling wines are so very festive and refreshing. I am particularly fond of  Prosecco , a white Italian favorite from the Veneto region. It is not too sweet, not too dry, and not too expensive. Perfect for fruity summer sangria. I added  Lambrusco , a light and bubbly red Northern Italian wine, to balance the party’s colors, flavors and personal pleasure.    I paired the Prosecco with strawberries and ripe nectarines. The Lambrusco is paired with ravishingly beautiful freshly picked raspberries and blackberries. The nectarines are cut to bite sized pieces and skewered with small strawberries to adorn the white wine glasses. The raspberries and blackberries are whimsically skewered to bejewel the red wine glasses. Remaining fruit medleys from each group bathe in their own separate saucers of cognac to macerate for an hour or two.    The skewers and macerations can be done ahead, covered and refrigerated, until ready to serve. I used one pint of each berry and 4 nectarines for one bottle each of the bubblies. For the maceration, use just enough cognac, or your favorite unsweetened spirit, to cover the bathing fruity beauties in their shallow bowls.    When serving, add a small ladle of the red or white maceration concoctions to the bottom of their designated glasses, and garnish with a skewer of the same fruits. Fill each glass, upon request, with the desired fizzy flavor.

Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias

Sparkling wines are so very festive and refreshing. I am particularly fond of Prosecco, a white Italian favorite from the Veneto region. It is not too sweet, not too dry, and not too expensive. Perfect for fruity summer sangria. I added Lambrusco, a light and bubbly red Northern Italian wine, to balance the party’s colors, flavors and personal pleasure.

I paired the Prosecco with strawberries and ripe nectarines. The Lambrusco is paired with ravishingly beautiful freshly picked raspberries and blackberries. The nectarines are cut to bite sized pieces and skewered with small strawberries to adorn the white wine glasses. The raspberries and blackberries are whimsically skewered to bejewel the red wine glasses. Remaining fruit medleys from each group bathe in their own separate saucers of cognac to macerate for an hour or two.

The skewers and macerations can be done ahead, covered and refrigerated, until ready to serve. I used one pint of each berry and 4 nectarines for one bottle each of the bubblies. For the maceration, use just enough cognac, or your favorite unsweetened spirit, to cover the bathing fruity beauties in their shallow bowls.

When serving, add a small ladle of the red or white maceration concoctions to the bottom of their designated glasses, and garnish with a skewer of the same fruits. Fill each glass, upon request, with the desired fizzy flavor.

Prosecco Sangria.jpg
 Stay tuned for  Part 2  of our  Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow  featuring freshly shucked Maine oysters on the half shell, adorned with colorful mignonette sauce, and stunning local Lobster Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow featuring freshly shucked Maine oysters on the half shell, adorned with colorful mignonette sauce, and stunning local Lobster Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce.

 A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at  Mead Meadow  for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @ MeadMeadow     About Mead Meadow   We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.

A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at Mead Meadow for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @MeadMeadow

About Mead Meadow

We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.