TWO TRADITIONAL CHAMPAGNE APPETIZERS
Before the era of e-communications, we used to mail out a monthly newsletter that informed our customers of new wine, beer and spirits releases, tasting events, educational commentary, and occasionally, recipes from our staff and customers who were great home chefs. I was thumbing through some of them recently and discovered recipes for salads, appetizers, main courses, and side dishes, all created with wine in mind.
Here are a couple of starters created by some long-time friends who suggested serving them with our grower champagnes. My answer then and now: why not?
CARL TAYLOR'S HANDMADE CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE
Normal paté can’t hold a candle to this creamy, silky, decadent spread.
- 1 lb. Chicken livers, cleaned and dried
- 1/2 lb. Butter
- 1 Tablespoon fresh sage, minced (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 1/4 cup Cognac
- 1/2 large onion or 1 small, diced
- 1 small tart apple, peeled and diced
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- Sea salt
Heat 4 oz. of the butter in a sauté pan, add chicken livers and sage and cook until the livers change color and are heated through—do not overcook. Add cognac and flame, shaking pan until the flames die down. Remove from the pan and put in a bowl to cool.
Add another 4 oz. of butter to the pan and very gently sauté onion and apple until very tender—again do not brown. Add to chicken livers and cool.
Put the liver, onion and apple mixture in a food processor with the cream and process until very smooth. Taste and add sea salt as necessary. Pack the mixture into a serving bowl or bowls, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (I lightly browned some finely chopped almonds in butter to top. I will leave that as an option to you.) It should be allowed to mellow for a day and will keep for a week or so. Serve the mousse with crackers or such.
You can also pair this with a lighter Beaujolais
JACK McLAUGHLIN’S MANCHEGO PUFFS
This is a richer-tasting twist on the classic Burgundian savory cheese puff called Gougères, also popular in Champagne, especially when served right out of the oven. They are soft, light, nearly hollow, and one is never enough.
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup flour
- 2 oz Manchego cheese, grated
- 1 oz Reggiano Parmesan, grated
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Combine the milk, salt, and butter in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the butter is melted, remove from the heat.
Add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon. Return to the heat, continue to stir, and then beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan in a smooth mass. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, whole, one at a time, continuing to beat each time until the egg is completely incorporated and the paste smooth before adding the next egg. Add the Manchego cheese at the same time as the last egg and beat well. At 3-inch intervals, drop teaspoonfuls of the paste onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Turn off the oven, prick each puff with a sharply pointed knife, and leave them in the oven for 10 minutes to dry out.