Roasted Baby Asian Eggplant/Aubergine and Fennel

Contains:  Nightshades.   Is:  Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, quick and easy.  

eggplant, aubergine, roasted, paleo, gluten-free, Whole30, fennel

There’s also a bit of radish in here, as well as scallion (green onion).  This dish was made as a side (for the braised goat shoulder dish) but could be expanded to be a whole main dish.   It’s simple, It’s satisfying. 

eggplant, aubergine, roasted, paleo, gluten-free, Whole30, fennel

These little baby Asian eggplants are so small that it is not necessary to do anything to them to draw out bitterness.  If you can’t find them this small, then find relatively-small Asian eggplant at your Asian market, or you may luck out at a large supermarket.  (These came from a friend’s farm, picked at end-of-season prior to first real frost.)  

eggplant, aubergine, roasted, paleo, gluten-free, Whole30, fennel

If yours are rather large, you may wish to slice, salt over a colander for about 15 minutes, then rinse salt and any bitterness away before using (pat such ones dry).  

Prep Time:  5 minutes.
Cook Time:  15-20 minutes.

Rest Time:  No.
Serves:  2 as a side.
Cuisine:  ?
Leftovers:  If there are any, yes.

Roasted Baby Asian Eggplant/Aubergine and Fennel 

  • About 10-12 ounces  of baby Asian eggplant/aubergine.  Remove stems and any bad spots.  Chop larger of these eggplant in half; if you are using a closer-to-standard size of Asian aubergine, slice down accordingly.  
  • About 6-8 ounces fennel bulb, coarsely chopped.
  • 2-3 radishes, coarsely chopped.  
  • 1 heaping teaspoon za’atar.
  • 1 scallion/green onion, chopped.
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano.
  • Either olive or avocado oil, about 2 tablespoons.
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.  

(I didn’t measure volumes or weights on any of the above – go by feel!)

Pre-heat oven to 425 F / C.  

Place all the veggies and the seasonings into a small baking pan.  

Add the oil, and use your fingers to enable the oil and other ingredients to blend, and so the oil coats all surfaces.    

Cover loosely, and bake for 15-20 minutes.  

Pull out of oven and serve immediately.  Add more oregano if desired.  

mini eggplant logo

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recipe, eggplant, aubergine, roasted, paleo, gluten-free, Whole30, fennel


Posted in Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Middle Eastern Style Goat Shoulder, with Baharat, Plums, Lemon, Onion and Potato

Contains:  Nightshades, alcohol.  Is:  Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo.

One can substitute out the alcohol if desired.   The alcohol will cook off, but I understand not everyone wants to have this in their food.  Although you can skip the potatoes (nightshade), perhaps adding turnips instead?, the spice mix known as Baharat has paprika as an essential ingredient – from peppers, a nightshade.

goat shoulder, goat, potato, steamed greens. gluten-free

Goat shoulder meat served with potatoes, steamed beet greens, and a roasted veggie dish.

I obtained a bone-in goat shoulder at a local farmer’s market, and saved it up for when a friend and I could get together to dine on it.  The weather was pleasant enough (at the mid-sixties F) that we dined out on my deck, overlooking the chicken coops, and what remained of fall foliage.  A lovely afternoon!  (We are actually having a very nice run of a week here, weather-wise.)

goat, goat shoulder, braised, Baharat, grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo

Select and thaw your goat shoulder.

Apply Baharat rub.  Slices into the fat cap serves two purposes:  drawing seasonings deeper within, and also helping to render out melted fat for searing purposes.

goat, goat shoulder, braised, Baharat, grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo

Add onion, stock, wine, plums, lemon, a little additional salt… Ground pepper?

Note:  you can use this recipe interchangeably with lamb shoulder.  I best describe the taste of goat as being somewhere between lamb and beef.  It is by far my favorite domesticated mammal for the dinner table.  Unfortunately, here in the States it is usually only found in very localized markets.

This is not a meal for fine dining, due to the bones in this cut – but the bones are what make this extra tasty, and I reserve them after, for stock.  (Which will be combined with lamb bones when the time comes.)  One can also reserve any extra wads of fat, if you have those, to render down.  Once done, you can use it as you would any cooking fat.

This dish was made with potatoes and onion.  For sides, we had roasted “infant” eggplant, fennel, and radish, along with steamed beet greens with butter.  (My friend made plum torts for dessert.)

goat, goat shoulder, braised, Baharat, grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo

Goat meat, potatoes now added.

I am adding in a post for the accompanying roasted vegetable side.  It will appear shortly after this one uploads. (It’s here now!!!)

As for the beet greens, harvested from my own garden, they are best steamed for 5 – 7 minutes, with a splash of apple cider vinegar and a serving (at the table) of salted butter.  Simple enough they don’t get their own post, but tasty enough to be another anchor for a meal.

goat, goat shoulder, braised, Baharat, grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo

A friend and I settle down into a fun feast on my deck.

So, let’s get down to business!

goat, goat shoulder, braised, Baharat, grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo

Meal service.

Prep Time:
Cook Time: 
Rest Time: 15-20 minutes. 
Serves:  3-4.
Cuisine: Middle Eastern.
Leftovers:  YES!

Middle Eastern Style Goat Shoulder

  • 1 medium sized goat shoulder, bone in.  (I forgot to weigh it but the principles are the same through this dish.  Ingredients do NOT need precise measurements here.)
  • 1.5 tablespoons Baharat spice mix (mine, made by that friend mentioned above, was salt-free).
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder.
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt for the rub (if your Baharat mixture doesn’t have salt).
  • 1 cup chicken or poultry stock.  Homemade is best but whatever you have.  Low sodium if you purchase it.
  • 1/2 cup red wine, preferably dry.  (Sub with water and a splash of red vinegar if you rather not use alcohol.)
  • 5 or six medium-sized plums, cut in half and de-seeded. 
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into large chunks.
  • 1 whole lemon, sliced thinly (so you can poke out the seeds).
  • 5 – 6 small/medium-sized potatoes.  (I seriously prefer Yukon Golds.)  Peel if they are Russets, otherwise they are best left unpeeled – although cut out any eyes or bad bits.  Chop into approximately half-inch wide segments.  Length may vary – the idea is for them to cook through the widths.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Thaw the meat overnight, as well as any home-made chicken stock.  Pat dry the goat shoulder.

Make slices into the fat cap (which you will keep on the shoulder) about an inch (2.5 centimeters) apart, going deep.  Remove other extraneous pieces of surface fat.  (You may reserve for future goat fat rendering.)

In a small condiment bowl, mix together the Baharat, garlic powder and salt.

Rub all over the shoulder, all sides, and into the fat cap slices that you have made.   Set aside to absorb from two hours to overnight in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

While marinating with the dry rub, prepare your onion, plum and lemon.   I also add salt as indicated to my chicken stock – since mine was home-made and in my case I do NOT add salt to my stock when making it, as I prefer to decide what is needed when creating specific meals – I did need to adjust and add some (about 1/2 teaspoon of coarse  sea salt).  For a low-sodium supermarket stock, you probably don’t need to add much at all.  (And it can be adjusted further at the table.)

Now, heat up a good skillet to medium/medium high.  Place the previously-rubbed goat shoulder on its fat cap side into the skillet.  Sear for 4-5 minutes on this side, or until some of the fat liquifies and helps coat the skillet bottom, and this side browns.

Sear all the other sides, even edges.  2-3 minutes should be sufficient on all those sides – you want to see browning but not burning.

Place the shoulder in a suitable baking pan with enough room for the further ingredients.

Add the chicken broth, the wine (if using, or else water with a bit of vinegar – or even more broth!), salt and pepper, chunks of onion.  Drape the plum sections over the shoulder.  Squeeze about half the lemon over the shoulder, and allow the remaining rind to cook with this dish.  Scatter the other slices of lemon over the shoulder.

