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Recipes

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Chicken Liver Pate

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This has the rich flavor of liver without being too intense -- a smooth and pleasant spread to use as an appetizer with drinks. Adapted from what Bremer learned from chef-instructor Henri-Etienne Levy at La Cuisine Sans Peur in New York City.

8 ounces plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 medium shallot, minced

1 pound chicken livers

1 tablespoon cognac

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

2 tablespoons dry sherry, or as necessary

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

In a medium pan on medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until it is softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the chicken livers and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken livers are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Return the shallots to the pan. Add the cognac and thyme and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for a few minutes. (Bremer's original recipe calls for a quick flambe here, but we've omitted this step.) Add enough of the sherry to make the mixture a bit wet.

Transfer the warm shallot-chicken liver mixture to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth.

Transfer the processed mixture to a medium bowl. Using a spatula, work together the chicken liver puree with the remaining 8 ounces butter until thoroughly combined to make a smooth pate. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Fill 3 half-cup ramekins with the pate, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Per 1/4 -cup serving: 390 calories, 6 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 38 g fat, 224 mg cholesterol, 23 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Jane Touzalin; e-mail questions tohttp://food@washpost.com Cucumber Avocado Soup

8 servings

A Bremer creation. Make this rich soup a few hours ahead so the flavors will meld and the soup will be cold and refreshing. Be sure to use soft, ripe avocados.

2 medium cucumbers peeled, seeded and quartered, with 8 thin slices reserved for garnish (may substitute seedless cucumbers)

Flesh from 5 avocados, mashed slightly

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

4 scallions roughly chopped, both white and light-green parts

4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Juice of 2 lemons

1-2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

3-4 cups cold water

Salt

Cherry tomato or sprigs of dill, for garnish

In a food processor or blender, puree the cucumbers and avocados just until smooth. (If using a blender or small food processor, puree in batches.) Add the garlic, scallions, cilantro and lemon juice and pulse just to combine. Add 1 cup of the yogurt and enough water to adjust the texture, which should be thinner than pea soup. With the motor running, keep adding yogurt and water, pulsing the food processor to mix as needed, adding salt to taste, until the desired volume and consistency is achieved. (It's okay to make this in batches.) Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

To serve, divide among individual bowls and garnish each with a thin slice of cherry tomato seated on a thin slice of cucumber or with a sprig of dill on top.

Per serving: 226 calories, 4 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 65 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Tracy Dahl; e-mail questions tohttp://food@washpost.com Braised Breast of Chicken

With Demi-Glace Sauce

8 servings

Here, the chicken takes on a decidedly meaty quality. Bremer says he prefers the color and richness of the veal demi-glace sauce when he uses dried lime. He likes to serve this with carrot puree (recipe follows). Adapted from a recipe Bremer learned from Henri-Etienne Levy.

For the brine:

8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 3 1/2 pounds total)

Salt

For the chicken:

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3-4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 tablespoon canola oil, or more as needed

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup dry marsala

1 1/2 cups Demi-Glace (recipe follows; may substitute store-bought)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1 dried lime, crushed and crumbled into small pieces* (optional)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

For the brine: Place the chicken in a nonreactive container and fill with water to cover, about 1 gallon. Add 3 tablespoons of salt. (If this is not enough to cover the chicken, add proportionately more water and salt.) Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes only.

For the chicken: Remove the chicken from the brining liquid, discarding the liquid. Pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper the chicken to taste.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the canola oil. If you have to brown the chicken in batches, you may need to add another tablespoon of butter and more oil. Cook the chicken on both sides until it is browned, about 3 minutes per side, and transfer to a plate to keep warm (chicken will not be cooked through at this point).

Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze it, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits, and add the marsala, stirring to combine. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Transfer the reduced liquid and pan juices to a heavy braising pot with a tight-fitting lid that is large enough so that all the chicken will be in contact with the bottom of the pot. On low heat, add the demi-glace, tomato paste, thyme, dried lime, if desired, and the browned chicken. Cover the pot and cook for 1 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure that the chicken is mostly covered by the liquid. (During the long braise, the dried lime, if used, will dissolve and thicken the sauce.)

Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Increase the heat in the same pot to medium to further reduce the sauce, about 6 minutes. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If the sauce requires more thickening, prepare a beurre manie (1 tablespoon of softened unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon flour) and add that to the sauce.

To serve, spoon a little of the sauce on warmed individual plates, tipping each plate slightly so a thin coating of the sauce covers half the bottom of each plate. Cut the chicken into thick slices and place on the sauced plates. Garnish with 1/2 tablespoon minced parsley per plate.

