Leiths week 5 - spatchcock quail plus a medjool date, pear and ginger strudel

Thursday 27 October 2011

This week's penultimate session at Leiths was definitely the best so far. We learnt some great techniques, including (my favourite), making strudel pastry. Forget everything you have been taught about having a light hand to make the perfect pastry, making pastry for strudel basically involved beating the living daylight out of it to stretch the gluten as much as possible (aka we bashed it on the table for about 15 minutes... it was dangerous to be in the same vicinity.. all that pastry flying around).

We also spatchcocked a couple of quail, cutting out the backbone (pretty gruesome) and then, the worst bit, crunching the breastbone so they lie flat and can cook through evenly.

Once spatchcocked, the mini birds were marinated in pomegranate molasses, garlic, diced onion and cinnamon and then grilled until caremelised and browned on top (between 5-  8 minutes). They were then put in the oven for 10 minutes to cook through. We served the quail on top of a watercress and feta salad with pomegranate seeds and toasted pinenuts.

Next on the list was a strudel with medjool dates, fresh ginger and pears. The pears were peeled, diced and mixed with the chopped dates, a teaspoon of fresh ginger, lemon juice and brown sugar.

Making strudel pastry is actually amazing... once you've bashed the living daylight out of it and left it to rest for half an hour, you need a friend, family member, lover etc to help you to pull and stretch the pastry out by hand until it's paper thin. The pastry was then cut into two and rolled up with the peary-date mixture in between the layers. They were dusted with icing sugar and then chucked in the oven for 20 minutes.

Pear, date and ginger strudel, yodeling optional
I ate a whole strudel on my way home, warm from the oven (oops).

Next (and final) week... pistachio crusted rack of lamb with boulangere potatoes, chocolate fondant and a raspberry and passion fruit compote.

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