Cook uncovered for 1.5 hours.

Cover loosely at this point, with foil or other appropriate cover.

At two hours of cooking time, add the potatoes to the sides of the baking pan.  Add a dash of salt and ground pepper at this point.  Re-cover and continue to cook.

Somewhere between3 and 3.5 hours, you should be done.  (If you really want carnitas-style shredability, go to 4-4.5 hours.  I did not.)

When you pull the braised shoulder out at 3 or 3.5 hours, cover it with foil to rest.  This may be a good time to cook your sides, depending on what yours are.  Rest for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve on a platter and recognize that shoulder bones won’t cut around themselves evenly, so you’ll have some punting to do here.  Which is why… this cut isn’t up and ready for Prime Time Fine Dining.  Do allow you and your family/fast friends to gnaw on bones and simply enjoy themselves.  Not every meal plating has to be picture perfect…

What I might do next time!

  • I want to try preserved lemon instead of a regular lemon.
  • I think adding additional Baharat to the potatoes when they are added to the braise is a plan.

goat shoulder, recipe, potatoes, Baharat, braise


goat greens side-

A side for this dish, beet greens. Making this a Goats and Greens Special, eh?

NOTE: My blog name came from my long-term desire to raise both goats and a variety of vegetables. I succeeded on the Greens part of this!

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Fennel, Apple and Juniper Mahi-Mahi

Contains:  Fish, alcohol.  Is:  Gluten-free.

The alcohol will cook off, but a word to the wise that this is there.  

This is a poached dish, after a bit of pan frying.  

recipe, gluten-free, juniper berries, fennel, apple, fish, mahi-mahi

Mahi mahi, a serving. Fennel, juniper, apple, gin – with capers and Mexican cotija cheese as toppings.

Mahi mahi (dorado, common dolphinfish) – Coryphaena hippurus.  The fish lives in the Gulf of Mexico, around the Hawaiian islands, and is also found in the Indian ocean.  It is NOT related to the dolphin, a mammal, despite one of its names. 

Note, this recipe was made for the cooking challenge at CookingBites.Com, using the ingredient juniper.  

Serves 3.  

recipe, gluten-free, juniper berries, fennel, apple, fish, mahi-mahi

Cooking, with the mahi mahi filet cut into thirds for convenience.


Prep Time:  30 minutes.
Cook Time:  25 minutes.
Rest Time: None.
Serves:  3.
Cuisine: ???
Leftovers:  yes.

(Poached) Fennel, Apple, and Juniper Mahi-Mahi

  • About a pound (450 grams) of mahi-mahi fillet, or any other firm white-fleshed fish.  Leave skin on, if it comes that way.  
  • 1-2 ounces / 30-55 grams dried juniper berries.
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL gin.
  • About 6 ounces / 170 grams fennel bulb, coarsely chopped.  
  • 1 apple, core removed, chopped.
  • About 1.5 tablespoons cooking oil – I used avocado oil.  
  • Ground pepper to taste.
  • Garnish:  1 heaping tablespoon rinsed and drained capers.
  • Garnish:  2 teaspoons finely grated Mexican Cotija cheese (or Parmesan).  

Pre-heat oven to 350 F / 180 C.  

Put the juniper berries into a plastic bag and pound them with a mallet, until some break up.  

Soak the juniper berries in 1/2 cup / 120 mL HOT water for at least an hour.  

Allow the mahi-mahi to marinate in the gin for 15-20 minutes.  

Cook the fennel in an oven-ready skillet on the cooktop for about five minutes, add the apple, and cook five minutes more.  Move out of the way of the fish that will be coming.

Pat dry the skin side of the fish, and add it to the skillet, skin down.  Cook 3 more minutes, adding ground pepper to taste.  

Remove from cooktop, flip the fish, and pour in any remaining gin marinate from that plate.  Then, add liquid from the juniper berry and water mixture (which will have cooled by now).  Do not entirely submerge the fish, you do NOT need to add all this water.  Add in some of the berries, crushed or otherwise – about half of them, scattered around the dish.  

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, depended on preferred level of done-ness.  (If you are using another type of fish, you’ll have to adjust this time, depending on that fish’s thickness).  

When cooked, remove fish from oven, add toppings, and serve.  

recipe, gluten-free, mahi mahi, fennel, apple, juniper, gin, fish

This recipe is shared at:   Fiesta Friday, with Co-Host  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

And, with Full Plate Thursday.  

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Vegetarian Tex Mex Chili, Plus a Dry Spice Blend

Contains:  Legumes, nightshades.  Is:  Gluten-free, also dairy free and vegan, depending on toppings.  Great for all-week dining.

I attended a potluck with five other women on Saturday.  It was a warm afternoon, and we enjoyed what was likely to be one of the last seasonal outdoor sun-warmed, virus-dissipating occasions of the year.   A pleasant breeze, too.  Our theme was seasoning mixes, and we had to mix up enough of each of our mixes to send home each person with some.   So for the sake of mixture-longevity, we all opted for dry blends.

recipe, chili, tex-mex, vegetarian, bean, spice blend, poblano

Veggie Chili with Rice and Topping Choices

I chose to go the Mexican route, which ended up more Tex-Mex than Mexican in most regards.  In the back of my mind was to re-create the highly successful vegetarian chili I’d made for Cinco de Mayo for about 15 houseguests a few years back.  I’d been too busy making the entire spread (which included a taco bar and a salad) to record much of anything, however.  It was a lot of adding spices by feel.  Which for the purposes Saturday of making a stock mix for everyone to take home, left a bit of that “feel” out – which I adapted with by using “wet” supplements to my actual dish.  (But the base is a good starting point, precisely the meaning by that word, “base”.  A starting point from which one can adapt, especially since this base chili/enchilada dry mix is mild.  Not everyone can or wants to do “spicy”, for instance.)

Yes, there is a subtle difference between Mexican and Greek or Turkish oregano.  In  a chili, it probably doesn’t matter, with all the other flavors going on.

recipe, chili, tex-mex, vegetarian, bean, spice blend, poblano

Placed many of the ingredients that ended up in this chili, here. So I could pick and choose. Most turned up. A couple appeared later.

You can find a good workable chart of chili pepper heat indexs (Scoville Units), at this location:  The Spruce Eats’ Scoville Scale for Hot Chili Peppers.


  • Dried or ground ancho pepper come from Poblano chilies.
  • Dried or ground (and generally smoked) chipotle pepper comes from Jalapeño chilies.

The Spicier Sauce listed below is based on some of the more flavorful but semi-hot chili peppers, with a bit of fresh habanero tossed into the mix.  Feel free to substitute as you will – there’s a ghost pepper out there with your name on it!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH????  Yeh, it works, very well, and I’ll be including it again and again.

Prep Time:  5-10 minutes.
Serves:  Probably about 4 occasions of 6-8 serving pots of chili.
Cuisine:  Tex-Mex.
Leftovers:  Save in a cool, dry place for about 6 months for best flavor.

The Stock Dry Seasoning Stock Mix for the Chili (or Enchiladas)

  • 10 tablespoons chili powder
  • 5 tablespoons cumin, ground fresh and THEN measured
  • 5 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano (Greek or Turkish is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons ground garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground Kosher or sea salt.

Combine all in a bowl with a fork or tiny whisk.

Note:  this salt amount may be for some, low.  I did this intentionally – salt should be added considering the pot of chili or whatever as a whole.  If you end up using a fine-grained salt, start with half a teaspoon.

It is ideal to add your garlic entirely via clove, but for the sake of making up mixes for the future, I add it in the blend this way.  Adding more at time of chili/enchilada creation is nice.

Again, this is mild.  Feel free to add ground cayenne powder (to taste) to the above, for your personal stock.

