When Bonaparte and I moved into our new home two years ago, we purchased a new dining room table. The one he had at his old place was old but not in a “good” old way. It was almost falling apart. As for me, getting rid of my old dining room table when I lost my home was a memory I don’t want to dwell upon. And when I moved into my small apartment, I didn’t even have a dining room table. I had one of those folding card tables.
Bonaparte may not be crazy about this table but I love it. We insert the two leafs into it when the kids are over and it becomes much larger. I love the mismatched chairs. I am a fan of this table. We have great moments here.
Before I lost my home, the dining room table was used mostly for school projects and to house my sewing machine. The majority of our meals was eaten at the large island in the kitchen or was eaten at the baseball fields or in the car on the way to sports practices, games or to dance classes. The meals we ate in the dining room were limited to holidays.
Growing up, my dad worked various shifts in his job as a New York City Police officer. During the shifts when he was not home for dinner, we ate at the kitchen table. When he was home during dinner hours we ate at the dining room table. And we ate as a family. My father was incredibly strict about this rule. He did not want us eating dinner at our friends’ homes when he was home. The TV had to be shut off and we were not allowed to bring any reading material to the table. He said it was rude and disrespectful. And so we engaged in conversation.
Our conversations usually ended up with one of the kids crying, or someone else yelling and screaming and one of my parents getting angry at one or more kids. Usually it was over spilled milk. And the decibel of noise reached very high peaks. But the thing is, we sat around the table, we ate as a family, and we were not allowed to leave that table until we either asked permission to leave or my dad said we could leave.
The dining room table that Bonaparte and I have is one that I love. Bonaparte—not so much. He doesn’t like the fact that the table isn’t rustic enough. While I agree, we couldn’t find exactly what we wanted at the time and the table we do have fits our needs.
I love the distressed edges because perfection is overrated. I love a lived-in look to everything!And when it is just us, we still continue to enjoy our “empty nester” meals at this table!
I love the contrast of the casualness against a more formal rug. Plus, if food spills, it blends in with the rug’s pattern!
It is large enough so that when the family is together, there is plenty of room for all to sit around the table while dining and engage in dining and conversation together. Sometimes the conversation becomes heated. Sometimes it is funny—but we always have something to talk about.
Not only does the table become larger with the inserts, but I love to dress this table up for guests and the holidays!
And when the family is together, Bonaparte will sit at one end of this long table and me on the opposite end of him. But when it is just the two of us, he will sit at that same place and I’ll sit to the side of him but closer. During the summer months, we usually eat outdoors at the table on our deck. During the cooler weather and during the winter we sit at our dining room table. And we eat every meal together. Our dinner time is the time to catch up on our days and discuss the events of the day—ours and the world’s.
The dining room table is also one of Chippy’s favorite spots too!
Oh no you don’t Chippy!
Our Saturday evening meals are always a bit more extravagant. Bonaparte likes his meals French style. Beginning with an aperitif and an amuse bouche in the living room. Then we head to the dining room table for a starter or entrée. And then, I’ll bring out the main plate! Before my weight loss journey I would always make dessert but now I’ve stopped unless Bonaparte requests one of his favorites—like Crème Caramel.
Whether outdoors or indoors or in France or at home, our weekend meals always start with an aperitif. Kir Royals anyone? Tchin-tchin!
And in my quest to think like Ina Garten and how she loves cooking for her husband, Jeffrey, I truly enjoy creating these lovely Saturday evening dinners. I love cooking for Bonaparte!
I like to take much of my inspiration from my Ina! I can’t wait to start some great meals from her new book. Maybe I can write a cookbook too “Cooking for Bonaparte!”
Last night I made Bonaparte’s absolute favorite meal. Pan Seared Quail, Sautéed Potato Cubes and a Cherry/Black Currant Cream Sauce. Oh. I also made Brussels Sprouts for me because presently, potatoes are not a part of my food list.
How did I come up with this recipe? Well, some years back I was watching Jamie Oliver on TV and he cooked quail. I became intrigued by these little game birds and so I searched for them.
Jamie Oliver is another one of my inspirations. If you’ve never watched any of his holiday specials—by all means try to catch one. He’s GREAT!!!
I ended purchasing the quail at our local farmer’s market in Wayne. At the Rittenhouse Farm’s counter. The quail purchased was frozen and from Cavendish Game Birds in Vermont. I’ve been buying these birds for a few years now.
They come frozen and tightly packaged. I’ve never, EVER had a bad bird from this company!
Anyway, I didn’t want to roast the quail. I thought if I pan seared them and cooked them on the stove; they would lend themselves better to a sauce. And since these birds are game, I thought a sauce with certain sweetness to it would be a good choice.
