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A Botanical Feast: Quails In Rose Petals

pet4Preparing a celebratory meal is like making a love potion, it sums up the cook’s feelings for the recipient and the cooking process  transforms the dish into an edible metaphor of their affection.

Last January I carefully planned and prepared something really special for my boyfriend’s birthday.

Say it with flowers they say…and I pondered.

Then I remembered a recipe from one of my favourite novels “Like water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel. This is a love story where food is the means by which unspoken love is materialized and shared.

I made some changes to the original recipe, but the dish was indeed spectacular (If I may say so myself), boyfriend loved it and was more than delighted.

This recipe is a nice culinary challenge of intermediate difficulty, and I promise that you will dazzle a special someone with it.

To make 4 quails in rose petals you will need:
  • 2 cups of diced potatoes (To give it a nice touch I cut the potatoes in thick slices then used an apple corer to cut small cylinders)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp rose essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 12 blooming red roses
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 4 Quails
  • Some string to tie the quails’ legs.

Roses in bloom before spring proved to be particularly tricky to find, then the quails, which in contrast are quite easy to obtain.


Rinse the quails and make sure they’re absolutely clean inside. Let them dry on a kitchen towel.

The sauce.

Chop the cranberries in a food processor or by hand until you have a purée like consistency.

In a pot place the the cranberries and the sugar, cook at a medium heat moving constantly for about 5 minutes or until the cranberries loose their sharpness and the paste becomes sweet.


Using a mortar and pestle grind the cinnamon, 1 tsp coarse salt, 1 tsp of pepper and 1 tbsp of honey.

Hand pick the petals of 10 roses, rinse them and grind them. Using mortar and pestle will take time but it helped me achieve a very soft texture, you need to grind them into a paste.

You can always use a food processor.

Add some of the honey with every hand full of petals to moisten and emulsify the paste.

Then add this paste and 1 tbsp of butter to the cranberries and cook at a low heat for 5 to 8 minutes moving constantly, incorporate the rose essence and continue cooking.

Add some water if you need to, It should have a curry like density. Taste it to make sure it is sweet enough, roses can be slightly bitter.

Set the sauce apart when its ready.

The stuffing.

Chop the mushrooms. In a pot melt one tbsp of butter and sauté the onions for a couple of minutes, when they’re transparent and soft add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes at a medium heat.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs, mix to incorporate them evenly and let cool.

Stuff the quails using a teaspoon, tie the legs with a piece of string. I use little pieces of a wooden skewer to ensure that they wouldn’t lose shape when cooking.

Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a non stick pan, sear the quails, spoon the butter coating them and make sure they are evenly cooked, the skin must turn golden. This process will take about 8 minutes.

Preheat the oven at 180C

Boil the potatoes for 6 minutes and drain. Butter a baking dish and transfer the potatoes making a bed for the quails.

Brush the quails and bake for 25 minutes.






Warm up the remaining sauce.

Place some potatoes at the centre of a plate, arrange 3 quails. Brush with the warm sauce and decorate with the remaining petals.


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Instalments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. | How To Be The Hero Of Your Own Kitchen

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