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Sep 18, 2005 03:14 AM

Chowing with the Hounds Picnic Recipe Requests and Discussion

  • c

This is the place to request recipes for your favorite dishes at the Chowing with the Hounds Picnic, post recipes, and discuss the cooking of anything there. Post away!

My personal recipe requests are for David Boyk's carrot pudding with walnut sauce and Ruth Lafler's mushroom pate.

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  1. I too would be interested in recipes for the carrot pudding and mushroom pate. The pudding had that wonderful elusiveness that stumped my ability to recreate w/o seeing a recipe. Also would be a good addition to a Thanksgiving table...

    Don't know who made them, but would love to see recipes for the squid salad (what's in the dressing? how were the squid cooked to perfect tenderness?) and tangy, earthy eggplant soup. Lots of other good dishes too...

    PS. I always love hearing the context around a recipe, so feel free to throw in a quick background about how it came to be, how it fits in family tradition, challenges about prepping it for the picnic, etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      Carb Lover:
      I am sorry that I didn't get the chance to meet you. Nathan said he had the torture of riding in the car with your wonderful chicken aroma! The chicken was just perfect-- moist and tasty. What's your secret?

      1. re: dimsumgirl

        Am sorry we didn't get a chance to talk too. Glad you enjoyed the chicken (photo below). I'm not a fried chicken expert in the least, but love the idea of fried chicken for picnics and figured it would be easy to transport and keeping hot/cold wouldn't be an issue. The downside is that it's not a dish like a salad or lasagna where people can take small portions since everything is already portioned. Regret not making more...I was going to just make a regular Southern fried chicken, but decided to add my Asian twist by using coconut milk, madras curry powder, and some panko. Thanks to rudeboy and yimster for giving me some inspiration there. I still like my Southern version w/ a buttermilk soak and some cornmeal in the coating, but this twist was a nice change from the standard.

        I'm not going to post a step-by-step recipe, but highlight a few "secrets" that I believe make a difference for my version of fried chicken:

        1. Dry brining 1-2 days before cooking. I basically salt and pepper chicken pieces all over, place in single layer on tray w/o overcrowding, loosely cover in fridge w/ plastic wrap. I use about 3/4 tsp. kosher salt per lb. of chicken and go easy on the black pepper. Note: I tried wet brining during a trial and found the meat to be watery and mushy.

        2. Pre-soak brined pieces in regular coconut milk for 2-8 hours. Longer might even be ok.

        3. Coating for one 4 lb. bird (cut into 10 pieces) consists of 1 c. AP flour, 1 c. panko crumbs, 1.5 tsp. kosher salt, 2 tsp. madras curry powder, 2/3 tsp. cayenne. Let rest in fridge uncovered (preferably on rack) for 1-2 hrs. before frying so coating can set and dry out a bit.

        4. Frying is the tricky part and takes practice to perfect, so I won't spell out all the nuances here. Must give credit to husband here who is great at frying chicken! We don't use a thermometer at all and go on visuals alone. Found that it works best to get the oil (I used TJ's canola) pretty hot, place chicken in, and turn down a bit. Cover w/ the lid slightly ajar for first 5 min. and then uncover to finish. Must be watchful and turn up and down heat as necessary. Total frying time is 12 to 14 min. depending on type of flesh and size. Best to fry white and dark meat in different batches.

        Note: I always have seen a cast iron skillet called for; however, for efficiency, I used both a Lodge cast iron and an All-Clad stainless steel saute pan. Interestingly, the AC kept the temp. more stable and kept the coating from darkening too quickly. I may switch over to the AC for good when making fried chicken.


        1. re: Carb Lover

          Carb Lover:
          I tried making this and it turned out great!!! This will definitely become a staple at my house. Thanks for sharing your technique! I hope to meet you next year or at a chowdown!

          1. re: dimsumgirl

            Glad it worked out for you...thanks for reporting back. The recipe is very tweakable. For a southern-style chicken, I soak in buttermilk and use a 4:1 ratio of flour to cornmeal. Too much cornmeal will make the coating hard and brittle. I'll use about 1/2-3/4 tsp. of cayenne per cup of coating, no curry powder.

            For a naughty treat the next day after frying, I have discovered that frying my own corn tortilla chips in the leftover oil is quite tasty...

        2. re: dimsumgirl

          The real torture was when after an hour and a half of smelling fried chicken I got stuck behind a mob of hungry hounds and watched the chicken quickly disappear. Luckily I rudely jammed my hand between the crowd risking injury from stabbing forks and managed to secure the second to last piece!

