Meal No. 48! Gratineed Baked Squash Halves; Quail with Figs and Pine Nuts; Classic Rice Pilaf; Frozen Grapes with Sauternes Granita
First off, I want to give kudos to Relay Foods (www.relayfoods.com). I ordered most of the ingredients for this meal from them, and they ran all over town, higgledy piggledy, picking up my quail, squash, Gruyère, wine, etc. And then I just popped over to the creepy, dark lot at the Science Museum to pick up my goodies, lovingly packed by a local hipster. This was my first time ordering from them and it won’t be my last. Faboo!
Secondly, I would like it to be known that I cooked most of this meal at 5 am on a Tuesday. That’s right– 5 am! What happened was, I planned to cook the meal Sunday, but I got caught up cooking some stuff for an office thing and ran out of steam. On Monday night I had a bunch of errands and it was too late (at 8 pm) to start cooking. So instead I cooked it at 5 am. Ok, I see now how that doesn’t make much sense.
But, Thing One woke me up with some vomiting at 4:30 am (yes, I know, speaking of vomiting on a cooking blog is not polite, but it’s the truth). Why must my cats always puke in the middle of the night? Why not at 6 pm? If someone could invent a puke-less cat I bet it would be a very popular model.
I woke up at 4:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I decided to cook my quail. I cut out their backbones, and chopped off their scrawny little necks while wearing my polka-dotted PJs–quite the surreal moment. If you’re the type to wish you starred in a reality show, this would be the thing you’d hope they’d get on film. While that was happening I figured I could just go ahead and roast the figs, and what the hell, why not make the rice pilaf, too? I drew the line at roasting the squash, though. I have my limits. Plus, as soon as the sun came up I had to walk Miss Pooch.
The recipe called for de-boned quail, which I didn’t even bother to look for. I just ordered the package off Relay, which got it from the Mediterranean market on Quioccasin. After they were butchered it was a matter of salting and peppering them, and brushing them with oil. I was supposed to cook them in a grill pan, which I don’t have because I just use my grill, but not at 5 am when it’s 20 degrees out. I flattened them with a cast iron skillet, per the instructions. They got a nice crispy brown crust.
The sauce involved roasting Brown Turkey figs (the recipe called for Mission, but I couldn’t get those), capers and pine nuts, then tossing them with balsamic vinegar. The sauce was great! It really helped out the quail in the taste department.
Super simple–never buy Rice-a-Roni again, people! Melt butter, sauté broken pieces of angel hair pasta, then a chopped onion, then throw in the rice and coat with butter. Add water and simmer until done. This was simple, but I really liked it with the quail and fig sauce.
So far, everything is excellent, and this is perhaps the fanciest breakfast I have ever had! When the husband woke up I told him I made breakfast. “Bacon and eggs?” “NO! Quail with fig sauce and rice pilaf!”
I made the squash later in the day, after I got home from work. It involved baking halved squash filled with cream, in which some fresh sage and sliced garlic were simmered briefly. Then the Gruyere was added and it was cooked until brown.
This was kind of meh for me. I think my squash was too small, and the cream filled the entire cavity. The ones in the photo in the cookbook don’t have much cream in them at all. So, it mainly just tasted cream-y and bland. The Husband really resented it, as he felt the flavor detracted from the quail.
This recipe is in the running for most stupid dessert of the year: Halve red grapes, put in dish, toss with a bit of Sauternes, sugar, and water, then freeze. Stir with fork and serve.
Ok, Martha. WHY are we eating ice in a fall menu?!?! It was 20 degrees when I made this (the night before the quail incident). Why not a cranberry orange bread? Or anything, really, as long as it wasn’t icy. It actually wasn’t even all that icy, like the cherry ice recipe. It was mainly just odd tasting frozen grapes. I didn’t like the taste of the Sauternes, and it ruined my precious organic grapes. This would be refreshing in the summer if it didn’t taste terrible.
We really liked this meal when it was just quail, fig sauce, and rice pilaf. But the squash was disappointing, and the dessert pissed me off. Way to ruin things, Martha.
QUAIL & FIGS: A
RICE PILAF: B+
SQUASH: D ( I give it a C, but The Husband gives it an F+ for ruining the flavor of the quail)
GRAPES: F for seasonality. D- for execution