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Appetizer, Chicken

Anne’s Chicken Liver Pate

This recipe for chicken liver pate is special recipe because it is very simple for a pate and it is from my mother, Anne. Always the consummate hostess, she became an enthusiastic, wonderful cook later in life. I miss our long conversations about what she was cooking and her dinner party menus. When she traveled, mom would come back with descriptions of the most glorious foods for us to try and replicate.

When her children would come home to the Mountain, mom always made our favorite foods. This chicken liver pate was always waiting for my brother whenever he returned from his worldwide jaunts. Fat, salty, raw oysters flown in from the Chesapeake would be on the menu. The ones we didn’t eat raw with tearfully hot horseradish, we’d fry in a light cornmeal batter and make po-boys, dressed, as they say in New Orleans with mayo, lettuce and tomatoes. Artichokes steamed with garlic, and herbs dipped in a vermouth sauce was also on the list – which reminds me of our family traveling through the Greek Peloponnesus in the Spring, ordering artichokes every single night.

Back to the pate. The deeply rich creamy spread, slathered on a baguette, would practically melt in your mouth.

My dear friend asked for an alternative to the pork fat. That would be duck fat, which you can find in the grocery store. Here is an Amazon link to a duck fat that does not have to be refrigerated until you use it.

I find it deeply satisfying that many of my memories center around food and the people I shared it with. Food, with its ability to delight all our senses, strengthens our memories by wrapping them in a warm, safe blanket that brings joy for many years.

Anne’s Chicken Liver Pate


4           pieces of salt pork, fried until crisp, to provide cooking fat (or use 2T duck fat)

1lb          chicken livers, with the fat removed

½ c         milk to marinate the liver

4T          unsalted butter

1c           yellow onions, chopped

2t            green peppercorns, ground (you can use black)

2t            thyme, chopped (or 1t dried)

1t            marjoram or oregano, chopped (1/2t dried), optional. I like to throw in ½ t of sage if I have it.

¼ c         brandy


Large frying pan, blender or immersion blender-stick, measuring spoons, measuring cup, a 2c mold (a small loaf pan would work) and a oven proof pan that is larger than your mold.


Heat the oven to 350F. Soak the livers in the milk for an hour. If you don’t have the time, soak them while you chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

chicken liver pate in pot

Use a teaspoon of butter and rub it all over the inside of your mold.

Cook the salt pork until crisp. Remove and crumble the pork and set aside. Pour off the fat, leaving 2T. Here is where you would just put the duck fat in the frying pan.

Rinse and dry the livers. Saute in the fat at a medium to medium-high temperature for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until you just start to smell the garlic bouquet. Add the pepper, herbs and a pinch of salt. If you are using duck fat add two good pinches of salt.

Cooking the livers won’t take long. Stop cooking them while their insides are still pink. Don’t overcook them. They will cook further in the oven. Add the brandy and cook for 1 minute more. Add the rest of the butter and take off the heat to cool a little.


chicken liver pate in bain marie

Pate in a bain marie

Puree the mixture in a blender, food processor or use your immersion blender. I like mine just a bit chunky.

Fill the mold with the liver mixture. Place the mold in the large ovenproof pan. Pour very hot water in the large pan until it comes half way up the side of the mold. This is called a bain marie.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155F.

Serve with a baguette slice thin and toasted with cornichons, and a dab of cheese and coarse mustard. Make a rare roast beef sandwich with the pate and brie and grill



Appetizer, Bread, Cheese, Gluten Free, Vegetables

Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue

bread dipped in fondue 20151224-_MG_3574.CR2

Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue

Do you need a great appetizer, party dip, or something fun for dinner on these cold winter nights? I have just the ticket: Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue.

Our family tradition on Christmas eve is to sit in front of a roaring wood fire and fix a variety of fondues for dinner. One item on the menu never changes: we take a 8” piece of aged filet that we rub all over with lots of salt and throw on the hot embers below the fire. This year we threw a lobster tail with butter and lemon in the coals too. Both were fantastic. I’ll tell you how to do this in another blog.

