April 6, 2013

Hedgehogs: Many Ways

Typical Pomeranian AND hedgehog sleeping pose.
Anyone who knows me is aware of my obsession with hedgehogs. I think it originated when someone once called my first Pomeranian (my breed of choice--I am on my fourth and fifth Poms right now) "a little hedgehog," and it henceforth became my favorite creature of nature (after Pomeranians, of course).

Hedgehogs have been domesticated to be indoor pets for some time now, although it is not an animal native to North America. I think if I had land and a happy little hollowed-out log on the property, I'd get a gaggle of hedgehogs to make their home there, to keep the bug population down, and to just plain be adorable when people came around.

In the meantime, I've satisfied my love for hedgehogs with making food that looks like hedgehogs, having perfected Flo Braker's hedgehog truffle, the hedgehog cookie (both decorated and shaped like one), and the hedgehog mini-cake, which used an individual egg cakelette pan and Hershey's swirled chocolate chips. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the one picture I had of those hedgehog mini-cakes, and Hershey's no longer makes those swirled chocolate chips. So it really was a one-of-a-kind! Most of the rest of my hedgehog food art over the years is pictured here, including one nonfood item, the hedgehog pompom, discovered on Pinterest and executed by my mother-in-law during her visit here over Christmas. He'll make an adorable Christmas ornament for next year!

But my two favorite "hedgehogs" of all time are my Pomeranian and Pomapoo. They puff up with happiness upon seeing you, and they often turn upside down and stick their feet in the air, usually while sleeping, much like a real hedgehog. And I'll take mounds of fur over prickly points any day!

I've shared the recipe for my shaped hedgehog cookie here, which is the spotlight at my new Facebook page. My catering business is going through a rebranding (new year, new name!), and so of course, I celebrated with hedgehogs. This blog will officially be moving over to my new site, Spoonfoolery. You'll be able to shop online for jams, sauces, granola, and other shelf-stable sweet stuff, as well as catch up on food news and new recipes at the blog link there. Thank you for being a fan, and I hope you'll continue your readership!

November 12, 2012

Happy Diwali (Deepavali)!

The Diwali (Deepavali in South India) celebration is all about the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, pluses over minuses... you get the picture! The original Sanskrit word, Deepavali, translates directly into "row of lights." Hence, it has come to be known around the world as the Festival of Lights, a five-day celebration of Hindu faith.

The third day of the festival is the actual Diwali holiday (this year, it's November 13), when Hindu followers pray to the goddess Lakshmi, goddess of beauty, wealth, and wisdom. They pay tribute to her by lighting oil lamps at night all around their homes, hanging colorful lanterns and lights, and shooting fireworks. And what's a religious holiday without sharing some fabulous food with family and friends? In that respect, Diwali for Hindu families is no different than Easter and Christmas for Christian ones. Growing up in southern Missouri didn't offer us many opportunities as a family to get some real Diwali celebrations going like my parents probably would have preferred, but I enjoyed becoming more involved with it in the more diverse communities I lived in as I got older. My college town, Columbia, Mo., was home to a wonderful Indian community that hosted numerous events on my college campus. Here in Chicago, my husband and I enjoy a lively Indian cultural scene, including many traditional bharatanatyam dance performances throughout the year and boasting some of the best Indian restaurants in the country. Our first date was at Hema's Kitchen, a traditional North Indian fare BYOB, nearly 6 years ago. On occasion, we like to track down Hema herself at her second location in Lincoln Park, where we dined that telltale day, and remind her of how the aromatics in her fine food aligned our stars!

This year though, I started celebrating a day early with last night's Honey-Pepper-Glazed Lamb Chops with Blue Jalapeño Cornbread. It's a bit off the traditional Indian food mark, thanks to so many years of being influenced by all the other food cultures in the United States. You can make your own marinade for the lamb chops here, or pick up some Bollywood Sprinkle from my Web site and substitute that for the spice mixture. Blue cornmeal is so unique and much more flavorful than plain yellow. You can find it in most baking aisles in the Bob's Red Mill section.

As for dessert, I highly recommend something with chai or pistachio. This entry from 2010, Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies, goes perfectly with this fusion meal. Dunk a few in some chai tea after dinner, and you'll be transported to Mumbai in moments. Now, go fire up some lamps and lanterns, and celebrate the lightness in your life!

Honey-Pepper Glazed Lamb Chops

4 good-size lamb shoulder chops (about 2 lbs total), fat trimmed and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Place the lamb chops on a plate in a single layer. Combine the first five ingredients (salt through pepper) in a small bowl and sprinkle on both sides of each lamb chop. Place inside zippered plastic bag, and drizzle in honey and oil. (If using Bollywood Sprinkle, omit honey.) Seal bag tightly and shake to spread mixture evenly over chops. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat a grill pan on high, coat with cooking spray, and grill chops 6 minutes each side for medium/medium well; 4 minutes each side for medium rare. Serve with sour cream mixed with horseradish, basil pesto, and harissa (1/4 cup sour cream, 1 tsp horseradish, 1 tsp basil pesto, 1/2 tsp harissa). Serves 4.

Blue Jalapeno Cornbread 

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup blue cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup pepitas, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9˝ round baking pan with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray again. Set aside. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir with whisk and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, whisk together honey, buttermilk, butter, and eggs. Pour into well in flour mixture and mix well. Fold in corn and jalapeno. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle pepitas on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes and slice into wedges. Serves 8.

October 30, 2012

Spooky Spider Cake, Nutella Edition!

All hallows eve... A time for pumpkin carving, costume making, and as usual around here, cake making. I've got a thing for spiders this year, having so far made them using chocolate M&Ms (using sprinkles for tiny spider feet on M&Ms as cupcake toppers or on cookies with royal icing feet) and with buttercream, randomly planted all over this tasty Nutella-inspired cake.

I found the original recipe for an awesome marble cake complete with chocolate ganache spiders on the Cooking Channel's site. However, the original seems to be rather complicated and requires three pages of directions to execute. I simplified it pretty dramatically below, and I even introduced more Nutella into the cake portion of the recipe (the original only calls for it in the frosting). Let me just say, this Nutella fudge frosting may perhaps be my new favorite cake topping. Let's just admit it: Nutella in anything improves things tenfold! Put it in cake and frosting, and well, you'll be in cake coma in no time!

So what is the deal with Nutella? This site provides the complete lowdown on Nutella. Created by Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferraro using hazelnuts to compensate for a cocoa shortage due to World War II food rationing in Italy, it didn't actually make it onto the food scene in the United States until the early 1980s. And as many things go in the world of food, it has since garnered its own day of celebration, World Nutella Day, February 5. I'll put a reminder into my calendar now to give you all another recipe for celebrating this February!

In the meantime, enjoy making this Nutella marble cake this Halloween and share it with the spooky spiders in your life!

Nutella Marble Cake

2 1/4 cups (7.25 ounces) cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated cane sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup light sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
3 tablespoons Nutella
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (baking cocoa, not hot cocoa mix)

Nutella Fudge Frosting

1 cup (8 ounces) egg whites (from about 8 large eggs)
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 1/2 lbs (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoon-size chunks
pinch of salt
1/2 cup Nutella
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (65% cacao), melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Black gel food coloring

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray (preferably with flour). Line with parchment and spray again. Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, place butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk in three batches. Split the batter in half and sift cocoa powder over half. Add Nutella to cocoa powder half and mix well. Alternate scoops of vanilla batter and Nutella batter to cake rounds until completely divided evenly among the pans. Drag a butter knife or small rubber spatula thru batters until marblelized. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes clean. Allow to cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on racks completely.

For the frosting: In the top portion of a double boiler or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and sugar. Mixture will be grainy. Turn up heat on pan with water to medium-high and place bowl with egg white mixture on top. Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160°F on a candy or probe thermometer. (Do not leave unattended or egg whites will cook!) Remove bowl from heat and beat on high until stiff shiny peaks, about 7 minutes. Make sure the bowl has cooled off significantly before adding the butter. Lower speed and add butter in tablespoon-size chunks, mixing well after every 2-3 tablespoons. Add salt and vanilla and mix well. Remove from mixer and fold in Nutella and cooled melted chocolate.

Assembly: Place cooled cake round on 10" coated cardboard cake circle. Frost top of round with Nutella Fudge Frosting. Repeat with remaining layers and frost top and sides with one crumb coat. Refrigerate 15 minutes and apply final outer layer of frosting. Pipe border with Nutella Fudge Frusting. Tint a half cup of frosting black using gel food color. Pipe spiderweb and spiders as shown. Serves 12-14. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note: The above frosting recipe begins with a standard Swiss meringue buttercream. If you stop before adding the Nutella and melted chocolate, you have a basic vanilla buttercream. For a white chocolate buttercream, add 4 ounces cooled melted white chocolate. For a chocolate buttercream, add 4 ounces cooled melted dark chocolate and 3 tablespoons cocoa (sift over buttercream before mixing in).

