Chicken Liver Pâté For Those Who Don’t Like Liver

Chickens are tough. Try eating a chicken’s foot, and you’ll really know what hardy means. One of the strongest bits of a chicken (in my entirely unscientific survey) is the liver, which is packed full of iron, i.e. what they make steel out of. Chickens are tough.

Rhode Island Red rooster

You give me any lip and I’ll bury you under the floor.

In a modern version of the ancient practice of eating someone or something to take on his, her, their or its qualities, I sometimes eat chicken livers, in an attempt to take on their iron levels. Liver tasting as it does, I eat it in the form of chicken liver pâté. And since the pâté in the shops is generally mostly made up of Things Which Are Not Chicken Livers, I have at last given in and started making my own. Bonus: it’s a lot cheaper than the commercial version and you can customize it to your taste. (Unless of course you are a vegetarian or vegan.)

You will need some chicken livers, about 400-500g (a pound-ish, imperialists); half an onion, chopped up small; two fat cloves of garlic, ditto; about 150g butter (say 5oz); 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 or more teaspoons of peppercorns (depending on how much you don’t like the taste of liver); plenty of herbs (I used rosemary and a bay leaf, but sage and thyme are also suitable); and 2 tablespoons brandy – optional, but it does help disguise the liver taste. Port would also be good.
ingredients2

You will also need a frying pan and (alas!) a blender. It always used to peeve me when people offered “super-simple” recipes that required equipment I didn’t have, so my apologies if this won’t work for you. A hand-mincer and much stirring may yet do the job.

Melt 1/3 of the butter in the frying pan, and fry the onion and garlic until the onion looks fairly cooked. The bay leaf can go in here too, if you’re using one. While the onion fried, I used the blender to turn a teaspoon of peppercorns into pepper-dust (like watching a snow-globe full of midges), debated whether to add more pepper, and decided not to. I am still not sure this was the right decision, but after all, one can always add more pepper when one eats it.

Fabergé salt and pepper grinder

Fabergé pepper grinder: for your inner Cruella de Vil

Once the onion is cooked, you scoop it out of the pan (a slotted spoon is useful here) and put it aside, adding the livers to the pan in its place. Cook for about five minutes, until they look nice and brown. You can cut into a lobe to see if it’s cooked through: a bit pink in the middle is ok, but you don’t want it bleeding. (Helpful rule of life: if it’s bleeding, don’t eat it.)

When you are satisfied with the cookedness of the livers, plop them into the blender. Add the onion, being careful to remove the bay leaf first. Blend until no longer lumpy and then add the rest of the butter (goes in easier if it’s softened) and any herbs and spices you haven’t already added, along with the salt and the brandy (or port). Blend till smooth and creamy and then spoon into whatever container takes your fancy – bowls are nice for general presentation; jars are more practical if you’re not likely to eat it all at once.Mousse de canard au porto
Now, the traditional thing to do is to pour melted clarified butter over the top, and this is certainly of use if you are putting it away in ye olde cold stone pantry for some time. Personally, I don’t find a layer of yellowed fat on the top of my food to be very appetizing, so I leave that stage out. Chacun à son goût.

This is good in a sandwich with sliced tomatoes (with, of course, plenty of pepper) or spread on hot, hot toast – preferably Vogels. Crackers are another excellent form of pâté consumption,  though I generally like something more on top. Again, tomato is good, as are cucumber and sometimes a little tasty cheese.

Chicken Liver Pâté
Having written this, I feel I would like to plead for a more rational spelling of pâté, which just says “French was here.” Maybe not pate (that one is already taken, and eating the tops of people’s heads is frowned on, provident Fejee or not), but something. Partay? Putty? I remember from my brief career as a French student that the circumflex – on the â – often means there used to be an s in there, which English has usually kept. Pâté = paste. Would pâté de foie gras be as popular if it was advertised as “fat liver paste”? I think not.

10 Reasons Why Cuttlefish are Amazing

Number 1: their ink is actually ink. Sepia, in fact. Yep, all those drawings by Leonardo da Vinci started life in a cuttlefish ink sac.
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Number 2: They have greeny-blue blood. This is because where we have iron in our blood, creating that lovely rust colour, they have copper, creating that lovely old-copper-roof colour.

Number 3: They have three hearts (eat your paltry two hearts out, Doctor). This is because green blood isn’t as efficient with the whole oxygen-moving thing as red blood is.

Number 4: They have pupils like inverted monobrows. I mean, look at this:
Cuttlefish eyeNumber 5: On the subject of eyes, they apparently get their eyes all up and running before they hatch from their eggs. So if you happen to swim past a batch of cuttlefish eggs, beware – they’re watching you. And it has been suggested that they gravitate toward the sort of food they saw pre-hatch. (Death by oodles of baby cuttlefish: cutest creepy death ever.)

Number 6: Continuing on the subject of eyes, the cuttlefish has no blind spot. So don’t think you can escape…

Number 7: They are masters (and mistresses) of disguise. They can change colour like sea-chameleons (despite being unable to see colour); they can change their skin texture to more closely resemble their background. And they can do all this accurately, even in near total darkness. How, no one knows. They can even present different appearances on different sides of their body.

Camouflage

See the seafloor, cuddle the seafloor, be the seafloor…

Number 8: One of their colour patterns, used by males when in an aggro situation, is called “Intense Zebra”. (Out of such little joys is a life made…) Not to mention that there’s a species of cuttlefish called the “Flamboyant Cuttlefish”. And here’s why:
Metasepia pfefferi 1Number 9: They have an internal shell, called the cuttlebone, which they use for going up and down like a submarine. More liquid in the shell: down. Less liquid: up. The cuttlebone has also been used for centuries by metalworkers for making moulds for little fiddly things; and more recently by owners of caged birds for keeping up their calcium intake. (The birds’ calcium intake, that is. Not their owners. As far as I know.)

Number 10: They can be terribly grand and impressive:
Giant Cuttlefish-sepia apama (8643345101)
or completely gosh-darnit cute:
Sepia latimanus (Reef cuttlefish) all whiteAmazing critters, aren’t they? Which is why I decided to knit a cuttlefish cover for my cellphone. It’s not entirely like a cuttlefish, but it has points of resemblance. I started out intending to use this pattern but in the end it was more ‘inspired by’ than actually ‘based on’.

cuttlefishcosy

Fits smartphone measuring 63 x 120 x 10mm. Howdunnit available on request.