It's officially Fall or perhaps even bordering on Winter. However, despite the temperatures hovering in the 50s and the heater coming on already, there hardly any other evidence of the season that has sneaked (a sarcastic misnomer here) upon us with a surprising suddenness this year. I mean, it was barmy yesterday and today, what do you know, it's frosty!
In the city, there is hardly any change in foliage. The two trees outside my apartment are still a vibrant green with perhaps a scant few leaves hesitatingly siding with the season. But, last weekend, I got my first real evidence of the changing time of the year. Upstate New York, near the Catskills area, there were trees that were glowing amber especially in the gorgeous late afternoon sun.
It was beautiful, in a very chilled, ethereal sense. The sun was still out and mightily working herself to warm the day. But, as soon as she was gone, the beauty almost seemed to fade away as the cold seeped in unhesitatingly and we wrapped ourselves in multiple layers to walk just 5 minutes to the neighbouring diner. The nights even dipped dangerously close to the 30s.. Brr!!
We came back to a city, which, we had left only a couple of days back undecided between Summer and after, now decidedly moving on towards shorter and colder days. Still, the leaves are green but I don't think for long. I am rather anxious that it's going be a sudden metamorphosis to barren! :( Hopefully not!
Meanwhile, our craving for foods like soups and stews has already kicked in. It seems like the body has an internal clock. The first hint of a nip in the air and the brain frantically sends messages to all the senses to seek immediate solace in the warming to the hands and the soul! :)
Suddenly, I feel like luxuriating over our dinners. The thought of roasting meats and vegetables in the oven and slow cooking over the stove have been growing over me ever so enticingly. And, only a short few weeks back I wouldn't even consider turning on the oven for staples like cake! I even attempted successfully, many times, to escape the reflected and refracted heat of the city to the cool recesses of the Westin in NJ! :)
It's the perfect time for risottos and stuffed birds. As we inch closer to Thanksgiving, I can definitely use the practise and new recipes! ;-). This one again was inspired by the bounty of Fall fruits that seem to have taken permanent abode in our little apartment. It's really becoming a case of "Here an Pear, there an pear, every where an pear-pear!" Old Macdonald's orchard indeed! :)
My choice of poultry was the delicate quail. I love quail. For a tiny bird, it packs a lovely punch of flavor. I stuffed the quail with a mixture of bread, nuts, pears and chocolate. Extending the fruit and chocolate theme, I used a pomegranate cocoa reduction to glaze the bird while roasting. I served the whole bird over a bed of a simple herb risotto.
It was the perfect meal to begin the season.... :)
Pomegranate and Cocoa Glazed and Pear Stuffed Quail
For the stuffing:
1 Bartlett Pear, peeled, cored and diced
2 oz of dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 sliced of white bread, corners cut and cubed small
2 T pistachios, chopped
1 tsp milk
1-1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 tsp cocoa powder
3 T honey
Salt, pepper and olive oil as needed
To make the glaze, bring the glaze ingredients to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced to a third. Set aside.
Combine the stuffing ingredients together and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, oil and season the bird with salt and pepper on the outside and inside the cavity. Gently stuff the bird with the filling and tie the legs with twine to keep the stuffing in. Baste the bird all over with the glaze. Place the bird in an oiled roasting pan.
Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes. Halfway through, flip the bird over and baste again. Once done, baste the bird once more before serving over the risotto. Drizzle the pomegranate reduction over the dish and serve.