          1. re: dimsumgirl

            That chicken was amazing! I ended up with half a piece that my son couldn't finish and I was sooo glad to have it. Otherwise I would have missed out, that would've been a crime. Truly one of the highlights for me. Blue ribbon for that chicken!

        3. I want David's carrot pudding recipe, too! I already have a spot reserved for it on my Thanksgiving table.

          The mushroom almond pate is an old Sunset recipe -- if you google "mushroom almond pate" you find links to the identical recipe on many sites. But since I altered it a little, I'll post it here as well.

          As for family stories around a dish, this dish is famous in my family for being the only way I'll eat mushrooms, which I loathe in almost every other form.

          3/4 pound mushrooms
          1 cup slivered almonds
          1 clove garlic
          1 small yellow onion
          1/4 cup butter
          3/4 teaspoon salt
          1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
          1/8 teaspoon white pepper
          2 tablespoons olive oil (you want something mild for this, not a peppery one)
          2 tsp truffle oil (or to taste) -- optional

          Toast almonds in a wide frying pan until browned (I was thrilled to see that Trader Joe's now sells dry toasted slivered almonds, which saved time and meant I didn't have to pick out the small pieces that inevitably burn when I toast them myself). Cool. Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade process garlic, onion and mushrooms with on and off bursts until finely chopped. Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally until almost all the liquid has evaporated (this takes quite a while -- the drier you can get it, the firmer your pate will be -- I cooked it until the mixture was wet but no liquid drained out when I stirred it). Process almonds until coarsely chopped. Remove 2 tablespoons almonds and set aside. Process remaining nuts to form a paste. With the processor running, pour olive oil down feed tube and process until creamy. Add mushroom mixture and process until pate is smooth. Add remaining almonds and blend with 2 bursts. At this point I decided to add some white truffle oil -- I used about 2 tsp., which didn't give it a pronounced truffle flavor but did give it more depth and complexity. If I were feeling more daring (rather than wanting to be sure I didn't ruin my picnic dish) I'd add maybe twice as much. Spoon into bowl for serving, cover and chill -- it's better made 24 hours in advance so the flavors have time to blend together and it firms up a little. Makes 2 cups.

          Someone asked if it was vegan -- you could probably make it vegan by substituting a mild olive oil for the butter. If I were doing that I'd increase the almonds slightly, since the fact that butter is solid at room temperature helps give the pate some body.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            What kind of mushrooms did you use/have you used in the past?

            1. re: nooodles

              I've always used just standard white mushrooms. This time I used mushrooms labled crimini, but not being a mushroom maven I don't know how much difference -- if any -- there is.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Criminis are baby portabellos. They have a bit of a "funky" smell to my nose, but I prefer their more earthy and full flavor compared to standard white buttons. I always buy mine from Trader Joe's. Thanks for the recipe, Ruth!

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              Question from an outsider:
              I'm guessing this is served with bread slices...

              1. re: Funwithfood

                Yeah, you can put it on anything you'd put pate on -- brought some whole grain levain, which was particularly tasty, but any thinly sliced firm-textured bread or even crackers will do.

                And Carb Lover -- I bought the mushrooms at TJ's, too. (vbg)

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                Thanks for the recipe, I really enjoyed your dish!

              3. I would like to put in a bid for Fred's corn recipe: it looks simple enough but I have the feeling that the right ingredients are key: and it seems to be the perfect side dish to bring to my scuba club's campground abalone feeds and potluck (since I don't dive for the abs)...or for any camping trip or cook-out!

                I'd also like the eggplant rolled around cheese appetizer recipe: it looks like it might be easy enough for me to master, and it is certainly delicious!

                OTOH, I am not going to bother to ask Al for his squid salad recipe: I know that he peeled all those squid himself (could using only very fresh squid be part of the secret to its tenderness?)...and I just am not sure I am up for that task. Al, can you bring it again next year? :-)

                6 Replies
                1. re: susancinsf

                  It was super easy!

                  My mother-in-law has a copy of "Forever Summer" by Nigella Lawson and while I was visiting her last month I jotted down really a lot of ideas from it. It's full of real punchy flavors, I just could summarize the concepts and main ingredients without obsessing over measurements or proportions.

