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Pear, quail, walnut and blue cheese salad, by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel

16 October 2009
Pear, quail, walnut and blue cheese salad, by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel

Madalene Bonvini-Hamel is the founder of The British Larder.

(Serves four)



  • 250g Desiree potatoes
  • 50g strong flour
  • 30g semolina, plus extra for dusting
  • 75g crumbed mature Stilton cheese
  • 1 small free-range egg
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 100°C. Peel and roughly dice the potatoes, then boil them in salted water until soft. Drain the potatoes, lay them on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10-20 minutes to remove any excess water. Place the flour and semolina in a Thermomix and blend for 30 seconds on speed 10. While the potatoes are still warm, pass them through a food mill with the crumbed Stilton, milled flour and seasoning. Mix in the egg and rest the gnocchi mixture in the fridge for one hour.

Next, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Lightly dust a clean work surface with semolina, divide the gnocchi mixture into six even-sized balls, then roll each ball into a thin, long sausage with the diameter of a 20p piece. Cut each piece into 1.5cm long pillows, using a fork to mark one side of the gnocchi. Blanch the gnocchi in rapidly boiling salted water for two minutes, or until they float, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to an iced water bath to cool them rapidly. Drain the gnocchi and toss with olive oil. Keep them refrigerated until needed.



  • 4 quails' legs
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 60g chicken breast meat
  • 70ml double cream
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1tbs chopped watercress
  • 50g morel mushrooms
  • 1tsp unsalted butter
  • 6 slices of pancetta
  • Few drops of fresh lemon juice


Preheat the water bath to 68°C. Season the quails' legs with the salt and pepper, then place them in a vacuum bag with the lemon slices and the thyme. Seal on hard vacuum. Cook for 50 minutes in the water bath. Once cooked, cool in iced water. Flake the quails' leg meat from the bones and remove the skin. Sauté the morel mushrooms in the butter until golden, then drain them on kitchen paper and roughly chop.

Place the chicken breast meat in the Thermomix bowl, blend for 30 seconds on speed 10, scrape the sides down and repeat the process until the meat is smooth. Pass the chicken purée through a fine sieve to remove the connective tissue. Transfer to a small bowl, add seasoning and then whip in the cream bit by bit. Do not overwork the mousse.

Fold the flaked quail meat, chopped watercress and chopped sautéd morel mushrooms into the chicken mousse and season to taste. Transfer the mixture to a disposable piping bag.

Lay a double layer of clingfilm on the work surface. Cut the pancetta slices in half and lay them on the clingfilm to form a long rectangle.

Cut an opening in the piping bag about the size of a 20p piece, and pipe the mixture onto the pancetta slices. Roll the pancetta up to form a sausage with the help of the clingfilm. Secure the openings of the clingfilm. Poach the sausage in the preheated water bath at 68°C for 20 minutes, then cool it over ice. Reshape and roll the sausage up in clean clingfilm once chilled to secure the round shape. Set in the fridge.



  • 2 small quails' crowns
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 sprigs of thyme


Preheat the water bath to 68°C. Clean the quails' crowns and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Heat a non-stick frying pan, then season the crowns and sauté with the butter until golden brown all over. Place the crowns in two separate small vacuum bags with one slice of lemon and one sprig of thyme per bag. Seal on hard vacuum and cook for 20 minutes in the water bath.

Chill the crowns in iced water until completely cold. Next, remove the crowns from the bags, remove the breast from the carcass, drain on kitchen paper, and set aside until ready to serve.



  • 4 quails' eggs
  • 1 pickled walnut, drained
  • 1tbs Maldon Sea salt


Bring a small saucepan with water to the boil, add the quails' eggs and soft boil for two minutes and 30 seconds. Then, cool and peel the eggs, finely chop the pickled walnut, lay it on a tray and let it dry out. Add the salt and then return the dried chopped walnut and salt to the chopping board and chop until very fine. Roll each quails' egg in the pickled walnut salt, set aside.



  • 1 ripe Conference pear
  • 200ml water
  • 1.4g agar


Peel, core and slice the pear, then place it with the water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for six minutes. Purée the boiled pear, including the water.

Set a square flat container in position, not to be moved once the hot jelly is poured into the container. Return the pear purée to the heat, whisk in the agar and bring the purée to the boil for one minute. Pour the hot pear jelly into the container, leave to set at room temperature, and do not move the container before the jelly is set, as any agitation will prevent it from setting.



  • 1 firm Conference pear
  • 1tsp Rowse Scottish heather honey
  • 1tsp unsalted butter


Peel, core and quarter the pear. Cut each quarter into five pieces and place in a vacuum bag. Add the honey and seal on hard vacuum; let the pears macerate overnight.

Open the pouch and drain the pears. Heat a small non-stick frying pan with the butter, and once the butter starts to foam, add the pears and sauté until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.



  • 4 prepared quails' breasts
  • 1tbs unsalted butter
  • 12 slices of quail and pancetta sausage
  • 20 pieces of honey pears
  • 4 pickled walnut and salt encrusted quails' eggs
  • Mixture of red and white chicory and watercress salad
  • 20 Stilton gnocchi pillows
  • 32 pieces of pear jelly cut in 5mm x 5mm dice


Heat a non-stick frying pan, sauté the gnocchi until golden in a bit of the butter and drain on kitchen paper. Sauté the sausage slices until golden on both sides and drain on kitchen paper. Sauté the quail breast for two minutes on the skin side. Arrange the quail sausage slices, sautéd honey pears, gnocchi, jelly, quail's eggs and salad leaves. Slice the quail's breast in three and place in position on the plate.

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