August 5, 2012

Summer on the Rocks

Seems like the dog days of summer are when you really start getting creative with your drink. Worn down from patio parties with spiked lemonade, after-work beer garden boredom, and a plethora of picnics in the park with sparkling wine or rosé, you might be ready for some real on-the-rocks creativity.

Whiskey cocktails are no longer nouveau, I know. They seem so last season these days, but mix them with beer and in-season fruit, and you have a whole new concoction. That's what this first recipe does, with rye whiskey, IPA, and peaches. The Summit Solstice, adapted from a recipe created by Sean Marron, the wine director at The Farm in Park City, UT, is a refreshing and light beer-whiskey cocktail. White tea in a complimentary flavor may be hard to come by, but it's worth looking for if you want to make a serious Summit Solstice. I used Revolution brand white pear tea, which I found in a specialty foods store on Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile. You can purchase it online here, and it is well worth the shipping cost, even for when you just want a cuppa tea later this winter. As for a good rye whiskey, I recommend Templeton, FEW, or Whipper Snapper. The original recipe calls for a bourbon-rye blend, but rye on its own will do the trick. If you want to be able to make this drink year-around, when peaches aren't in season, indulge in a little white peach purée from Perfect Puree. You can keep it frozen and thaw what you need. And lastly, I know these hot days can suss you up plenty, so if you need to cut the alcohol a bit, dilute with sparkling water or club soda.

I've also included a white peach sangria recipe, that was a huge hit at my last book club gathering, with both the gentlemen and the ladies, surprisingly. Traditional red sangria is often anyone's toast for tapas on the town, but white or blush drinks in general, namely white wines and champagnes, tend to be favorites of the females in any crowd. This recipe is derived from one I used long ago, when I began throwing dinner parties fresh out of grad school at my very first home in St. Louis. Multiple moves and too many donations to libraries later, I can't find the cookbook from which I originally gleaned it. So I made this up that evening with my book club, and to my relief, it went over very well! You can also substitute white grape juice or pear nectar, as white cranberry peach juice can also sometimes be hard to find, especially sans high fructose corn syrup and other additives. However, it's well worth searching for. The drink is perfection in a rocks glass. Happy final days of summering!

Summit Solstice (adapted from The Farm)

2 teaspoons diced fresh peaches or thawed peach purée
6 mint leaves
3 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
1 ounce white tea syrup*
2 ounce IPA or Domaine DuPage French Country Ale (my personal favorite)
peach slices for garnish

Fill two rocks glasses with ice and set aside. Combine the peaches or purée and mint leaves in a mixing glass and muddle well. Add whiskey and white tea syrup and shake. Strain evenly into rocks glasses and top with beer. Garnish with peach slices and serve. Serves 2.

*For the White Tea Syrup: Steep four (4) bags Revolution White Pear Tea in 12 ounces boiling water for 1 hour. Remove tea bags and add 10 ounces powdered sugar. Whisk to dissolve. Seal extra tea syrup tightly in a bottle or jar and store in a cool, dry place.

White Peach Sangria

1/2 cup Triple Sec, Cointreau, or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup brandy
1 750-ml bottle Cupcake Prosecco
1 regular-size bottle Ocean Spray White Cran-Peach Juice Drink
1 peach, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup seedless white grapes
handful of fresh cranberries
1 lemon seeded and sliced

This recipe feeds a crowd, so set up two equivalent-size pitchers and split everything equally between the two. Place 1/4 cup orange liqueur and 1/4 cup brandy in each pitcher, then split the bottle of Prosecco and juice drink evenly between the two pitchers. Float the fruit in equal amounts on top and keep chilled until serving. Fill wine glasses with ice and serve. Serves 12-16.

July 19, 2012

Tres (Leches) Bien!

If you've never tried tres leches cake, then you're missing one of the most caketastic experiences out there! My favorite place around town to enjoy this delectable south-of-the-border treat is at Depot Nuevo in oddly enough, Wilmette, Ill. After years of living on Chicago's West Side and frequenting plenty of taquerias and Mexican food joints, I'm surprised I found the sweetest of all sponges here on the North Shore.

Soaked so perfectly in the infamous three milks (most commonly, whole milk or heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk) and topped with strawberries and cream, the folks at Depot Nuevo have it down pat.

There is some mystery surrounding its origins. Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and even Cuba have claimed to be the birthplace of it, and food historians have cited evidence of the recipe showing up on the backs of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk cans in an effort to promote the product. Both types of milk offered manufacturers a way of getting dairy to the public in a more preserved way. And how brilliant a move to encourage folks to make dessert with these fabulous "canned milks"!

