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Wild Mushroom Pate goes well with homemade bread

Question: A friend took me to the Apple Tree Restaurant on Bent Street in Taos, N.M. We had a very delicious mushroom pate appetizer served with small toasted rounds of herbed bread. Could you ask them for their recipe, please?

- Jean G. Wileon, Urbana, Ill.Answer: The street that houses the Apple Tree Restaurant is actually bent, but the name originated from the former governor who lived on the street. Planter boxes bring blooming color to the year-round heated patio that nestles in the shade of a large fruit-bearing apple tree. Food, retail and fun - Bent Street's got it all, and the Apple Tree Restaurant, housed in a "territorial style," two-story building, was one of the pioneers.

When Polly Raye came down from the mountains north of Taos in the late '70s, she was committed to finding a practical expression for the spiritual principle of "Right Livelihood." She became convinced that a juice bar on Bent Street, Totally Bananas, could grow into a full-service restaurant that would enable her and others to earn a living in a wholesome manner. With this aim, the Apple Tree was opened in 1979 on the astrologically auspicious Spring Equinox.

The restaurant has continued to grow and has changed owners, and Bent Street has developed into a shopping area that rivals the Taos Plaza. Across the street from the Apple Tree is an outdoor pedestrian mall, the John Dunn House Shops. While away a delightful afternoon shopping the art galleries, scanning pages of new and rare books, and trying on jewelry, leather goods and clothing. And before calling it a day, sip a leisurely cup of java at the Taos Mountain Tea and Coffee Purveyors.

Specialties of the Apple Tree Restaurant include warm muffins, sunny mimosas and the Wild Mushroom Pate. Serve the vegetarian loaf with a basket of homemade bread and crostini: thin slices of toasted bread under an intensely flavored, savory topping such as sun-dried tomato or garlic spread. Shiitake mushrooms are Japanese or black mushrooms.

WILD MUSHROOM PATE

1 1/2 cups cooked, drained white beans, pureed

2 cups hazelnuts, lightly toasted and finely ground

2 cups pecans, lightly toasted and finely ground

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup minced scallions

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped basil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon brandy

1 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 cups shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 5-by-9-by-21/2-inch loaf pan, line pan with parchment, and set aside. In large bowl of the mixer (or food processor), combine white beans, hazelnuts, pecans, Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese, scallions, parsley, basil, garlic, shallots, balsamic vinegar, butter, eggs, brandy, pine nuts, mushrooms, cream, cumin, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Beat until mixture is well-blended. Press mixture into prepared loaf pan. Set pan in a larger pan filled with 1 inch of water. Bake 1 hour. Cool completely before inverting onto serving dish. Makes one large loaf.