Dec 23, 2013

That's A Carrot Of A Different Color

White Carrots From Kumu Farms
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Did you know that carrots come in different colors? Most of us are so used to seeing orange carrots, but they also come in purple, red, and white. I found these white carrots today at Kumu Farms, here on Moloka'i. Here is a little information about carrots that perhaps you didn't know:

Orange carrots have only been around since the 16th century. Carrots originated in present day Afghanistan about 5000 years ago, and had a purple or yellow root. Purple carrots were then taken westwards where it is thought yellow mutants and wild forms crossed to produce orange. Finally Dutch growers took these mutant orange carrots and developed them into the sweeter orange carrot we know today.

What's the difference between colored carrots?

Orange Carrots: Orange carrots won out in the breeding of carrots in 17th-century Holland, but carrots before then came in a wide range of colors – including green. Orange carrots, like their other-colored brethren, contain about 4 times the USDA recommended dose of vitamin A and lots of beta-carotene. They are just a tad earthy and quite sweet, good raw or cooked.

Purple Carrots: Purple carrots are only purple on the outside – their insides tend to be pretty orange colored. They have an intensely sweet flavor, though, that can sometimes even have a little peppery flavor.

Red Carrots: Red carrots don't differ in taste much from orange carrots. Their red color, though, comes from lycopene, the heralded antioxidant in tomatoes.

White or Golden Carrots: White or golden carrots are yellow or cream colored. They have a mild flavor with hardly any of the earthiness of other colors, and they're a bit sweeter than orange, red, or purple carrots. White carrots kind of look like parsnips but they are not. The parsnip is in the carrot family but a separate species. Parsnips tend to have a more golden brown or ivory color and a more nutty taste, and they tend to be larger. Though the white carrot is considered as having the least health benefits due to lack of pigment, the other compounds like phytochemicals in these carrots can help reduce the risk of cancer and stroke. Also the dietary fibre in these carrots help fight against colon cancer. White carrots are also good for carotene allergy sufferers.

White Carrot Salad
with Rémoulade Dressing
White Carrot Salad with Rémoulade Dressing
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One of my favorite salads is céleri rémoulade. It is made with celery root, which is similar to white carrots in texture and color, but the flavor is that of celery. The celery root is then sliced thin and a simple mustard-flavored mayonnaise spiced with garlic and pepper is added. Rémoulade is classified in French cooking as a derivative of the mayonnaise sauce.

one bunch white carrots (6 carrots)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
hearts of romaine lettuce

Peel the carrots, then slice lengthwise into thin strips. Slice the strips into matchsticks. Put the mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Combine the two oils in a measuring cup. Gradually beat in the oil to make a smooth and creamy emulsion. Slowly beat in the vinegar and lighten the sauce by beating in cream. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tarragon. Coat the thin carrot sticks with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to serve, place several small lettuce leaves in the serving dish. Stir the carrots to coat with the dressing. Place a serving size at the foot of the lettuce spears. Makes 4 servings. Note: You can also make bit-sized appetizers by putting a few carrot pieces on a small tip of lettuce as individual servings.

White Carrot & Cucumber Sesame Salad
3 cups julienned white carrots
2 cups julienned Japanese cucumbers (no seed)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 teaspoons finely julienned ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
salt, to taste

Mix everything together just before you are ready to serve. Makes 2 servings.

White Carrot Soup
1 bunch of white carrots (6 carrots), peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, sliced in half, washed and diced (use the white part only)
1 stick celery, thinly sliced
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
pinch dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In a pot, gently saute the carrots, leeks, and celery in a little olive oil for 5 minutes before pouring in the chicken stock and adding the thyme and garlic. Simmer for 20 minutes until all of the vegetables are soft, then blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. 

Add the honey and heavy cream and stir well. If too thick thin with water to the desired consistency then season to taste. Note: Adding 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese will give you more flavor. Makes 4 servings.

Pickled White and Orange Carrot Sticks
1/2 pound white carrots - julienned or cut into thin match-like strips
1/2 pound orange carrots - julienned or cut into thin match-like strips
4 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar (more if you like the carrots a little sweeter)
2 tablespoons salt
6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

In small pot, bring the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a simmer. Evenly mix the julienned carrots and place in a sterilized jars. Fill with the vinegar mixture. Cover jars and set on your kitchen counter overnight, then place in the refrigerator to pickle for about 3 days. Pickles can last for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Serve as a side dish. Makes 1 pound of pickled carrot sticks.

Pesto Carrots
This is a wonderful way to use basil pesto sauce. Cooked carrots with butter and pesto, how simple is that!

