read, cook, eat: Pate the Careless Way

March 17, 2014
Pate the Careless Way, adapted from Line Cook's Pate by Javier Huerta, photo by dduguay, all rights reserved

Pate the Careless Way, adapted from Line Cook’s Pate by Javier Huerta, photo by dduguay, all rights reserved

I aMAZed my colleagues Monday by bringing homemade pate into work. OK, a bit gauche to serve it to them at 10 in the morning (but they’re on the early shift so, really, it’s like half past lunchtime to you and me). Also possibly dodgy of me to confess that I’d never tried it before and hoped they lived to say whether they liked the peppercorns or hated the texture. But it all worked out.

Best part? It took half an hour from unwrapping the chicken livers. AND, it cost $2.58. Well, the chicken livers cost $2.58 (from grain-fed chickens, if you please). Plus the cost of half an onion, a mumble mumble of butter and the 1/4 cup of port left over from a recent dinner party. So let’s call it $5. Produced about 1.5 cups of pate. And my colleagues think I’m a fecking goddess who invented chickens so they could grow livers and make this all possible.

Bow down before me. Or better yet, click on this link right here for the nytimes’ adaptation of the original recipe from Javier Huerta, a brilliant line cook who works at the Brooklyn resto called Fort Defiance, gleaned from a piece by Sam Sifton in the New York Times Magazine back in January. I love this recipe because it’s dirty simple and it’s been passed around a lot. They’re the best kind, even if it means the results will slip and slide from time to time. It encourages the funnest part of cooking. Which in my case mostly means I read the recipe several weeks ago and didn’t check it closely enough when I whipped this up on Sunday. And you know what? Didn’t matter. So here’s my riff. Let me know if you come up with some fancy new twist, even if it comes from carelessness.

Pate the Careless Way

  • A styro flat of chicken livers or, if you’re in Montreal, gesier de poulet de grain
  • Half the large Spanish onion, diced, that you didn’t use making the terrible meatballs (wrecked because you added too much bread crumbs; too much? too many? anyway, ugh)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup port or whatever is left over from the dinner party
  • Dash of dried thyme
  • 3 T. 35 % cream
  • 1 tsp. green peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped

Melt half the butter (or all the butter, if you’re being careless; it doesn’t seem to matter!)

Saute the onions over medium head until translucent, adding the chicken livers, thyme and port, turning to medium high, gently cooking until nicely brown on the outside and pinkish on the inside.

Toss the whole steaming mess into the food processor with the cream and, if you’re not me, the remaining 1/4 cup of butter. Pulse until smoothe. Taste. Salt, if you like, but don’t go crazy. Add the peppercorns and pulse exactly and briefly once so only a few smash up. Add in the dried cherries. Or I wish I had been able to find the secret stash of dried cherries, but next time I really will. They will make a wonderful contribution. Also, pistachios? Jeeves? Make a note.

Put the pate into the fancy ramekins you never otherwise use, the lid of which you will drop and ruin a perfectly good set and why did you bother anyway. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least two hours.

Serve with bread and I just about died after I added a blurp of blueberry jam. Killer. Fort Defiance recommends their bacon onion jam but we’re so over bacon, aren’t we? No? OK, here’s a recipe for that too. You people.


read, cook, eat: bow down to Ottolenghi and eat your lentils (the bacon helps)

February 12, 2014
Puy lentils with dried cherries and bacon. Denise Duguay. All rights reserved d2calm@gmail.com

For pity sake: Cook the bacon more than I did here. Tastes fine, but the crunch of properly cooked bacon works much better. Dish: Puy lentils with dried cherries and bacon, adapted from Ottolenghi’s. Photo, such as it is, by Denise Duguay. All rights reserved d2calm@gmail.com

I am quite fond of lentils, despite their social challenges. I am a longtime lover of Lentils, Monastery Style, which is not only the page on which my well-worn copy of  Diet for a Small Planet falls opens but also currently describes my life. But I digress.

Right. Lentils. Love ’em. Also love this food guy Yoam Ottolenghi. I have a few too many of this Israeli-born food wizard’s cookbooks. Leafing through them on a bored Sunday, I spied, in Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, a recipe for Puy Lentils with Sour Cherries, Bacon and Gorgonzola.

