Friday, October 2, 2009

Quails and Foie Gras, Can it get better than this?

The night the guests arrived, we sat outside drinking wine, getting to know one another watching the sun set.
When darkness fell there was a bit of a chill in the air so we moved into the dingroom. Lynn had prepared an amazing meal. Marlene van der Westhuizen, a chef, author and cooking teacher in Capetown and Charroux, described Lynn as a brilliant cook in her cookbook , Delectable. What she failed to mention is that Lynn is also a creative and gifted cook. She can pump out dinner for 12 in no time flat and it will be one of the best meals you have ever eaten.
Our first course was sauteed fois gras with Poilane Bread, garnished with Lynn's homemade Apple and Kiwi Chutney. The bread had been sauteed in the foie gras fat that had oozed out into the pan. Our wine was a Toussaint Doux from Cave Famille Laurent in Saulcet, Auvergne, sweet and clean it complimented the fois gras beautifully. I actually bought a bottle to have in New York, now I just have to find some fresh fois gras.
We then moved onto the braised quails filled with a frois gras stuffing and garnished with cous cous.
The cheese course came next, after all we were in France. A lovely blue, served up with Lynn's Rooibus Jelly. She tells me there is a sugar available in France that already has the pectin in it. You just stir it into your Jelly mixture and Voila! C'est Jelly! Why I left France without this I can't fathom.
Our dessert was a love affair. Lynn and Olivier worked together to present the Boudoir au Chocolate est Mascarpone, Lady Fingers with Chocolate Ganache and Mascarpone Cream.
The handsome and charming Olivier had us searching the kitchen for his favorite whisk. Once we procured it, he was able to whip up a lovely creme from Mascarpone and creme fraiche.
The dessert was plated in the kitchen and finished with a dusting of cocoa, it looked beautiful. Unfortunately, by that time I had far too much wine to remember to snap it at the table! C'est domage! To prepare the quail we started with these beautiful fresh birds, the heads were attached and tucked under their wings. This caused a bit of ruckus with the Americans!
When I held one in my hand, they felt very light and soft.
As you can see the sweet thing is rather small.Lynn quickly removed the heads, and prepared them for cooking.
This is a rather grisly photo. I just couldn't resist snapping it. Which of course got us all talking about Hitchcock's movie, "The Birds".Lynn made a stuffing of breadcrumbs, onion, carrot, celery, egg and fois gras. Each bird was stuffed and seasoned, ready for the pot.
To cook the quail, Lynn started with a little oil in a large casserole pot (I tried like hell to steal it but it was just too big to go unnoticed.) and sauteed some lardons, shallot and a bit of garlic.
She then added the quail, orange juice, veggie stock and braised them about one hour. See what I mean, it's a fabulous pot.
Right before serving, she popped them under the grill to brown. Cous cous was served alongside the quail with just a bit of sauce and a rosemary garnish.
It was a beautiful first evening in the Auvergne.

Recipes to follow. I promise!

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