Stilton & Shallot Pâté from Felicity & Roald Dahl’s Cookbook
This recipe was the first that really got my stomach rumbling when I read Memories with Food at Gipsy House, by Felicity and Roald Dahl (read my review of this truly glorious book here). This dish, to my mind, characterises the food in the whole book – delightful, elegant, British farmhouse fare.
This pâté is creamy, mousse-y and light – surprisingly so for a rich, cheesy spread. Processing the mixture smooth in a food processor breaks down the structure of the ingredients and adds air, rendering it silky and delicate. The original recipe suggested that you form the pâté into a log shape with clingfilm, chill and serve in slices. However as it is quite liquid – especially if processed in a modern food processor – I recommend that you smooth the mixture into serving dishes, individual or family-style, as you see in the pictures.
Even if you’re using a food processor, be sure to chop the celery, shallot and parsley very fine so they are properly distributed through the other ingredients when you blend them. You want it to be very smooth with no chunks of vegetable at all. I do not advise that you increase the shallot even if you really love it! The raw onion flavour comes through strongly with the small amount listed.
When the mixture is fully blended, taste for seasoning. I always use an indiscriminately large amount of pepper, but my pâté didn’t really need any salt. This will all depend on your Stilton, however, so be sure to check that all the flavours are distinct and delicious before finishing. The shallot and celery flavour will take several hours to come through completely, but the cheese and wine flavours should be clear and not subdued by the cream cheese.
This is also when you add the nutmeg. I absolutely love nutmeg and use it with abandon (see my post on the subject here), but I have read many a cooking treatise imploring me to use it with extreme discretion – just a scrape or two. This I cannot do, but for your pâté, you decide. Do you have strong feelings on the use of nutmeg?
- 225g soft cheese (I used cream cheese)
- 2 tablespoons/35ml white wine
- 2 tablespoons/35ml single cream
- 170g Stilton, rind removed & chopped
- 30g/1 small stick celery, chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon shallot, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
- freshly ground nutmeg, to taste (I used 15 scrapes)
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Beat the soft cheese with the cream and wine until smooth (I used the metal blade of a food processor).
- Add the rest of the ingredients, blend again and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Fill small receptacles (teacups, egg cups, ramekins, etc.) tightly with the mixture, right to the top, and smooth with the flat side of a knife.
- Chill for at least two hours until the mixture is firm (but not hard) and the flavours have fully developed - it is better if left overnight.