Recipe Nikki Werner ras el hanout,

House and Leisure Food - - WINTER WARMTH -

1T olive oil 5 quails 2T (about 40ml)

RAS EL HANOUT, heaped salt and milled black pep­per

for the sauce

3 whole cloves 6 black pep­per­corns 1 thumb-length piece

of cin­na­mon stick 1T cumin seeds ½T car­damom pods,

lightly crushed 2 cups Shi­raz 2T soft, brown sugar 30g cho­co­late

(70% co­coa solids) 160g but­ter 2T good-qual­ity beef stock 60g (½ cup) dried cran­ber­ries

for the

bastilla ½ box ready-made

phyllo pas­try 100g but­ter, melted

(for brush­ing) 100g raw al­monds, toasted

and roughly ground 1 large egg, beaten good-qual­ity co­coa,

for dust­ing

Makes 8–10 small

bastilla Pre­heat the oven to 220°C. Rub olive oil into the quails, then sprin­kle the salt and pep­per over them, and rub into each one. Sear the quails on each side in a non­stick pan over a medium-high heat, un­til the skin is crisp and browned. (Take care to avoid burn­ing the spice mix.) Place them in a bak­ing dish and roast for 15 min­utes. Re­move from the oven, cover with foil and al­low to rest for 15 min­utes, while you lower the oven tem­per­a­ture to 180°C.

For the sauce, place all the spices in a small, heavy-based saucepan and toast, stir­ring now and then, un­til hot and fra­grant. Add the wine and brown sugar, and sim­mer un­til the liq­uid is re­duced by half. In the mean­time, melt the cho­co­late and but­ter in another small, heavy-based saucepan, whisk in the stock and heat this mix­ture through. Strain the wine liq­uid into the cho­co­late mix­ture and add the cran­ber­ries. Sim­mer the sauce for about two min­utes, then turn off the heat and al­low to cool.

Re­move all the meat from the quails (keep­ing the skin on where it is crisp) and dis­card the bones. Un­roll the phyllo pas­try and use half of the leaves. Cut the pile of phyllo leaves in half along the fold down the mid­dle. Cut the halves in half and the quar­ters in half again. This should give you eight piles of pas­try rec­tan­gles, all roughly the same size. Re­move three pieces and cover the rest with a damp tea towel. Brush but­ter over the first sheet and lightly sprin­kle some of the al­monds on top. Cover with another sheet of pas­try and do the same. Cover that with a third sheet and, this time, just brush with but­ter, then place a small hand­ful of the quail meat near one end of the rec­tan­gle. Top with two tea­spoons of sauce. Fold the short end of the pas­try over the meat and the two sides over that. Brush beaten egg over the longer side, roll up the pas­try par­cel and seal the end with some more beaten egg. Place on a greased bak­ing sheet and brush but­ter over the top. Re­peat this process un­til you have 8–10 bastilla and then bake for 15 min­utes, un­til a light golden colour. Re­move from the oven, dust co­coa pow­der over them (you could use a piece of lace or a doily as a sten­cil) and serve im­me­di­ately, while still hot.

Note: Ras el hanout is an aro­matic North African spice blend (a mix­ture of ground cumin, ginger, cin­na­mon, co­rian­der, cayenne, all­spice, cloves, and salt and pep­per) that is avail­able from spe­cial­ist food stores.

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