Friday, December 24, 2010

Vegan terrines and pates

OK, I’ve been kind of lame about writing anything since Vegan MoFo ended. I will admit it was tough to make time to write about food every day but I’m hoping to get back to several posts a week. Anyway….

I’ve been obsessed with terrines of late. I’ve always been interested in terrines and pates, but it’s largely thought of as the realm of meat, but it doesn’t have to be. Gather restaurant in the Bay Area is making a name for itself with a Vegan Charcuterie plate that’s getting rave reviews from across the board but also angering a few carnivores who are upset about the use of the term charcuterie for something that’s vegan. Frankly I think a couple of years ago, when I did a lot of charcuterie, it would have gotten me righteously indignant as well. But charcuterie is part of Garde Manger, the cold kitchen of the classical French kitchen, and the realm of an overwhelming number of vegetable dishes, most of which can be made vegan.

First up, I have a mushroom pate, which is fairly basic and a good jumping off point. It’s a dish that’s easily modified. This was my first vegan pate attempt, but it was successful enough that I’m planning on making it as a starter for Christmas dinner. This is the basic version, but I’ll be modifying it for Christmas.

The second recipe is for a piquillo pepper and almond terrine, with Spanish pimenton and sherry vinegar. It’s almost like a solid form of Romesco sauce. In some ways, it’s also a jumping off point because it shows that any vegetable puree can be turned into a terrine by the magic of agar agar.

Mushroom pate
Mushroom pate

8 oz. cremini mushrooms
8 oz. white button mushrooms
2 tsps olive oil
½ cup cashews, toasted and finely ground
2 slices of sandwich bread, processed into bread crumbs, and then toasted in a dry skillet to dry them out
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 oz. Brandy, or wine, but brandy is really worth it
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the bread in a food processor and process to coarse crumbs. Put in a dry non-stick skillet and toast over medium heat until toasted slightly and dried out. Reserve
2. Toast the cashew pieces in the skillet and when slightly browned, remove and process to fine crumbs in the food processor. Reserve.
3. Put all of the mushrooms in the food processor and process until almost completely pureed.
4. Heat the olive oil in the skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook until they mushrooms give up their liquid and the pan is almost completely dry, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Deglaze with the brandy and cook it briefly to burn off the alcohol. Add the bread crumbs, cashews, and dried thyme. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
6. Remove from the pan to a plate and allow it to cool for several minutes, until you can handle it. Roll it into a rough log shape (it should pretty much hold together). Put it in a long sheet of plastic wrap and roll it tightly into a log. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Remove and slice. Serve with mustard and cornichons, caper berries, or a few olives.

More mushroom pate

Piquillo Pepper Terrine

10-12 oz. jar of piquillo peppers, drained
½ cup of slivered almonds, toasted
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsps Spanish pimenton
1-2 tbsps sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of water
1 tbsp agar agar powder

1. Combine the peppers, almonds, garlic, pimenton, sherry vinegar and ½ cuip of water to a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Season it generously, since it’ll be served chilled and that tends to mute flavors.
2. Bring the other 1 ½ cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the agar agar and cook until it thickens, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add the agar agar mixture to the blender and blend again. Taste for seasoning again.
3. Pour into a small loaf pan, or any other container. Place in the refrigerator for atl east two hours to set. Remove, slice it and serve with bitter greens in a sherry vinaigrette on the side and a few olives.

Piquillo pepper terrine on a large white plate

OK, I know I said serve it with bitter greens and those are cornichons.  But at least there's a little less white.

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