Friday, January 02, 2009

Salade Niçoise on Belgian endive

I picked up these beautiful little quail eggs at Fubonn. I was thinking of what little appie I could bring over to Carolyn's house that wasn't crackers and dip (she was making Amy Sedaris' Lil' Smoky Cheese Ball) or something that would require heating in situ, so I thought about mini deviled eggs (excellent idea, but way too cumbersome) or a little salad of some type served on endive leaves. I know, 1989 called and wants its hors doeuvres back. Fucking sue me. Greta had given me some gorgeous albacore that she canned, and I had some lemons and olives, so this seemed like a no-brainer. And after all the holiday stodge, a crisp, citrusy salad sounded perfect.

This is the difference between starting your photography at 3:00 and finishing at 3:30. Night and day, innit? It gets dark early, and all of the shots of the salads in natural light were migraine-inducing blurry (I really should get in the habit of using my tripod, but like I need one more thing in my kitchen), so I had to resort to my new lights (thank you, darling husband!). Unfortunately, I broke the reflector umbrella when opening it so I've been directing the eye-piercing lamp directly at the food to simulate daylight, but it's just harsh and red and obvious, even after shopping the fuck out of it. Look at the size of those shadows. Okay, stop looking.


I blanched and slivered haricots verts, cut a brunoise of olives and home-made pickles (sharp as cornichons, they are, but from full-size Persian cukes), and finely diced a boiled red potato. I added these, with minced shallot and parsley, to the flaked albacore. I loaded the whole mix up with lemon zest, and a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, anchovies and S&P. I added extra luxuriant crunches of Maldon over the top for flourish.

I forked a little of the mixture onto each endive leaf and then topped with a little softboiled quail egg. I wasn't trying to be stingy, it was just such an extreme pain in my ass to peel each of these wee eggs and I was in a hurry (and the whole thing was getting to be waaaay too precious), so I opted to quarter the eggs instead of serving halves. This ended up being the perfect amount of egg anyway.

Tomorrow night I'm making tiny Scotch eggs and Boddington's-battered halibut fish and chips (fagging pub grub up a little more with sweet potato fries and a savoy slaw with a creamy lemon vinaigrette).

20 comments:

Elra said...

THis is so perfect after all of that rich food I had during the holiday. I'll dig in right away. Delicious.
Cheers,
elra

Peter G said...

Cute idea to serve them up in the endive leaves. Oh! you got lights! Ben (whatscooking.us) has a great tutorial about using them for food shots. Again, I think you're too harsh Heather...they don't look too bad at all.

abadeebalicious - currently listening to Radiohead In Rainbows - check it.... said...

fucking quail eggs... you are killing me... i'm a sucker for any sort of egg yolk on top of anything that isn't breakfast. fo' real. when are you moving to the hood of CT? did i use the f word already? damn.

Brittany said...

Look at the yolks on those little babies! So bright and orange!
Nom nom, I love everything about this dish.

This is coming form someone who doesn't own a tripod and has only glanced at the manual that came w/ my camera, but I think your shots look really good.
...And the food matches the plate. Which is always pleasing to the eye...

Bellini Valli said...

More than perfect Heather!!!!

peter said...

There is no emoticon sufficient to express the cutification quotient of quail eggs.

Have you tried bouncing the light off a white card onto the food? It might help with the harshness a little.

glamah16 said...

Perfect dish after all the heavy stuff. I think your photos look excellent.One day Im going to splurge on quails eggs.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I adore the quail eggs! So cute (and tasty). This is a perfect party dish - easy to eat and delicious! BTW, I thought 1989 was a very good year! ;)

Happy New Year, Heather! I hope 2009 is filled with wonderful things for you!

cookiecrumb said...

Hey, 1959 called and wants its plate back!
That is beautiful work. Quail eggs, indeed.

Michael said...

I love this miniaturization of on of my favorite dishes.

And I feel your pain: Amateur food photography is so difficult in the short days of deep winter!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I never made salad nicoise(but love it when well made); these bite sized versions look just perfect!

Manggy said...

Whaaa-?! I should be so lucky as to eat something like this in 1989. That was the era of hotdogs and luncheon meat. And rice of course. Lovely schoolboy food. Haven't had a quail's egg in an age!
Feeling a lot British, aren't ye lassie?! Can't wait to see 'em :)

Leigh said...

looking forward to the scotch eggs post - they are on my list for 2009 also!!

Syd said...

I can't photograph food to save my life, so I won't knock your shadows. Besides, your pics look good to me. I am a little hungover though.

BTW, "fagging" made me laugh.

Peter M said...

I hear ya on the colour spectrum and daylight...I can go from viagra blue to sahara yellow in minutes!

Nice appies and I would know doubt go for 4 of these, call it dinner and open the wine.

We Are Never Full said...

why do i feel like popping quail eggs into my mouth like easter candy? they soooo perrrty!

anyways, your salade nicoise looks so much better than ours. very hot - we're going to need lots of these to feel thinner from the holidays.

Court said...

Using quail eggs to create mini versions of food is genious!

Foodycat said...

So cute! But the only way I will ever eat a quail's egg is if someone else peels it for me. Just the thought makes me weep with frustration - especially when you have them mollet like that!

Jude said...

How'd you cook those yolks to look like that? I always screw up when cooking these tiny things.

Heather said...

Jude - I put them in the water, bring it to a boil, then turn the burner off. Let them sit in the hot water for a minute or two. They're so wee that's all it takes.