                  So, in that spirit, here's Nigella's eggplant recipe:

                  Slice your eggplant about 1/8" thick, spray or brush the slices with olive oil, and grill them for 2-3 minutes on each side until they're well-cooked but limp, not crisp. For the filling, for each more-or-less half-pound of crumbled/mashed Greek feta cheese I added the juice and rind of one lemon, one minced hot red pepper, a few grindings of black pepper, and about a cup of chopped mint leaves. (God bless Berkeley where you can make a run to Andronico's at 11:30 at night and have two kinds of Greek feta to choose from.) Then roll it and pat it and mark it with a B, and you're done. Just as good if you make them the night before, which I did. For the 80 or so that ended up going to the picnic and the ten or so that I sampled while making them, I used 10 quite small globe eggplants, which allowed for a bunch of the slices being too thick or thin or small or at the ends (we'll grill those up tomorrow--pasta alla Norma hooray!).

                  What a fun picnic.

                  I am brave enough to take on Al's squid recipe. Rachel says she wants to help make it because she thought it was really good but too spicy. Al?

                  1. re: heidipie

                    Thanks, Heidipie! I will be making this for a potluck soon! (and I had at least four of your rolls, after making sure everyone else got theirs, of course :-))

                    the funny thing is, I am not a big fan of feta unless it is really high quality...but it sounds like you made the right choice at Andronicos....

                    did you grill them over charcoal?

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      by them, I meant the eggplants of course, not the entire finished product...

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        No, gas.

                        I'm picky about feta myself. The greek feta at the Pasta Shop is terrific, and I used it for about 3/4 of the rolls. I had them wrap it dry rather than in the brine, and that improved the flavor too, I think.

                    2. re: heidipie

                      Thank you for sharing your recipe for your delicious and beautifully presented appetizer! It was a pleasure to get to know you!

                      1. re: heidipie
                        Jennie Sheeks

                        My husband is pretty adventurous but not much of an eggplant eater, so we were both pretty surprised when he commented on how good your eggplant rolls were.
                        Now I can make it for him again. Thank you!

                    3. j
                      Jennie Sheeks


                      So, truth be told, I brought a big bowl of this Chicken Liver Mousse with some toasts to the Chowhound Picnic two years ago, and on the way home, had the epiphany that it would go really well with a fig paste or conserve or jam or something. Epiphany was very most definitely influenced by the fact that the Napa Valley vineyard where I work has this wonderful fig tree and let’s just say that figs are part of my benefits package.

                      1 Baguette
                      Olive Oil

                      Slice baguette & arrange slices on baking sheet. Set those ends aside for sampling the warm, runny mousse. Brush top side of slices with olive oil. Bake at 200, then decide that’s too cool so increase oven temperature to 400 but don’t forget about them. They’re done when barely golden around the edges.

                      CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE – From Barbara Kafka’s Party Food, which is a fabulous, inspiring cookbook if you love nibbles and appetizers and fantasize about throwing parties. Full recipe makes about 3 ½ cups, which Babs hilariously declares, serves 12. More like 120. Really, this is just butter flavored with chicken livers, brandy and spices. I made a half a recipe for the Picnic and it’s about enough for one baguette’s worth of croutons. It’s easier to make it a day ahead. You'll need a microwave and a food processor to make this.

                      12 oz. chicken liver, rinsed, fat & connective tissue pulled off
                      1 cup milk
                      2 cups butter unsalted
                      2 tablespoons cognac, and please, non of that cheap crap with caramel coloring added. I’m partial to Germaine Robin Fine Alambic Brandy.
                      1 small garlic clove, smashed & peeled
                      2 teaspoons sea salt
                      ¾ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
                      Pinch cayenne
                      Pinch nutmeg
                      Pinch ground allspice

                      Cover livers with milk and let ‘em sit at room temp for 2 hours. Then go finish doing laundry and making dinner. Remember the livers on the counter. Drain & rinse.
                      Place ¾ of the butter in a 9 X 13 X 3 inch Pyrex or ceramic baking dish. Cook for 3 minutes at full power in a high-wattage microwave oven.

                      Remove dish from microwave, add livers in a single layer, cover tightly with microwavable plastic wrap and cook for 2 minutes.

                      Uncover, stir, try not to think about dog food, then re-cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully remove plastic wrap as it will be very steamy.
                      So while the livers are cooking in the microwave, pull out your food processor & the metal blade. Toss in the garlic, sea salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg and allspice.

                      Now, we play with fire. You’ll want a really long handled ladle or a very small metal saucepan and a match or two at the ready. Maybe a reliable friend nearby who’s not afraid of fire. Put the brandy in your ladle or pan, heat it for a minute over low heat. Take a deep breath and use that match to light the brandy on fire for about a minute. Blow it out and pour it in the food processor bowl.