*NOTE: To make dried limes, place 3 to 5 limes in a pan with salted boiling water. When the water returns to a full boil, cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and place the limes on a metal rack on the lowest position in the oven, which is set on the lowest heat setting (150-180 degrees) for 2 to 3 days. The limes are ready to use when they are quite dark and hard and the flesh is completely dehydrated. Dried lime can be ground in an electric coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

Per serving: 258 calories, 38 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 4 g saturated fat, 232 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by John Allen; e-mail questions tohttp://food@washpost.com Demi-Glace

Makes 6 cups

Demi-glace (DEHM-ee glahs) is an indispensable ingredient in Bremer's pantry. This recipe, adapted from one he learned at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, makes a fairly large quantity. Be forewarned: It takes about 60 hours, start to finish. You might have to order the bones in advance from your butcher; make sure the veal is as lean as possible. The result is a somewhat gelatinous, rich brown sauce base.

(Ready-made demi-glace also is available at Balducci's, Wegman's and Whole Foods stores.)

8 pounds veal bones

5 pounds lean veal shoulder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 medium onions, cut in half, with 2 whole cloves stuck in each half

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 ribs celery

6 ounces tomato paste

8 quarts plus 1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

10 black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the veal bones and meat on at least 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast for 2 hours or until they have browned. Don't let them burn.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium low-heat, add the oil and vegetables. Cook for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are browned. Add the tomato paste. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water.

Transfer the bones and vegetables and their juices to a large stockpot. (A rack that fits inside the bottom of the pot is good to keep the vegetables from sticking to the bottom.) Add the remaining 8 quarts cold water, increase the heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Add the thyme, bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Simmer uncovered for 48 hours, skimming the surface regularly and adding more water, as necessary, to maintain the original water level.

After the stock has cooked for 48 hours, strain it carefully using a chinois or fine-mesh sieve, discarding all solids. Try to keep the stock clear. Let cool.

Place the stock in a separate large pot over medium-high heat, and cook to reduce the liquid about 80 percent (to about 6 cups). Let cool to room temperature. May cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for 2 to 3 months.

Portion sizes too variable for meaningful analysis.

Recipe tested by John Allen; e-mail questions tohttp://food@washpost.com Carrot Puree

8 servings

This puree lends both color and a sweet garlic-carrot flavor to the dark, rich demi-glace sauce. Adapted from Michel Guerard's "Cuisine Minceur" (Exquise Editions Robert Laffont S.A., 1989).

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large or 2 small shallots, minced

10 carrots (about an inch thick, 6-8 inches long), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

3/4 to 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, or to taste

Water

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons lovage chiffonade, for garnish (optional; may substitute celery leaves or flat-leaf parsley)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots, carrots and garlic and cook until softened, at least 5 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, salt and enough water to cover the vegetables. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Drain, discard bay leaf and thyme, and add the butter.

Transfer the softened vegetable-butter mixture to a food processor or blender. Puree until quite smooth.

Return the puree to the pan and warm through on low heat.

To serve, spoon some of the puree on individual warmed plates, next to the sliced chicken, before the plate is sauced. Garnish with lovage.

Per serving: 77 calories, 1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 683 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by John Allen; e-mail questions tohttp://food@washpost.com Fontainebleau

8 servings

You'll need to make this a day in advance. Bremer learned to make this dessert while studying with chef-instructor Henri-Etienne Levy. Bremer used to serve this with raspberry coulis and whole raspberries. Now, having been in Iraq, he uses pomegranate molasses with berries.

2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups heavy cream

3 egg whites

3/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Blueberries and raspberries, for garnish

Pomegranate molasses,* for garnish

Have ready a large colander lined with dampened cheesecloth.

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon zest and 1 cup of the sugar. Set aside.

With a hand mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks. Fold the sugared yogurt into the whipped cream.

In a separate copper bowl using a whisk or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the yogurt-whipped cream mixture.

Transfer the mixture to the lined colander and place it over a pan to catch the draining liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours, draining after 10 to 12 hours. Discard the drained liquid.

To serve, first turn the Fontainebleau onto a large plate, carefully removing the cheesecloth. Using a serrated bread knife, cut into 8 wedges, wetting the knife to make cleaner slices. Place on plates and garnish with the berries and pomegranate molasses.

*NOTE: Pomegranate molasses, such as the al Wadi brand, is available in the international aisle of larger grocery stores and at Middle Eastern specialty markets.

Per serving: 356 calories, 5 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 24 g fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 15 g saturated fat, 72 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Michael Taylor; e-mail questions tohttp://food@washpost.com

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