Gougeres With Quail Eggs - The French Breakfast Sandwich

Hi, I'm a recipe for gougeres filled with quail eggs. I am what you desire most for breakfast. I am what you should make for brunch this weekend. I am your friend.
I'm writing this post on a Friday night. A wild Friday night. I've got a scoop of gelato and a slice of flourless chocolate cake made from Audrey Hepburn's recipe (I feel like that almost makes up for the bizarre reality that Kim Kardashian just bought Jackie Kennedy's Cartier watch). Close at hand is a monumental stack of cookbooks. I love my cookbooks so much. I love flipping through and reading bits of them and looking at all the lovely things there are left in the world to make. And then, even when not cooking, I like to have them next to me, sort of cheering me on as it were. Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1) and Audrey Hepburn (Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen) and Andie Mitchell (Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook) and Renee Erickson (A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories) looking at me from their gorgeous hard covers, telling me my ideas are valid. You know, because everyone gets confidence boosts from their cookbooks. It isn't that I expect to ever be as good at cooking as the men and women who wrote the cookbooks I love, but I enjoy the silent, talented host. I enjoy knowing that when I open Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 I'll have Julia there convincing me that there is nothing easier than making quenelles now that we have food processors. I like that. It feels like having access to a sort of culinary throne-room. If I read the steps and follow the steps and don't try to cut corners, things will go all right. It works inversely too - when I do have a unique idea, I often check it against these cookbooks to see if it (or something similar) has been done. For these reasons, among others, I will never fully give up flesh-and-blood cookbooks and maybe neither should you.

This week's culinary triumph was something I didn't realize I had always wanted in my life. Don't you love when that happens? It turns out that it takes quite a lot of effort to use up two dozen quail eggs and I knew that I wanted to do something....something cute with them for lack of a less basic term. My mind lazily blew back through memories of flipping through one of my cookbooks and seeing a recipe for gougeres. I've never eaten gougeres before but, being under the vague impression that they were sort of like a cream puff, but cheesy, I had a vision of savory puffs filled with quail eggs instead of pastry cream. My recent binge-watching of The Great British Baking Show is good for something - it has taught me the terrors of putting too much moisture into things that oughtn't to be moist at all. I knew that if I was intending to bastardize gougeres, I would need to do it well. And that meant not creating a dreaded soggy-bottom with the puff base. Here I turned both to Renee's and Julia's books (mentioned above) and between the two I was able to clap together delicious, cheesy puffs. When cooked, the tops are cut off and set aside, any superfluous interior plucked away (cook's treat!) and the quail eggs cracked inside. The gougeres are then put into a 425 degree oven to get nice and toasty (they legitimately taste like Cheez-Its at this point) and when the white is just set and the yolks are still runny, you take them out, clap a spig of thyme onto their faces, and eat the whole thing. Let me explain something: imagine the yummiest croissant breakfast sandwich you've ever eaten and multiply that satisfaction by about fourteen. Then realize you can have about four of these for the same amount of calories. Yes, your life has been brightened by the light of a quail-egg cheese-pastry. Mine has been too. Let us thank both French cookery and tiny little quail eggs. God bless 'em both. If the idea of making a stove-top dough that is then supposed to actually puff well intimidates you, be encouraged by Julia Child's notes:
"You cannot fail with puff shells - as mounds of pate a choux puff and brown automatically in a hot oven..."
Remember to pierce the side of each puff when you remove it from the oven to release extra steam and they'll be right as rain.

Gougeres With Quail Eggs
makes two-dozen gougeres
1/2 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Flaky sea salt
2 dozen quail eggs*
a handful of thyme sprigs
*you may fill as many or as few gougeres with eggs as you wish. The amount called-for is presuming you would like to fill all of your gougeres. However, the desired number of gougeres may be filled and the others frozen until needed.