                      Now dump those livers and melty butter into the food processor and process till smooth. Cut up the remaining butter into small bits and process that in till it’s all mixed in. Scrounge around for those baguette ends and dunk them into the warm, gooey buttery livery goodness. Pour that stuff into a nice dish, cover with plastic wrap and let it firm up for about 3 hours.

                      Then tell your teenaged stepson that the dish you’re bringing to this Picnic you happen to be dragging him to is chicken liver based. Watch his expression. Try not to laugh.

                      ZINFANDEL FIG CONSERVE
                      1-1 ½ handfuls of figs, ripe, a bit squishy to the touch and slightly shriveled
                      1 cup red zinfandel wine, nothing wimpy
                      1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

                      Slice figs in half, arrange on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees till shriveled and foaming. Meanwhile, pour zinfandel into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat to reduce and thicken the wine a bit. Add the brown sugar. Check on the figs, wonder if that smell actually is the skins burning. Take the figs out of the oven, add to saucepan of wine and cook for a few minutes. Spoon a bit of the wine from the saucepan into the fig roasting pan, place the roasting pan over low heat and scrape up the sticky dried bits of fig from the pan. Then pour the wine & sticky fig bits back into the saucepan of figs and wine. Transfer whole mixture into blender, picking off blackened bits of fig and wonder if maybe rubbing a bit of oil on the figs before roasting mightn’t have been a good idea after all. Blend till still a bit chunky. Makes just enough for a tiny smear on one baguette’s-worth of slices.

                      So, I was afraid that if I assembled this at home in Napa that the croutons might be soggy by the time we got to the Picnic. Plus, I was afraid the herd of croutons might fly off the platter in transport. So, I did it on-site and having a pack of handy-wipes kept my hands clean. So, to assemble on site you’ll want the following tools:
                      1 large platter
                      1 table knife for mousse spreading
                      2 tablespoons or teaspoons for the fig conserve or another table knife
                      Something to wipe your hands on or with

                      Top crouton with a generous smear of mousse, then place a dab of fig conserve on top. (I didn’t have enough fig conserve for this, but it might be even better with a thin smear of conserve on the crouton topped with a generous smear of mousse.)


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jennie Sheeks

                        Wow, no wonder it was so good! Now I'm glad I could only snag one piece.

                        I don't think I got to speak with you at the picnic, Jennie, but thanks for preparing and sharing this delicious appetizer.

                        1. re: Jennie Sheeks

                          This dish was wonderful and it was a pleasure to meet you as well! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I will have to try this.

                        2. NOTE: The squid salad I made for the picnic was a version of one I learned from Bruce Cost, a wonderful chef who has done so much to expand American interest in Asian food. He had yet to start his Berkeley restaurant Ginger Island and was teaching a class in Thai cooking. For his waiving the tuition, I helped prep and got to sit in on Bruce's class.

                          About squid: First, I did not peel all the squid as Susan thought. (I should have let her keep on thinking it, I know.) I got some very nice squid supposedly cleaned, but they did need to be checked for quills and beaks and the tubes still required some rinising. These were a bit thicker than I usuallly get and did not curl as prettily as the thinner tubes do, but had a more toothsome bite in exhcange. You have to make a compromise either way.

                          Most important: squid is very often overcooked, especially when fried. This is why it gets that rubberband quality that makes it often not worth the chewing effort. For the smaller thinner bodied squids, I boil them at most 30 seconds. For these thicker ones, I made it 45 seconds. For tender squid, you cannot cook them longer! Less may work.

                          Clean & rinse one pound squid (use the tentacles too, ok?), slice open the tubes and lay them flat. Score very shallowly, on a diagonal with a sharp knife, then cut into 1x2 inch strips and boil briefly in a large quantity of rapidly boiling water. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking and drain.

                          2 T Thai fish sauce
                          2 T fresh lime juice
                          1 t sugar
                          1 t sa-te oil
                          2 t fine peanut oil
                          3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
                          NOTE: fine peanut oil is available at some Asian markets; it is a more expensive kind than that usually used for frying, and is not intended to be cooked. It is worth looking for to use in any cold dish that calls for peanut oil. At the picnic, Yimster identified what I wanted as Panther brand, which comes in a red can. I could only find Lion and Globe brand which is good for frying, but for this sauce I mixed it with olive oil to dilute the strong taste of peanut which the salad does not want. Improvise with oils of choice, if you can't get this stuff. Also, vary amounts of lime juice, sa-te oil, fish sauce, to your own taste. I used a lot more lime juice than is indicated here, because it seemed right at the time.