Prep Time:  40  minutes.
Cuisine:  Tex-Mex.
Leftovers:  About a week, refrigerated.

The Spicier Sauce

(Used to spoon some over your chili – make your quantity based on your needs.)

  • 2 dried Guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried Pulla chilies
  • 4 dried Ancho chilies
  • 1/2 jalapeño, deseeded and finely minced.
  • 1/2 habanero, deseeded and finely minced.  (Use more if desired)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • If you prefer/have other chilis, adapt accordingly!

Soak all dried chilis in HOT water for about 25-30 minutes.

Place in a saucer.  For the  and the pulla, squeeze out the water and reserve the liquid.  As the ancho is more “pulpy” than the other two, squeeze out some.  Reserve liquid and the rest of the ancho (excluding stem).  Set the rest of the ancho aside.

Strain all the liquid to remove seeds (unless you want some of them).

In a mini-processor, macerate the ancho remains and the garlic together.   (If you are using other “pulpy chilis, use this same procedure.)

Add this to to the reserved liquid from the other chilis (actually, I added about half of this to my chili proper, recipe below).

Add the minced fresh peppers to The Spicier Sauce.  Serve with the condiments for chili topping, with a small spoon.  Scale up quantities AND Scoville properties depending on the divergencies of heat levels in taste buds of family or guests.

You can make this hotter, and mix it all in its entirety into the chili itself towards the end of cooking time, should you desire.

Prep Time:  15-20 minutes.
Cook Time: Around 5 hours.
Rest Time:  ???
Serves:  6-8 as the main.
Cuisine:  Tex-Mex.
Leftovers:  Yes.

Vegetarian Bean-Based Tex-Mex Chili

  • 1 can, approximately 15.5 ounces /  grams pinto beans
  • 1 can approximately 15.5 ounces / grams black beans
  • 1 can approximately 15.5 ounces / grams black eyed peas
  • 1 can approximately 14.5 ounces / grams stewed tomatoes. Better yet, stewed smoked tomatoes.
  • 1 large can approximately 28 ounces / grams whole tomatoes
  • Approximately, 10 ounces / grams fresh butternut squash, chunked.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 poblanos, chopped
  • About 9 teaspoons or more of Dry Seasoning Stock Mix (above)
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced.  I didn’t skin them.
  • About half of the Macerated Ancho and  Garlic from the Spicer Sauce (above)
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste.
  • Any extra hot chili you feel this pot needs.  You know the people you are serving.

Plop everything everything through to the dry mix into a stock pot or other large pan.   You can include the liquid in the cans.   Bring to a boil and reduce quickly to a simmer.  Stir frequently enough that beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan (ahem).  Keep covered loosely, allowing for evaporation.  You can now add extra heat in chili format at this point, as well as later if desired.

Allow to cook for around 5 hours, allowing flavors to marry, and liquids to cook down.   Watch liquids – add more if things go too dry, or remove lid briefly to allow for more evaporation.

About 1.5 hours before being ready, add the tomatoes, and the macerated ancho/garlic mix. In half an hour, taste and adjust for salt, heat, and overall “chili” flavor.

You can keep this on a very low “simmer” prior to being ready to serve.

Serve over rice if desired.


Whatever your heart desires!  I provided:

  • The Spicier Sauce
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped scallions/green onions
  • Home-shredded Colby-jack cheese.
  • Home-shredded Mexican Cotija cheese – shred this fine, as it is a harder cheese, and looks best if shredded like Parmesan.
  • Sour cream.
  • I am certain you can think of others.  Rings of sliced pickled (or fresh) jalapeño?  A bottle of Cholula?  Chopped fresh (or pickled) yellow onion?  Diced red bell pepper?

No instructions necessary here!

recipe, vegetarian, chili, chili blend, enchilada blend, beans, butternut squash, poblano

Shared at:  

Farm Fresh Tuesdays.  

Homestead Blog Hop.

Full Plate Thursday.  

Fiesta FridayCo-host:   Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook


Posted in Cooking, Soups & Stews, South of the Border, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fresh Apple & Plum Buttermilk Upside Down Cake

Contains:  Dairy products.  Is:  Vegetarian, a dessert.

A lot of the upside down cakes are made using canned fruits.  It is (the tail end of) fresh fruit season here, so I decided to use fresh apple and fresh plum that happened to be lurking around my house to make this recipe.  

This is handy as a brunch item, or as a dessert.  

recipe, cake, upside down cake, apple, plum, buttermilk, fresh

You can see my original (back in February a year or two ago) canned pear upside down cake.  I based mine off of a canned peach upside down cake, which you will find linked there.  I do NOT like canned peaches (fresh ones are wonderful), so I’d gone with pears then.  

This time, I wanted FRESH stone-fruit.  Apples (Cortland, here) and plums happened to be in my house.  Saved me an over an hour round trip to a real supermarket simply to buy fruit – so here we are.  

Very minor recipe changes.  I modified the spices lightly, and since there was no canned juice, I used water at that step, instead.  And of course, different fruit.  I LOVE adaptable recipes. 

recipe, vegetarian, buttermilk, upside down cake, apple, plum

Cake is done. It’s still right-side-up, of course.

SO, here is this variant, do enjoy.  

Prep Time:  20 minutes.
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes. 
Rest Time:  10-15 minutes.
Serves: 4-8.  
Leftovers:  Yes.  And I am experimenting with freezing a portion. 

Fresh Apple & Plum Buttermilk Upside Down Cake

  • Suitable fresh stone-fruit (ie, your choice of apple, peach, pear, nectarine, plum.)  I used just over a half of a large Cortland apple, plus two medium-large purple plums.
  • 1/3 cup / 80 mL packed brown sugar  I used brown coconut sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons water. 
  • 4 tablespoons butter.  Divide and melt  (1 tablespoon and 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.  (You could also use cinnamon instead.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • (OR, instead of the allspice / nutmeg:  Use 1/4 + 1/8  teaspoon “apple pie spice” mix.)
  • 1.5 cups / 355 mL all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL white granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature best.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup / 240 mL buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350 F° / 177 C°..

De-seed fruit, and slice into thin slivers (for the apple), or across (for the plums).

Mix brown sugar, 1 tablespoon melted butter, allspice, and nutmeg, as well as  those 2 tablespoons of water together.

Place the above mixture into a 9-in. round lightly-oiled baking pan. Layer the fruit slices over the top, artistically if so inspired.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In yet another bowl, mix the whole egg, vanilla, buttermilk, and the rest of the butter, making certain that the butter is now cool enough that it doesn’t curdle the egg.  

Add the contents of this last bowl to the dry ingredients and stir just until lightly combined.

Using a large spoon, layer this last over the previous contents of the baking pan.

Bake 35-40 minutes.  Test for done-ness by using a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it is done.

Cool 10 -15 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter.  You can serve still warm (yum), but room temperatures is just as good.  

Upside down cake, vegetarian, recipe, buttermilk, apple, plum

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Posted in Baked Goods, Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Salt of the Earth – About a Chef’s Favorite Mineral Condiment

Contains:  Salt, commentary.  Is: Not a recipe, but a salty talk.  

salt, commentary

Photo by Maria Petersson on

It was on a MasterChef episode with Gordon Ramsey, where the chef came forward with a dish that GR lambasted for not having enough salt.  The poor chef noted he really did not LIKE a lot of salt in his food, but GR didn’t care and docked him for that lack.

