Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's Riesling Time Photos - A Riesling Revelation

Our latest Once Upon A Table event, 'It's Riesling Time' was inspired by our Once Upon A Table novice sommelier Elisa. She wanted to share with our guests how diverse one type of wine made from one single grape could be have so many different styles from sweet, dry, light, full-bodied, minerally, or crisp and fruity. Hence, Riesling is known as the foodie lovers among chefs as it can pair with almost any dish. The menu planning was fun as Elisa chose the wines first and we then paired the food.

It was an eye opening Riesling revelation for our guests, many who have only tasted the more common sweet German Rieslings. The Clare Valley Riesling was really refreshing and had a lovely spring flower aroma, tart citrusy and peach flavors that matched perfectly with the spicy grilled Mexican fish tacos with mango salsa.

The Alsace Riesling and the Riesling Chicken liver pate and chargrilled gingerbread was moreish...we had guests sneaking into the kitchen scavenging for the remaining pate and gingerbread. We take that as a compliment!

But perhaps the most interesting Riesling was the German Winery Bretz, Riesling Ice Wine. This is one of the sweetest wines in the world and can be only be made where there are hard frosts as the grapes are collected and crushed in the winter whilst the grapes are frozen at -7 degrees. This very sweet, fruity wine paired perfectly with a strong blue cheese platter. Try it at home!

Special thanks to Stephanie who kindly hosted the event at her gorgeous home and gigantic kitchen. Also thanks to Dan who took some fabulous photos and broke his 6 month blogging dry spell to write a nice review about our homely secret supper club in his michelin star blog
Check out the wine list here if you want to buy them
Elegant Elisa pouring the first Riesling tasting
Argha's fresh Scallop Crudo with Edamame, Orange zest and Mint Oil
Paired with a chilled glass of Chilean Riesling (Photos Courtesy of Dan)
Sofia's sweet smile with the sweet mango salsa
Fresh fish of the day - Mexican spiced grilled fish tacos with mango salsa
We could have drunk quite a few glasses of this Clare Valley Riesling...mmmm
Angie and Argha plating up the chicken liver pate and gingerbread
The guests loved the Alsace Riesling served with Riesling Chicken liver pate with
caramelized onions on chargrilled gingerbread. Click to get the recipe.

'Delicious! I could eat an entire bowl of this pate with a spoon' said one satisfied guest.
Elisa and our guest Yi
The Sweet German Ice Wine made from frozen grapes - Try it out!
Blue Cheese Selection with Shreya's homemade beetroot jam and ginger pineapple jam
Mmmmmmmm strong stinky blue cheese
Riesling Popsicles getting ready to pop out
To finish, a cool summer dessert...Pear and Riesling Popsicles with fresh mint
Lovely guests Delphine, Ed, Stephanie with Elisa
Our guest Karen who loved our last Beer tasting event so much she had to come to
our Riesling tasting too!
Our guests Yeeman and Andrew chilling out with popsicles
Guest Yalun and Gracious host Stephanie
Guests: Yi and Cecilia

Spiced Gingerbread Cake

I made this lovely, simple spiced gingerbread cake loaf to serve with the Riesling Chicken Liver pate at our last event 'It's Riesling Time'. The warming ginger, cinnamon, clove spices and orange zest complement very well with the rich, velvety meaty flavors and textures of the pate. We like to serve warm chunky chargrilled gingerbread slices with a big dollop of pate and caramelized red onions.

The recipe is slightly adapted from Joy of Baking, one of my favorite websites for cakes, desserts etc.