Over the years we’ve tried a variety of ingredients for the fondues. One of our favorites is Gouda with Sofrito and Habanero Fondue.

chili prociutto onions 20151224-_MG_3543.CR2

A sofrito is typically a mixture of onions, peppers, ham and garlic. With slight variations, it is the basis of many traditional Spanish, Caribbean and Latin American cooking. The sofrito gives these cuisines a depth of flavor. The bold flavors of the sofrito and hot peppers contrast beautifully with the smooth Gouda.

We make the fondues on the stove in heavy-bottom pots and bring it directly to the table. We don’t use special fondue pots for the cheese fondue. Early in the morning I go to the Village Baking Company, a wonderful boulangerie in Dallas, and pick out rye, multigrain and sourdough loaves. With the filet, lobster, and breads cut into bite-sized pieces, speared on a skewer and dipped in the fondues, the result is a rich, soul satisfying combination of creamy melted cheese, rich beef, briny lobster and the hit of just the right amount of heat. If you want this to be gluten free and/or want to add vegetables, try dipping bell peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes in this creamy, spicy fondue!

Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue

Serves 4 to 6 for dinner, more as an appetizer


2T          olive oil

½ lb        Gouda cheese, grated

½ lb        Monterey Jack cheese with habanero, grated

1T          cornstarch

4 oz        prosciutto or smoked ham, finely chopped

2             scallions, finely chopped. Use both white and green parts.

1             red bell pepper, finely chopped

1             jalapeno, minced. Use less for less spicy heat

1             garlic clove, minced

1t            fresh oregano, minced or ½ t dried

1t            fresh thyme, minced or ½ t dried

¾ c         lager beer, you can use gluten free beer or ale

1T          cider vinegar



 Medium bowl, grater, heavy bottom medium saucepan or an enameled pot, wooden spoon, measuring cup and spoons.


grated Gouda 20151224-_MG_3537.CR2

Toss cheese and cornstarch together in the medium bowl.

Sauté the prosciutto, scallions, red bell pepper, habanero, garlic, oregano and thyme in the saucepan until the onion is golden. Keep an eye on the garlic so it does not burn.

fondue in the pot 20151224-_MG_3571.CR2

Add the beer and vinegar. Bring the liquid to a simmer then add the cheese a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding another.

I use a medium-sized enamel pot and I just leave the fondue in it to serve. If you have a ceramic fondue pot with a candle, use it!

Note: You can use all Gouda cheese and substitute 2t of finely chopped habanero for the jalapeno.

 I serve it with different breads like rye, sourdough, and multigrain. When cutting the bread into bite-sized pieces, try to have every piece have a bit of crust so it is not too soft to dip.

 Be careful when you chop any hot chili. The oil in the chili will stay on your hands even after washing so don’t rub your eyes.





Appetizer, Soup, Vegetables

Turnip Soup to Warm the Soul

Turnip Soup 20150921-_MG_2988.CR2

Turnip Soup to Warm the Soul

Turnips used not be the first vegetable I would think of for a creamy, silken soup but this soup is just that: creamy and soul-satisfying. All that and there is no cream to inflate the calorie count. It has become a favorite of mine.

This soup would be a wonderful first course at Thanksgiving. It makes sense in a small kitchen because you can make it ahead of time and warm it up in the microwave. Serve it in small espresso or coffee cups. It will set the stage as a warm small enticement leading to the main course.

I first made this at my mother’s house in the Tennessee mountains one winter. It is adapted from a recipe by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.

I like to garnish this Turnip Soup with small pieces of herbed goat cheese and a small drizzle of white balsamic vinegar or a special extra virgin olive oil to add the final touch.

