"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Congee and Panfried Quail with Creamed Corn and Bacon

When I'm cooking at home, there are a few factors I have to consider. The first is whether or not I think O'Malley will eat it. He can be vexingly finicky. The second is if it will fit into Don's diet. He is trying to maintain an Atkins/South Beach style eating plan that involves no carbs. It also has to fit in with MY eating plan, which is not too much fat (although I am the weakest link in this bunch, I'll readily admit).

But yesterday, I had some kind of low-level bug--achy, nauseous, exhausted--and here my needs trumped everybody else's.

I wanted to cook, and I wanted to cook something that would make me feel better. And Congee is what I came up with. Congee (also known as jook) is the Chinese version of homemade chicken noodle soup. I am a big believer in the curative powers of fresh chicken stock, so I trotted off to the IGA and got a little chicken to put in the pot.

This recipe couldn't be simpler. You cook a chicken for two or three hours with scallions and ginger. Save out the breast meat (fish it out before it overcooks), make the liquid equal eight cups, add a cup of long grain white rice, and let it cook for another hour or so until you've got porridge. Garnish with shredded breast meat, chopped scallions, minced fresh ginger (good for nausea, btw) and dark sesame oil and you've got comfort in a bowl.

The bonus was that O'Malley was extremely enthusiastic about eating this dish. Why? Because one of his favorite characters on his favorite tv show (Iroh on Avatar: The Last Airbender) cooks it for his nephew when he's sick.

I don't question these things, I take them as moments of grace. Anyway, he loved it. And Don did too. I went to bed at 7:30 and now I feel much, much better.


If you are a regular reader you know that I like to have fun (culinarily speaking) when the family comes to visit Dr. and Mrs. S. I particularly enjoy cooking for K. and L. So when I was flipping through, looking for a nice recipe to cook, I was intrigued by Panfried Quail with Creamed Corn and Bacon. Seasonal, suitably exotic, and it has a flavor profile that everybody loves. The one thing of course is where the heck do you get quail? I'm not much of a hunter, and it's hardly an item that Shaw's stocks.

The Fruitful Basket to the rescue! Bobby can get me practically anything I want with enough advance notice, and he happened to be placing a D'Artagnan order that very day. Now, I've never worked with quail and so I was kind of surprised to see their plucked and packaged little selves. Some wizard cut out their backbones without cutting the skin, and the bodies were on a v-shaped metal rack kind of thing. The recipe asks you to cut the quail into quarters, but I thought that would make them far too tiny so I cut the birds in half and ended up with something kind of the size of a chicken drumstick.

This is really a standard fried chicken recipe--dip in milk, roll in seasoned flour, fry. The creamed corn with bacon is nothing new either. What was new to me was the suggestion to squeeze lemon over the fried quail, and friend, that was tasty. The whole thing was tasty. Mrs. S. loved it (Dr. S., alas, was prepping for a procedure and was eating jello). What did K. and L. think? They arrived late and had covered plates so I won't know until Sunday.

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