I recently came across a great coconut version, received from my good friend and former coworker, Chef S. No one makes pico de gallo like Chef S, so when he posted this mango tres leches cake on Facebook the other day, I knew I had to try it. The funny thing was, I had leftover coconut cake batter from a tried and true recipe I've always used, so I bypassed most of the New York Times cake recipe and made only the three-milk syrup and mango topping from it, using my cake batter for the sponge instead. So the following recipe is a hybrid of sorts--a bit simpler than the original from my friend, as you don't have to separate eggs and incorporate whipped whites separately. A much speedier version!

You can use any fruit topping you'd like, but I did maintain the mango puree in my version. I eliminated the brandy in the three-milk syrup and added Bacardi gold rum while processing the mango puree, which brings a nice-and-tipsy experience to the dessert. Serve this at your next taco party or burrito bash, and I assure you, it'll be polished off!

Coconut Mango Tres Leches Cake (adapted from the New York Times and Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)

For the Cake

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

For the Three-Milk Syrup

1/2 cup milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 can (15 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

For the Topping

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, very lightly toasted
2 cups diced mango
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup gold rum

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray, line with parchment and spray again.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a separate small bowl or glass measure, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and coconut extract. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg white mixture and mix until combined. Add flour mixture alternately with coconut milk in three additions, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down bowl periodically to ensure incorporation. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes clean. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing milk syrup.

For three-milk syrup, combine milk, coconut milk, and condensed milk in a small saucepan and whisk until bubbly and steaming. Poke cake with fork all over and pour milk syrup over cake, allowing to soak through. You should be able to use all the syrup. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

To serve, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Spread on top of cake and sprinkle with almonds. Puree mango in food processor or using a hand blender. Pour into small saucepan and add sugar, vanilla, and rum. Heat through until bubbly and sugar is dissolved. Drizzle over cake slices before serving. Makes 18 servings.

June 19, 2012

Cooling Down with Lemon Curd and Yogurt Pops

Today marks the twelfth day of 90-degree weather in Chicago this year. If this is late spring, who knows what summer will bring us!

You can cool off with homemade yogurt ice pops, a tasty treat that can be made at home for dollars less than what's in your grocer's freezer. Try my lemon curd and yogurt pops. You can even layer in fresh berries for a really pretty presentation and fruity kick.

As for pop molds, mine are some fancy schmancy ones given to me as a housewarming gift from Crate & Barrel years ago. The company no longer offers these, but it does currently have this fun set available. There are plenty to choose from, and places you'd never expect to carry such an item do, such as Whole Foods, The Container Store, and Walgreens. You can also always fall back on the trusty Dixie-Cup-covered-in-plastic-wrap-and-stuck-with-a-popsicle stick setup. Whatever works and gets you cooled off faster!

There are numerous cookbooks out there all about ice pops, and I've even given one as a gift before. But I personally like to wing it, sometimes simply pureeing leftover berries or bananas and mixing them in with yogurt and freezing. I'm also a sucker for homemade Jell-O pudding pops, especially that Martian green atrocity, pistachio pudding. My mom used to make Bundt cakes with a package of pistachio pudding in them for an after-school snack, and to this day, I keep a few boxes around for pudding pops or to toss into a pound cake batter.

You can even make yourself a breakfast treat by layering granola or nuts in the pop mold cavities along with a flavored yogurt. When I commuted via train, I used to freeze Yoplait Custard Style yogurt and then eat it on the go as I rode the train into work. But I never thought to add granola to my morning frozen treat until I started making ice pops at home.

I used Meyer lemons when making the following version of lemon curd for my yogurt pops. They happened to be in season when I made the curd and canned it, plus I enjoy the floral scent of Meyer lemons over regular lemons, which takes away some of the standard tartness. This lemon curd recipe can easily become lime curd by substituting similar quantities of lime juice and zest. I used plain nonfat yogurt to avoid any added sugar or fat, since lemon curd already contains sugar, butter, and egg yolks. Additionally, this curd recipe makes a great cupcake, cake, or tart filling. It's even good just spread on buttermilk biscuits for Sunday brunch!

How ever you choose to "pop" it this summer, nothing matches the speed at which you can have a fun frozen treat at your fingertips when making ice pops. We're supposed to get a break in our weather here in Chicago by Thursday, so 'til then, I'll be cooling off with a nice batch of Lemon Curd and Yogurt Ice Pops!

Lemon/Lime Curd (from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book)

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons or 3 limes)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
6 tbsp unsalted butter

In a heavy saucepan, combine yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add zest and juice and whisk 1 minute longer. Cook gently over low heat, stirring until thickened, 10-15 minutes. (Do not allow eggs to scramble!) Remove from heat and stir in butter until completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool and then cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to surface of curd, and chill 1 hour.

For ice pops: Stir curd vigorously with whisk until smooth. Combine curd and 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt and mix until smooth. Pour into ice pop mold, insert sticks, and freeze 2 hours. To remove, run sides of mold under warm water until pops can be easily removed.

June 12, 2012

Wee Ones Scotch Quail Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are perhaps the lowest-fat way of enjoying an egg (except for maybe poached). Fried and scrambled sure make breakfast best, but what happens when you take said hard-boiled egg, wrap it in breakfast sausage, roll it in breadcrumbs, and deep fry that sucker to golden brown?

A heart attack maybe?

Scotch eggs are widely known as a delectable pub food, served appetizer-style, with mustard or remoulade. At least that's where I've seen them, on the menus of upper-crust Irish and English pubs around the gastrotown of Chicago. Scotch egg folklore says they originated as portable food for wealthy coach travelers in London, usually made of smaller hens' eggs (once wrapped in sausage and coated in breadcrumbs, today's American large and extra-large eggs would in fact make for a heart attack). They were meant to be made of various leftovers, the typical "poor-man's lunch."

Alternative stories take it all the way back to Indian origins, likening it to a soft fried meaty dumpling called kofta. Whatever's it's birthplace and birthright, it's a mighty tasty treat, and can be enjoyed less calorically.

I tried my hand at making what's known as Wee Ones, when I recently found quail eggs at a gourmet grocery store nearby. Quail eggs are typically more prevalent over the holidays, but when I chanced upon these beautiful babies, I decided to embark on making Wee Ones Scotch Quail Eggs using chicken sausage and a smaller egg. I served them with cheddar ale mustard and ranch dressing, along with a salad of cucumber, tomato, blue cheese, and chopped pecans. Absolutely delicious, and despite the deep frying, smaller eggs and chicken sausage made us feel somewhat better about consuming so much cholesterol at once. I certainly wouldn't make these a monthly menu offering in our house, but for one-time fun, they were truly awesome!

This recipe makes 18, only because the grocery store where I purchased them sold them by the dozen-and-a-half. I've supplied a link to purchase them online in increments of 2 dozen, but check any specialty store in your area. Whole Foods in my area did not have them, so you need to consider a smaller, more specialized gourmet grocery store.

Wee Ones Scotch Quail Eggs (adapted from Scrumptious)

18 quail eggs 
1/2 lb fresh chicken sausage, casings removed
6 fresh sage leaves, very finely minced
the finely grated zest of a lemon
a pinch of cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
a pinch of allspice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and milled black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs (
Panko crumbs are ideal)
mustard and salad dressing of your choice

Bring a large, deep pot of water to a gentle rolling boil. Place all the eggs in a large metal sieve and immerse it very slowly in the boiling water. Very gently and slowly, tilt the sieve so all the eggs roll out into the boiling water. Boil the eggs for exactly two minutes and 20 seconds (set a timer!). Pour off the boiling water and fill the pot to the brim with cold water from the tap. Leave the pot under a trickling cold tap for 7 minutes, allowing the water to spill over the edges.

Drain the eggs, gently crack the shells and peel them. The shells should come away easily, but if they do not, peel them under cold running water. Pat the eggs dry and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sausage, sage, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, allspice, and nutmeg and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide the sausage meat into 18 equal portions. Roll a portion into a ball, flatten it in the palm of your hand to make a patty and put a cooked quail’s egg on top.  Gently wrap the the meat around the egg to enclose it completely, pinching the mixture to close any gaps. Now roll the ball delicately between your palms to create a pleasing egg shape. Repeat with the remaining eggs.  Put the eggs on a plate, cover with clingfilm and chill again for 30 minutes.

Place the flour on one large plate, the beaten eggs in a small bowl, and the breadcrumbs on the second large plate. Line a final plate with paper towels and set aside. Roll the Scotch eggs in the flour and shake to remove the excess. Dip the eggs in the beaten egg yolk, then roll them gently in the breadcrumbs, patting down gently so that the crumbs stick.  Fill a wok or deep fryer halfway with vegetable to 325ºF. Fry the eggs, four or five at a time, for 4-1/2 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove and drain on paper-towel-lined plate.

Serve immediately with mustard and dressing of your choice. Serves 6-8.