I totally relate to that chef!   I cringe watching some of these online cooking videos and the amount of sodium chloride imparted into their foods.  As if other spices and seasonings simply did not exist.  Salt on its own WILL penetrate further than herbs or spices,  but this won’t help food that has been over-assaulted (as I sometimes term the practice).   Salt that has permeated a steak over time (for example) will taste just as salty as if it hadn’t.  I’ve done the ground beef hamburger patty experiment  earlier – there is no taste nor textural difference between a burger which has had the same amount of salt mixed in compared to laying that same amount atop the burger.  (So, I continue Mom’s practice of mixing the stuff IN.)  The proviso being that you make burger patties when you plan on cooking them.  (I still need to run the delayed-post-salting-cooking comparison, mainly because I really don’t do my burgers that way very often.)

Yes, some is often really important to add when cooking, but the balance can be added by diners at the table!  This is why I always include salt and pepper shakers for guests!   There are some high-end eateries where the establishment will not provide salt or pepper for customers simply because they fancy they’ve seasoned EVERYTHING appropriately, and are duly insulted should their “clientele” just happen to disagree.  (Oh, could I have this dish without cilantro?  NO, I don’t care if cilantro tastes like soap to you, due to your “defective” genetics, it’s going to be IN there, because it’s MY dish I COOKED to MY standards of perfection!) 

What Is Salt?  

  • Salt (definition 1):  
    any chemical compound formed from the reaction of an acid with a base, with all      or part of the hydrogen of the acid replaced by a metal or other cation.
  • Salt (definition 2):
    a white crystalline substance that gives seawater its characteristic taste and is        used for seasoning or preserving food.
  • The salt we will discuss here is sodium chloride (also known as NaCL, its chemical abbreviation) – chlorine serves as the anion which tightly binds to the metallic sodium cation.  The Na in the abbreviation stands for “natrium”, the German name for sodium.   You don’t really need to know all this, but do recognize there are many types of salt – potassium chloride (KCl), for example.  Calcium chloride (CaCl2) is the salt responsible for hard water.  Sodium nitrite (NaN02 – 1 sodium, one nitrogen, and two oxygen atoms as its salt form) is mixed with sodium chloride to render pink salt for curing purposes.  But we will focus on Sodium Chloride, our favorite salt!

Salt Through the Ages

salt, steeleye span

A British folk rock band’s album: Below the Salt. The idea here is eating below the salt (ie without having to be prim and proper) would be a lot more fun…

(Or at least, through some of them….)

We have salt taste receptors on our tongues for a reason.  While the bitter taste receptors may make us shy away from bitter foods (some of them are poisonous) the salt ones encourage us to seek out salty flavors, and thus, necessary sodium chloride.  Of course, with civilization, we often get way too much of a good thing.

In regions of the world, salt was a pricy commodity.   In the royal palaces in medieval times, extending in some cases into the early Renaissance, salt was reserved for the upper nobility – hence the expression of being seated “below the salt” or “above the salt”.  The latter were given salt in small bowls they could reach over with their fingers to sprinkle on their food.  Salt was generally expensive.

Salt, of course, was more prevalent as a condiment in communities at the edge of the sea. One could evaporate sea water and come up with salt, either for trade or for personal use.

Why Cook with Salt?

  • Salt is indeed required for the long-term preservation of canned foods.    Indeed, for safety reasons, Follow the Recipe.   Also, through history, salt was an ingredient used for the preservation of foods in lieu of refrigeration (or even canning).
  • The salt component of a marinate will soak in further to the meat or whatever, than any other seasoning component will.  There are times and places where this is entirely appropriate and desired.
  • Salt will draw out excess moisture from veggies and meats, which for some recipes is essential.  Although my stint at trying this with cucumber left behind a truly nasty batch of sludge… Doesn’t always work – but it is a GREAT idea with eggplant/aubergines, as here it really draws off bitterness along with water.
  • Very handy with baked goods.  Here, I do follow the recipe recommendations regarding salt.
  • Salt really does add flavor, and helps other flavors develop themselves.  You just need to decide how much of this you personally desire.  And, for which dishes.
  • And yes, salt IS healthy.  (Too much of anything, even water, is not.)

Health Benefits of Salt.

salt, commentary

Photo by cottonbro on

Life would not be possible without salt, and here I am speaking of good old sodium chloride, our familiar table salt.  Our bodies need a good balance of sodium chloride and potassium chloride.  Even those people with heart conditions need SOME intake of salt.  Note that an excessively LOW level of salt intake is not healthy.

Where to Limit Salt.

  • The recommended USDA daily limit for salt is 2,400 milligrams (mg) for a healthy and non-risk adult.  If you eat a lot of processed foods, it is easy to go beyond this.  According to the FDA, Americans eat an average of 3400 mg / day.  Which means there will be plenty of people going to the extremes.
  • Excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, often called the “silent killer”  This in turn puts people towards an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
  • High risk individuals – those already having such conditions, for instance, and apparently those of us over the age of 51, should seriously consider limiting our sodium chloride intake to 1,500 mg / day.”
  • The American Heart Association notes that if Americans cut their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, cases of high blood pressure would decrease by 26 percent.”  Most younger and non-risk people have more leeway than others, of course.
  • To add more seasoning to your foods, without relying on salt, salt-free seasoning products such as Mrs. Dash (which personally I find near-tasteless), and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (which I find flavorful) are helpful.  And/or develop a good and diverse spice rack, which is my preferred approach.
  • PS>  Do NOT panic over the occasional splurge.  Salt does get excreted – although this is a reason why you might have to worry about kidney health.
  • PPS> I am NOT a medical doctor or dietary professional.  Please find one and consult with yours!

Types of Salt.

sea salt, kosher salt, commentary

  • Iodized Salt.  Various salts of iodine are added in many/most countries to rock salt to provide necessary thyroid function.  If you don’t eat much seaweed or ocean-dwelling sea life, do be sure to take some of this iodized salt into your diet.  Thyroid issues are not recommended, nor fun to deal with.   If you eat a lot of “processed” foods, you will be getting iodized salt.  Otherwise, you can use it as table salt for guests to apply as they wish – or just simply cook with it yourself.  It is usually found fine-ground.
  • Pink Himalayan Salt – this is NOT to be confused with Pink Salt (which is sodium nitrite, instead of sodium chloride), and is to be used to cure and provide a red color  in corned beef, bacon, and certain charchucerie).  The Himalayan salt is pink due to minerals deposited eons ago when this salt formed and dried in what is now known as the Salt Range Mountains of Pakistan, south of the Himalayas.  It is mined and exported elsewhere for processing and purifying.  Health claims have yet to be verified, but is not harmful.  You can buy it coarsely or finely-ground (I buy coarse-grind).  It contains no iodine.  This salt is also made into smooth-topped baking “sheets” for cooking fish and other dishes on.  Salt ambiance is supposed to carry into the item that rests upon it.  I’ve never tried that.
  • Sea salts – they are processed by the evaporation of ocean water.  Some excess minerals may be removed, depending on the source, and mineral concentration.  Iodine is not usually added to these. One might think that, it being a product of the sea, sea salts would have a good deal of intrinsic iodine – they don’t.  Rather, this accumulates more readily in living organisms such as seaweed, shellfish and fish. The big problem now with sea salts is that microplastics are now part of the oceanic environment, and are difficult (impossible?) to extract sufficiently from harvested salt.  You can find sea salts finely or coarsely milled.  I still use them, but.
  • Celtic Sea Salt.  This is actually a brand, and for a long while was considered the go-to.  It may still so considered.  Interestingly, it arrives moist, but does not clump, despite that.  I had my container for at least a year before I used it up, and it never did clump, despite also its existence in a house that went through hot and humid summers without the benefit of air-conditioning.  It is coarse-grained.
  • Grey sea salt.  Celtic salt falls into this overall category, but it is not moist, and will clump when damp.
  • Salts from dehydrated/dehydrating landlocked seas.  The prime example of this is sea salt mined/collected from the salt flats surrounding Utah’s Great Salt Lake.  One good advantage of this is you won’t be getting the current “addition” of microplastics found these days all over the oceans.
  • Black lava salt is simply sea salt harvested from various places around the world that has been blended and colored with activated charcoal. It is used as a finishing salt.  Sorry, folks, it didn’t usually start that way.  There are naturally black-ish Hawaiian sea salts, and there is even a black Indian sea salt – but mostly what you’ll be finding is blackened on purpose for the market.
  • Kosher salt You can find this finely or coarsely ground – I prefer to buy it coarsely ground.   I have also seen it sold in flake format.  Many chefs recommend it in cooking.

