|Look, even foie gras just isn't that photogenic.|
Hello from Hurricane Sandy headquarters! Okay, not headquarters exactly, nor hindquarters. Midquarters? We are all home, playing hooky, with big plans to watch the second half of Hair--which is as good, if not better, than I remember—if we still have power (the fact that Michael is right now braving the wind to bring home red wine and amaretto is great consolation for the fact that I didn't marry Treat Williams like I meant to). Otherwise (and, probably, additionallywise) we’re going to play Seafarers and Power Grid, which we’ve chosen for their thematic relevance to the situation at hand. I hope you’re all safe and dry and enjoying the silveriest lining of a day off. Unless you’re in, like, California. And then whatever. You’re in California.
|Does the parsley help? Or is it like Walter Matthau in a Prada dress?|
I’m posting this recipe today because I have been going crazy picking the oyster mushrooms that are growing on a stump at Birdy’s school. I sneak out there all furtive-like, since I don’t want the children to see me. “Hey kids! Wild mushrooms are for picking and eating! What’s the worst that could happen?” The mushrooms are so big and plentiful that it seems silly to eat anything else right now.
But this is one of those recipes that I have been making for so long that I can’t believe I’ve never shared it with you before. (I haven’t, right?) It’s one of my holiday standards: I make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it is an oft-requested recipe (in fact, years ago, I had to reverse-request it, because Michael’s brother Keith has written it down, and I hadn’t) thanks to its unctuous, savory deliciousness. Plus, it’s vegetarian, which is always nice at the holidays, even though one year I (oops!) cooked the mushrooms in chicken fat and forgot to tell the relevant people. Sorry!
Stay safe and cozy and happy.
Wild (or not-so-wild) Mushroom Paté
I am lifting that title from my friend Sally’s recipe for roasted mushrooms in the forthcoming winter issue of ChopChop. Can I plug ChopChop again here? The fun cooking magazine for families? I edit it, and it’s just fantastic—and would make a great holiday gift for anyone on your list. Subscribe here!
4 tablespoons butter, divided (Divided. By what? You’ll see!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Dried or fresh marjoram or thyme (1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh, a big pinch dried)
3/4-1 pound fresh mushrooms, any kind, wild or tame, in any combination
½ cup walnuts, toasted at 350 until fragrant but not burnt, 5-10 minutes
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
3 ounces Neufchatel cheese (cream cheese is an okay substitution—but Neufchatel is a lot like it, made by Philadelphia even, but just with fewer glunky stabilizing agents)
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion with the herbs and a large pinch of salt until it is fully soft and quite brown, around ten to fifteen minutes. Scrape the onion into a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
In the same pan, assuming it’s not gone black anywhere, melt the rest of the butter over high heat and sauté the mushrooms, with a large pinch of salt, until they are tender and nicely browning, around ten to fifteen minutes. Mushrooms are funny: first they’ll give up a lot of juice, and seem like they’re steaming—but persist with the high heat. The juice will cook off and then the mushrooms will start to dry out a bit and brown up, which is what you want. Splash in the sherry vinegar, stir it as it sputters and steams, then scrape the mushrooms into the food processor.
Add the walnuts and cheese to the food processor, along with another large pinch of salt and significant grinding of black pepper, then process until nearly smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Taste the mixture for salt and vinegar. It should be very well seasoned and will likely need more salt: add it, along with more vinegar (a half teaspoon at a time) until it tastes perfect.
Serve with bread or crackers.