Feuillete roughly translates as 'leaves', represented in this dish by the layers of puff pastry. The addition of Madeira to the pastry lends this quail egg recipe from Geoffrey Smeddle an enticing sweetness, particularly when smothered with hollandaise sauce. Quail eggs can be difficult to peel, so it's best to boil a few extra and to use up any broken ones in a salad or sandwich. This is delicious served as a starter.
24 quail eggs
1 packet of puff pastry
1 banana shallot, finely diced
1 knob of butter
500g of button mushrooms
1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
100ml of Madeira
2 egg yolks
1 banana shallot, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tarragon stalk
1 sprig of thyme
150ml of white wine vinegar
200g of butter, melted
Cook the eggs in a pan of boiling water – in batches of six or eight – for 2 minutes 40 seconds, then lift out into iced water. Once all the eggs are cooked, peel them and refrigerate until needed.
Roll out the pastry into four 4cm x 14cm rectangles, no more than 3mm thick. Transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, making sure the pastry rectangles do not touch as they cook.
Refrigerate the tray for at least an hour before baking in the oven at 200°C/Gas mark 6 until golden brown. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.
Fry the diced shallot gently with the butter until soft. Blitz the mushrooms in a food processor and add to the shallot in the pan with the thyme.
Fry for 10 minutes, adding oil and butter if needed. Add the Madeira and fry until you have a compote-like consistency, then set aside.
To make the hollandaise sauce, whisk the yolks in a bowl over a pan of warm water until doubled in volume. Place the shallot, peppercorns, tarragon stalk and sprig of thyme in a pan with the vinegar. Reduce by half then strain through a sieve, saving the liquid.
Pour the melted butter over the yolks, whisking all the time. Season with salt, add a little of the vinegar reduction and a squeeze of lemon juice, then whisk and taste.
If it tastes fatty, add more vinegar reduction; if it’s too acidic add more butter. Store in a bowl over hot (not boiling) water, covering the surface of the sauce with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.
Warm the pastry in the oven while warming the mushrooms in a pan. Spoon the mushroom mix along the pastry, making indentations in the mix for the eggs to sit.
Finish the eggs in a pan of simmering salted water for 45 seconds then lift out, season lightly with pepper and place on the pastry and mushroom base. Spoon on the hollandaise and serve at once.