The Dining Room Table And a Quail of a Great Dinner!

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!touches-on-the-naked-tableAnd 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.

Food. Theoule. Apartment Kir royales on the terrace.

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:

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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19 Responses to The Dining Room Table And a Quail of a Great Dinner!

  1. Bridget says:

    I don’t eat meat, but the rest of the dinner looks amazing! And I’m happy to find another Brussels Sprouts fan – I thought I was the only one. 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bridget. Oh–lately Brussels Sprouts are so popular. I’ll tell you they’ve always been popular with my kids and with the family during the holidays. I oftentimes roast them with cranberries and shallots and finish off with a balsamic drizzle. I love ’em–but I’m a bit gassy today! Oops! XOXOXOXO!!!

  2. Vadalia says:

    Lovely post that stirred my memory bank. My Dad raised quail and pheasants as a hobby. We always had a freezer full and ate quail at least twice a month. I didn’t know that quail was exotic until I was newly married and living a thousand miles from “home,” and decided to buy some at a market! The quail cost more than my weekly food budget!
    The same with my favorite nut, pecans. We had huge pecan trees and gathered and cracked and picked out enough pecan halves to last a year. We didn’t have Papershell pecans, so getting the pecan halves out of the shell was no easy task. In the Fall and Winter, if we were watching TV, we were “picking out” pecans. But it was all worth it when the browned butter pecan pies and pecan-topped sweet potatoes came out of Mother’s oven. And, the Christmas Lane Cake, chocolate fudge and divinity candy loaded with pecans.
    All those memories, tastes and scents were triggered by your writing. Thanks, Catherine!

    • Catherine says:

      Oh Vadalia! What a lovely comment you wrote! Isn’t it incredible when you think about it? I mean, that certain foods are considered “exotic”. I know in the South quail hunters come back with quite the catch because they are pretty much plentiful..but to buy them in the store or online it’s really pricey! And that is why I buy pecans and all my nutmeats in bulk and freeze them. It is more economical that way. Ohhhhhh pecan pie, fudge and divinity–and pralines are best when loaded with tons of pecans. I’ve never had Christmas Lane cake but have read about it and have always wanted to bake one–maybe this Christmas alongside my Buche d’Noel!! I’m glad that I was able to bring back some memories for you! XOXOXOXO!!!

  3. Leslie Preston says:

    I REALLY enjoyed this post. Those tiny quail! It reminds me of what I’ll be wrangling in a couple of weeks, but on the giant size!!! Thank you for such an upbeat post!!! I’ve missed them.

    P.S. I wear low-rider jeans….why? Because I’m so short waisted, they make my torso look almost normal…lol… If I wore “mom” jeans, I’d be buttoning them about one inch below my breasts…not kidding….not pretty……

    • Catherine says:

      Leslie! THANK YOU!! It’s so funny but last night Bonaparte mentioned that I needed to get back to my writing “roots” of more upbeat posts. I completely agreed. This election had me spent. And regardless of the outcome, it has always been my priority to write in a more upbeat and fun way. Thank you for realizing that!

      You also made me spit my water out from laughing at just why you wear low riders!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. hipchick66 says:

    Ahhh, Cohen. Famous Blue Raincoat is my favorite. Imagine being 4 years old and listening to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan with your 24 year old parents. That was my childhood. And thanks Cathe for the post and pics of food….perfect to take my mind off these election troubles for a few moments. Xoxo

    • Catherine says:

      Lori. Your parents must have been so cool. Dylan and Cohen. Please? My mother was watching Lawrence Welk and calling the Rolling Stones “suggestive”. I can’t even!! Yeah. I’m focusing on writing fun stuff to get all our minds off the election! XOXOXOXO!!!

  5. doodletllc says:

    This meal looks delicious…even the Brussel sprouts…not my favorite but they could be prepared like this…thanks for the fun cooking tips…I’m certainly not the best in the kitchen, but I enjoy trying 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Jeanne. Thank you! But you know, nobody has to be the best in the kitchen. It’s all about how the family enjoys the meals around the table!! I’ll be baking lots of goodies come December 1st!! I’ll be sharing!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  6. Liz McGarry says:

    Thanks so much for this very upbeat post…just what we need to recover from the shock of the election. I especially love the step-by-step pics of the recipe…Hope you’ll do more of this! My husband and are both on a weight loss quest and would love to hear more about your new food program and recipes you’re using to accomplish this. Love your blog…I follow you faithfully.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Liz. Oh. I’m definitely going to be doing more step-by-steps. I enjoy writing more upbeat posts too. It’s more fun. We need positivity!!!!
      With the weight loss I’m just eating sensibly. I really have stopped all snacking except for the occasional piece of cheese. No more cookies or cakes in the house. And I’ve really cut down on the carbs. Thank you so much for your kind words–they mean a lot to me!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  7. Yvonne says:

    I love quail. Remember tryinging to debone one once, and once only. Good to hear you can buy them with rib cage removed and great tip to know that they are cooked when the legs lift. I really like the dining table but you are so brave placing it over the rug. Hallelujah always reminds me of my son’s choir in Primary school (elementary school) and it was sung for their graduation.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Yvonne. OMG. I would never attempt to debone a quail because I would end up deboning my hand!! LOL! I love a rug under the table to give the room some warmth. As you can see the walls are still white and we’ve been here almost two years. One of these days…….
      Hallelujah is one of the greatest songs ever written–it’s hauntingly beautiful. Leonard Cohen will be missed!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  8. angelin2014 says:

    Leonard Cohen is forever a part of my youth when I read his books, listened to the music and dreamt about leaving my northern small hometown and become a hippie (Woodstock-festival and longhaired boys may have had something to do with it as well). He wrote real poetry, and you can read his lyrics over and over again…
    I don´t think we have frozen quail over here, but I definitely will have a look in the stores. I love Jamies cooking, have all his books and often watch his shows for inspiration. Especially this year I will check out his holiday-specials as my son the Teenage Ninja refuses to eat Swedish Christmas-foods (ham, smörgåsbord, pickled herring etc) and insists we should try an English roast and yorkshirepudding! I have agreed as long as I can try to do a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. I will probably regret my words when I look up the recipes…haha!

    • Catherine says:

      Angelin. Leonard Cohen was such an “intelligent” musician. I’ll admit, my friends and I would rock out to Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix but we would listen to Cohen when we were in those pensive and thoughtful moods. He truly was a poet and a prolific writer!
      I think part of the reason I love Jamie Oliver so much is that his delivery is just so casual. He doesn’t get all fussy–another reason I love The Barefoot Contessa! Oh–Swedish food rocks! I became acquainted with it when Ikea opened up here and I always stop at the food section whenever I’m there!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  9. pollymacleod says:

    Your meal looks delicious. I love brussel sprouts, I chop them and stir fry them with butter, onions, garlic and lardons – delicious.

    • Catherine says:

      Polly!! OMG. I would have never thought to add lardons to the beautiful sprouts of Brussels! I am definitely going to try them your way! Thank you for that recipe!! XOXOXXOXOX!!!

  10. Thank you, Catherine for sharing a bit of your life with us. I like that table! A table is meant to be used and dined on, not just looked at. This one looks perfect for living and looking! Lovely meal! Thanks for sharing that word about Cohen. Love that song! – Amy

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