Here’s a link to the full recipe, via Googlebooks so I’m hoping it’s not a copyright problem. (Here, for karma sake, is a link to Ottolenghi’s own site with a whole bunch of additional recipes.)

I’ve tried this dish twice and I have tweaked and simplified. As usual, I was too lazy and my loathing of red-wine vinegar too great to follow this recipe too faithfully. I declined the Gorgonzola both times because, although I love it, the dish had enough salt from the bacon. And I didn’t think I’d like it all sticky with the cheese. But I’ll try it again and maybe report back.

Here’s my adapted recipe, (with thanks to Yoatav Ottolenghi):

11th ave Puy Lentils with Dried Cherries and Bacon

1. In a medium saucepan, cover 2/3 cup rinsed Puy lentils and with three times their height in water, plus bay leaf or two. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes or desired firm/softness (don’t let them get too mushy)

2. Chop up 8 slices of bacon and once sizzling in a good sized pan, toss in 2 or 3 chopped shallots. Saute, medium heat, until the bacon is as crisp as you like. Remove from heat and add 1 T of red wine vinegar* and 1/2 cup chopped dried sour cherries. (I find the Costco Kirkland dried cherries too sweet. Dried cranberries might do in a pinch. Raisins, if you’ve no standards at all.) Continue over low heat for just enough to warm/soften the dried whatever-you’re-using).

3. Your lentils are almost done. Drain well and add to the sauce.

4. Now there’s the business of adding the greens. I fancy whatever’s on sale at the PA (Fort St., please!) and called “baby” so I don’t have to chop or “tear” (seriously, you foodies have too much time on your hands): Look for a bag of baby arugula, baby kale, regular old pathetic adult spinach. If you like your greens limp, you can close this blog post right now. If you like your greens with a little spring in the baby stems, dump your bag of greens in a biggist salad bowl and place the hot mess of lentils and bacon and cherries on top. Toss with whatever vigour you feel. Unless you’re listening to Pharrell Williams’ Happy. In which case, calm the fuck down.

Plate this — that’s foodie for “arrange on the plate with incredible fussiness to create the impression you just casually tossed it off — and then eat. Some kind of big red wine would do nicely. Or a can of Coke.

Bon appetit!

* While I thought it was because I was too cheap to shell out for good/expensive red wine vinegar, I have instead discovered that red wine vinegar is satan’s condiment and the original recipe’s requirement for 4.5 tablespoons overwhelms the nutty goodness of this salad.


soundtracking with Robert Szkolnicki: keeping your ears warm with 3 + a bonus

February 12, 2014

Here’s the latest from Winnipeg-based Robert Szkolnicki.

How’s your winter going? I bet you are not having much fun. Too cold, too dark, and too long. To cheer you up I have three musical treats to keep you warm..

Jonathan Wilson appeared on KEXP with a long set of psychedelic folk rock. The KEXP live performance recordings usually have interviews in­between songs. Not so here. Just a long burn of music. I imagine hearing this in a loud, hot, sticky club.

Going further out into the psychedelic province wilderness is Wax Fang with The Astronaut.

THE ASTRONAUT is a grandiose sonic odyssey flowing seamlessly from each of its three movements to the next like a space shuttle through a psychedelic intergalactic landscape.”

At sixteen minutes for just Part 1, this should keep you warm for quite a while.

The Line of Best Fit has released their latest compilation of new music from Canada with Oh! Canada 23 (for download or stream below)

Oh I cannot wait for Canada to be 23 again. Plus not minus.

(Bonus treat: Stream the tracks selected for Sweetheart 2014 right here or embedded below).


make: yarn bombing is so 2012. photo bombing is so never. but poetry bombing, yeah

February 12, 2014

Augustina Woodgate, god bless you and your secret needle and thread. I first read about her here. And as this month’s edition of the “make” feature, here is a look at the work of a poetry ninja.