NOTE:  the volumes of the various salts vary and don’t usually correlate with weights.  It is probably best to do as they generally do in Europe, and weigh your salt for cooking.  A half-teaspoon of fine-grained salt will weigh a lot more than a half-teaspoon of a coarse, or a flaked salt.   Which means you’ll get much more sodium chloride in your dish – and a saltier flavor – if you use finely grained salt and rely purely on volume.

Flavored Salts.  

salt, chicharron, seasonings

Most of these do have expiration dates.  Some of them are expensive, so use accordingly – reserve for dishes they’ll complement.  Most of them are “finishing salts” – not to cook with but to apply just before serving.

  • Porcini Salt.  This is a dried mushroom-infused salt.  It is lightly brown/tan in color due to the mushroom component, and would be used as a finishing salt for some Continental dishes, mostly French.  I can see it on a good cut of steak in a dish where mushrooms would be welcome on the plate.
  • Chicharron Salt.  This one is DEFINITELY not vegetarian, much less vegan.  Ground up pork rinds/cracklings are incorporated into coarse salt, and sometimes this mix will contain a mild amount of nightshade-based heat (originally cooked with that pork skin).  I’ve used this with hard boiled eggs, and it would taste great in deviled eggs (but be considerate of your vegetarian friends!)  It would also go well with braised pork, or added to cooked greens.
  • Garlic salt.  This is commonly found in your supermarket.  Garlic powder is mixed with salt and sold in a relatively-fine granulation.  I prefer to just get garlic powder, sans salt, and make my own mix as appropriate for a given dish.  But it is popular enough (judging by its supermarket ubiquity) I thought to mention it.
  • Smoked salts.  I’ve picked up one or two of these over the years.  I don’t see any in my current collection, however.  I’d preferentially use them on cooked greens, or perhaps, seafood.
  • Black lava salt is simply sea salt harvested from various places around the world that has been blended and colored with activated charcoal. It is used as a finishing salt.

salt, finishing salt

Discovered that I had published a post back in 2012 about salts, but only regarding two of them.  This post is far more extensive.   I’d frankly ignore my old one.


This post is linked to a few blog hops and link parties, as seen below:

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Cheesy Grits Casserole – Inspired by a Kentucky Grandmother

Contains:  Grains, dairy, nightshade seasonings.  Is:  Gluten-free, filled with an ancestral touch, has a vegetarian option.

grits, southern, cheese, cheddar, casserole, recipe, vegetarian option

In the spirit of, although not the actuality (I’ll never have her true recipe) Grandmother T’s southern grits casserole.

My paternal grandmother passed away late winter of 1983.

The dish I remember most of hers (and she had several old South recipes) was her cheesy grits casserole.    Maybe this is what is meant by “comfort food”?  Not ever so much a food dish per se, but the memories around the childhood table, the people you shared with there, probably also the conversations and the house and yard and pets you were intimate with?  (Which may partially explain why mac n’ cheese never achieved such a status…  Mac ‘n’ cheese was served to us (from the Kraft box, but with extra cheese) when the parents were headed out, and we were left with the wiles of the sitters…)

grits, southern, cheese, cheddar, casserole, recipe, vegetarian option

Placed into the casserole pan, the simmered grits with all the ingredient (except the paprika) prior to baking.

Both my grandmothers were born, raised and reared in Kentucky, in Louisville, but it was Dad’s mother who made this casserole.  Dad grew up and went on to dislike grits and oatmeal and any dish of that overall texture made from grains (so grits was never a dish served by my parents), but I remembered liking those dishes when we went down south to Kentucky for holidays and other occasions.  These were the only times I ever had these grits until a mistake on the road during the College Spring Break from Hell To and From Daytona Road Trip, when I had breakfast grits made with water and no flavor at a bus road-stop where what we were served ended up being far less bad than the behavior of the staff at that place.

So, my effort today is made from memory (and we know how fickle that is) and expediency and a search for authenticity which is probably only a pseudo-authenticity — but right now I just want it to taste close to my memories, and to work for tasting good to me TODAY.  Oh, i did add bacon.  And peppers.  Grandmother did neither.  But it may well be she could have used chicken stock, which I didn’t.

grits, southern, cheese, cheddar, casserole, recipe, vegetarian option

Ah-ha! TWO servings removed! (I’ll come clean – as I just ate only this for dinner, I went back for seconds. This is usually meant, however, as a side…)

If you wonder what grits are, they’re a corn based cereal that can be served either for breakfast or as a side at dinner.  The latter is what my paternal Grandmother T provided. (Grandmother B was my maternal grandmother – alas, I really don’t recall anything she actually cooked, but I’m certain she DID cook!  NO fast food back then, nor frequent restaurant ventures out….)

Since there really IS no standard recipe:


The recipe on the back of the grits bag (Palmetto Farms Stone Ground Grits – Mixed [yellow and white grits].

I took elements from all three recipes, noting that I didn’t have “quick cooking” grits (I had the longer-cooking “stone ground” variety – so I followed instructions for the more traditionally-packaged grits that I had to hand.  By all accounts, avoid the “instant” grits – I imagine they’re a lot like instant “oatmeal” or those packets of instant “rice” – I did cook with Uncle Ben’s converted rice when I was in college – there wasn’t a lot of good and inexpensive food choices in the Indiana of the mid to late 70s.  (I never heard of ramen until probably a decade after graduation.)

grits, southern, cheese, cheddar, casserole, recipe, vegetarian option

A serving of grits. Grandmother T would have loved, although I suspect she’d personally prefer regular bell pepper over the poblano. Assuming she ever knew about poblano.

Even now, in vast swaths of the Northern US, at least in New England, grits aren’t to be found in the supermarkets.  One could probably use polenta (also a ground corn product).  Since I didn’t think about that until writing up this post, I ordered my grits on line.

Prep Time:   15 minutes maybe, but some can be done during the first cooking stage.
Cook Time:  20-25 minutes on the cooktop, 30 minutes in the oven, if using a 10 inch skillet.
Rest Time:  5 minutes
Serves:   4, as a side.
Cuisine: American south.
Leftovers: Okay.

Cheesy Grits Casserole

    • 0.75 cups of stone ground grits.  
    • 1.5 cups water.  (Feel free to substitute chicken broth.)
    • 1.5 cups whole milk.  
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar, sharp preferred but medium is fine.  (You are welcome to experiment with a variety of melt-able cheeses.)
    • 1 tablespoon low sodium gluten-free tamari or soy sauce.  (Sub with Worcestershire sauce if preferred, and desiring more authenticity.  Note this will add in both gluten and seafood, if this is of concern.)
    • 1 slice of bacon.  (Grandmother didn’t add the bacon, but I am not certain what fat she used – probably butter.  You can omit bacon, and use a half tablespoon of  butter should you be wanting the bell or poblano pepper.)
    • 1 poblano pepper, seeds removed, and diced.  (You can use a small bell pepper if desired.  Grandmother didn’t add the pepper, either.)
    • 1/2 teaspoon or so of smoked ground paprika.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Heat the water and milk together in a pan on the stove, noting that if un-watched, the pan WILL froth over.  Avoid this, and as soon as the liquids start to rise, immediately reduce heat and add the grits.

For the stone ground, simmer lightly  for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently.  Quick grits will take less time, and you may have to adjust liquid to solid ratios accordingly – read your package!