  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, heat the butter, milk, salt, paprika, and nutmeg until the butter has completely melted. Add the flour, stirring/smearing constantly until a film forms over the bottom of the saucepan and the dough has come together and left the sides of the pan.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and allow the dough to cool for ten minutes. With a large wooden spoon (or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), beat in eggs one at a time, stirring until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat for a few extra moments after adding the final egg to be sure your dough is well mixed. It will be thick, about the consistency of sugar cookie dough - this should take about five minutes or until your arms fall off.
  3. Add grated Gruyere cheese at this stage and mix well.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper. Spoon your dough into a pastry bag, a ziplock with the corner cut, or simply use two spoons and form mounds on your trays, about 1" long and about 1/2" high. You want your gougeres to be compatible with the size of your quail eggs for an even distribution of filling, so don't form them too large. Sprinkle tops with flaky salt.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then drop the temperature to 375 for an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven, then bring oven temperature back up to 400 degrees F.
  6. Allow the gougeres to cool on the tray for five minutes. Slit the side of each puff to allow steam to escape. When partially cool, cut the "lids" horizontally from gougeres. Crack one quail egg into the hollow interior of each gougere and then return trays to oven. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are just set. Remove from oven, top with fresh thyme, and serve immediately.

Tea-Infused Marbled Quail Eggs


From one end of the world to another for centuries upon centuries upon centuries, quail eggs have been and are still considered a delicacy. And though they are to ancient taste, they are to modern taste as well. In good restaurants (or on Instagram if you'd rather) one can have quail eggs on toast. Salad with hard-boiled quail eggs. Quail egg (shells) filled with chocolate. Tiny, fried quail eggs. Poached quail eggs.  You can do pretty much anything to a quail egg that you could do to a chicken egg...provided you can afford them. These diminutive, speckled eggs are a delicacy so delicate that, in fact, I've never had the financial stamina to buy any. Last I checked, hoping the words "delicacy" and "expensive" had divorced ways, the eggs of quail were going for $6.99 per dozen (or was it per fifteen?). My hopes were, of course, put on hold. I would just have to keep doing without adorable, miniature eggs on my toast. That is until my mom texted me this past weekend while I was in New York City: 
"I bought you a present at the farmers' market. Wanna know what it is???"
Next came a photo of two dozen darling quail eggs packaged neatly in cartons. "$3 for two dozen." 24 perfect quail eggs for a third of the price (give or take) of those sold anywhere else I'd looked. Apparently the seller is married to an Asian woman who is fond of the eggs. "She sort of pickles them" he told my mom. "But I don't know what else anyone would want to use them for." And so, bless his logic, he sells twice as many tiny eggs for the same price as a dozen hen-eggs. I'm just praying the guy continues along in his blessed ignorance and never comes to the realization that most people would ask at least ten dollars more. Inspired by the egg seller's Asian wife (and the fact that we didn't have any soy sauce with which to try Momofuku's soy sauce eggs) I decided to marble some of my quail eggs with Assam tea. To make tea-marbled quail eggs, you simply boil the eggs, crack their shells all over with the back of a teaspoon, and then simmer the cracked eggs once more in a strong brew made of tea and spices. The process is simple, the effect stunning and somehow...I don't know...antique. You can eat the eggs by themselves, dip them in a spiced salt blend, or even slice them into salads. I love the slight smoky-spice flavor imparted by the tea paired with the silky quail eggs. But if you don't have a lucky egg seller, don't worry! This recipe will work just as well with ordinary chicken eggs. Trust the spice blend and, if desired, throw in some star anise and actual cinnamon sticks. The spicier you make it, the more mysterious and cunning the final flavor will be.






Tea-Infused Marble Quail Eggs

1 dozen fresh quail eggs
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 Tablespoons loose leaf black tea (I used and Assam blend)*
*you may substitute four large tea bags for the loose-leaf tea

  1. Bring water in a small saucepan to a rolling boil on the stove, then add quail eggs. Hard-boil, about 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water until cool enough to handle.
  2. Crack the egg shells with the back of a spoon all over, careful not to displace the shell. You want to shatter the shells but keep them intact.
  3. Bring four cups of fresh water to boil in a large saucepan. When boiling, add the tea leaves, salt, and spices. Then add the quail eggs. Simmer on low for 40 minutes.
  4. Either strain eggs out or (for a deeper color), allow to steep in the brew for at least 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.

