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Sunflower Seed Pate

This week’s installation of the Summer Entertaining Toolkit has the hardware to impress guests on the first nibble. Sunflower Seed Pâté and Grilled Bread are your new all-star starters. If you haven’t touched sunflower seeds since your last handful of trail mix, I recommend trying them in this finely ground form. The earthy tasting seeds are mixed with fresh herbs, lemon, and a few golden raisins, to add a hint of sweetness, then cradled to your mouth on a crunchy, smoky piece of grilled bread. It doesn’t sound like much, but Grilled Bread should be put into the rotation as a staple appetizer carrier this season. It holds a variety of cheeses, spreads, and dips alike, is inexpensive, and easy to make indoors and out. I like to grill bread not only for its simplicity and taste, but also for a kind of “batting practice” for grilling season. Although one’s dedication to tending an outdoor fire in inclement weather varies, I would guess most folks probably haven’t used the grill much over the past 4 to 6 months. That much time away necessitates a tune up session. Grilling bread slices helps you get familiar with temperature zones and hot spots without running the risk of turning a 20 dollar rib-eye into a piece of carbon. A 2 buck baguette helps work out the kinks, preserving food from overcooking and letting you know how close you can get to the heat without having a case of burnt knuckles.

Norm’s Notes: Cutting Board as Serving Platter

A well used wood cutting board is a great way to display appetizers and various munchies. It provides a rustic and approachable feel to the presentation and is best set on a coffee table or sideboard to create an island that encourages mingling away from the dinner table. Hardwood boards, such as maple, are my preferred boards to serve on since they also handle heat well, allowing it to double as a trivet if necessary. However, it is vital to give your board a deep cleaning with a mixture of coarse salt and plain white vinegar before using. Lightly drizzle boards with distilled white vinegar, then sprinkle with a few heavy pinches of kosher salt and go to work with elbow grease and a heavy duty scrubbing pad or metal bench scraper to lift up any residue that may be hiding in any fine crevices. A rinse under running hot water and air drying finish the job.

Sunflower Seed Pate

Sunflower Seed Pâté

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (1 {8-inch} log)

1 ¼ cups roasted salted sunflower seed kernels, divided
¼ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. finely chopped golden raisins
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt to taste
Grilled Bread

1. Process 1 cup sunflower seeds, cheese, next 4 ingredients, and 3 Tbsp. water in a food processor until finely ground, stopping to scrape down sides. [When mixture is ready, it forms a ball as it is whirled around the processor, taking on a similar likeness to making pie dough.]

2. Stir together green onions, next 3 ingredients, and remaining ¼ cup sunflower seeds in a small bowl. Remove ¼ cup of mixture and reserve. Stir remaining green onion mixture into sunflower mixture until combined. Season with salt to taste. Roll mixture into a log (about 8 inches long)

3. Press or roll sunflower mixture in reserved green onion mixture, thoroughly covering sunflower mixture. Serve with Grilled Bread.

 Rolling Sunflower Seed Pate

Use a large sheet of parchment paper to make rolling and coating the pâté easier.

Grilled Bread

Grilled Bread

Makes about 26 slices

1 (12-oz.) French baguette
Olive oil
Coarse salt (such as kosher or flaked sea salt)

1. Preheat grill to HIGH (400-450 degrees). Cut baguette diagonally into 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Brush 1 side of bread slices with a thin layer of oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.

2. Grill bread slices, without grill lid, 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until toasted and grill marks appear.

[Note: If using a gas grill, you may have to flip and adjust the slices a few times depending on how even your grill heats. Pay close attention to which areas appear hottest and coolest, then write the information down on a piece of paper or commit it to memory. This way, you can better navigate food around the cooking surface to get the results you desire.]

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Norman KingNorman is a culinary expert and cookbook author. He first harnessed a love of stirring cast iron skillets atop wooden stools at his grandmother’s stove, leading his heart and feet...

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