                          Vegetables and Herbs:
                          1 celery stalk, sliced on the diagonal and parboiled for a minute.
                          1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, salted for an hour then rinsed, sliced.
                          10 mint leaves, chopped finely
                          2 T chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
                          1 red jalapeno, diced finely or Thai bird chiles if you want it hotter.

                          Mix squid and sauce, add mint, cilantro, jalapeno, celery, mix again.

                          Lay cucumber slices on platter, spread squid/sauce/vegetable-herb mix over.


                          7 Replies
                          1. re: al@Fairfax

                            hey Al, you were the one who led me to believe you were going to have to do all that cleaning and peeling.. :-)

                            This almost sounds doable, even for me. What is your current squid source?

                            1. re: al@Fairfax

                              Thanks for this great recipe, Al! I really, really enjoyed the balance of flavors and textural contrasts of this dish (loved the tentacles!). I have never boiled squid before and think I've often overcooked when sauteing (although I follow recipes that say to cook longer than one minute). I wish I had taken a photo of it, but I know that Liz did.

                              I need some clarification from you or others:

                              1. What do you mean by cut it into 1x2" strips? I just can't imagine how that works w/ small squid.

                              2. Do you boil the tentacles for the same amount of time?

                              3. What is sa-te oil and is it easy to find?

                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                So glad you liked it. People have usually responded well to lightly boiled squid in this salad. If overcooked forget it. I love fried squid too, but even in very good restaurants--Italian, Chinese, American--they can be overcooked just enough to turn them to consistency of erasers. One of my favorite tests of restaurants is fried calamari; when given a fast zap in very hot oil, they have the required crispy crust and meltingly soft interior. The heavy batter that some use almost guarantees the squid will be chewy by the time the batter is crisp. Since I eat 'em anyway, it is a good test.

                                Yes, tentacles get the same boil.

                                About the cutting: if you have to completely clean the squid (cut off tentacles and remove beak, pull guts and quill from tube) you might as well slice open the tube, eh? If you get them cleaned already, cut open the tube and you will have a flat piece of squid. (Cleaned Thai squid I used still needed rinsing after this step.) Then you lightly score the flat piece of squid (looks like a thinner calamari steak), then cut into the 1x2 inch rectangles.

                                Sate, pronounced Sa-Tay, oil is simply chili pepper peanut oil and can be found in most Asian markets in small bottles. It is reddish in color. It goes rancid but is easy to make at home--just cook chopped hot peppers in same amount of oil: 1 cup chopped chilis in 1 cup oil. Heat very slowly and check often when chilis start to foam up. When they show first signs of burning, remove from heat. Let sit for 6 hours, then strain and store in dark place. Use those tiny Thai bird chili peppers for a good blast of heat. Use a few drops or spoonsful depending on effect you want. (Full disclosure: I bought my oil for the picnic.)

                                Glad you liked it. IF you try it, let us know how it was. I have enjoyed your posts and if I spoke to you at the picnic I did not know who you were. If I did not, my loss.

                                1. re: al@Fairfax

                                  Thanks for the elaboration; it's crystal clear now. Am going to make this soon for sure since I love squid salad. Don't know about getting the Thai kind, but have a few sources for squid in Santa Cruz. I will report back w/ a photo when I try it.

                                  No, we didn't formally meet or talk, unfortunately. I happened to be the short Asian girl shivering in a denim jacket and flip-flops (note to self: wear sweater, socks, and sneakers next year).

                              2. re: al@Fairfax

                                Are you using local squid or the imported Thai squid? The Thai squid is much larger and easier to work with. Being a Thai salad I think that the large squid will work. Thanks for the recipe.

                                1. re: yimster

                                  It was indeed the imported Thai squid. Since the salad turned out well, I guess I am now converted to these larger ones over the small ones I was looking for.

                                2. re: al@Fairfax

                                  Made it tonight--sort of. Had to stretttttch last night's shrimp-and-squid pasta leftovers into tonight's dinner. I picked the seafood out of the pasta, and tossed it with lime juice, fish sauce and garlic, and then with cukes, celery and the kernels from Friday night's leftover corn. The tomatoes and basil still clinging to the squid and shrimp blended nicely with the other flavors. The noodles became a pasta frittata. It was as amusing as it was tasty--what we can get away with in the kitchen!

                                  Thanks again, Al. (Rachel calls you Owl, because that's what your name sounds like to her.)