There is a new international grocery store in town. It is filled with some of the most interesting and amazing ingredients – octopus tentacles, duck feet, Asian fresh fruit, etc., etc. During a recent visit, I noticed sitting in the cooler were little packages of 10 quail eggs each. The eggs were so beautifully speckled and tiny that I couldn’t resist buying them even though I didn’t have any idea what to do with them. There are recipes on the internet for fried quail eggs and Scotch quail eggs, but both of those suggestions seemed like a waste of a unique ingredient. My thought was to wait until our daughter the chef came to visit and have her give me a cooking lesson. So I did. She suggested deviled eggs as being easy to do, very tasty, and insurance that the eggs would be well cooked and safe to eat. (She’s in the middle of her pregnancy.) That sounded like a plan, and I am glad that I followed her suggestion. In the end we cooked them up for the rest of the family so we didn’t worry about presentation. There was no time for that before the eggs disappeared. They were cute and delicious, and Sarah’s recipe is worth modifying for conventional deviled chicken eggs.
Deviled Quail Eggs
10 fresh quail eggs
- 1 quart water
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh dill fronds
- Place the eggs in a strainer or steaming basket. Lower into a small pan filled with boiling water. Reduce the heat under the pan to the lowest possible level and cook the eggs in the hot, not boiling, water for 4 minutes if you are at sea level and 6 minutes if you are in Santa Fe (7,000 feet). Discard any eggs that float to the surface when you put them in the water as that indicates they may be spoiled
- Remove the eggs from the hot water and immediately plunge into ice water. Cool until still slightly warm. Peeling them will be easier while they are a little warm. Crack the shells all over with the back of a teaspoon, and peel under a stream of running water.
- Using a cheese wire, cut the eggs in half lengthwise. You can use a knife, but it must be razor-sharp or you will be disappointed with your effort.
- Remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl with the mustard, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Using a dinner fork, mash the ingredients together until they form a smooth paste. Adjust the seasoning. If you wish, you can press the mixture through a tea strainer to make it even smoother.
- Load the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a small point. Pipe the mixture into the empty egg white cases. Decorate with a small frond of fresh dill.
Hard boiled and peeled
Using a cheese wire to cut the eggs in half
Halved quail eggs
Filling the pastry bag with egg yolk mixture
Filling the halved egg whites
Complete with dill fronds, the eggs are ready to eat
After lots of travels round California and more problems than I wish to recount with a new wireless router, a laptop that expired without wrning, and many days in the shop for my desktop computer, I am finally back at my desk. This post has been sitting unedited since Christmas, but the food is not just for the holidays, and it’s not just for celebrations.
Two of my children and their families visited us during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Even though they returned home before New Year’s Day, we tried to have some of the family favorites from New Year’s Eve buffets of the past. Gravlax definitely made the cut, although our pregnant daughter opted out for health reasons.
The recipe for gravlax originally came from the volume, Cooking of Scandinavia, from the Time-Life series of Foods of the World published in 1968 and subsequently made it – with revisions – into our family cookbook, Let’s Cook! Let’s Eat!
The sauce is the recipe of a very old and dear friend from Sweden. We first had it as part of a lavish spread at her house celebrating Saint Lucia Day. We had it again years later when Elisabet and her husband visited us in Louisiana. She thought the sauce would go well with the crawfish boil we prepared in their honor. She was right, and I was lucky enough to talk her out of the recipe. It goes well with many fish dishes, and it will keep for along time in the refrigerator.
Skin side up
Remove the tiny little bones with tweezers or fine pliers
Cracking the whole black peppercorns
Cracked black peppercorns, salt, and sugar
The dill, pepper, salt, and sugar mixture sandwiched between two salmon filets in a non-corrosive dish
Covered with plastic wrap, weighted with a stone, and ready for the refrigerator
Marinade removed and ready to eat
A long salmon slicer is handy but not necessary. A very sharp knife is needed.
Not a very good job of slicing, but you get the idea.
Elisabet’s mustard and dill sauce
The end result on pumpernickel bread
- 1 salmon filet, skin on (about 1½ to 2 pounds)
- 1 large bunch fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, crushed
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- Make sure scales and fine bones have been removed. Just to be sure, rub your finger lightly over the fish. If you find tiny little white bones, remove them with tweezers or fine-nosed pliers. Cut the filet into two pieces of equal length.
- Arrange the wider filet, skin-side down, in the bottom of a glass or ceramic dish that will hold the fish flat. Place the bunch of fresh dill on the filet. Cover with the other half of the fish, skin-side up.
- Crush the pepper in a zippered plastic bag, and then combine with the salt and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and dill. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and weight down with a heavy pan, brick or rock, or several cans of food. Place in the refrigerator
- Turn the fish two or three times a day for 3 days, replacing the plastic and weight each time before returning to the refrigerator.
- A liquid marinade will develop. Spoon over the fish each time that you turn it.
- When you are ready to serve, remove from dish and scrape off the dill and any remainders of the salt and peppercorns. Place the salmon on a carving board, skin-side down. With a very sharp, straight-edge knife, slice the salmon into very thin diagonal slices, detaching them from the skin.
- Serve with thin slices of rye bread and Elisabet’s mustard and dill sauce.
Elisabet’s Mustard and Dill Sauce
- ½ cup prepared mustard
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup salad oil
- finely chopped dill fronds, to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved
- Whisk continuously while adding the oil gradually in a thin stream.
- Add chopped dill fronds to taste. The dill flavor will intensify as the sauce sits for a few minutes before serving.