With Summer Solstice comes the beginning of house guests, picnics, and lazy meals outdoors. I know summer doesn’t really begin here until around July 12, according to Cliff Mass, atmospheric scientist and weather prediction wizard. Still, it’s not too early to sneak in drinks and apps in the garden or just get ready for full-fledged summer by having the right ingredients on hand.
One of my easiest to prepare and most raved about dishes for picnics is chicken liver pate. When I used to think of pate, I always assumed it would be too complicated to make at home or too expensive to buy. This pate is simple and even my mother-in-law, the queen of home entertaining, asked for my recipe and can’t wait to try it. Serve it on crackers or on crostini for a more substantial bite — either way, it’s a special treat even your kids will love.
Chicken Liver Pate
1lb. chicken livers, trimmed (I bought mine at the farmers market from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm)
3 slices of chopped lean bacon, lightly cooked, not crisp
1 cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
1 large shallot, sliced
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 t sea salt
1T cognac (Charlie thinks 2 would be even better)
Butter or oil a 3-cup souffle dish or terrine. Line dish with plastic wrap. Butter or oil the plastic wrap. You can use vegetable oil spray, if you have it or forget the plastic altogether and just serve it in the dish you make it in.
Combine livers, shallot & broth in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Simmer until liver is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Drain off cooking liquid, let livers and shallot cool, then put in food processor.
Add butter, bacon, cognac and salt. Puree until smooth.
Transfer to prepared dish. Cover and refrigerate — at least 4 hours.
Unmold onto platter or keep in container. Serve with crackers or crostini.
And we all know that a summer picnic wouldn’t be complete without a plate of deviled eggs. No matter how many I make, I rarely have any leftovers.
Deviled Egg Recipe
6 eggs ( the fresher, the harder they are to peel so here’s your chance to use up older ones. My favorite source for eggs is Growing Things Farm.)
2- 4 T Mayonnaise
1/2 t Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper
Paprika or sliced stuffed olives
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a shake of salt to the water. Once it’s boiling carefully add the eggs with a slotted spoon.
Let them boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the hot water and fill the pot with cold water to cover the eggs.
Peel eggs, cut in half and remove yolks.
Put yolks in a small bowl and mash with a salad fork.
Add mayo to moisten the yolks, a teaspoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Add mustard and continue to mash until it’s well incorporated. Salt & pepper to taste.
Using a small spoon, refill the eggs with the mixture. Sprinkle a little paprika on top, if you wish.
With these rich goodies, baby carrots and asparagus, lightly steamed and marinated are great additions to round out the meal.
A colander of fresh strawberries is all you need for dessert. Ok, maybe not all — it never hurts to sneak in a bar or two of Theo chocolate, just in case.