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Jul 7, 2009 08:10 PM

Miniature meal ingredients: where to find?

I was thinking about making a "miniature dinner." Not miniature portions, but miniature food. Like deviled quail eggs. Guinea-hen burgers. Stuffed fingerling potatoes.

Quail eggs, I've seen around, but guinea hens? I'd need to grind them myself. Then I'd need absolutely miniature hamburger buns, like, two inches across. I'd use red pearl onions and sliced cherry tomatoes for garnish. Those I can find, but the first few? Maybe J-T market?

Any other ideas for miniature foods? Remember, not just small portions of regular food, but actual tiny food.

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  1. You can find both quail and pintade (guinea hen) eggs at Jean-Talon Market. I'd like to find tiny buns myself - haven't really seen any. When I made little cocktail burgers like that I used tiny pitas, but they aren't exactly what you want. The sesame-seed ones aren't bad.

    Cherry tomatoes can be awfully watery inside. Some of the so-called "vine" tomatoes are better as a garnish, or even a not-very-big San Marzano type.

    I don't see why guinea hens would be better than another meat for ground burgers. You could even make miniature burgers from bison. Guinea hens tend to be smaller than chickens, but they aren't really "miniature" like quail for example.

      1. Fried chicken drumettes with grilled baby corn, miniature biscuits or popovers, and a very new potato salad.

        I've definitely seen a few Thanksgiving dinner for one's utilizing cornish game hens as turkeys. Complete it with a tiny latticed tart as a pie.

        Anything diced small enough and cooked in a mini-crock. Chili comes to mind, but apparently my brain wants southern-fried something right now. If someone braised like... a rabbit leg as a miniature osso-bucco (I'm having trouble thinking of a more appropriate appendage or animal at the moment) I'd dig that.

        You could do a cocktail weenie roast, or make super tiny corn dogs. Or Korean style ribs with miniature shoestring potatoes and a "tiny" coleslaw (I'm not sure what that would entail other than a small portion though.) Precede it with devilled quail egg hor doerves.

        Make use of high count shrimp (shrimp being a tiny word already!) and baby clams and make little individual paellas.

        Miniature pasta is pretty easy - make your own tiny ravioli, tortelini, lasagnas etc. and serve with micro green and young vegtable salads.

        Try searching for "kawaii food" for ideas on all things cute, tiny and Japanese.

        You could make one incredibly small Caprese salad. A lot of vegetables come in mini-versions really. Petit pois, baby carrots, and so on. Tons of possibilities for side dishes there, if only a mini-crudite platter.

        Sometimes you can get those miniature bananas, which would be ideal with tiny ice cream scoops for a banana split. I guess a pomegrante seed could be the cherry on top?

        Dollar-sized pancakes, blinis, crepes or whatever. Caviar is small ;)

        I'm not so sure about the taste, but you could do a decorative cheese plate garnished with champagne grapes and crab apple slices. Miniature drinks with key lime wedges, or, you know, wine in a tiny glass.

        Or, basically anything that can be cooked in this microwave:

        Okay. I'm awake now. That was better than a crossword puzzle.

        6 Replies
        1. re: afoodyear

          Ahhh, nanofood! Great suggestions, people! The only sticking point seems to be the miniature buns. I might just have to make them from scratch. See, the key here. which afoodyear seems to appreciate, is that the ORIGINAL ingredient has to be small to begin with. Though the mini-bison burgers sound REALLY good, I've never seen a mini bison. Thus the pintade (yes, I know, it would be a b$#%h to debone and grind, not to mention expensive, but it would have its nanofood integrity).

          Yes, caviar is great . . . micro-blinis would be nice -- I'll have to ponder on how to make/get them.

          Stuffing a cocktail shrimp (the really tiny ones) would be a macro-challenge -- kind of like nasal surgery -- but it could be done. Hmm -- maybe a tuna stuffing? Whoops, no, tuna are BIG.

          You're right about the watery cherry tomatoes -- but they could be delicately scooped out maybe using a dentist's tool of some sort and then stuffed with, say, crab salad. Small common beach crab, of course, not Alaskan King.

          I guess J-T Market is the place to go -- there must be interesting stuff at Chez Louis.

          The list is endless . . . Enoki mushrooms, maybe, breaded with buttermilk and panko and deep fried. Couscous Tandoori with mini quail meatballs (each the size of a pea).

          I will keep you posted. And by the way, you're all invited.

          1. re: tonbo0422

            «Thus the pintade (yes, I know, it would be a b$#%h to debone and grind, not to mention expensive»

            Guinea fowl aren't that miniature. I usually get three, sometimes four servings per bird. Whole birds are pricey but Le Marché du Village on the corner of Lacombe and Gatineau occasionally has guinea fowl legs at very low prices (like under $2 a leg).

            For really tiny fowl, look to quails or bobwhites.

            Tiny Matane shrimp seem a natural.

            And, yes, Chez Louis has a number of minature vegetables -- zucchini, squash, haricots verts, micro greens, etc.

            1. re: carswell

              Get the regular quail, not the ones marked "king" since they will be smaller and get gear up to test your knife skills. For buns, are there no slider buns?

              By the way, this sounds a whole lot like a tasting menu.

              The holy grail of a mini-meal (for me anyway) is a cassoulet.

              1. re: wattacetti

                I once did Quail deviled eggs as part of a miniature appetizer platter, and yes it does take patience and some skill to be able to remove the shell, and then empty them, but the result is really nice.

                But it was not all nanofood, as I did some mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and some small caprese tomato (mini bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and a leaf of basil)

              2. re: carswell

                Wow, I haven't been to Le Marché du Village for years. I'll have to go check it out.

                I guess anything that is smaller than your ordinary fryer chicken (3-4 lbs) could legally qualify as small, but if I'm using quail eggs already for the deviled eggs, it seems like cannibalism to use both, hence the pintade. And I'm not quite up for ground frog-leg hamburgers yet.

                And wattacetti, yes, it sure does sound like a tasting menu . . . but it must have integrity, through and through! Nature makes its own rules, I shall make mine! Nothing bigger than my head must be involved!

                1. re: tonbo

                  If you c an find some whitebait, you've got your fish course all ready to go. I've had these really tiny clams in Taiwan (shells < 1 cm across) but I don't recall seeing them locally; if you do find something, you can do capelli d'angelo alle vongole.

                  Outside of Chez Louis, Mme Pinsonneault's stand at the Atwater Market often has micro-vegetables and very small edible flowers (bring $$$ for those). Shimeji mushrooms are another alternative for fungus though you will have to pick the tinier ones from the bunch for this use.

                  Depending on how micro you're going, a magnifier is a useful addition as are fine forceps and mori-bashi

                  Because the micro-meal needs to be plated, Desprès Laporte sells a variety of tasting spoons and if you have $330+tax to spend frivolously, Fortessa's stainless steel tapas wall is currently on special (DL's Chomedey branch has one on display).

          2. How about mini zucchinis, either the straight ones or the "pâtissons" (pattypan squash)... that could be cute! I'm sure you could find some at JTM easily.
            There's also mini babybels... not too chic but it's small! :)

            I once tried mini kiwis found at Loblaws, they were about the size of raisin tomatoes... quite interesting! They had very few hairs and could be eaten whole. Never saw them again :/.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chocolatine

              Usually Birri has very small zucchini.