Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Swapper Profile: Christina Tunnah + Chicken Liver Apple & Bourbon Pâté Recipe

I'm so happy to introduce Christina Tunnah for our next swapper profile. Christina is a rare thing. As both a former boss and a close friend, I've known her a fair few years and can always count on her. And she has two of the best things in a friend...she makes me think, and she makes me laugh. Christina is also a phenomenal cook (her dinner parties are to die-for with the perfect balance of casual fun and amazing food), inveterate world traveler, and avid hiker. She is a SF Swappers veteran, having attended as regularly as her work travel schedule allows since the very first swap. You've undoubtedly shared a good giggle with her at the swaps, and if not some of Christina's past swap items have included Sorrel + Arugula Pesto, Wild Mushroom Relish, Shepherds Pie, Salmon Empanadillos, Kimchi, and produce from her garden. Now you know who I'm talking about, right? Right. So read on for her knock-out chicken liver pâté recipe and more.

Name: Christina Margarita Tunnah

Christina living la vida local in Peru
Home (+ hometown swap): Born in London, England, Berkeley is my home, and San Francisco is my swap town.

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago? I've been swapping with the SF Swappers since Aimee and Stephanie launched it over a year ago. 

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice? I made Chicken Liver Apple & Bourbon Pâté, and a plum pomegranate tarragon jam.  Usually what is in season in my back yard inspires a recipe. The apple tree, tarragon and bumper plums inspired this last swap’s bootie.

Fresh sage in Christina's garden
What’s your favorite thing about swapping? Tasting the creativity of others and in the potluck pre-swap hour, I get a lot of cooking tips for other dishes.

Who or what most influences your cooking? My mum is a fabulous and curious cook. Growing up in wartime Spain and spending any summers on the family farm, she taught me not to waste any part of the animal or pantry. When we first moved to the States she’d send me off to school with a thermos of paella or coq au vin which solicited “yucks” and horrible teasing from my PBJ class mates. We also lived and traveled in a lot of places as a kid, so I was introduced to many foods since infancy.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool? My Sabatier knife set, a Christmas gift from my brother over 15 years ago.

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession? Persian mint. It’s a fecund little plant so it makes its way into my breakfast yoghurt, tea, cucumber salsa, homemade ice cream, and cocktails.

Biggest food surprise? That East Bay (Oakland and Berkeley) is finally getting the respect it deserves for having great restaurants.

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be? Roast chicken with roast potatoes and parsnips. It’s my happy place.

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm… yard sale hunting, traveling, gardening, and hiking.

Favorite local food experience: Lalime’s, Meal Ticket brunches, Jong Ga House Korean (on Grand Avenue)

Recipe by Christina:

Does it get better than homemade pâté and
fresh bread? Yes, add wine!
Chicken Liver Apple & Bourbon Pâté

I’m a bit of a slappa in the kitchen so the measurements are approximate:

1lb of chicken liver
1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
Chopped onion (medium)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 apples (crisp tart variety), cubed
Fresh sage, chopped
2 Tb bourbon or brandy
2 Tb heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt ¾ stick of butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté till sweated being careful not to burn butter or caramelize onion. Add apple and cook till softened. Add garlic and sage, cook for 2-3 minutes. Put aside in bowl. 

Using the same skillet, melt remaining butter and add chicken livers and cook until only slightly pink color remains in center. Add back the onion mixture. Salt & ground pepper to taste and add bourbon. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Blend in batches until smooth. Add optional heavy cream and/or a few more cuts of butter until a smooth consistency. Poor into serving bowls to set. 

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