Turnip Soup with Goat Cheese

4 servings


2 turnips, peeled and thinly sliced

1 sweet onion, chopped

1T butter

1T extra-virgin olive oil

1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and sliced like the turnip

1t fresh sage chopped finely

3c chicken stock

1½t salt

¼ t freshly ground nutmeg

2oz herbed goat cheese (optional)

white balsamic vinegar (optional)


1 medium to large sauce pan, blender


Melt the butter and olive oil in your pot. Sauté the onions till just

transparent. Don’t let them brown. Add the sage, turnips, potato

and salt. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are

fork tender. Add the stock and nutmeg. Cook at a simmer for

another 10 minutes. Use a immersion blender to puree. Taste.

To Serve:

Cut the goat cheese into pieces. Arrange on top of the soup and

add a few drops of white balsamic vinegar or extra virgin olive oil.

To eat, swirl the cheese into the soup. Enjoy!

Appetizer, Fish, Treats

Fried Lobster Tail with Champagne Gravy at the State Fair of Texas


If it is not fried, you won’t find it at the State Fair of Texas!

Move over monster turkey legs. This year’s hit is:  Fried Lobster Tail with lemon-butter Champagne Gravy. It is a little over the top but it sure is good. Save your coupons because it is expensive ($30).

This is the 11th year for the fried food contest at the State Fair of Texas.  I try to taste all the new comers every year.  Last year’s fried cuban sandwich was great as was the fried s’mores. Note if you try it: fried s’mores should not be eaten with people watching you.  Some odd ball entries in the past include fried butter, fried Pop-Tarts, fried beer, fried salad on a stick and fried Thanksgiving dinner on a stick.

It is always fun at the fair!






Appetizer, Fruit, Jams, Quick Jams

Fig Jam with Rosemary and Cognac

fig jam with camenbert close up_MG_2878 2Making a jam is really quite simple and easy.  You need a 12” skillet and a pot large enough to sterilize your jars. Get a few jars at your grocery store and you’re ready.  This recipe only makes two of half pints of jam – just perfect when you have a small amount of storage room.

I fell in love with figs as a small girl.  We spent the summers in an old family home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  There was a huge old fig bush that only produced a few figs.  I’d climb up and pick the figs and present them to my father in a bowl with fresh cream.

Making this fig jam is similar to making the base for fig ice cream.

My favorite way to enjoy this jam is to warm a small wheel of Camembert cheese till it just oozes, spread it on a toasted baguette, add a dollop of fig jam and have a wonderful lunch to go along with the warm memories of my father.

This fig jam recipe only makes two half pints of jam and it only takes about 40 minutes.

Fig Jam with Rosemary and Cognac


1lb    black mission figs

3/4c  white sugar

The zest of one lemon

1T     lemon juice ( about half a lemon)

3”      of a sprig of rosemary

1/4c  cognac or brandy

Pinch of salt


2 half pint preserving jars, a 12” skillet, a pot big enough when filled with water to cover the jars, and a smaller pot to sterilize the jar lids, plus a pair of tongs and a spoon to scoop the jam into the jars.


Wash, stem and chop figs into 6 to 8 pieces. Mix the chopped figs with the sugar, rosemary, lemon zest and lemon juice.

20150904 chopped figs- IMG-1989 with Frank edits

Let this mixture marinate while you sterilize the jars. Place the jars in the big pot, cover them with water to an inch above the jars. Add the tongs and spoon. Boil for 10+ minutes. Place the lids in a small saucepan and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

For more detailed information on preserving, read the instructions that came with your jars or go to

Now it’s time to make the jam. The sugar in the marinade should have turned into a syrup. Pour this fig mixture into the skillet and heat on medium high, stirring gently until it boils. Continue until the mixture thickens enough that a spoon dragged through the liquid leaves a swipe that does not immediately fill in. Take out the sprig of rosemary. Add the cognac and stir for a minute longer. The whole process will take 10 to 12 minutes.

figs cooked perfectly _MG_2079

Carefully take your jars out of the boiling water and spoon the jam into them.

Screw the lids on – not tightly – and return the jars to the hot water bath. Boil for 10 minutes. When you take the jars out of the bath for this final time, screw the lids on tightly and you’re done!