5 carrots, peeled and slice into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons basil pesto sauce (Kumu Farms makes a great pesto sauce, or make your own)

Boil carrots until cooked but not overcooked, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and add the butter while the carrots are still hot. Stir, then add about 3 tablespoons of pesto sauce, or until the carrots are just coated. Note: You can use any color carrots you want, however I think the sweet white carrot works nicely with the pesto sauce. Makes 4 servings as a side dish.

Dec 12, 2013

Christmas Cracked Crab!

Christmas cracked crab
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Christmas is a time for traditions, especially when it comes to food. In our house we traditionally have cracked dungeness crab either for Christmas or on New Years Eve. Fortunately for us, and the other dungeness crab lovers in Hawaii, there are aquaculture farms growing a huge variety of sea crops. High quality abalone, Maine lobsters, and dungeness crabs are now being farm-raised in Kona, on the Big Island here in Hawaii, making them available to restaurants and consumers without draining ocean resources. Best of all, they’re providing new industries for Hawaii, making us less dependent on outside suppliers.

The unique location in Kona enables the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) to pump water up from 2,000 feet below sea level through a 40-inch diameter pipeline, which has attracted aquaculture companies like Royal Hawaiian Sea Farms, Kona Blue Water Farms, Trout Lodge Marine Farms, Big Island Abalone Corporation, and Kona Cold Lobsters, to sell their products throughout the state of Hawaii. In other words, local Kona seafood shipped right to your door. Seafood like abalone, Main lobster, dungeness crab, Pacific oysters, Manila clams, PEI mussels, kampachi, moi, butterfish, Japanese abalone, and ogo seaweed. Kona Cold Lobsters has been in business since 1987, providing their products daily to resorts, supermarkets, fine dining restaurants and independent gourmet chefs in Hawaii. Here is a link to Kona Cold Lobsters website. Check it out for yourself!

Fortunately for me, my wife ordered 4 dungeness crabs through Friendly Market's meat department manager, here on Moloka'i, to be delivered to us for our Christmas dinner. They arrived, nicely packaged with jell packs. The frisky crabs weighed almost 2 pounds each, which is quite large. They had rubber bands attached to their claws so they could easily be handled. If you have not eaten fresh dungeness crab, you are in for a treat. Here is how to cook them San Francisco Style:

Cracked Dungeness Crab, San Francisco Style!
Live dungeness crab grown in Hawaii
I spent 35 years of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can't live there that long without tasting dungeness crab the way the Italians prepare it. Basically it is fresh dungeness crab that is boiled, cracked, and then briefly marinated in a vinaigrette, but not just any vinaigrette, as you will see. The crab is usually served on large tables covered with newspapers, and lots on napkins. The crab eating experience is one of silence. Once you've tasted the crab, you can't just eat one bite, you can't even stop to lift a glass of wine to your lips because they are full of the best crab on the planet. It's a food experience I always enjoy.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
1 cup of red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons dried dill, or fresh if you can get it
1 large bunch of parsley, minced
4 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Ingredients for cooking the crab:
4 large fresh live dungeness crab
2 tablespoons pickling spice
2 tablespoons sea salt, or kosher salt

1 very large pot
1 wooden mallet
large wooden spoon

Cooked dungeness crab
Bring a large pot of water to boil (large enough to hold 4 large crab, otherwise use 2 pots). Add the salt and pickling spice to the water and cover the pot. While you are waiting for the water to boil, get a large glass jar and mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients together. Put the jar aside. When the water comes to a rapid boil, slowly slip the live crab into the water. This instantly kills them, and they turn bright red in color. Cook the crab in the boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove the crab to cool for about 30 minutes. Dump the water out of the pot. 

After the crab cools, break the legs off of the crab and set them aside. Turn the crab body over on its back, belly side up. You will see a triangular-shaped belly flap. Remove the shell by prying it off using your thumb and fingers. Open to reveal the crabs breast meat, drain, if needed. Pull the breast meat out of the crabs shell. Cut the two breasts apart with a knife, then remove the spongy gills and small paddle at the front of the breast, they are not good to eat, so discard them. Now cut each breast into 3 parts, but don't cut all the way through. Return the breasts to the cooking pot. 

Cracked Dungeness Crab, San Francisco Style!
Now comes the messy part, cracking the crab legs. With a small hammer, or preferably a wooden mallet or meat tenderizer, gently crack each leg at each joint so that it is easy to break open the shell and remove the meat at the table. Put all of the cracked crab legs in the pot with the breasts. Now pour the vinaigrette over the cracked crab, gently stir with a wooden spoon, so the marinade is evenly coating the cracked crab. Set the pot aside to rest for 30 minutes, turning the cracked crab once more after the first 15 minutes. Serve the crab with a crisp white wine and lots of napkins. Makes 4 servings. 

Note: You can purchase these delicious dungeness crabs directly from Kona Cold Lobsters for $20 each, plus shipping, check out their website link above. It may seem like a lot of money, but think about if you had to fly to San Francisco to get them, how much would that cost. Happy Holiday Eating!

Dec 10, 2013

Making Crusty Artisan Bread In Hawaii

Artisan breads are breads that are baked by a baker who is trained to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand crafted loaf of bread. True artisan breads usually only include flour, water, salt, and yeast. Controlling the fermentation and the action of natural bacteria can produce amazing crusty breads that have flavor profiles from light and delicate to deep, strong, and rustic. 

Panini Bread Rolls
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One of my favorite artisan breads is Ciabatta bread. Ciabatta bread is Italian, from the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche. It is somewhat elongated, broad and flat with a crisp crust, a somewhat soft, porous texture, and is light to the touch. A toasted sandwich made from small loaves of Ciabatta is known as a panino (plural panini).

In Italy, these bread rolls are cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients such as salami, ham, cheese, mortadella, or other food, and sometimes served warm after having been pressed by a warming grill. A popular version of panino in Central Italy is filled with porchetta, slices of pork roasted with salt, rosemary, and sage. 

In the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, the term panini has been adopted to refer to pressed and toasted sandwiches; there is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as "panini presses".

Mahi-Mahi Sandwich with Panini Bread Roll
Unfortunately if you want European artisan breads on the Hawaiian Island of Moloka'i, where I live, you pretty much have to make it yourself. I recently made these small panini loaves. The rolls are not only delicious, and easy to make, but they also stand up to the ingredients you put inside, like a mahi-mahi sandwich. One of my pet peeves when eating a sandwich made with a hamburger bun, is that the bread turns to mush as you eat the sandwich, right! hasn't this happened to you?.

If you choose to squash your sandwich with a panini press, that's up to you, I just want a crusty, flavorful sandwich roll, and this is the way to make them, and it's really not that difficult.

Panini Bread Rolls
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To start your panini bread rolls you must first make what is known as a "biga". It is a type of pre-ferment, or starter used in Italian baking making the bread's flavor complex with a light texture full of holes, with a crusty exterior. Besides adding flavor and texture, the biga also helps to preserve bread by making it less perishable, so we will start by making the biga the day before you make the bread.

Ingredients for the biga:
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup luke warm water (about 110˚F.)
1 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the panino bread rolls:
1 recipe for biga made the day before (above)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for working and shaping)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
olive oil
1/3 cup cornmeal

parchment paper
plastic wrap
bowls, medium and large

Procedure for the biga: 
Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a bowl large enough to fit all of the ingredients, and let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Add the flours, and stir to combine. (The dough may seem stiff, but will soften up as it sits.) Cover the biga tightly with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 6 hours at room temperature. Stir it, and refrigerate it until the next day, or at least 12 hours.

Procedure for the rolls: 
Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and biga, made the day before. Stir the dough mixture until it is mixed. (It will be quite wet, and rough in texture.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter or breadboard, and using as little flour as possible, knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. (Don't worry that your dough still seems very loose and moist, as it will firm up as it rises.)

Place the dough into a large bowl three times the size of the dough that has been lightly oiled first. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled, punching down and turning the dough after 1 hour.

Panini loaves ready for the oven
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Place a sheet of parchment paper on each baking sheet, and sprinkle the parchment paper lightly with cornmeal. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Work with your hands until they are evenly shaped. Lightly roll in extra flour and place on your prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each dough ball. Lightly press each ball with the heel of your hand to create a disc shape. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise again for 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400˚F.

Many people either spray water, using a misting bottle, every minute during the first 10 minutes of baking or they put a metal container of hot water on the bottom of the oven to create steam. I prefer covering the risen bread with a disposable aluminum lasagna pan, or possibly a deep roasting pan, for the first 10 minutes of baking. The cover needs to be at least twice as high as the dough to allow for rising, and should sit on the baking sheet tightly so moisture doesn't escape. The moisture that is already in the bread creates its own steam. After 10 minutes, remove the cover and rotate the baking sheet, then let the bread bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the dough is a light golden brown all over (see photo above).

