Pastry Chefs Secret Ingredient — Duck Eggs

Pastured Duck Eggs

Located in the foothills of Watsonville, Mello-Dy Ranch is home to over 400 Khaki Campbells, a heritage breed of ducks. This five-generation family also grows apples, berries, squash, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, apricots, beans, lemons, persimmons, pears, along with pasture raised chickens, ducks and quail.

What’s the Difference Between a Chicken Egg and a Duck Egg?
If you’ve never tried duck eggs, you may be wondering how they differ from chicken eggs. Duck eggs are larger than some chicken eggs, but not by much. They are about the size of a jumbo chicken egg, slightly more oblong in shape, and have harder, off-white or grayish shells. The yolks are a deeper shade of orange gold than chicken eggs. Continue Reading →

How to Boil Perfect Quail Eggs

Quail-eggs-cooked1Fill a small saucepan two thirds full with water and bring to the boil.

Add the quail eggs using a spoon. Do not overcrowd the pan.

Boil for 2.5 to 4 minutes depending on your preference.

  • 2.5 minutes = soft boiled egg — white is set and the yolk is thick and runny.
  • 3.0 minutes = medium boiled egg — yolk is mostly set with a soft center.
  • 4.0 minutes = hard boiled egg — yolk is completely set and firm.

Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl filled with ice water.Allow to cool five minutes.

Remove from ice bath peel eggs carefully.

Salad of Arugula, Mizuna, Sprouts, Apples, and Quail Eggs with Balsamic Hazelnut Vinaigrette and Hazelnuts

Quail-egg-salad-1Boiled quail eggs have a sweet and nutty taste reminiscent of hazelnuts — hence, the inspiration for this salad. The soft creamy yolk is a nice foil for the crisp greens with their bit of bite and the crunch of the hazelnuts. Pieces of juicy crunchy apples are a perfect foil for the rest of the mélange. Be sure not to dress this salad too heavily or the flavors of the quail egg will get lost and the subtle interplay of all the flavors will disappear as well.

1 bunch (4 cups) arugula, cleaned and dried in bite-sized bits
1 bunch (4 cups) mizuna, cleaned and dried in bite-sized bits
1-2 bags mixed sprouts, as from New Natives
1 bunch water-cress (or Upland or pepper), if desired, washed and dried and torn into bite-sized bits
2 Mutsu apples, or other crisp sweet-tart apple, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 – 3/4 cup, or to taste, roasted and rubbed hazelnuts*, coarsely chopped
8-12 soft boiled** quail eggs, peeled (see cooking guide for quail eggs)
Salt (large flaky type such as Maldon, Murray River, etc.) and Pepper to taste
1 cup, or as needed, Balsamic Hazelnut Vinaigrette or Apple Balsamic Dressing 

In a large bowl, put together the arugula, mizuna, sprouts, and cress. Gently toss to mix well. Drizzle with just enough dressing to moisten the leaves and gently toss to coat. Add in the apples and half the hazelnuts and mix in. If the salad seems dry, lightly drizzle a little more dressing on it, but be sure not to make the salad wet.

Plate the salad on four chilled plates, then scatter with the rest of the nuts.
Season with a little pepper.

Slice the quail eggs and evenly distribute them amongst the salads. Season with a touch of salt, and serve.

Chef’s Notes:
* Roast the hazelnuts in a 300°F oven until they smell nutty and are golden. Be careful not to overcook. Place the toasted nuts in a nubby kitchen towel and vigorously rub them together to get much of the skin off. They taste milder and sweeter without the tannic skin on them.

** If you prefer hard boiled eggs, use them, but the bit of runny yolk goes nicely with the rest of the salad. View the yolk as part of the dressing.

YIELD: Serves: 4