Portabella Pâté

1 lb butter
6 whole shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 c heavy (32 per cent) cream
6 whole portabella mushrooms, chopped, de-gilled and cleaned
salt and pepper
2 t agar agar (find at health food stores)
2 T truffle oil

Sauté the chopped mushroom in ½ the butter, season well and set aside (do not cook until dry, keep moist). Sauté chopped shallots in remaining butter until soft, add cream, bring to a simmer and whisk in agar agar. Place shallots, cream mixture and mushrooms in a blender (work in batches if necessary). Purée well and strain through chinois into mold(s). Set for at least 1 hour. Serve with crackers and fennel marmalade.

Fennel Marmalade

2 whole fennel bulbs trimmed of tops
3 pieces whole star anise
1 c white wine vinegar
2 c water
1½ c sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 T white wine vinegar

Cut the fennel bulbs in half and remove ⅔ of the woody core and discard. Blanch the fennel in boiling water for 10 minutes, then plunge into ice water immediately. Drain the fennel and dice very small. Bring sugar, star anise, white wine vinegar to a boil. Add fennel and cook over low heat until the mixture has reduced to a syrup consistency, but do not allow to caramelize. Finish with lemon zest and the white wine vinegar. Serve with cheese, pâté or on sandwiches.

Serves 4-6.