Pâté de campagne

On the occasions that I can get out to the local wineries, there is nothing better than bringing along a light lunch of a few cheese, some olives, pickles, and your own pâté. It is surprisingly simple to make and is well suited for a quick bite on the go. I am fortunate to have a local friend who raises hogs on the side. When it is slaughter time, I ask that she please save me the liver especially for this delicious dish.

For a more professional outcome, try to locate some “Morton’s Tender Quick” to use with this recipe. Alternatively, Kosher salt will work.

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Italian sausage

I love to have homemade Italian sausage in the freezer. We add it to spaghetti, meatballs, meatloaf, and many other things. If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, the meat grinder attachment works great for this type of thing. Additionally, the sausage doesn’t have to be stuffed into the casings, you can also just make ‘bulk’ sausage for use in other recipes. I would suggest that you zip lock them in 1 lb increments to be compatible with other recipes that call for Italian sausage.


Smoked salmon

Hot smoked salmon is one of my favorite treats. It’s easy to put together, tastes great on its own, and can be an important component in several other dishes as well. Oh, and did I mention, it keeps very well too!


Warm artichoke dip

Easy to throw together and a crowd pleaser.


Pizza crust

We love pizza around here. I can remember several family gatherings when I was growing up where all of the adults would hang around the kitchen sipping wine which came from jugs pretending to have something to do with Burgundy. They would be discussing the day’s going-ons, spilling cornmeal, laughing, and assembling handmade pizzas. Those pizzas were the best! I always looked forward to pizza night (and taco night) when I was a kid.

I have made pizza a regular staple with my family and it’s always a hit… After a few tries, it’s easy to throw them together; even on work nights when you don’t really feel like putting in much effort. It’s an easy formula:  dough + sauce + toppings = YUM, or as some would say, “nom nom nom”.

Helpful equipment: Baker’s peel, baking stone

Method:

Preheat oven and baking stone to 425 degrees. Let it heat up for about 30 minutes. Spread about 1 tablespoon of cornmeal on the baker’s peel. Roll out and stretch dough to roughly the size of the baker’s peel and place the dough on the peel. At this point, there is judgement and taste involved, so adjust volumes according to taste. Add about 1 cup of sauce and spread evenly, being careful not to slop it onto the peel making it more difficult to slide the pizza off. Next, add slices of mozzarella to cover, then your onion and then your sausage. This is the tricky part… First, assuming that the oven and stone are hot, open the oven and carefully spread a tablespoon or 2 of cornmeal on the hot stone, then lift the pizza on the peel and give it a quick, but small, jolt to ensure that the pizza will slide a little. If it doesn’t, peak under the pizza and make sure you have adequate coverage with your cornmeal and try to unstick any wet and sticky dough from the peel. Next, with pizza/peel in hand, go over to the oven. Tilting the peel enough to get the pizza to slide off, but not enough to throw your toppings all over the hot oven, slide the pizza from the peel to the stone using a small and careful jolting motion. Once you can get a little of the pizza on the stone, it will usually continue to transfer easily. The pizza should cook for about 15-20 minutes.


Smoked salmon pizza with capers, red onion, and cream cheese

Start with the pizza crust recipe. For the smoked salmon pizza as an appetizer, I like to make the pizza a little smaller and thinner; therefore, one pizza crust recipe will make about 2 smaller pizzas. Incorporating some dill into the pizza crust goes particularly well with this one.


Smoked salmon dip

So easy to throw together and always a crowd pleaser. Goes great on a charcuterie platter with an assortment of sausages, olives, crackers, etc.. It’s easy to smoke your own salmon or simply buy some good quality stuff at the store.


Mom’s rosy pickled eggs

I love pickled and briny stuff. This recipe may be the reason why. My mom has been making these for years and I truly enjoy them. The pickling liquid imparts a great flavor and the beets make for some curious coloring. Growing up, it was always difficult to explain to friends how these eggs could be good. As an adult, I have learned that they go great with beer and other drinks. You just have to try them! You need a one gallon container with a lid, preferably glass for this recipe. You’ll also need a ton of eggs, but they keep a long time in the briny vinegar.


Lamb lollipops

My friend Holly makes the most delectable little lamb chops, or “lollipops”as we like to refer to them.  There’s something about this dish which brings memories of warm summer evenings with friends. A little time in the marinade  and a short stint on the grill and you have heaven on a stick. When choosing your rack of lamb, plan for at least a couple bones per person. Here’s how she does it:


Gyozas

While I realize that I have placed this in the ‘appetizer’ section, we have been known to make an entire meal of these Japanese style potstickers. In fact, we are known to plan entire parties and get-togethers around this simple food. Over time, we have established quite an efficient system for cranking out hundreds of gyozas. We plan a time to get together, divide up the ingredients and show up at our designated gyoza production home. Part of the fun is making them in a group setting. Usually, we’ll have a table dedicated to creating the potstickers with a bowl of the meat mixture in the center, several small bowls of water distributed around the table along with the wonton wrappers. Someone else will be at the stove frying the little critters as they come off of the assembly line. Additionally, through strict scientific examination and clinical trials, we have discovered that sparkling wine pairs exceptionally well with fried gyozas.

We like to dip them in various asian sauces we either create for the gyoza party or simply grab at the store.
The recipe below makes enough gyozas for about 10 hungry adults who make an entire meal of them.