Quail in Rose Petal Sauce

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In   Laura Esquivel’s Novel,  Like Water for Chocolate, the reader is introduced to this recipe in Chapter 3, where the love sick character Tita, who is a cook, prepared an elaborate dish with a rose, a token of love, given to her secretly by her lover Pedro. She calls the dish “quail in rose petal sauce”. At the dinner table, the meal receives an ecstatic response from Tita’s family members, especially Pedro, who always compliments Tita’s cooking. However, a more curious affect is observed in Gertrudis, her younger sister, not long after eating the dish, who begins “to feel an intense heat pulsing through her limbs.” It appears that the meal serves as a powerful aphrodisiac for Gertrudis, arousing in her an insatiable desire. This turbulent emotion pulses through Gertrudis and on to Pedro. Tita herself goes through a sort of out-of-body experience. Throughout the dinner, Tita and Pedro stare at each other, entranced.

Dripping with rose-scented sweat, Gertrudis goes to the wooden shower stall in the backyard to cool off. Her body gives off so much heat that the wooden walls of the shower stall burst into flames—and so do her clothes.Running outside, the naked Gertudis is suddenly swooped up by one of Pancho Villa’s men, who charges into her backyard on horseback.

“Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away.”

The escape of Gertrudis serves as a foil to Tita’s stifled passion. The intensity of the former’s reaction to the meal serves to communicate the potency of the passion that the latter possesses but is unable to express directly. With her primary form of expression limited to food, Tita takes the illicit token of love from Pedro and returns the gift, transforming it into a meal filled with lust. The manner in which Gertrudis is affected by the food and later swept away on a galloping horse is clearly fantastical, and the vivid imagery like the the pink sweat and powerful aroma only exemplifies the novel’s magical realism.

To  be carried away so gallantly,  in a moment of passion………..is magic!

And with that being said, this would be the perfect dish to make for someone you love, especially for a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy!

Updated February 2, 2018

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 quail (or 6 doves or 2 Cornish Hens)
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry sherry
6 peeled chestnuts (boiled, roasted, or canned)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red prickly pear fruit puree
(or substitute raspberries, red plums or pink dragonfruit)
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 teaspoons rosewater
Petals of 6 fresh, organic red roses, for garnish
Pepita seeds, for garnish

Directions:
Heat the serving platter in an oven set to low. Rinse the quail and pat dry. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and lightly brown the birds on all sides. Add sherry and salt and pepper to the quail. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn the quail, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the quail when done to your liking and place on a heated platter.

Combine the remaining ingredients with pan juices, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small pan and simmer 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and/or honey. Pour the sauce over the quail on the heated platter.  Sprinkle with the rose petals and pepitas, for garnish, and serve hot.

Cook’s Notes:
The original recipe for this dish calls for rose petals, but you don’t want to use petals from conventional flower shop roses—those are treated with fungicides. Still, if you have some organically grown roses in your backyard, or know where to buy them, feel free to use them to garnish the finished dish.

If you cannot find any rose petals, 3 bags of  Tazo Passion Hibiscus Tea is a great alternative to use as well.

You can find rosewater at local Middle Eastern stores.

The original recipe calls for cactus. In this version red prickly pear fruit puree or juice is used and can be found at most health food stores—or substitute frozen raspberries or even use 2 large red plums that have been pitted and skinned, for the red prickly pear.

Another  substitution for the prickly pear would be  dragon fruit , which is closer in terms of the flavor given that both are cactus fruits.While you may not initially equate “cactus” with “edible,” the dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is indeed borne on a cactus. When the fruit is cut open, the flesh is revealed to be either snow-white or magenta pink and peppered with tiny, edible black seeds throughout — quite a contrast to the exterior.The flesh is mildly sweet, some say comparable to a melon. A source of calcium, fiber and vitamin C, the dragon fruit is widely cultivated throughout much of the tropics, particularly in Asia. Its popularity in tropical Asia combined with the dragon reference may lead us to believe it originated in Asia, but the fact is no one seems to agree on where it came from. We do however know it is in the cactus family (Cactaceae), and therefore almost sure to be of New World origin.

If you have a dove hunter in the family, try this with dove instead of quail. In fact, doves may be an even more romantic choice, if you don’t mind picking a little birdshot from your teeth. Cornish hens also work well, as a substitute for the protein in this dish.

 

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Beef and Broccoli

 

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Ever once in awhile, I have a craving for   beef and broccoli, and lately most restaurants are not delivering the high quality food they use too and I have been disappointed that many  restaurants dishes do not live up to my expectations.

The secret to home made beef and broccoli is thinly sliced beef and flavor. In this recipe, the tender, thin slices of beef are so juicy, so flavorful as they soak up every savory essence of the marinade, and then the sauce; which is rich, slightly sweet, mostly savory, and just so right!  Are you ready for the  two secret ingredients that makes such a scrumptious sauce?

Oyster sauce and pomegranate juice. Surprised?

If you have done a lot of Asian style cooking,  then you probably know that it  is a staple in Asian cooking.  It is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone, due to the oyster extracts.  You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. But like with any commercial preparation,  not all bottled  oyster sauce is created equal.  The quality of oyster sauce will affect the flavor, so if you want the extra something something to your dish, purchase a good quality good quality sauce for a few dollars more and keep it on hand in your pantry.

Pomegranate juice adds a little musky citrus taste with a depth of flavor you  usually associate with red wine or concentrated beef drippings.This makes the flavor of pomegranates invaluable anywhere you want to add a little depth or complexity.

 And be warned, guard the leftovers, if there are any,  this recipe for Beef and Broccoli will leave you craving more!

Serves 4
Ingredients:
For the Beef Marinade:
1 pound flank steak, cut across the grain into 1/8 thin slices, then cut into 2” length pieces
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon black bean sauce
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sweet Thai chili sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
For the Sauce:
½ cup 100% pomegranate juice
1/4 cup Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Japanese rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tablespoons chicken broth
5 Tablespoons oyster sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon peanut oil
For the Vegetables:
3 1/2 – 4 cups broccoli florets, cut into bit size pieces
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/4 cup water
3 medium scallions, sliced

Directions:
Pour marinade ingredients directly into freezer bag and mix well. Add beef and massage in marinade until well covered. Refrigerate for 2-8 hours. For best results, allow to set overnight.

When ready to cook the beef, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.In another medium  bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.

Drain excess marinade off of beef (if there is any).

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot and sizzling. Add beef to the skillet and break up any clumps; cook without stirring for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned and almost cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Note:  Do not overcook or the beef. for it will not  be as tender.The beef will cook more in the sauce. Transfer beef to a large plate and cover.If your skillet is small, then cook in 2 batches.

Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the now-empty skillet; heat until very hot and sizzling. Add the broccoli  and carrots and saute for 30 seconds. Add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam vegetables  until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Push the broccoli  and carrots to the sides of the skillet and add the sauce mixture to the center of the pan, mashing the garlic mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds, then stir the mixture into the broccoli and carrots.

Return the beef to the skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and beef is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve.

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TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Persian Fried Chicken Smothered in Peaches with Curry CousCous

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So what happens when I didn’t make it to the grocery store before the arctic polar vortex hits,  the East Coast region? Well, I was left to forage in the nether regions of my  refrigerator, freezer and pantry with such a diverse mix of ingredients.

And what happened was the creation of dish inspired by my Grand’s kitchen; the Sunday Chicken Smothered in Peaches.

So, my version of my Grands’s beloved chicken dish  is the perfect  marriage of multicultural cuisines from the Deep American South, North Africa, The Middle East and India:Persian Fried Chicken Smothered in Peaches and Almonds on a bed of Minted Curry Couscous. I think I out did myself with  this global fusion dish!

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Enjoy!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor