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Smoked Trout Pâté Comes Together Quickly


Smoked Trout Pâté

If you want an easy appetizer or a light summertime salad topper, try this Smoked Trout Pâté, which goes together easily. But don’t get too hung up on the type of fish you use.

“You can make this pâté with any smoked oily fish,” Kate McDonough writes in “The City Cook” (Simon and Schuster, $20). “Trout is usually the easiest to find, but if you can find smoked bluefish, use that instead of the trout because its strong flavor combines well with the other ingredients. For those not familiar with prepared horseradish, it’s sold in refrigerated jars, often near a grocer’s dairy case; if you have a choice between red horseradish, which is tinted with beet juice, or plain white, choose the white.” Also, look for prepared horseradish without sugar. Sweetness is not what this dish is about.

“This spread is nice on small squares of toasted bread, crackers, croutons or thin slices of seedless English cucumber,” McDonough writes.

Smoked Trout Pâté

8 ounces smoked trout or bluefish, skin removed and discarded
1 (8-ounce) package regular or reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared white horseradish
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 4 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons tiny capers, drained

Break up the fish into pieces and place in a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the cream cheese and pulse until the fish and cream cheese are combined. Add the horseradish and lemon juice, and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon juice or horseradish if necessary. Add the Tabasco, if desired. Add the capers and pulse a few more times until they are mixed throughout.

Spread on crackers, pieces of toasted bread, or thin slices of seedless English cucumbers or use as a dip with crudités. The pâté can be made a day in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature when you’re ready to serve so that it’s easy to spread.

Makes 2 cups or enough for about 40 cucumber rounds.

From “The City Cook” by Kate McDonough

 

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Chefs’ Corner: Fig Tree’s Pâté-stuffed Quail


FigTreeQuail2This is a special-event dish with real autumn appeal, as it pairs a game bird with tender, simmered apples and a buttery apple sauce. The pâté is the surprise in the middle. The recipe comes from Byron Bergeron at Fig Tree Restaurant.

Pâté-stuffed Quail

1 quart (4 cups) apple cider
4 Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored, but kept whole)
5 tablespoons butter, divided use
10 (4-5-ounce) boned quail
Sea salt, for seasoning
1 pound black truffle mousse pâ

For sauce:  In a saucepan large enough to hold a quart of liquid and 4 apples, put the apple cider and bring to a simmer. Add apples. Cover pan and poach over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until apples are done but still firm. Remove apples and reduce liquid to syrup (about a cup). Whisk 3 tablespoons of the butter into reduced liquid 1 tablespoon at the time.  Reduce heat and keep sauce warm.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place quail on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with oil and season birds with salt. Insert a portion of the pâté into the cavity of each quail. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the quail with it. Roast the quail for 10-12 minutes or until done at 160 degrees internal temperature. Lightly cover with foil and set aside to rest.

Slice cooked apples  into thin rings. Place 3 or 4 rings in the middle of each plate. Place the roasted quail on top of apples and drizzle sauce around the plate and over the quail.

Makes 5-10 servings.

From Byron Bergeron/Fig Tree, 515 Villita St.

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Cuisine, From Texas to French Provenςal


MidiTwo cuisines tempted our palates recently, though in very different ways.  At Jean-Francois Poujol’s new Le Midi, downtown, we sampled dishes from the Provenςal region of France, and popped the cork on an excellent Côte de Beaune Burgundy. My favorites were a country paté made in house and served with the requisite cornichons, a sleek consummé and perfectly roasted chicken.

While companions enjoyed their bacon-wrapped monkfish, good steaks and more, we also were anticipating a look at the Provenςal-accented lunch menu. We’ll have our chance this weekend, as the restaurant celebrates its grand opening from 6-9 p.m. Sunday.  Le Midi is at 301 E. Houston St.  The restaurant will begin serving lunches on Monday.

Things turned to the wild side on Friday. A wine dinner served at Westin’s Palmer Course Club House, way up north on Babcock Road at Camp Bullis, was purely Texas. We tasted wines from Jim Johnson’s Alamosa Wine Cellars, including three sturdy reds paired with executive chef John Armstrong’s entrées:  The winery’s renowned tempranillo, El Guapo,  Texacaia (a blend of syrah, sangiovese and tempranillo) and its Palette, a blend of Rhone varietals.  Johnson’s winery has distinguished itself as the only winery in Texas “dedicated exclusively to warm climate varietals.” (www.alamosawinecellars)

Axis chops, robust and well seasoned, came out stacked on large platters for passing.  Buffalo brisket was dished atop a very spicy jalapeño crouton, and baked whitefish came topped with creamy kernels of corn drizzled over freshly popped popcorn.  Popcorn? Yes, and it worked. The creamed corn enhanced the slightly different taste of its cousin, popcorn. The texture of this game-snack food held up surprisingly well as a different and enjoyable garnish.

In addition to the food, wine, and company, we also applaud the different way that the dinner, hosted by Westin La Cantera’s sommelier, Steven Krueger, was served. All of the wines were poured at the place settings, and food delivered on dishes, family style. These stayed on the table. This made it easy to mix and match — try one dish with all three wines instead of the usual way, “held hostage,” as one of my companions described it, to one wine and one dish.

We hope this style of service, which seemed to go easier for servers and diners alike, will catch on at some of our other venues.

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