Friday, July 29, 2005

Mushroom Pate for our Picnic!

When I see Shiitake mushrooms on sale, this is the recipe I reach for... It makes a heckuva lot of mushroom pate and frankly it won't last long.I believe I saw the original recipe in Gourmet, but I've made a few changes.

We took this one on our pilgrimage to the remote and hidden hamlet of Bolinas to see about Sean Thackrey's latest release of Pleiades... On that same trip we took a side journey to the Cowgirl Creamery and sampled their experimental little goat cheese coin dubbed Farallon. The pride of place though, deserves to go to the Cowgirl Red Hawk cheese. Red Hawk is an Epoisses style pasteurized cow's milk cheese, but it's one of the best American cheese we're likely to find around these parts.

For mushroom pâté
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry Sherry
3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps slices thin (about 4 1/2 cups)
3/4 pound fresh oyster mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced thin (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted golden and ground fine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley leaves (wash and dry before chopping)
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make pâté:
Butter a 2-quart terrine, 12 by 3 by 2 3/4 inches. Line terrine with wax paper and butter paper.

In a small saucepan bring broth to a boil and remove pan from heat. Soak porcini in hot broth 30 minutes, or until softened. Remove porcini, squeezing out excess liquid, and reserve soaking liquid. Rinse porcini to remove any grit and pat dry. Chop porcini and put in a large bowl. Strain reserved soaking liquid through a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter or dampened paper towel into another small saucepan. Simmer soaking liquid over moderate heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup and return to bowl with porcini.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large non-stick skillet heat 2 tablespoons butter over moderate heat until foam subsides and cook shallot and garlic, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add Sherry and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer shallot mixture to a blender. In skillet heat 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté shiitake and oyster mushrooms in batches, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces, as necessary. Add 2 cups sautéed mushrooms to shallot mixture in blender and add remaining sautéed mushrooms to porcini mixture.

Add cream, eggs, and almonds to mixture in blender and purée about 1 minute, or until very smooth. Add purée to porcini mixture and stir in remaining pâté ingredients until combined well.

Pour mixture into terrine and cover with foil. Put terrine in a large baking pan and add enough water to baking pan to reach halfway up sides of terrine. Bake pâté in middle of oven 1 hour and 10 minutes. ( Pâté will not be completely set in center. ) Remove terrine from baking pan and cool completely on a rack. Chill pâté in terrine, covered, at least 6 hours and up to 5 days. Bring pâté to room temperature before unmolding.

To unmold pâté, run a thin knife around edge of terrine and sip terrine into a bowl of hot water 10 seconds. Invert a large plate over terrine and invert pâté onto plate.

Serve with toasts and/or crackers.

Serves 30 as an hors d'oeuvre.

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