California Birdies in a Bread Pocket

30 Apr

When I was home recently  I spent quite a few hours paging through cookbooks in my sister’s house. She always has some new ones…and the hardest part for me is to figure out which ones I want to buy and bring home with me. This time she seemed to be on a North African/Turkish/Mediterranean kick, which more or less fit with what I am cooking a lot of at home these days as well, so there was inspiration aplenty.

So home with me came two cookbooks: Moro (name of the restaurant run by the two authors) and Crazy Water Pickled Lemons.And I naturally haven’t had enough time to cook my way through them, but I am picking out a recipe or two when I can. Today…beautiful sunny day…perfect day to ride the bike down to the Viktualienmarket (farmer’s market) and pick up some nice things. Which is what I did…with a list of ingredients at the ready.

I wanted to make an herb salad – tossed water cress, dill, taragon, basil, cilantro, parsley, etc – with a light oil and lemon juice dressing. And a pistachio sauce that my sister made when I was there would be really nice, perfumed with orange blossom water and a grind of garlic and salt. I had also seen a recipe that looked delicious and easy: marinated quail breasts stuffed in a fresh bread pocket and baked for 10 minutes. A dab of yogurt, a spoonful of Italian tomatoes…really, what more could you want?

But I was suffering a bit because the recipe called for the breasts of quails and only the breasts. You might bake up the rest (legs) and munch them like little barbequed chicken legs at some other point, but I didn’t really see that happening. And I really didn’t want to just throw away half the bird so I could eat their breasts. Look – I mean…..these are the cutest birds….they just hop and sputter around the neighborhoods in northern california….it’s bad enough…just the thought of eating them.

California Quail

California Quail

Maybe the only thing cuter is a photo of my kitties having a nap on the couch this morning.

Napping Kitties

Napping Kitties

Anyway, so I was thinking of alternatives (duck breast? chicken legs?) and wandering around one of the downtown grocery stores after buying my veggies at the farmer’s market. When I suddenly came across a package of quail breasts. Was really the strangest thing. And of course I grabbed them and walked out the door triumphant. I wouldn’t have to waste half the bird and I could try out my recipe.

Which is what I have now just finished eating. They were yum yum yummy.

Quail Pastries with Pistachio sauce and Salads

Quail Pastries with Pistachio sauce and Salads

And super easy to make. You sprinke the breasts with cardamom and black cumin, salt and pepper and let them rest in the fridge for a bit. Meanwhile, mix up the dough (I used my breadmaker, so no effort there.). 45 min later, saute the breasts on both sides,

Sauteeing the breasts

Sauteeing the breasts

Roll out the dough and put the two breast halves and some herbs on one side. Fold and seal them all up.

Stuffing the pastries with the meat and herbs

Stuffing the pastries with the meat and herbs

Put them in the oven to bake for 10 minutes…

Into the oven with the pastries

Into the oven with the pastries

Eat and enjoy.

I’m happy to share the recipe with anyone who wants it, just tell me.

Quail Pastries with Pistachio sauce and Salads

Quail Pastries with Pistachio sauce and Salads

By the way, while the quail breast was very good, I do in fact think you could easily swap it out for a chicken thigh. Duck breast might not be as good.


Posted by on April 30, 2011 in Cats, Cooking at home


Tags: , ,

3 responses to “California Birdies in a Bread Pocket

  1. Sarah

    November 5, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Hi, I love your blog! Just had a good read through and so many lovely meal ideas. The pizza and duck yolk carbonara look delicious. I was hoping, please could you share the recipe for the quail in flatbread? I would be eternally grateful! I have searched all over the net and can’t find it. I am currently expating in a country which unfortunately doesn’t sell cookbooks, let alone Moro!

    I am dying to make this one for our anniversary meal, Hubby will be over the moon – he loves quail.

    Thank you so so much in advance!


    • diginibble

      November 6, 2016 at 10:08 am

      Hi Sarah, thanks for the nice message! 🙂 Here’s the Moro recipe: Filling – 4 quail breasts, 2 pinches ground green cardamom, 2 pinches ground black cumin or cumin, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked from stalks, salt and pepper. Marinate breasts in the dry spices (including salt/pepper). Over a medium to high heat, pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan, when it begins to smoke, add the breasts and sear both sides quickly. Remove to a plate. Flatbread dough – 200 g white bread flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 level teaspoon dried yeast, 170 ml tepid water, 1 tblsp olive oil. Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water then pour oil in water. Now pour water into the flour a bit at a time while mixing. When all water is added, transfer to a floured surface and knead well. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour. Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is tacky, but soft and elastic. Set aside to rest for 45 minutes. To make each stuffed flatbread, preheat the oven to 230 degrees c. Divide the dough in four and roll into balls. On a floured surface, gently roll each ball with a rolling pin to approximately 5 mm thick, making sure the shape is a rough circle about 15 cm in diameter. Place the breast/s from each quail just off center, with 4-5 whole parsley leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and another pinch of salt. Fold the uncovered half of the round over to form a half moon shape and trim edges neatly. Seal the inside round edge with a little water. Place on an oiled baking tray and bake in the preheated over for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is cooked but not totally crisp and begins to color. Serve with salad, pistachio sauce and wedges of lemon. Pistachio sauce: 150 g shelled unsalted pistachios, grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tblsp orange blossom water, 1 garlic glove, crushed to a paste with a little salt, 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, a few fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped, 1 tablespoon water, 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, or by hand, roughly crush, blend or chop the nuts. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and adjust for seasoning.
      Enjoy! I hope you and the hubby like it and happy anniversary!

  2. Sarah

    November 6, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Thank you for going to the effort to type it all out, it’s much appreciated. You’re very kind.
    Hubby will be over the moon 😀


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