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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



Beans and Legumes, Chicken, Pork, Soup

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Andouille Sausage

I learned to cook in New Orleans when I was a student at Tulane. My favorite job was working in one of the earliest cooking schools and gourmet shops in the country, run by Lee Barns. Lee had gone to Paris as a student and then to Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school that Julia Child attended. There I met and assisted Paul Prudhomme, Giuliano Bugialli, and a host of others. I chopped, washed up and ran the register.

The next block over was my favorite fishmonger, Christiana. She was a woman of large girth and smiling face. I would tell her what I wanted to make and she’d pick out shimmering filets, whole snappers with eyes glistening, succulent oysters, or crawfish for etouffee, telling me what to look for and how to cook it.

Those were the days before nouvelle cuisine. Most dishes contained cream, butter and often alcohol. I’d go to different specialty shops for the best fish, meat, cheeses and staples. The small neighborhood stores often had a counter or a back door from which they served oyster and shrimp po-boys, crawfish pie, or spicy jambalaya. My favorite roast beef sandwich came from the side door off a small grocery store. You had to grab a fist full of paper napkins because the au jus ran down your arms as you took a bite. It was take-out only so we would go to Audubon Park and sit on a bench to eat. Friends lingered over meals then. There was time to cook all day.

Now our lives are busier and a cream sauce is for a special meal. One of my favorite simple meals then was red beans and rice, traditionally served for lunch on Mondays. If you went to an upscale restaurant, red beans and rice was probably what the staff ate in the kitchen. In one of Enola Prudhomme’s cookbooks, Paul’s mother talked about guests at her restaurant finding out what the staff was having in the back and asking for that.

This Red Beans and Rice recipe with Andouille Sausage takes some shortcuts. You should have it on the table in about 40 minutes. If you leave it on the stove a bit longer, it will only get better.

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage

Serves 6


3 cans                 red kidney beans, rinsed (always rinse canned beans)

3 strips                smoked bacon, cut into lardons (¼“ pieces)

12 oz                   Andouille smoked sausage – optional (I often use chicken Andouille)

1 ½ c                    onion, chopped

½ c                     celery, chopped

1t                        garlic, chopped

½ c                     bell pepper, chopped (green pepper is traditional, but you can use red instead)

1 ½ t                   Worcestershire sauce

1t                        cayenne pepper (if you like it hot, add more)

3T                       parsley, chopped

1 ½ t                   oregano, chopped

1 ½ t                   thyme, chopped

½ t                      smoked paprika

1                         bay leaf

¼ c                     tomato sauce

2 to 3 c              water for the red beans

2c                       rice, long grain

3 ¾ c                 water, cold, for the rice

salt and pepper to taste


Measuring cups and spoons, a Dutch oven or large pot, and a medium saucepan


Fry the bacon lardons until crispy then remove from the pot.

Bacon strips cut into lardon

Bacon strips cut into lardon

Pour away all the grease except 2T. Sauté the onion in the remaining bacon grease until translucent. Add the celery, bell pepper and a good pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, parsley, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the beans and enough water to just cover the beans and vegetables. You may have to add more water later, depending on how long you cook the beans.

in the pot

Taste, and if necessary, adjust the seasoning. You may want to add more cayenne, salt and pepper.

After about 15 minutes, add the sausage and cook for another 15 minutes.

As soon as the red beans are cooking, fill the medium saucepan with the rice and 3 ¾ c cold water and set on the stove to cook. Follow the rice package’s directions.

To serve: In the middle of a plate or open bowl place a mound of about ¾ c rice. Ladle the red beans around the rice. Enjoy!






Chicken, Great Gift Ideas, Pork, Tips

Quickly Brining Pork and Chicken

vauc vin marinating 2015101-_MG_2887.CR2

Quickly Brining Pork and Chicken

In my last post I talked about quickly and easily brining shrimp and fish. Brining pork and chicken also creates much moister and more flavorful meat.