Bonaparte loves his frites, but since I’m not big on potatoes fried at home or the packaged French fries, I thought a bit more. There is a restaurant that we frequent when we are in Paris. The restaurant is Chez Paul on Place Dauphine. They serve these little cubed potatoes that are cooked so crisp on the outside and are creamy and soft on the inside. I had to try a few times to get these potatoes just right and now they are a staple.
Thank goodness The Fork took this photo! I’m always too busy enjoying meals here to take photos. We’ll be back here later this month and the potatoes here are incredible!!
And so—I would like to share with you my Pan-Seared Quail. Cherry/Black Currant Sauce and Cubed Potatoes!
You will need:
For the sauce: Dried Cherries (I found the ones at Trader Joe’s are both economically priced and very flavorful), Black Currant jelly (or Red Currant Jelly if you can’t find the black). Chicken Broth. Heavy Cream. Butter. Shallot. Rosemary. Salt and pepper.
and speaking of Rosemary. Every year I buy a Rosemary plant before the holidays. This is the 2016 model I purchased yesterday. I can snip, snip, snip rosemary all winter and the sunroom smells so nice from the aroma! Worth the $14.99!
For the potatoes.
Butter potatoes. Butter. Olive oil. Paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.
I get the butter potatoes at Wegmans. On the right a better look. The skin is thin and somewhat waxy. These really lend themselves well to sauteeing!
Quail. Semi-boneless. From the pack of 6 quail, I had two. Bonaparte had four. I would say though from two to three per person.
First. The night before cooking, defrost the quail in the fridge. The day of cooking, take the quail out of the package, pat dry, place on a plate, cover with cling and put the birds back in the fridge until ready to cook.
Patted dry and ready for some cling and back to the fridge!
Second: I do this early in the day. Take the dried cherries and put them in a small bowl. Pour a cup of cognac over them and allow them to soak. Then peel the butter potatoes. (I like these potatoes because they aren’t mealy). After peeling them, cut the ends so that the potato looks more rectangular. Then proceed to cut into cubes. Place the cubes in a pot of cold water. When all the potatoes are peeled and cubed, empty the potatoes into a colander and drain. Fill the pot with cold water again, add the drained potatoes and drain again. This helps to get the starch off.
Now. Boil the cubed potatoes for about 6 minutes. Drain, pat dry and put into a bowl. Refrigerate the potatoes until ready to sauté them.
Third: Start the sauce. Peel and mince two shallots. Into a medium sauce pan, place two tablespoons of butter and the peeled and minced shallots. Cook the shallots until transparent. Then add 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Cook until reduced by half. Next add the dried cherries that were soaking in the cognac and add the cognac they were soaking in. Bring to a boil—the cognac will lose the alcohol. Add a cup of cream while the cognac/broth are boiling and whisk constantly. When the sauce looks like it’ll boil over, turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting. Keep stirring and add more cognac. Add two large heaping tablespoons of the current jelly and keep whisking. Bring back to a boil and when it comes back up to that dangerous level of boiling over, take it off the heat. Keep stirring. Put the sauce aside.
NOW—all of those steps can be done early in the day so you aren’t rushing around later on. I’m a big believer in preparing in advance!
Fourth: Get two large pans, into both pans place two tablespoons of butter and a little bit of olive oil. Let the pans get hot with the butter/oil. Into one pan place the potatoes and into the other the quails. Sprinkle a bit of paprika over the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Keep an eye on them because you will want to shake the pan every now and then.
Look behind the potatoes. THAT’S what the sauce will look like. I should have taken more sauce pics but I didn’t. I’m sorry!
Into the other pan place the quails, skin side up. Sear for about five minutes then turn over. The quails are done when the leg bone is more visible and the leg meat kind of “rides” up.
The quails will all fit into a large pan–they don’t take all the long to cook either!
Almost done. Look at the bird to the far right in the back. See how the bone of the leg is more visible? That’s a sign the bird is cooked!
Set aside. The potatoes should be done by now. Set them aside because now you are going to take one tablespoon of chilled butter and but it into the sauce. Heat up the sauce on a low/medium heat and allow the butter to melt—it’ll give a silky finish.
TIP: This is the time of year that I start to do a lot of baking and I make lots of sauces. Chilled butter is crucial to pie crusts and some sauces. I take a couple of sticks of butter, cut them into tablespoon portions and put the portions into freezer bags. This way when I need the chilled butter, it is pre-measured and chilled.
Plate and enjoy!
Plated! This is my portion. I had the quail with Brussels Sprouts and even though I’m on a weight loss journey, I was still able to enjoy the delicious sauce. Priorities!
We lost a great musical poet this week. Leonard Cohen.
Not only a great talent but I also thought Cohen was very attractive–even when I was younger!
He was a favorite of mine ever since I was young and heard the song “Suzanne” for the first time. But—his Hallelujah is probably the most beautiful song ever written. It is simplistic, haunting, touching and moving at the same time. It is an amazing piece of poetry. Cohen will be missed: