A liverly parte’: Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea

Cancer.

Not an easily digested word at even the most convivial of morning tea gatherings.

By the end of 2019, over 140,000 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. For almost 140 people (50,000 per year), today may be the last time they are able to bequeath to their loved ones the precious and intangible commodity that is joyous memories of good times past. With such overwhelming numbers of morbidity and mortality, one would have to search hard to find a community that remains untouched by this transformative and, most often, terminal illness.

I met Kaye during my second year at university in the dining room of our self-catered, college of residence. United by our love for creating mass meals to feed a hungry hoard of college rugby players and fabricating gourmet delicacies for our dining-in-double-date-night, we became joined at the kitchen hip. Over the next three years, our friendship would see us through the euphoric highs of new jobs, study scholarships, elaborate dinner parties and outrageously daring girly days out. Together we would also weather the emotionally challenging periods of intimate relationship separations and house mate woes. When I left town to pursue a teaching career in the U.K., Kaye was well on her way to becoming a legal superstar, having just secured a prestigious position as a Judge’s Associate to a Justice of the High Court.

At the age of 26, Kaye was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. By the time I was able to acquire teaching relief from my school and fly home, she was in the last stages of this virulent and fatal form of the illness and was but a shadow of her confident and glamorous self. On that last afternoon together we wiled away the hours reminiscing about those decadent dining days of college years past. We laughed. We cried. And then we cried some more until it was time for me to say goodbye to one of the most special people in my life.

Last month, on a fresh and wintery Friday morning, a jaunty crowd of parents and their children descended upon K2’s former Playschool teacher’s idyllic residence. United by our love for this esteemed and affable pedagogue and in support of a Playschool family who face the daily challenge of living with childhood leukemia, we conversed our way through the morning hours. By a tick past midday, no tea pot or tray of first-class scones (made by the host herself) was left unconsumed and the Cancer Council donation box was burgeoning with funds.

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For those willing and able to host their own “Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea” bash, it’s a great way to connect people about a great cause. For others, keen to attend the event as a liverly parte’ participant instead – and to avoid competing with an extremely accomplished scone making host – then I present to you the recipe for my own addition to last months shindig: Chicken Liver Pate’.

Replete with plenty of flavour from both my garden (herbs) and the butcher’s handy work, this addition to the standard cheese platter is set to enrich the red blood cells (plenty of iron) and be an offally good crowd pleaser.

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Chicken Liver Pate’ (Makes two (1 cup sized) ramekins)

As I have a reputation for being both a game and offally good customer, whenever I have the desire to make a batch of chicken liver pate’ my local butcher is more than happy to place a custom order. Failing the butcher approach, one can always try his or her luck at one of the big supermarkets. Sometimes they have some available in the “pet food” compartment of the meat fridge!

Ingredients:

300g chicken livers

50 g butter

1 tbs single malt whiskey

pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper

Butter covering:

100g butter

sage leaves

To prepare the livers, cut away any green tinges and remove all white connective tissue. Cut the livers into large chunks. On a low heat and in a small, heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter for the covering. Leave to cool and to separate.

Heat the butter in a heavy based fry-pan. Flash fry the livers until they have just turned a golden-brown colour. They should feel springy and soft when touched with a finger. Pour the brandy over the livers and light with a match. When the flame dies out, quickly transfer the livers to a bowl. Add the nutmeg. Puree’ to achieve a smooth texture. Season with salt and pepper. Taste test. Add a little more butter if the mixture seems a too dry. Decant into two ramekins (1 cup sized). Using a spatula, smooth out the top ensuring there are no peaks or large dents in the mixture: oxidation will occur.

Place a couple of sage leaves in the middle of each ramekin. Being careful to ensure the whey (white residue) remains in the saucepan – this will leave white spots on the top of the pate’ – pour half the melted butter (covering) over the liver pate’ in the ramekin. Repeat for the second ramekin. Ensuring that the sage leaves are submerged beneath the butter. Refrigerate till the butter has set hard on top.

When you are ready to attend your liverly parte’, serve your delectable addition to the fare with a loaf of that homemade, sourdough pumpernickel and a wheel of top quality Brie or Camembert.

Oh…and don’t forget to throw plenty of tips into that collection jar: it counts!

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