Mushroom and Cheese Paté

Adapted from the original edition of The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Yield: 8 to 10 servings (possibly more)
Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus 1 hour to bake, and time to cool and chill.

Make this recipe the day before you plan to serve it, so it can chill overnight. The chilling helps solidify the pate and develop the flavor. It can then be served cold or at room temperature.

4 tablespoons butter
3 cups minced onion
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs or wheat germ
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 pound ricotta cheese (preferably whole milk)
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Black pepper and cayenne to taste

Optional, for serving:
Finely minced parsley
Lemon wedges or slices
Cherry tomatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 2 standard loaf pans with nonstick spray.
  2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms, salt, and mustard. Cook uncovered over moderate heat, stirring intermittently, for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and wine, and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle in the crumbs or wheat gem, stirring the mixture as you go. Cook for about 2 minutes longer, then remove from heat.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, and add the cream cheese, ricotta, and dill. Purée until smooth, then add black pepper and cayenne to taste.
  7. Divide the mixture between the 2 loaf pans, and spread evenly in place. Lightly dust the tops with paprika, and bake uncovered for 1 hour in the center of the oven.
  8. All the patéeacute;s to cool in the pans for 30 minutes before removing from the pans. For best results, wrap tightly and chill overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature, in slices–spread on crackers or toasts—topped with minced parsley, and accompanied by lemons, olives, and cherry tomatoes, if desired.
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