Why do you need steam?
In the first few minutes of baking, loaves of bread will rise rapidly as the gases trapped inside expand and the yeast has a final burst of activity (this is called "ovenspring"). Steaming within this time helps keep the crust soft. This allows the bread to continue expanding freely. The steam that has settled on the surface of the bread also dissolves sugars in the dough. As the bread stops expanding and the steam begins to evaporate, the sugars are left behind to caramelize and create a glossy crust. Steaming is really only useful during the first 5-10 minutes of baking while the yeast is still active and the internal structure hasn't set. After this time, the crust needs its own time to set and dry out. Remember to work quickly when the oven door is open so as not to let the heat escape.

Remove the bread and let cool on a wire rack. For extra crispness, cool the bread right on the oven rack in the turned-off oven; prop the oven door open with a folded-over potholder. This recipe makes 8 panini bread rolls.

Note: These rolls will keep for up to 2 days, well wrapped and stored at room temperature. The bread will keep frozen for several months. Simply wrap them in foil and put them in a large zipper-loc freezer bag. When you are ready to use them, thaw the bread, out of the bag, and heat them up in a 425˚F oven for 6-8 minutes. These rolls are also excellent used as dinner rolls, or slice and toast the slices for mahi-mahi sandwiches, French onion soup, or put pâté on them, or make a panzanella salad when tomatoes are in season.

Bolillos – Mexican Yeast Rolls
If there was ever a staple in Mexico, next to the Tortilla, it would be Bolillos, crusty sandwich rolls or tortas. You can eat them plain as dinner rolls, served with butter, a meatball sandwich, or as a fish sandwich with chipotle tartar sauce (recipe below).

Ingredients for starter:
3/4 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon instant or active yeast
1 cup All Purpose Flour

Ingredients for dough:
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon instant or active yeast
2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 cup of shortening, melted and cooled
1 cup of warm water, not hot

Procedure for the starter:
The night before baking, place yeast and water in a small bowl, mix well and add the flour. Mix again. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on your kitchen counter all night, or at least 8 hours.

Procedure for the dough:
In a large bowl or your heavy duty mixer, place the starter, flour, salt, yeast and melted shortening. Start kneading the dough, adding the warm water slowly right at the beginning of the kneading process. IMPORTANT: If you live in a very humid place, you will need to reduce the amount of water by about 2 tablespoons less than indicated. If using a mixer, knead for 7 minutes on speed 2; if kneading by hand, knead the dough for about 15 minutes. The dough will separate from your mixing bowl like it shows in the above picture while kneading.

Remove dough from the bowl and place on your working surface to form a ball. It should look soft but still a little rough.

Grease a large bowl with shortening, oil or PAM spray. Place the dough and turn it all over to make sure all sides are covered with a coating of the grease. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume. If you live in a warm and humid weather, like in Hawaii, this step will take less time.

After the dough has doubled in volume, gently push your fist in to deflate it. Divide the dough in 10 pieces. Place the pieces of dough into your slightly greased working surface and cover with a greased plastic wrap and let them rest for 15 minutes to allow gluten to develop and help to shape your bolillos rolls easier.

To form the bolillos rolls, dust your work surface with flour very lightly, flatten one piece of dough with the palm of your hand forming ovals. Roll the ovals up, pressing gently but firmly, pinching the dough together at the seam making sure all the ends are sealed. Each piece should be 5 1/2" long and 2" in the middle, tapering to each end. In other words, each roll of dough looks like little football with a pronounced point on each end, sort of like a nipple, called the "bolillo ears".

Place each bolillo roll seam side down on the greased baking sheet and cover with a greased plastic. Allow them to rise until they’ve doubled in volume. About 1 and 1/2 hour.

Before the end of the rising period, turn oven on at 450˚F. Place the metallic pan for the water on the oven floor.

Once the rolls have doubled in volume, make a 1/2" deep cut the length of the roll using a sharp serrated knife or a razor blade, holding your hand at a 45˚ angle. You want to stop the cut about 1/2" from each end.

Spray the rolls with warm water, place them in a preheated oven and add 1 1/2 cup of cold water to the metallic tray you placed on the oven floor. The steam will create that beautiful thin and crunchy crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden, remove form the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack.

The bread keeps well for a couple of days in a plastic bag, or it can be frozen for up to a month. To reheat: thaw bread lightly, spray water, and place in preheated 400 degrees F oven until crispy. About 12-15 minutes until warm and crunchy. Makes 10 bolillos.

Bolillos Fish Sandwich with Chipotle Tartar Sauce
If you live in Hawaii, this sandwich works well with maui-mahi, opakapaka, or onaga, if not, try flounder, or any white fish fillet, with no bones.

Ingredients for Chipotle Tartar Sauce (enough for 3 sandwiches)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons canned chipotle chile with adobo sauce, finely minced
2 tablespoons  onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon dill pickle, finely minced
1 teaspoon dill pickle juice

Blend all ingredients and refrigerate.

