Don’t leave St. Louis without hitting Billie-Jean, and make sure you come hungry. Their baked quail eggs with roasted tomatoes and eggplant makes for one of the greatest crusty bread dips you’ll ever encounter. It’s also one of owner Zoë Robinson’s favorite dishes on the menu.
“It is not only visually amazing but also really rich and delicious, perfect for a sophisticated weeknight dinner in very little time or an impressive appetizer for entertaining,” says Robinson. “Two of my favorite parings from our wine list at Billie-Jean are a dry Riesling from Scribe Vineyards and a Sauvignon-Semillion blend from Arietta.”
A few tips from their kitchen to make yours extra-delicious:
- Shop local Asian markets for the best quail eggs.
- Micro greens and edible flowers make for an exceptionally beautiful presentation for the dish.
- Purchase a few eggs to get used to the cracking process. You can always use leftovers fried like a traditional egg on top of anything.
- 24 quail eggs
- 1 Japanese eggplant
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 6 cornichon pickles
- 1 small shallot
- 2 vines cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sambal chili paste
- Sea salt and cracked pepper, for seasoning
- Brioche or baguette or any thick toast desired
For the eggs
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Lightly coat eggplant and tomatoes. Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 5-8 minutes. Reserve tomatoes for serving.
Halve the eggplant and chop into a dice. Toss in a small mixing bowl. Dice shallot, cornichons and capers. Add to eggplant and toss together.
In a separate bowl, combine chili, vinegar and olive oil. Whisk lightly and toss in to eggplant mixture.
With a sharp pairing knife, slice off the tops of each egg and pour into a small bowl — 12 each bowl. Don't be discouraged, it gets easier as you go.
Butter two 8-inch baking dishes (we use Mauville copper). Pour each bowl of eggs into each baking dish. Bake 3-4 minutes. Check throughout cooking as to not overcook.
Garnish eggs with small dollops of eggplant relish, tomatoes, sea salt and cracked pepper. Serve with brioche toast or any great bread.