Disney Recipe: Creme de la Creme a la Edgar

Who else grew up in the era where Disney was king and nothing was a better mark of promising intellect than whether or not you could sing all of Bert's rap-style flattery from "It's a Jolly Holiday With Mary"? Like any other 90's kid, I wore my fair share of primary colors, horizontal stripes, and mysterious things such as "jelly shoes" and “stirrup pants.” And like any other 90's kid I watched Disney movies till I could quote every line and sing every song. Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Beauty & The Beast were stock favorites, but I also wept my heart out with Fox & The Hound, was mildly disturbed by Dumbo, shouted the lyrics in a gravel-y voice to all the Oliver & Company songs and watched The Jungle Book and Robin Hood religiously to see all the reused voices and dance scenes. Yes, Tumblr. We knew about those before you. There's a distinct reason that the casting of all Robin Hoods ever since have failed to satisfy me. Say what you will, none of them look quite enough like a red fox – can I get an amen? I know I am not the only Disney kid who always wondered what “the gray stuff” (it's delicious) tasted like. My vote was always something remarkably like gray pudding flavored like artificial grape soda. Apparently the “delicious” bit of that description failed to make any impression. Fanta-flavored pudding it was and I planned to opt out.
Creme de la crème a la Edgar, however, was a different case entirely. For as long as I can remember (and I can't remember a time when I had not seen The Aristocats) I wanted dibs on some crème de la crème a la Edgar. I didn't really care that it had sleeping powder or that it was not exactly culinary genius. I didn't care that it was made for cats or that it looked for all the world like peppered milk. It had to be delicious because A) its name was French, B) duh. Marie loved it. And while it seems kind of ridiculous for a girl who's almost twenty-five to develop a recipe based off an attempted murder weapon from a favorite childhood movie...I gave it a go anyway.

 The inspiration for this rendition of Edgar's creme de la creme comes from eggnog and a simple childhood drink called "hot vanilla" which is essentially a hot chocolate, sans chocolate. The resulting drink is smooth, rich, and perfectly "aristocat-ic." And the most important bit? It is thick enough to film over the back of a spoon which means it's definitely thick enough to film over the back of a cracker or cookie just like Roquefort. Maybe the biggest requirement of all! I love the fact that this is free from refined sugars, full of milk and honey (sleep-inducing things apart from the omitted sleeping pills!), and can be made dairy-free by substituting full fat coconut milk for the milk + cream.


Creme de la Creme a la Edgar
comfortably serves four

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
sprinklings of nutmeg and cinnamon

1.) Heat milk, cream, and honey in a medium saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
2.) In a small bowl whisk egg yolks. Ladle out a spoonful of the hot milk and add slowly to the egg yolks, mixing carefully to bring heat them slowly.
3.) Gradually add the egg yolks into the hot cream, then stir gently until slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla before scooping into mugs, then top with a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

5 Casual Ways To Spend Time In Norfolk, Virginia

Last week Time Magazine declared my home-town & environs the number one location in America for places where millennials are moving and settling! I mean, for the record, I loved Norfolk & Virginia Beach before it was cool. The region has come such a long way since I was a kid - growing up, nobody went to Norfolk unless you were headed to the Norfolk Zoo or maybe the Chrysler Museum on a Tuesday when admission was free. It was not considered safe, for one thing. For another, there was really nothing to do. Not so today. The great people of Hampton Roads have worked long and hard to bring a sort of revival to the region and guess what? It's working. During the last five or six years, Norfolk has become one of my favorite places to hang out with its constantly shifting and growing crowd of eateries and restaurants, shopping, and culture. You can see an opera the Harrison Opera House, check out the impressive (and constantly free) Chrysler Museum of Art, head to any number of bustling coffee shops, stroll past restored historic homes, shop at MacArthur Mall, grab dinner and drinks at Grain, the Main's rooftop beer garden, shop at an independent bookstore, try a delicious pastry at The Rustic Tart or an authentic French crepe at Lamia's, take a dinner cruise on the Elizabeth River, hang out with friends at Waterside, and go see a minor league baseball game at the Tide's Stadium all in the same two-mile square. No wonder people like Norfolk. We've worked hard to become one of the top fifty places to visit in 2017. Obviously I'm a little biased, but if anybody wants to visit Norfolk, VA this year, please don't forget to shoot me an email - lipstickandgelato(at)gmail(dot)com - and let me know you're arriving so we can grab coffee and maybe do this tour in person. I'll walk you through Freemason and Ghent and we can gawk at my favorite painting in the museum and maybe catch a concert at the Norva. If it's winter we'll ice skate at MacArthur Center. If it's summer maybe we'll overcome our fear of seasickness and learn to sail at Nauticus. And if your type is men or women in the Armed Forces...we've got a hecka lotta military bases to amp up your chances of meeting one you like. Kidding...kidding...but we are the East Coast epicenter of military activity. And to help you decide on the best possible way to spend your time while here, I've compiled my five favorite things to do during a free day in Norfolk, Virginia.

experience The Chrysler Museum of Art 
A friend of mine actually reprimanded me on his second visit to my native heath when I finally did take him here. "Why didn't you tell me you had an amazing art museum? We should have gone here last time." And it's kind of true. Not only is the Chrysler a free way to experience some serious art and culture for free, the collection includes one of the largest and most comprehensive glass collections in the world (as well as a glass studio with glass-blowing exhibitions on the grounds), a massive collection of American paintings and sculpture, modern, and contemporary art. There truly is something for every taste in art.

grab coffee at Cure Coffeehouse & Brasserie
This gem in the center of Norfolk's Freemason district swiftly became my favorite place when I first began hanging out in Norfolk. Not much has changed - I still willingly drive an hour for their lattes and am sitting inside the shop as I write this article. The staff is friendly, the neighborhood charming, and the rest of the downtown Norfolk just a pleasant stroll away. Go here. Fall in love. There is a reason it was voted Small Business of The Year in Norfolk. 

walk along Waterside
My favorite route for a wander 'round Norfolk is the park at the Chrysler Museum and head along the Hague River till you reach the "key bridge." Cross over Brambleton to Botetourt, then wander around to the Oriental Pagoda Gardens till you reach the Harbor. From here, follow the river around its curve to the recently renovated Waterside, or hop across the street to visit the glamorous new Main.

browse in Prince Books
I get predictably sentimental about independent bookstores because they basically make me feel like Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail. Prince Books is no exception to the "save it, it's adorable and we can't let it die" rule. Truly, though, this bookshop is staffed with knowledgeable, friendly people and holds a surprisingly comprehensive collection of children's books, cookbooks, novels, poetry, magazines, and classic literature for such a small shop. I'm always impressed and try to make book purchases here rather than the Barnes & Noble found just up the street.

eat at Commune NFK
We all know how much I love the food at Commune. It's fresh. It's locally sourced. It's creative - I mean, where else does one get cilantro ice cream and a constantly changing menu of impeccable food? The Norfolk location is even better than the Oceanfront original (in my opinion) because of its location in the NEON district: a restored brick "warehouse-style" building with a beautiful patina that speaks of Norfolk's history. If you have time for only one restaurant in Norfolk (ha) and want the full Virginia cuisine experience, eat here.

Ahhhhhhh, Norfolk. I feel like a proud parent watching her kid graduate. You've done well, babe. Keep growing big and strong and classy.

Slightly Weird Habits of Your Resident Food-Snob

You may have become the parent/partner/roommate of a food snob ("foodie" as they prefer to be called) if the following occurs when your resident human comes in contact with the presence (or subject) of food and he/she:
  • Wants your help with the meal but simultaneously asks you to please let it do the salad itself because you'll cut the cucumbers too thickly and the strawberries too chunky.
  • Must have the frosting on cakes perfectly smooth but the pastry on pies perfectly choppy. "Rustic," said human will call it.
  • Is the last to stop for bathrooms on a road-trip but the first to detect (and stop for) worthwhile food.
  • Will spend more money on gas to go in search of eclectic food than gas to get to work.
  • Talks about chefs the way you talk about celebrities
  • Doesn't consider any occasion a valid occasion for eating at McDonald's
  • Asks to stop in every bookstore just to read cookbooks. All the cookbooks. And screen-shots photos to bring home and cook from instead of actually buying cookbooks.
  • Knows the difference between Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton cheeses
  • Voluntarily points visitors to the best coffee shops in the district
  • Has a basic horror of eating at chain restaurants
  • Finds a way to bring the topic of croissants into every conversation ever.
  • Refers to "lamination" foremost as a pastry tactic, forgetting most people mean something office-related
  • Actually knows how to pronounce "banh-mi" and "momofuku"
  • Has considered naming their cat "Ottlenghi"
  • Gets routine cases of knife envy
  • Threatens to throw all your knives out
  • Obsessively sharpens your knives when you're not looking
  • Considers measurements to be suggestions rather than rules
  • Would gladly marry your Kitchen-Aid mixer if that was an option
  • Lovingly drizzles olive oil
  • Has a small harem of flavored salts
  • Has a healthy dread of humidity and what it might do to hopeful egg whites
  • Holds processed foods in abject horror
  • Wants you to understand how vital it is to eat local
  • Volunteers to eat the baby octopi which occasionally show up on a calamari plate
  • Religiously cleans the stove-top
  • Takes photos of everything you eat, before you have a chance to eat it
  • Routinely lets their food go cold in order to get a proper over-head shot without steam interference
  • Has no time for current news but reads Food52 religiously
  • Can tell you the difference between a confit and a compote
  • Quotes Julia Child as if she knows Julia Child, which she definitely doesn't.
  • Has nightmares of going truffle-hunting and ending up with some other kind of (perilous) mushroom
  • Insists on spending weekends at the farmers market
  • Orders lattes only at shops that create foam art
  • Comes home from vacation with a suitcase full of spices
  • Wonders if it is possible to smuggle foreign fruit trees through TSA
  • Cannot stomach airplane food
  • Can supreme citrus without watching a tutorial

 If your resident human displays any of the above traits, she may suffer from FSD (Food Snob Disorder). The condition is generally irreversible but can be assuaged by proper diet, solid reading, and unlimited experimentation with the ingredients in your kitchen. Occasionally humans suffering from FSD will turn their condition to a productive end, providing food for those in their household (and others) or even going on to culinary school and/or to open restaurants of their own. If left to their own devices, FSD sufferers will often replenish their good humor with an especially well-plated meal or unexpected flavor combination. Though FSD has no known cure, it can be managed by the above tactics. Give your Food Snob a pantry and a little bit of cookware and your FSD will in all likelihood live a long and well-fed life.

Dinner Party No. 2: Golden Vineyard

We're going, somewhere where the sun is shining bright
Just close your eyes, and let's pretend we're dancing in the street
In Barcelona

- Ed Sheeran "Barcelona"
While I recently exposed the fact that part of my reason for challenging myself to host six dinner parties in one year was to deepen and create friendships, that wasn't the whole scoop. I also wanted to host six dinner parties in one year because I think it's a shame that people get a pile of friends together for dinner and don't go through the (minimal) extra effort to make it an official dinner party. Julia Child held that a party without cake was just a meeting, but I say that any meeting with friends + food is a dinner party. Right? Please agree with me because maybe it's just me and I slap labels on things way too quickly. The theme for this second dinner party began with an antique French circus inspiration which rapidly changed into a sort of golden-hour vineyard fete when I realized A) I didn't have time to create the proper French circus feel B) I wanted a vineyard vibe.

I trekked to the farmers' market in Williamsburg early Saturday morning to grab some fresh produce - blueberries, raspberries which smelled like jam from clear across the plaza, lettuces, bleu cheese, etc. One thing I love about summertime is the game played by going to a farmers' market. You never can be sure what they'll have and whether or not your list must be changed last second to substitute or add the things you do find! Several items that almost made the cut were the zany-looking lion's mane mushrooms and French breakfast radishes which might as well have stepped out of a Beatrix Potter sketch.  I'm a sucker for that sort of unusual produce; the only reason I will drive over an hour to visit this market rather than the one fifteen minutes from home. When we got home it was straight into the kitchen for me which became my happy place as I prepped a load of sweet and savoury toppings for the liege waffles we were shortly to consume. Since this party happened on half a week's notice, we kept things simple: sweet waffles, savory waffles, grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Hibiscus tea and lemon-mint water to drink.

Three fantastic girls came to round out a party of seven, which included four of my family. They brought flowers and watched me press waffles in my poor, over-worked waffle iron. We carted the food out to our baby orchard and the rare sort of cool June evening which sometimes deigns to descend on Virginians once in a blue moon. We ate, drank, and made merry. And when it was all finished and we'd had our fill of the strangely compatible sweet and savory waffles, we came inside and swapped awkward-stage photos off Facebook and ate summer peaches like we'd never heard of winter. As far as supreme evenings go...this one was pretty dang fine.

Mamacita, rica, feel that summer breeze in Barcelona
Los otros, viva la vida, siempre vida Barcelona
-Ed Sheeran "Barcelona"

Well get up up on the dancefloor, move, it's a Saturday night
I fell in love with the sparkle in the moonlight
Reflected in your beautiful eyes, I guess that is destiny doing it right

- Ed Sheeran "Barcelona"

I'll do a sweet & savory waffle round up soon if anyone is interested in knowing exactly what we ended up topping our waffles with! I'd been thinking of a dinner party themed around liege waffles for so long that when we finally sat down to eat and I took the first bite, it felt like the fulfillment of a long-held dream. For this waffle we had planned and prayed. Yes, I'm a drama queen. Sue me. But the flavors speak for themselves! Two dinner parties down, four to go. I love having friends.