Ingredients for Sautéed Fish Fillet sandwich:
6 ounce fish fillet per sandwich
1 tablespoon flour per fillet
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
vegetable oil
1 bolillo, or yeasted bread roll per sandwich
olive oil
sliced tomatoes

Procedure for Sautéed Fish Fillet sandwich:
Mix flour with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets in flour, coating the entire fillet well. Shake off excess flour.

Heat skillet over medium heat and add vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering, place fillets in pan and sauté 8-9 minutes per inch of thickness, turning halfway through cooking time. Do not over-cook.
While fillets are cooking, cut bolillos or rolls in half, brush with olive oil and toast in a hot skillet, cut side down, until golden.

Spread each half generously with chipotle tartar sauce, arrange tomato slices, lettuce, and fillet on toasted bolillo and top with remaining toasted bread. Eat while hot.

Dec 3, 2013

Have A Tropical Pâté Party

Red Ginger Pâté
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Tropical pâté parties are fun to have, especially if you live where it is cold. Use tropical fabrics for a table cloth and tropical flowers from your local florist.

Pâté (pronounced pah-TAY) is French for "pie." It is simply a mixture of seasoned ground seafood, poultry, meat or vegetables, and often a combination of several different base ingredients. The grind can be smooth and creamy or on the chunky side. It may be served hot or cold, molded or unmolded.

When I think of a tropical pâté, I think of using any combination of local food products that are found in the Hawaiian islands, the combinations are only limited by your culinary imagination.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for your next tropical pâté party:

Red Ginger Pâté
This recipe is full of Asian flavors for those who love liver pâté and want to try something new.

1/3 pound chicken livers, cleaned (trim the connective tissue on the livers and discard)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced fine
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon dry hot mustard
3/4 teaspoon orange peel, grated
1/3 pound cream cheese, softened
toasted rounds of rye bread, or your favorite sesame cracker
shredded pickled red ginger (This is a Japanese product found at Friendly Market here on Moloka'i, or in the Asian section of your grocery store).

Clean, then simmer liver in slightly salted water for 10 minutes. Saute the shallot, ginger, and garlic until soft and the shallots are caramelized. Remove and allow to cool. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour pâté into a small bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pâté and refrigerate until firm. To serve, remove plastic wrap, and put dabs of pâté on toasted rounds of dark rye bread, and garnish with pickled ginger. Arrange on a serving platter, or in the case of the photo above, the leaves of a red ginger plant.

Smoked Salmon Pâté
Smoked salmon is always available here in Hawaii, however any smoked fish will work in this recipe.

7 ounces smoked salmon
7 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces creme fraiche (recipe on this website)
juice from 1/2 lemon, or lime
1 tablespoon chopped dill (available at Kumu Farms here on Moloka'i)
salt and white pepper, to taste
shrimp chips (available at Friendly Market)
watercress leaves for garnish

Break up the smoked fish in a blender or food processor. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a coarse pâté. Season with salt and white pepper to your taste. Fill a small bowl with the pâté and seal with plastic wrap pressed tightly on top of the pâté. Keep in the fridge until serving. I like to use Maui Style Shrimp Chips as a cracker under a dab of salmon pâté, with a watercress leaf for garnish.

Mushroom Pâté with Almonds
2 cups finely chopped white onion
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 cups finely chopped shiitake mushrooms (if you can't find shiitake mushrooms, use cremini or button mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
capers or chopped roasted red peppers for garnish

Sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme in 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil until the liquids evaporate. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the almonds and the remaining olive oil. In a food processor, combine the mushroom mixture and the almond mixture until smooth. Fold in the balsamic vinegar.

Chill and serve with crackers or sliced cucumber rounds or pipe into mushroom caps garnished with capers, or chopped roasted red peppers. Makes 2 cups.

Note: To toast the almonds, spread them on a baking sheet and place them in an oven preheated to 350˚F for about 7 to 8 minutes, turning the tray halfway through the cooking time.

Edamame-Ginger Pâté
Edamame, fresh green soybeans, are full of protein and make a great addition to stews, side dishes and salads. Here we have made a delicious pâté out of them.

1 1/2 cups edamame, shelled
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup parsley leaves
3 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seed paste, found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Prepare edamame according to package instructions, omitting salt. Place ginger, olive oil, salt, cumin, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 2 to 3 times or until coarsely chopped. Add edamame, parsley, tahini, water, and lemon juice; process 1 minutes or until smooth. Spoon edamame into serving bowl. Serve with honey roasted pita points (see recipe under appetizers). Makes 8 servings of edamame pâté.