Sunday quail

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Because we’re quite busy in the evenings and at weekends renovating the little house that used to be our holiday home, we’re glad that some of the recipes in Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s wonderful Jerusalem book don’t take too long to prepare. Everyone who likes good food should have a copy of this book and every recipe from it that we’ve tried has turned out even better than we expected. Their dishes always seem to be more than the sum of their ingredients. Some of their ingredients are not so easy for us to find here but we’ve been helped by the arrival of our son bearing spices and other delights from London, as well as willingness to work on the house!

The Jerusalem braised quail with apricots, currants and tamarind made a delicious late lunch and reward for demolishing an old chimney today.

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The quail had been halved and marinaded overnight with ground cumin and fennel seeds before being simmered in white wine, water and lemon juice with dried apricots and currants. We ate them with plain rice and toasted pine nuts and drank a bottle of La Grange des Combes, a tasty red from the cave cooperative at Roquebrun. All very restoring after a hard morning’s work!

(I’m sure I’ve raved about this book before, but I think it merits being recommended again, and again, for its recipes, its approach to food and its photography: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Jerusalem, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Harvesting garlic and barbecuing quail

A hot lazy day in the garden.  We harvested the garlic, not as much of it as last year because I didn’t plant as much for some reason which I can’t quite remember now.  The heads aren’t as big as last year’s either, but it’s nice to have fresh garlic and some of it went straight on the barbecue for lunch.

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For lunch we barbecued some quails I’d marinaded in lemon juice, lemon zest and paprika earlier in the morning.  A very simple recipe which I’ve posted on my Food from the Mediterranean blog.

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Summer weather seems to have arrived at last, with the temperature at 31 C this afternoon at 4 p.m.

>Sunday lunch in the garden / le diner de dimanche au jardin

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For the past few weeks it’s been too hot to do much work in the garden, just watering (a lot), tying up the tomato plants and harvesting the produce. In a couple of weeks’ time we’ll have to start sowing the autumn and winter vegetables – lettuce, turnips, carrots – but it’s too hot now.

Depuis quelques semaines il fait trop chaud pour faire beaucoup de travail au jardin – on ne fait que l’arrosage (beaucoup) et la récolte de légumes. Dans deux ou trois semaines on commencera à semer les légumes d’automne et d’hiver – les salades, les carrots, les navets – mais en ce moment il fait trop chaud.

The garden is still a good place to entertain friends for a meal, though, as we did yesterday. / Le jardin est toujours un bon endroit pour inviter des amis pour manger, comme on a fait hier.

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plenty of shade and a paddling pool borrowed from a neighbour / beaucoup d’ombre et une piscine qu’un voisin nous a preté.

We started the meal with prawns and aioli (I posted the recipe for this when I made it last summer – here). The only difference is that now I make it with an electric whisk – much easier!

Nous avons commencé par des crevettes accompagnées d’un aioli – voir la recette ici.

Grilled quail / les cailles grillées

For the main course we cooked something I’ve wanted to try for a long time: quails wrapped in vine leaves and cooked on the barbecue.

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I put a garlic clove and a sprig of time inside each one, rolled them in olive oil, salt and pepper, wrapped them in vine leaves and tied the parcels with thread. Lo Jardinièr cooked them for about 20 minutes over a wood and charcoal fire. The vine leaves blackened, as you can see, but inside the quail were tender and delicious.

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With the quail we had baked vegetables – aubergines, courgettes, peppers, onions and tomatoes – garnished with basil and a squeeze of lemon juice and served cold, and Marseillette rice with coriander, cumin, onion, raisins and pine nuts.

We had a Roquefort and St Nectaire cheese and then a mirabelle (small plum) tart made with our neighbours’ fruit and recipe. The recipe will be on the Mediterranean cuisine blog.

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At the end of the afternoon, after a long lunch, we visited our friends’ garden where there is a beautiful old mill building which has been converted into a garden shed. And back in our garden to clear up, I noticed this butterfly on the dahlia. Another perfect Sunday!