So, who’s with me? Poetry month, only weeks away now!!!!



snap: do you see the signs (of panhandlers)? Andres Serrano does

February 12, 2014

My regular haunts of Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, New York have panhandlers. Sometimes I toss some cash into their cup or hand (though I prefer my regular donations to the United Way). Mostly I say hello or smile. Often, I wonder about their stories. But I don’t usually even make eye contact. Photographer Andres Serrano took notice of what appeared to him as an increasing number of homeless in New York.

As a native New Yorker, it surprised me because I had never seen so many people begging and sleeping on the streets. It occurred to me to start buying the signs that the homeless use to ask for money.”

He writes about the project here, in the Guardian. Very interesting. For this month’s edition of the “snap” photo feature, here’s a video he made of the project. It goes by pretty quickly, but you could always pause, right?

Here is a piece from CBC (you’ll have to click on the “Listen” button for the discussion), in which Terry O’Reilly talks to Serrano about criticism of the project as exploitation.

And from the comments on the piece here, I found another guy who began doing the same thing back in 1993.


the fine print: I’ve looked at Facebook friendship from two sides now…

February 12, 2014

I’m on Facebook quite a lot. Sometimes I judge myself harshly for that. Sometimes I just feel so damn happy that it allows me a regular shot of the wit and wonder of far-flung family and friends. Other times, I hilariously send embarrassing messages to the wrong person, but end up with a drink invitation anyway and isn’t that pretty amazing. But where was I? Oh right. In addition to family and real-world friends, Facebook comes with special friends. I mean that plainly: friends who are special or specific to Facebook. Some are real-world acquaintances, former colleagues, friends of friends and the like. And some who are specific to topics, like the music-mad crowd who share their shuffle playlists each Friday as a hook on which to talk about music. Fills me with joy. No idea who these people are otherwise. Are these and the other “special” ones real friends? Yes. Maybe. Whatever? I have to say, the only times I have really put any thought into this are when other people write about it. And it seems to me that when people challenge the veracity of “Facebook friends”, it is pretty quickly clear that they are a) more visitors to and not committed citizens of the social realm and b) they are also people who complain that they don’t get Twitter and Instagram because “who cares what you ate for breakfast / lunch / dinner” (to which I say, you are following the wrong people).

However, here are a couple of very lovely takes on Facebook friendship. The first is by Ian Brown in the Feb. 8 Globe and Mail, whose “but are they real friends?” hand-wringing is ugh but leads him to a lovely recounting of his 60th birthday and an appreciation of at least Facebook friends’ birthday wishes. (“So thanks, even unto the depth of strangers.”) Wonderful little essay. You can read that right here.

The second piece is by my Gazette colleague and friend Hayley Juhl, on her blog Life’s a Trip, which is an elegant answer to the question of Facebook friends, which she offers as she does all things, with quiet grace, beautiful words and good humour. You can read that here (and maybe consider following her blog, which I hope you enjoy as much as I do).

And then you have a good day. Friend.


make: period dot com – a survey for women

January 22, 2014

Hello my dears. I have a favour. In a new category in 11th ave called “make”, I want to ask you about girl stuff. Like about your “moon time” or, as Sister “Army Boots” Concillia called it back at St. Alphonsus, “your … *stage whisper* peeee-riiii-od.”
I remember it well: 1971, Grade 5, Winnipeg, when ole Army Boots papered over the small window in the classroom door, frog marched the boys out that door and forced the remaining girls to watch a film that congratulated us because, “You’re a woman now.” It was a magical moment, until AB forgot to turn off the projector bulb when she rewound the film and, to my horror, the tidy little onscreen uterus that had just voided itself BEGAN TO FILL BACK UP WITH BLOOD! Horrors. We hit the communion wine pretty hard after choir practice that week I’ll tell you.
But I digress. I’m collecting stories for a story/monologue I’m working on about … well, about the life and times of my period, I guess. Hilarious, moving, uncomfortable, let’s hope. Below (or click here if you can’t see the embedded form) is a survey asking questions about your moon time or curse or time of the month or visit from your Aunt Flo or your dot or what not. It covers the full spectrum, good for any age. Pass the link to your friends. I’ll report back here, eleventhavenue.wordpress.com as I progress with the project so if you don’t want to participate, you can still follow along. But I hope you will fill it out. Because you are the best friend I’ve ever had. No, really, each and every one of you! xo dd

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