Whenever my friend Belinda and I talk to our friend Nick about our trip to America, he invariably brings up one thing.
"So how about pillow fights ladies?" he says leaning forward, as if we were going to divulge something to him. "How many did you have?" he asks.
Despite the fact that we've told him that pillow fights weren't even slightly on the agenda and we had separate rooms, he still continues to ask. And he also drags in the other guys into the conversation. "Am I right?" he said to Mr NQN and Gravy Beard one night. The boys agreed nodding their heads.
"What exactly do you think happens during a pillow fight?" I asked them.
"Well your clothes might fall off and you know..." they said, completely serious.
"When have you ever had a pillow fight where your clothes have fallen off?" I ask and then I point out that nothing like that ever happens during a boxing match. It was then that I could see their expression change. I had turned the subject onto sweaty men hitting each other and that was no longer sexy.
Allow me to give you a recipe that I consider sexy. Low fat is usually not something that sounds indulgently good and foodsexy but I promise that you could never tell that it is low fat. I love pate but one of the main ingredients is butter which of course gives it both great texture and taste but it also makes it high in fat. I wondered if I could make a version using natural yogurt instead.
It turns out that it is indeed possible and you don't compromise on flavour in any way. The key to pate is using the freshest livers possible (within a day of purchase) and deveining them properly. I also soak mine in a milk bath with takes away a lot of the bitter metallic flavour so that it is beautifully smooth.
The pink peppercorns are dried berries that add flavour and a delicate texture without being too overwhelming as pink ones are very mild with a much softer texture than black peppercorns. Because it is set with yogurt, it's not a pate that you might unmold but rather one that you can serve in the pot. Plus the blush hue of the pink peppercorns pretties up what could be possibly a boring looking item.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever cooked liver or offal before? Do you have a type of offal that you like best? Is there one you don't like? I'm not fond of kidneys but love liver, brains and sweetbreads.
Low Fat Port & Pink Peppercorn Pâté
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
- 350g/12.36ozs chicken livers (must be fresh, use within a day of purchase)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup port
- 1 sprig thyme
- 125g/4 ozs thick natural yogurt
- 1 teaspoon sugar or so to taste
- Salt and pepper
- 30g/1 oz pink peppercorns
Chicken livers before trimming
Step 1 - Trim the chicken livers by removing all of the yellow veins and sinew. This is by far the most unpleasant part of the whole process. Don't worry if the livers end up all shredded, you'll blend it all in the end. Removing these ensures that the bitter edge is taken out of the livers. Place in a bowl and add the milk. Steep for 1-2 hours. Then rinse the livers under cold water in a sieve.
Livers after trimming
Soaking in milk
Step 2 - Heat a frypan on medium heat and add the oil. Saute the garlic and onions until soft and fragrant. Then add the port, thyme and drained chicken livers and cook for just 2-3 minutes as you want the centre of the livers to still remain pink. Remove from heat and cool completely. The yogurt will split if it is blended with the hot liver.
Step 3 - Add the cooled liver mix to a food processor and add the yogurt. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning. I add some salt, pepper and sugar and blend and keep tasting it until it is perfectly seasoned. Spoon into two serving dishes and then top with the pink peppercorns. Refrigerate until firmer.