2 cups of four
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (nothing beats freshly ground cinnamon quills but you can also use pre-ground cinnamon)
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 cup of 115 grams of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of light brown soft sugar
2 large eggs room temperature
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup of golden syrup (put vegetable oil in cup to prevent sticking)
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. Line 13cm x 31 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves together and mix. Sifting will help with the raising and will also help prevent lumps in the cake mix.
3. Use mixer to beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each one. Add orange zest, golden syrup and combine.
4. Add dry ingredients & milk, alternating between wet and dry ingredients, ending with dry ingredients. Beat until just combined (don't overwork it).
5. Pour batter into loaf tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 mins. Try to resist opening the oven until the last 10-15 mins to check. Insert a clean toothpick to check if it is done. If it comes out sticky, wait another 5 mins. If it is clean, it is ready. Cool completely before taking out of the tin. You can keep the loaf in the fridge for a few days or clingfilm and freeze in for 1-2 weeks.
6. Before serving slice the loaf into 1 inch slices. Butter a griddle pan on medium heat, then add the slices, making nice griddle marks on both sides. Serve the warm chargrilled gingerbread with a big dollop of Riesling Chicken Liver Pate and some caramelized red onions.

Enjoy with a lovely chilled glass of Riesling!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sofia's spiced riesling liver pate

This recipe came together through a lot of experimenting. After reading about 10 liver pate recipes I took the bits that sounded most interesting and had a go. I must admit I had to test it out twice before getting the final pate just right.

If you're in Hong Kong, buying chicken livers is a real mission. You'd think they'd be readily available at any wet market. After going to a couple of chicken stalls and asking for "gaai gon" I eventually got lucky with about 100grams of livers for HK$10. Unfortunately these were mixed with other innards - heart, anyone? In the end I went to City Super where you can buy 100grams for HK$17. They are imported from France, and look as clean as liver can.

Below is a summary of what I did. I'd recommend you have a play around with the ingredients as you go along, try different types of alcohol, different herbs, and spices! - good luck

You will need:

1 Kilogram of chicken livers - enough for 2 big bowls of pate
1 Liter of milk
2 Glasses of riesling - I used a lovely riesling from Alsace
A dash of port wine
2 Red onions chopped fine
2 Cloves of garlic chopped fine
1 Bunch of fresh thyme
1 Block of butter
3 Bay leaves
3 Cloves
Mustard - I used dijon
Dry sage
Maldon salt

This is what I did:
Soak your chicken livers in the milk for about 24 hours. Make sure that you cover them. This does 2 things. It tenderises the livers and it also helps remove toxins. When you're ready to get cooking, take the livers out of the milk and pat dry. Cut out any grizzly looking bits.

Gently heat the wine in a saucepan with the cloves and bay leaves. Let it simmer until the wine reduces by to about a third of it's original quantity. Add a dash of port into this mixture too if you fancy. When the mixture has reduced nicely turn off the heat.

Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter over a low heat.
Fry up the onions and garlic until soft.
Add the chicken livers and a lot of salt and pepper and about 3 tablespoons of the fresh thyme leaves. Sprinkle generously with some dry sage.
Cook gently until the chicken livers are soft and tender and still red inside. You do not want to overcook them otherwise they go hard and grey and lose their colour and flavour.

Just before they are cooked add the wine mixture (remove the cloves and bay leaves) and give it a good couple of stirs.

Turn the heat off.

Now cut about half the block of butter up into chunks.
Put the liver mixture and the butter into a bowl. Be careful about how much liquid goes in. I drained some of the liquid off, but left some of it in. You just need to use your eye for this - you don't want it too soupy.
Season again with salt and pepper and add in about 2 - 3 tablespoons of mustard. You want to over season it because when it sets it loses flavour.

Using a hand blender, blend the mixture. You can go as chunky or smooth as you like. You can also add in a bit of cream to this mixture for more richness.

When your mixture is nice and smooth, then pour into a ramekin or a nice bowl.
Put to one side.

Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan. As it comes to boil scoop off the foam that rises to the top so that you get clarified butter. Now pour this on top of your pate.
Let this cool for about 10 minutes and then pop into the fridge.

You can add some thyme leaves to the clarified butter to give it some flavour if you like. This layer will set on top of the pate and keep it fresher for longer. You can keep this in the fridge for about 1 week. If you "open" the seal then use within 3 days. You can also freeze the pate in the fridge for about 1 month.

To serve you can throw some pickles, or caramalised onion onto a board, along with some olives and fresh leaves. Serve on chargrilled gingerbread (see our recipe) for a bit of decadence, or on crusty bread.

Enjoy with a glass of reisling or ice wine.