Add the cheese, stir, and reduce heat to just “warm”.  Add the soy/Worcestershire sauce now.  Stir.

Cook the bacon in a skillet.  (To reduce pots and pans I was going to have to clean, I chose an oven safe skillet – as you will see.   Use a 10 inch skillet.)  Add the diced pepper while this cooks.  Let the pepper cook in the fat from the bacon.  You can start cooking this while the grits are cooking.  Note that these will cook further in the oven, so take that into account here.

When bacon and peppers are done to your liking, remove them to a plate.   Add most of the diced peppers to the grits, mixing well, reserving some for topping.  Break up the bacon into small chunks, and set aside with the pepper topping.

Take the grits mixture from the cooking pan, and lay that into the skillet, smoothing it to the edges.  Top with bits of the bacon, the leftover diced poblano or other pepper, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove, allow to rest for about 5 minutes, then serve.

Scale up as needed for more, and bake longer as indicated by how the grits casserole will look.  Grandmother cooked for 6 or so after all, and leftovers were something to be proud of.  Re-heat in the oven, serve. 

grits, southern, cheese, cheddar, casserole, recipe, vegetarian option

Link parties:

Fiesta Friday.  Hosted this week by:  Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

Farm Fresh Tuesdays

What’s for Dinner?  Sunday Link-Up.

Homestead Blog Hop.

Full Plate Thursday. 


Posted in Cooking, Southern Hospitality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What to Do with Your Quail Eggs?

Contains:  Eggs and so forth.  Is:  Many of the ideas are vegetarian.  Or all can be made vegetarian.

recipes, quail eggs, cooking, poached, raw eggs, boiled eggs

I got ideas from the “recipe” for making soft boiled eggs, but already had some of my own:

Upon my first laid quail egg, I considered honoring the occasion with a tiny omelet, but (wisely?) refrained, even for making it for the sake of this blog – despite the temptation.  Making it for the blog isn’t good enough an idea.

Hard boiled eggs:

To Cook: I start either from cold water or add gently to already-boiling water.  Timing is obviously going to be less critical than if one wants soft boiled eggs, especially at a specific consistency.  I’ve started from cold water and have gotten them to boiling-stage, and allowed them to cook for 5 to 9 minutes.  They were all nice.    I have added them to boiling water (use a spider so they go in gently and don’t crack), and allowed them to go for 3 minutes, and they were hard cooked, but possibly a bit softer than some people’s taste buds prefer.  So… go for five.

Shell and pickle them.   I include three such recipes here, differing pickling agents and flavor profiles, only one of which do I add salt in any form, and only one to which I add sugar.   These recipes lend an eye to ways you can expand on mine to suit your own tastes and what you have at hand.

I made personal mini-quiches recently (adapting my mini quiche recipe found here – which I discovered work even better by the addition of one extra chicken egg to make the total of three chicken eggs per 2 mini quiches).  I inserted one peeled, hard boiled egg into each mini quiche as a nice little taste surprise.  (I suppose one can make mini-quiches entirely from quail eggs, but I’ll leave that venture to others!)

Salad ingredients. Peel and scatter three peeled hard boiled eggs per individually-prepared salad as a garnish.  If so inclined, slice them in half longitudinally for a more artistic flair.

If one is feeling decadently masochistic, making deviled eggs is an option; make them until you run out of patience.  Your favorite stuffing recipe counts.

Soft boiled eggs:

recipe, quail eggs

Opening a quail egg swiftly, for obtaining raw eggs/yolks (to poach, cure, or consume raw); or for obtaining soft boiled eggs post-cooking.

To cook:  With an egg that weighs 10-12 grams, you will gently add them at the same time to a pot of boiling water, using a spider or slotted spoon.  Cook anywhere from 2 minutes and 15 seconds to 2 minutes and 45  seconds, depending on how thick you like your yolk to be.  You do want the whites cooked all the way through, with some substance to their whiteness.  If your eggs weigh more or less than the recommended, you’ll have to play and adjust.  Mind you, while I always start my chicken or duck eggs off in tap water and bring to a boil, quail eggs are going to be more finicky, and so I do add them in when the water is boiling.  Pull them out with a slotted spoon, or spider, and plunge into a cold water bath.  (I’ve been using tap-cold.)  As with all soft boiled eggs, they’re best eaten warm.

quail, quail egg, soft boiledquail soft 2-15 min-quail, quail egg, softquail egg, soft, recipe,

The above, sequentially, boiled 2 minutes, 2 min + 15 sec, 2 min + 30 sec, 2 min + 45 seconds.  Timing counts.

If you have one, you can use a quail egg opener.  It looks and works a lot like the implement one uses to clip cat claws, although the opening is larger.  Mine hadn’t arrvied when I took the above photos – you’ll get a cleaner cut!

I got ideas from this “recipe” for making soft boiled eggs, but already had some of my own:

Straight up.  I simply remove the top of the shell, and use a mini measuring spoon to eat.  A  little dusting of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt may be in order.  You could spoon this onto a bread-y cracker or a Triscuit (I don’t eat bread all that often, so I don’t).  I would make a side of some sort, however!  My choices would be any of the four depicted above, depending on mood that day.

For Asian soups:  Check under poached for Vietnamese pho or Japanese ramen for how best to serve, and apply here.  For Chinese hot pot, however – gently peel the soft cooked whole egg without breaking the white.   2 minutes 15 seconds might be ideal, as you are less likely to break the white then if should you use the 2 minute egg. They will cook further in the hot pot.  Set the eggs aside, and prepare your hot pot as per usual.  This is typically a communal dish, and will usually consist of two different broths, where people dunk in the foods they want accordingly, allowing them to cook for the length of time optimal for each food.  For adding in a quail egg or two at a time – add in and allow to stay in the pot for about 20-30 seconds (or longer should you prefer the yolk more solid).  Retrieve with a spider or Chinese soup spoon, as chopsticks may break the yolk.   Place on your plate or on your bowl, and then consume with everything else, breaking the yolk then as desired.

Scotch quail eggs:  Boil as above for 2:15-2:30 minutes, plunge into ice cold water.  De-shell carefully.  Wrap thinly but to cover the entire surface with a ground beef sausage mix.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 350 F.  Serve hot.

Raw egg yolks:  (Trust your source).

To prepare:  De-shell when very fresh, cleaning the egg shell surface first.  .If you have one, you can use a quail egg opener as described above.

With sushi.  Traditionally, raw sea urchin is a main seafood item that raw egg yolks can be served with.  I’ve also had them on presentations with squid, ikura (salmon roe – those vibrant orange orbs!), tobiko, and (once) an ama ebi curled around & wrapped into a cucumber cup.  The sea urchin, squid or tobiko is typically set in a bed of rice and wrapped with nori seaweed (or cucumber ends that have been hollowed of seeds and shaped into that cup mentioned above – in this case, there’s typically NO rice.   (Order these types as sashimi or sushi with a quail egg, if the sushi bar has quail eggs to hand.  Not all will, at least not all the time.)  Yes, this will just be the yolk.

With beef/bison tartare.  TRUST YOUR SOURCE!   Back in the day (60s and 70s), Dad used to find freshly ground low fat beef at the local butcher.  Nowadays, as I note in my earlier blog post, I only use un-ground non-fatty steak meat that I wash and then either finely chop up on my cutting board – or if I’d choose, grind said washed meat up myself.  You do NEED to make sure your meat hasn’t been “artificially tenderized” by today’s “quick and un-easy” mechanical piercing mechanisms – which can push bacteria down INTO your steaks.  (I won’t buy steaks to cook the way I like them – medium rare – if I suspect this could have been the case, either….)   If you aren’t using a chicken egg yolk, consider quail…  At any rate, here’s a link to bison tartare, although I used a chicken yolk there.

