,,One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends. ,,
-Laurie Colwin

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My signature dish - Quail in forest flavor

''Every great Chef has a signature dish – one that defines their culinary point of view and highlights their particular skill set.
It’s the culinary equivalent of an artist finding their own style. Chef’s signature dish often changes with time or they may claim several signature dishes. The process of creating your signature dish takes time – so don’t skimp on the space you’ll need to put this together (in your head, your heart and in your office). Most chefs are famous for a “signature dish”, the one dish that they hang their hat on as the best in their restaurants.'' - quote from http://thewordchef.com/2012/03/your-signature-dish-how-to-create-a-program-that-sizzles/

I was once preparing quail for an event at Radisson Blue Olympia Hotel in Tallinn, Estonia for about 50 people. At this event 5 chefs, from 5 different restaurants, from the top 10 restaurants were invited to cook for food writers and food bloggers. The theme for this event was '' Modern Estonian cuisine''.
My dish was the main course and for this event I create a  special dish from organic quail with flavors from the Estonian forest.
More pictures about this event here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.305012046194849.88676.100000581697968&type=3

A lady who was part of the organizers and who is cookbook writer, walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was preparing. I invited her to taste my quail cooked in two ways. She tasted it and really liked it. She asked me, “Is this your signature dish?” Without hesitating, I said “Yes!”
Since that day, roast quail in two ways has become one of my signature dish. Since that day I was trying to improve it.
Below is my recipe.

Roast quail in two ways with sweet potato, quail egg brioche, thyme sauce and the flavors of the forest (cranberries, almond, juniper berry, wild baby leaves salad and pickled onions)

4 quails – serves 4
Marinade as follows:
1 bunch thyme
1 small garlic clove
15 ml olive oil
12 peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Remove quail legs and thigh bones. Make a marinade by mixing all the above ingredients together. Pour it over the quail leaving it overnight in the fridge. Remove the quails from the marinade, season and brown in a hot pan on the sides.
Place the quail into oven at 180 C for 10 minutes. Check and taste often. Remove quail and allow to rest for two minutes. Remove both breasts from each bird. Season the flesh side of the breast and place the two sides together. Serve on top of the cabbage.

Sweet potato
300 gr sweet potatoes or yams
lime juice to taste
fresh cream

Peel sweet potatoes and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet in middle of oven for 1 hour or until very soft. Cool potatoes just until they can be handled and scoop flesh into a food processor. Puree potatoes until smooth. Add lime juice, cream and salt to taste and puree mixture until combined well. Sweet potato puree may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Forest crumble
30 gr dry cranberries
30 gr chopped almond
30 gr dry orange peel

Mix all ingredients and keep in a dry place.

Pickled onions
50 gr (4-5pieces) fresh pearl onions
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
juniper berry
black peppercorn
bay leaves

Peel the onions and slice in half, long way. In a pan fry the onions upside down until golden brown.
Turn onions and cook for one more minute. Add sugar, vinegar, spices and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions is soft. Cool and reserve in a container cover with marinate.

Cranberry sauce or jam
100 gr frozen or fresh cranberries
100 gr organic pine syrup.

In a small pot just bring to boil the fresh cranberries and the syrup and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Do not over cook.

Thyme sauce
5 g thyme leaves
100 ml white wine
10 ml red wine
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 shallot (diced)
300 ml quail stock – made from the quail bones.

Dice shallots and wash the thyme. Put red wine, white wine and vinegar in pot. Add shallots and thyme and cook until reduced to glaze. Add stock and reduce by half. Correct seasoning. Fold in butter and it’s ready to serve.

Confit of quail
8 quail legs
1-2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoon sea salt
peel from 1 orange
2 garlic cloves
1 chili
3-4 juniper berries
3-4 black peppercorns
1 kg duck fat

Into a  tray sprinkle the legs with the salt evenly over all sides, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Wash the legs to remove the excess salt and pat dry on kitchen towels. Place the legs in a casserole or a tray, putting the legs skin side up. Add the garlic cloves, cinnamon stick, chili, thyme, star anise, orange peels, juniper berries, black pepper, and enough fat to cover the legs and place the pan in the oven. Cook uncovered, until the meat is very tender and has shrink away from the bone, around 30-40 minutes.
Let the legs cool slightly in the fat.

Quail egg brioche
4 quail eggs
sea salt
4 rings of brioche or 4 mini ready  vol au vent

Break the eggs in vol au vent baskets, season with salt cook until soft. Serve.

Enjoy! Pin It Now!


  1. Extraordinar e ca un tablou ! Sincer am mai spus-o de cateva ori sunt mandra sa te cunosc si ca esti un chef roman, am aratat cateva din platourile realizate si de tine si chef-ilor cu care am lucrat aici in Franta si te-au felicitat. Bravo Nico pt tot ce faci !
    Bucataria Sylviei

  2. Ahh, arata superb!! Ce arome, ce culori!!!

  3. Extraordinar. Bravo

  4. Vai de mine cum arata! Perfect!

  5. Mirific ceea ce ne prezinti tu aici Nico !!!
    Ma bucur enorm ca am aflat de blogul tau si al sotiei tale.
    Va felicit, sunteti minunati !
    Un pic de lucru mi-ai dat...trebuie sa fac traducerea in romana....
    Nu am colindat inca pe aici, dar ceea ce am vazut la intrare e minunat, asa cum doar tu sti sa faci.
    Bravo voua si mult succes in continuare !


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