Quail is one of the unsung heroes of fast cooking.
These little birds, with flavorful dark meat, cook up in no time flat.
In fact, it may take longer to hunt them down at a store — than to actually prepare them at home.
When Sprouts first opened, I rejoiced that its freezer section was regularly stocked with frozen quail. However, that ended more than a year ago. Then, I was relieved to find them in the freezer case of Whole Foods. Again, that was short-lived. Now, I grab them when I can find them lurking in the corner of the freezers at Zanotto’s in San Jose. Fingers crossed that they keep being a staple there.
I wish more people would give them a try. They are slightly duck-like in taste, and cook in about 10 minutes on the backyard grill or about 15 minutes in the oven.
“Pomegranate-Glazed Roasted Quail” is a no-brainer to make at home. It’s easy-peasy, and delicious with tangy-sweet-fruity pomegranate molasses scented with cinnamon and thyme glazed all over.
The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is a wealth of judiciously tested recipes with Mediterranean influences. Savor everything from “Mussels Escabeche,” “Spiced Fava Bean Soup” and “Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Feta” to “Pan-Roasted Halibut with Chermoula,” “Spanish Grilled Octopus Salad with Orange and Bell Pepper,” and “Fig Phyllo Cookies.”
If there is one thing that is always in my fridge, it is jars of mustard. That’s plural, because there is always more than one.
Dijon, stone-ground, brown, and yellow — it’s usually all there, to smear on sandwiches and sausages, to whisk into vinaigrettes, to flavor pork roasts, and to stir into velvety pan sauces for chicken.
As a bona fide mustard fiend, it’s no surprise that a recipe for “French Green Lentils with A Trio of Mustards” caught my eye — big-time. That’s because it incorporates not one, not two, but three types of mustard, as in Dijon, mustard seeds, and fresh mustard greens. How genius is that?
It’s the first one that spotlights a recipe that wasn’t tested by me — but instead by my husband.
Because “Pork Curry From the Box” has special meaning for him.
Like so many of us of ethnic heritages, he grew up doing his darndest to disavow his. Wanting to “fit in” and be more “American” as a kid, he turned his back on the traditional Japanese foods his mother would cook. For a spell, he simply wouldn’t eat much of it. Not surprisingly, he never learned to cook any of it, either.
But now, like so many of us, he has deep regrets about that. He misses the aromas and tastes of home-cooked Japanese food. He longs for certain dishes his Mom would make, especially now that she’s no longer alive to cook them. Older and wiser, he now appreciates them in a way that he couldn’t before.
I know people who subsist on food from delivery services day in and day out, and others who pilfer free food from tech campus cafes to take home even if they’re not supposed to.
Yes, we are all strapped for time these days. But not cooking at all is denying yourself one of the true pleasures in life to create something with your own two hands to enjoy with immediate joy and satisfaction.
Imagine being able to tell yourself proudly as you dig in, “Yeah, I made that!” rather than sheepishly admitting, “Uh, I pulled up an app for it.”
And honestly, a dish like “Chunky Black Pepper Honey Beef” can be put on the table faster than you can order and wait for take-out to be delivered.
When one of my testers told me that he’d made the recipe for “Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad” not once, not twice, but five times, I was immediately alarmed.
But then he told me why: It wasn’t because anything was wrong with it. On the contrary, he and his wife ended up loving this dish so much that they couldn’t resist making it multiple times to share with friends.
While I’m fond of all the recipes in this cookbook that spotlights 41 restaurants in the dynamic East Bay, that testimonial convinced me right then and there that this recipe by Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland’s Shakewell was truly a winner.
Because of book-publishing timetables, my friend had to test this recipe at the height of summer. But I patiently waited until winter to give it a test-drive, since long-braised short ribs are so made for this time of year.
This is definitely a comfort dish taken up a level. The short ribs cook up fork-tender in an almost mole-like brothy sauce made with ancho chiles, fennel, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, a little ground coffee, some chopped bittersweet chocolate and a whole bottle of Zinfandel. How can that not be good?