Salt cured yolks.  You start out with a raw egg or so, and remove it from the shell, and separate the yolks from the whites, all the while keeping the yolk intact.  I was inspired by this recipe from Household of Nicoles, but obviously I scaled down.  I also used a lesser ratio of sugar, not being a sweet tooth. I suspect some sugar does help balance out the salt.  At any rate:

quail egg cure salt

Initial stage of curing the yolks – place on a layer of salt (or sugar +salt), then cover with more. Refrigerate 3-4 days.

      • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
      • 3 tablespoons white sugar
      • 4-9 quail egg yolks
        • Mix salt and sugar together, layer some of this at the bottom of a bowl, add the egg yolks, so they do not touch each other OR the bottom of the bowl without a layer of the salt sugar mixture in between.  Cover the yolks with the remaining salt/sugar.
        • Cover and place in fridge for 3-4 days.
        • Remove, brush off the coating from each yolk, rinse lightly and gently towel-dry.  And prepare to dehydrate.
          • In a dehydrator or oven that goes down to 150 F – coat a cooking surface with a little oil, to prevent sticking.  Add the yolks.  Pre-heat oven/dehydrator accordingly.  ‘Allow to dehydrate for 1.5 – 2 hours.
          • If you lack a dehydrator, and your oven doesn’t go down to 150 F (mine only drops to 170 F), allow them to sit unheated for two days in that oven (un-used, un-heated).
        • Remove and refrigerate until use.  You can microplane yolks over salads.  Or soups.  Or pasta.

recipe, cured quail egg yolk

Pulled from the salt mix, lightly rinsed of the mix, placed on a tray for drying.

recipe, quail egg yolk, curing

After about two hours of drying.

Fried eggs: 

To cook:  If you have one, you can use a quail egg opener.  It looks and works a lot like the implement one uses to clip cat claws, although the opening is larger.  Simply open the egg at the narrow end with the opener, and gently pour out the egg into a small bowl.  Collect all the eggs from their shells prior to cooking.  Set up your skillet for frying, using cooking oil, butter or bacon fat, as per a normally-fried egg.

I’ve done this in the past, using one large duck or chicken egg, and say, three satellite quail eggs.  Start the large egg at least two or three minutes ahead of the quail eggs, but have your mise in place ready ahead (the raw eggs already shelled and all).  Ideally, cook in butter or bacon fat.  I’ve only done these sunny side up, but nothing need stop you from making over easy or over hard.  (Or even that horrific-to-me-crispy edged / bottomed abomination that seems to be a current craze for people trying to justify having overheated their skillets…. sorry. Sort of.)  My name for my rendition of this  dish is Sister and Siblings.  Alliterative and fun.  Or, Planet and Moons.

recipe, quail eggs

For this rendition, I used bacon fat in the skillet. Decided that slice of bacon wanted to join in. Fry the bacon, then add the toast. Then, reduce heat and add eggs.

Toad in the Hole.  Take a slice of quality baked bread, cut about 1 inch diameter –  or slightly less – holes in the bread (two or three).  Heat a skillet to medium high with either bacon fat, butter or cooking oil.  Lay the slice of bread in, and toast each side for two or three minutes, allowing the butter or whatnot to soak in.  Reduce heat, drop in de-shelled raw quail eggs into each hole, cover, and cook for a minute or two, until the eggs are cooked to your preferred done-ness, with the egg whites actually white.  With a spatula, remove to a plate, and enjoy.  Maybe this should be renamed “Toadlets in the Hole”?

Yes, I know – most British versions put sausages and not eggs into the bread… But this version DOES exist.

recipe, quail eggs, toad in the hole

The toadlets in the holes: cooked and served. The whites are white, the yolks here are loose.

Poached eggs:

To cook:  Remove from shells, and collect them all ahead of time.  Discard or re-purpose any eggs where the yolk may have broken. Refer to below for specifics.

In Asian soups:   One could poach separately and toss them in at the last moment just as one ladles out servings, which is useful if one is doling out for several servings – just add the same number of already-poached eggs to each person’s bowl

I tried another approach which also seems to work – although you should have a sufficient amount of liquid broth in place so that you can see where the eggs are going and how they are cooking.   For this, I’d suggest your soup be done and reduced to a bare minimum of a simmer – some light bubbles, this is all.  Then swirl in the  de-shelled egg or eggs gently.  When this poaching is done, simply serve.  This is good for one or two people.   I would suggest with either method that you can cook the eggs perhaps 20-30 seconds less, as the egg will set up a little further in the soup bowl.

Vietnamese pho.  Cook as per your favorite recipe.  At the table, you can add in additional last minute things like the Thai basil, cilantro, mint, mung bean sprouts – and anything you’d add in yourself during the eating enjoyment of this dish.

Japanese ramen.  Cook as per your favorite recipe.  If you add miso to your recipe, add that in after you reduce the cooking to a simmer but before you add in any quail eggs.  This way you can more intensely stir the miso so that it blends into the broth proper.  Then add the quail eggs, either already poached (to serve immediately) or to poach (to serve after in-soup poaching).

Poached eggs Benedict.   I’d suggest for the hollandaise you will save yourself a world of grief if you use chicken eggs.  Emulsifying is already a challenge, and you’d need a large batch of quail eggs to attempt this properly, especially if you try to make it with a stick blender.  But anyhow:  Use a small circular cookie cutter to reduce the size of your English muffin slices to about half.  (Feed the rest to the chickens, or reserve for bread crumbs for some other dish.)   Toast and butter each small circle, set aside on warm (a toaster oven set low is good for this).   Slice up a little ham into small chunks, and set with the warming English muffin – or if you prefer Florentine as I do, sauté up some spinach, and use that instead.  Perhaps with slivers of horizontally-sliced grape tomato.  Meanwhile, prepare the pot with the appropriately-simmering water, add the eggs (two or three for each half, depending on your muffin size) as described above, poach and remove.  Pull out the English muffin and place the eggs atop.  Add a little homemade hollandaise (frankly, the commercial stuff I find to be nasty), and serve.  Or, place the hollandaise to the side so guests can serve themselves… PS:  the other option here is to use a full English muffin, but serve up, say, four eggs per half a muffin, for the full eggy effect!

Make quail egg pysanky:  I don’t have the eyesight or patience for this fine art, but up to you.  You can order, or at least surf for, pre-made quail egg pysanky from Etsy, to get an idea of the potential detail possible.  (Pysanky is the traditional Ukrainian art of blowing out the contents of an egg from a pinhole, and decorating long lasting egg shells with finely detailed designs.)

grey and white bird on tree branch

Photo by Frank Cone on

Incubate and hatch a future generation:  Always possible, if there’s a male in your hutch!  In fact, edit Oct. 4th, I just hatched at least two of three quail eggs overnight!   Hopefully the third is hatched as well!  (Best not to disturb them too much during the process.)

This post is linked to the following link parties:

Farm Fresh Tuesdays.

Homestead Blog Hop.

Fiesta Friday.  Hosted this week by:  Zeba @ Food For The Soul.  

Full Plate Thursday.

What’s for Dinner?  Sunday Link-Up.

recipes, quail eggs, soft boiled, poached, fried, hard boiled, cured

Chicken and quail eggs. These have been soft boiled. Alas there isn’t any stand for quail eggs that I’ve found – but a teaspoon is great for the chicken eggs, and a metal 1/8th or 1/4 measuring teaspoon can work for the quail eggs, depending on the shape of your spoons..

Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Poultry | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Veal or Calf Sweetbreads, with Peppers and Mushrooms

Contains:  Nightshades, offal, Is:  Gluten-free and seafood-free if you use tamari instead of Worcestershire sauce (the latter contains fish sauce as well as gluten).  Quick and easy.    

sweetbreads, recipe, thymus, pancreas, veal, calf, peppers, mushroom

Sweetbread, peppers, mushrooms – alongside a seriously-farm fresh raw tomato

The first stage of cooking sweetbreads (which are the thymus or pancreatic glands from young animals) is to simmer them lightly in acidulated water with some added salt for 15-20 minutes.  Then you can do any number of things with them.  They are hard to come across, but when I do find them I buy them – I don’t expect to find them again for awhile, as these were purchased in Pennsylvania Dutch country back in 2019.  (Lamb ones are serviceable, but nowhere near as good.)  My parents bought them often in New York City when I was growing up.

(Some people will pre-soak them in milk, potentially to draw out any gamey-ness.  Neither my family nor I ever have, as we’ve personally never noticed that taste in these.   YMMV.)

recipe, veal, calf, sweetbreads, thymus, offal

Just finished simmering, and now cooling down. Pull off any fat nodules – and larger bits of membrane, discard. At 9 o’clock you can see a nodule leading up to some somewhat-separated membrane. Actually, I don’t mind if I eat some of the membrane, it isn’t bad. I just like getting rid of the fat nodules, and thicker membrane bits.  The above is a bit more than a pound – I only used some of it for this recipe.

At this point, you can do just about anything you want with the sweetbreads.  I took about half of what you see in the above photo, and went with breaking that up into pieces, and pan frying it with those peppers and mushrooms.  There are a large number of choices you can cook this with, of course, plus additional flavor profiles for seasonings to use.  Sweetbreads are a mild meat – as with pasta, properly prepared sweetbreads will take on the flavors of what they are cooked or marinated in.

sweetbreads, veal, calf, recipe

Peppers and mushrooms. Ideally, vary out the pepper color, but this is what I had. Other types of mushrooms can also be great here.

recipe, sweetbreads, calf, veal,

The sweetbreads have just been added. And, now… for the seasonings and sauce!

Prep Time: 15 minutes.  
Cook Time:  25-30 minutes.
Rest Time:  Not needed.
Cuisine: ??

Serves:  1 – 2.
Leftovers:  Yes.

Veal or Calf Sweetbreads, with Peppers and Mushrooms

  • Approximately half a pound of veal or calf sweetbreads (weigh of the gland, raw).  I started with a whole pound, planning to use only a part of this for the recipe proper below.
  • Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or the juice of one lemon.  
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt.
  • 1 bell pepper of any color, de-seeded and sliced.  (Optionally add in some of any spicy pepper for heat, if desired.)
  • 2-4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped (any type you like).
  • (Sub or add to the above veggies with anything else which occurs to you that works in a stir fry.)
  • 1 tablespoon of high temperature cooking oil.  (Avocado?)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (Substitute with gluten-free tamari, if needed for gluten-free or for seafood-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo chili.
  • Salt and pepper as desired (I left out adding salt, as it is in the Worcestershire sauce).

Cover the sweetbreads with water in a pot, adding the vinegar / lemon juice and the salt.  Bring to a boil and immediately turn the temperature down to the barest of a simmer.  Allow to simmer 15-20 minutes.

Remove the sweetbreads from the pot, rinse, remove fat nodules, and any larger bits of membrane, breaking up by hand these glands into smaller segments – the way these glands are constructed, you’ll find that natural lines for breaking them up will be apparent by and large.

If, as I did, you simmered excess to what you needed for the recipe, set the other portion aside for future recipes or meals.  (Ie, for one pound of original raw weight, you want to use in this recipe what would be approximately 1/2 of that – 0.5 pounds of what would have been that weight prior to the simmer).

Then, heat a skillet to a moderate heat with the cooking oil.  When hot, add the vegetables and cook until almost at your preferred level of texture.  If you are working with vegetables other than the two I used here, you may need to add them at different times to prevent something being over-cooked.  Stir often.

Add the sweetbreads, and the seasonings (Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper).  Continue cooking, stirring, for another 3-5 minutes.

Plate, and serve.  A salad is lovely alongside.

(And so, what did I do with the rest of the sweetbreads, since I hadn’t used the entire pound or so in this dish?  I simply snacked on them a little at a time, room temperature or cold, after that initial simmering step, until they were all gone.  A little vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, well-diluted in water as a marinate was fine enough for me,)

This recipe is being shared at:  Fiesta Friday (co-host Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook), And, at What’s for Dinner:  Sunday Link-UpFarm Fresh Tuesdays, Full Plate Thursday, and Homestead Blog Hop.  

Posted in Cooking, Offal | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Southern Style Pickled Shrimp

Contains:  shellfish.  Is:  Quick and easy preparation.  

Another in the picking series of recipes.  

This recipe is based on:   Southern Style Pickled Shrimp, which is found at the Kitchn website.  

pickled, pickling, southern style shrimp, shrimp, capers, onions, vinegar

Pickled shrimp, ready for the fridge.

I subbed pearl onions in for Vidalia (I had the former dying to be used), and EVOO for canola.  WHY the Kitchn went with canola is a mystery to me!  I used dill seed as it turns out there’s no celery seed in my extensive herb/spice collection.  Some concentrations have been slightly modified.  

These are refrigerator pickles, not meant for long term canning.  (Long term canning for seafood would entail pressure canning for safety, and I fear the shrimp would be ruined texture and taste-wise in the process.  Shrimp Mush, anyone?)  

This could be a good topping for a salad, and the extra marinate works nicely as a  dressing. 

PS:  Why don’t I recommend you NOT use pre-cooked shrimp from the supermarket?  For me, I taste a funky aftertaste.  This is possibly from their having sat around at the store for a few hours before being taken home, to sit around again for a few more hours prior to use.  It’s still “good” as in not bad for you – but it just goes, well, funky-tasting.  Or, maybe they over-cook them.  Whatever, I just don’t do it.  

I also recommend only purchasing wild-caught shrimp.  If curious, do read up on the multi-tragic toll of southeast Asian shrimp factory farms on both the environment and on the health of the people working in them.  

Prep Time: 10 minutes.
Cook Time:  About 2 minutes.
Rest Time:  Until cooled, about 15 minutes.
Marinating Time:  12 hours minimum.
Serves: Depends on appetizer or salad topping.  3-6.
Cuisine: Southern USA.
Leftovers:  Will last in fridge up to five days.

Southern Style Pickled Shrimp

  • Half a pound / 225 grams of raw shrimp, neither jumbo nor tiny. 
  • About 10 non-pickled but peeled pearl onions, or 1/2 Vidalia onion.  I used the former.
  • 1/2 lemon, thin-sliced.
  • 0.4 cup / 95 mL apple cider vinegar
  • 0.25 cup / 60 mL extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/8 cup / 30 mL capers with their juices
  • 0.5 teaspoon or 0.25 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Splash of hot sauce, to taste.  I used Cholula. 

You can cook and then peel/devein your shrimp (as I did), or peel/devein and then cook.  You can purchase your shrimp already peeled – but do remove the tail shell that is often left on.  Note pre-shelled usually costs more per pound.  (AVOID PRE-COOKED shrimp.)    

You can steam or simmer your shrimp.  Length of time will depend on size of shrimp – anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 minutes if simmered, but you can add  up to 30 seconds longer if steamed.   Rinse and cool, room temperature is fine.  

Slice the onion/s.  Vidalia should be thin-sliced, and pearls can be trisected.  

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. tossing.  Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours, occasionally re-mixing.  

Serve, either with toothpicks or skewers, or use as a salad topping, providing a large spoon for family/guests to drizzle dressing as needed on their salads.  

pickled shrimp, pickling, vinegar, shrimp

What’s for Dinner:  Sunday Link-Up.

Farm Fresh Tuesdays

Homestead Blog Hop.

Fiesta Friday, where this week’s co-host is  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Full Plate Thursday.  

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Salads, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments