Roman-Style Chopped Chicken Liver

If you like chicken livers, you'll love this recipe from Chef Vitaly Paley (Portland, Ore.). Most chicken liver mousse or pate recipes contains up to half a pound of butter! This is a nice alternative and packed with flavor. Serve with toasted baguette, grilled flatbread, crackers, or as a sandwich spread with sliced red onion and cornichons.

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Recipe

1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 lb. chicken livers, cleaned, dried and lobes halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped (or 1 tsp. anchovy paste)
5 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 T. drained capers
1/4 c. Madeira (or port, or cream sherry)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. Cognac (or brandy)
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and coarsely grated

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the livers, season with salt and pepper, and sear until lightly colored on the bottom, about 1 minute. Turn the livers over; add the shallot, garlic, anchovies, sage and capers. Cook, stirring until the shallots have softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sherry and balsamic vinegar, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Add the cognac and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, fold in the grated egg and season with salt and pepper. Let it come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold. Can be made up to one day in advance. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

– Vitaly Paley, "The Paley's Place Cookbook"

Polenta Square with Sage Pesto

The perfect hors d'oeuvre for a cocktail party - squares of polenta mixed with chives and mascarpone, topped with a pungent sage pesto and a colorful, fresh cherry tomato half. These little beauties will go fast, so make a double batch if you need more than 30. They're perfect with my favorite cocktail - a Negroni (equal parts Aria gin, Campari and Red Vermouth over ice).

Recipe

1 c. polenta
1 T. butter
2 T. mascarpone or sour cream
1/4 c. chives, chopped
cherry tomatoes, cut in half (half a tomato per polenta square)
3/4 c. fresh sage leaves, firmly packed
1/2 c. Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
juice of half a lemon

FOR THE POLENTA: Bring 3 c. water, 1 T. butter and 1 tsp. salt to a rolling boil. Slowly sprinkle in the polenta while whisking. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 30 minutes. If it gets much too thick, add up to about another 1/4 c. water. Take off the heat, add the chives and 2 T. mascarpone or sour cream and stir well. Work quickly as it's quite thick. Pour into a 7"x11" sheet pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil to make it easier to remove the polenta later; smooth the top so it's level (an offset spatula works great). Let it cool for about 15 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

FOR THE SAGE PESTO: Combine the pine nuts, sage, parsley, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth.

TO ASSEMBLE: Cut the polenta into small squares, top with a dollop of pesto, and put half a cherry tomato on top. Serve.

*For your vegan guests, leave out the butter and use vegan sour cream.

Curry Crab Strudel

I've been wanting to try this recipe for quite some time and today's the day! I.LOVE.CRAB. There's a local fish truck in my neighborhood selling fresh Dungeness crabmeat at $35 per pound, so this recipe is a bit on the expensive side – but it's time to splurge and the flavor is worth it. I got about 18 pieces out of this recipe and served it as hors d'oeuvres with a crisp Oregon Dobbes Estate "Wine by Joe" 2012 Pinot Gris. Happy happy!

Watch Ina make this delicious recipe  here  (starts at approx. 6:05 minutes in)

Watch Ina make this delicious recipe here (starts at approx. 6:05 minutes in)

Recipe

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

1 cube unsalted butter
3 scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. curry powder
1 pound lump crabmeat (drained and picked over to remove any shells)
3 T. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10 sheets phyllo dough (thaw overnight in refrigerator; take out of refrigerator 30 minutes before using)
1/2 c. plain dry bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

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Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and cook over medium-low heat – a few minutes in, add the garlic and continue until scallions are softened, about 5 minutes total. Add the curry powder and stir. Remove from heat.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt (to taste), and pepper. Stir in the scallion/curry powder mixture.

Melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan and set aside. Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat this process by laying a second sheet of phyllo over the first sheet, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture (half of the crab mixture) along the long edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up tightly. Repeat the process with 5 more sheets and the other half of the crab mixture.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and lay the crab strudel on top. With a sharp knife, score the strudel diagonally into 1-1/2-inch pieces a little more than halfway through. Brush outside with more melted butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Slice and serve.

Ina Garten "Barefoot Contessa," Food Network

 

Cottage Cheese Dip

I found the recipe for this simple, yet spectacular dip/spread on numerous websites. Onceuponachef.com says that it comes from a restaurant where she used to work – L'Auberge Chez Francois outside of Washington DC. So few ingredients but packed with flavor and absolutely sublime on toasted baguette or crackers!

Recipe

16 oz. 4% small-curd, cream-style cottage cheese
2/3 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 T. finely minced shallots
1 T. finely minced chives
1 T. finely minced parsley

Mix the cottage cheese and sour cream until well blended, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and keep in the refrigerator – it gets better the longer it is chilled – if you can wait that long!