I’m back, guys! Back on the internet, and back on the East Coast. Another delayed entry this time is due to the fact that I spent Easter weekend in Las Vegas for a wedding. Not a “Vegas” wedding, mind you, but an actual wedding with catering and other upscale amenities, like a room shared with two other lovely ladies on the dog floor of the Flamingo. I returned last Wednesday, and it has taken just about this much time to recover both physically and spiritually. I find myself asking such rhetorical questions as, “Will I ever have fun again?” Working out has been a struggle. The Stairmaster tried to kill me the other day, I just know it. It kept speeding up at predictable intervals just as I had programmed it to. You know, the devil’s work.
Now I’m home in my Boston apartment, enjoying a surprising amount of sunshine and warm breeze. Don’t worry though, because it will be raining for the next three days hereafter. I’m going to enjoy the rest of this day to the fullest, for who knows when next the sun shall grace this forsaken seaport with her golden mercy. I will recall fondly the clammy warmth of Paradise, NV, as I close my eyes and transport myself to a time when nothing but my ability to break a fifty-dollar bill really mattered.
I wasn’t positive that I would like Vegas, but she is an enchantress, a sparkling siren. Before you know it, you’ve crashed your ship upon her rocky shores and you are purchasing $22 cocktails poolside with little thought to fiscal consequence. The only thing about Vegas I can’t get behind is this vague notion that a family vacation is possible is Sin City. DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN HERE. Exposing your brood to so much second-hand smoke should be punishable by law. We witnessed one little girl crying in the middle of the Strip being consoled by a bicycle cop, since her shitty parents must have been winning big at the craps table while their child wandered off in search of food and shelter.
I’ve resisted cooking quite a bit post-vacation. I finally suited-up yesterday to create this homage to my new favorite amusement park, Las Vegas: Chicken Liver Mousse Tart with Red Grape and Onion Chutney and Hazelnuts. It’s like a charcuterie plate in a tart! And in congruence with its inspiration, there isn’t one healthy or balanced thing about it. In fact, it’s unreasonably decadent. Serve it with naked salad and Garlique if you want to live. I also just realized that this makes for two tart recipes in a row, but ask me if I care!
You could even think of this as three recipes in one post, so actually it appears I’ve out-done myself. I’ll see you all again in June!
Another photo disclaimer: I just gave up. I don’t know what I was thinking. IT’S DELCIOUS, I SWEAR.
16 oz Flour
1 ½ oz Sugar
8 oz Butter, very cold and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Egg yolk
2 oz Water, very cold
In the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook, combine flour, sugar, and salt and mix for a minute. Add cold, hard butter and mix on medium speed until butter is cut into the flour and pieces are about the size of a grape. Add egg and egg yolk, scrape down bowl, and mix until just incorporated. Add cold water, mix for 20 seconds, then stop! Do not overwork. You still want to see chunks of butter, about the size of large peas. Dough will still be crumbly. Turn out onto counter top, and need very gently until the dough just comes together, only 3-4 turns. Shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for an hour or more.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Butter a tart ring or pan. If pan is bottomless, place on top of a sheet pan with parchment. After dough has chilled, turn out onto a very lightly floured surface and roll out about 1/8 inch thick, nice and thin. Transfer to tart pan, gently press into sides, and trim the edges. Chill for at least another half-hour. Bake chilled dough for 30-40 minutes. Turn oven down if the edges are browning significantly quicker than the rest of the dough. Remove crust and allow to cool to room temperature.
Red Grape and Onion Chutney
1 Large red onion
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 cups Red grapes, halved
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
½ cup Red wine
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp Sugar
¼ tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Crushed red pepper
In a medium sauce pan, sautee onions in olive oil until tender. Add grapes and mustard and continue to sautee for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients, and cook on medium high, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients have cooked down to a preserve-like consistency. I prefer my chutney to maintain a little bite, but you may cook it to the texture of your preference.
Chicken Liver Pate
1 small Yellow onion, diced
2 sticks + 2 tbsps unsalted butter
1 tsp Fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp Fresh sage, chopped
1 lb Chicken Livers, trimmed and cleaned
5 oz Dry sherry
1 ½ tbsp Sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Black pepper
1 cup Heavy cream, whipped
If you don’t know how to trim chicken livers, I suggest you Google it. Also, this is not for the squeamish. If you’ve never handled raw livers, you’re in for a treat. This even makes me shudder a bit, and I’ve stabbed a lobster in the face before, split his writing body in half, and sautéed his brainless carcass in a pan as he continued to twitch for another 5 minutes.
In a large sautee pan, sweat onions with 2 tbsps butter and herbs. Add trimmed livers and cook on medium heat for one minute. Add sherry, sugar, lemon, salt, and pepper and cook on medium for another 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Puree mixture in a food processor, blender, or with immersion blender until very smooth, then gradually add 2 sticks of room temperature butter in large chunks until fully blended. Cool mixture to room temperature.
Spoon a layer of chutney onto the bottom of tart. Spoon or pipe pate into tart shell to fill. Top with toasted and chopped hazelnuts. Refrigerate tart for at least 4 hours, until set. Pate only gets more delicious with time, so I would suggest doing this overnight.