My method for brining or marinating pork and chicken in 30 minutes relies on a special container that you can pull the air out of with a little hand pump. As the air is removed the brine or marinade is drawn into the meat. I’m usually trying to slim down on kitchen tools, but I use this Vacu Vin marinator all the time.

Without the Vacu Vin, a good rule of thumb for brining pork and chicken is:


1/2″ thick meat: 1/2 hour

1″     thick meat: 1 hour

2″    thick meat: 3 hours

3″ + thick meat: 8 hours

Even without the Vacu Vin, brining chicken and pork for a short time is worthwhile but the salt does not go very far into the meat.  What it does do is add moisture near the surface so as the meat cooks it stays moister.  The salt amplifies the flavor too.

Note: When a recipe specifies what type of salt to use, it is important to use that type to avoid surprises.  There are conversion charts available.

For example:

1 cup Morton’s table salt = 1.9 cups Morton’s Kosher Salt

Brined Chicken or Pork:

1 c     Morton’s kosher salt dissolved in
4 c    cold water

Put your brine and chicken in a zip lock bag, making sure the chicken is completely immersed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 6 to 8 hours. Put the chicken or pork in the brine in the morning and cook it that night. If the meat is to be brined for more than 8 hours, use less salt. Be sure to rinse and dry off the chicken or pork before cooking it – otherwise it won’t sear properly.

Additional flavors to put in the brine:  sage, peppercorns, bay leaf, cider vinegar (great for pork), rosemary, dill, mint


Jewell’s Chicken

Jewel's chicken in pan_MG_1257

When I was little I was lucky enough to spend much of my time with a lovely woman named Jewell.   She spoiled me outrageously.  She was many wonderful things but most of my memories center around her cooking.  Her food was straightforward, bursting with flavor and, by today’s standards, extremely healthy.  When she and my mother worked on a recipe, magic happened.

I have finally come to realize I’ll never have scrambled eggs as good as Jewell’s because hers were saturated with love and memories of a happy childhood.

In my twenties I fell in love with cooking.  By that time Jewell was blind from diabetes.  We sent recorded letters back and forth.  She told me tales of my childhood … one memorable one  when I was about 3 yrs old involved her telling me to go get dressed for a walk.  I returned ready to go but all I had on was my cowgirl hat, my boots and my six shooter.  Needless to say, I was not let out the door.

Jewell’s chicken recipe is straight from her taped reminiscences.

 Jewell’s Chicken


4        chicken thighs

1c    all purpose flour

1½ t    salt

½ t    pepper

1½ t    smoked paprika, (use plain paprika if you have to)

3T    canola oil

3     sprigs of fresh rosemary cut in half, or 1T dried rosemary

3/4c    chicken stock

1/4c    white wine


A 12” skillet that can go into the oven (black iron, if you have it), measuring spoons, a bag


Preheat your oven to 350F.

Wash and dry the chicken thighs.  Make sure you get them really dry.  Put the flour in a baggie and with salt, pepper and paprika. Place the chicken in the flour bag one at a time and shake then remove to a plate.

Add the canola oil to your skillet and heat to medium high. The oil is hot enough when you begin to see smoke rising from the surface. I used to put a matchstick in the oil.  When it lit, which it does briefly,  the oil was ready.

Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and brown on both sides. I use a splash guard whenever I fry something.  It keeps the kitchen from becoming a mess.

When the chicken pieces are well browned on all sides, remove the chicken from the skillet and pour off the oil that remains in the skillet.  If there are any burned pieces in the pan, wipe them out. Put the chicken back in the pan on medium high heat and pour in the chicken stock and the wine.  Add the sprigs of rosemary. Bring  to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

If you want to make a sauce from the drippings, take the chicken out and put it on a warm platter.  Put the pan back on the burner over a medium high heat.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the good bits (if any have burned, scoop them out). Reduce the liquid to half. Once the liquid reduces, add 4T of chilled butter in small pieces, whisking all the time. Add more stock or wine to get the proper consistency for a sauce. I’ve played around adding sauteed mushrooms and a splash of port for fun too.  Taste the sauce to make sure you have added enough salt and pepper.