Traditionally a quenelle was prepared from either fish or chicken mixed with flour, fat, egg whites and seasoning to form a quenelle and was served as a starter. They were difficult to make and due to the huge fat content not very popular. However, the arrival of the food processor shot the quenelle back into the culinary lime light and nowadays everybody can make them with a little effort. A well formed and neat quenelle add a dash of sophistication to a plate and your friends and fellow diners will always admire you if you have made them perfectly. For me it is also a hint that my host have made an effort with the food. I find a sundried tomato pesto quenelle on a bed of pasta with parmesan shavings much more appealing and attractive than all mixed together before it reach the table.
A quenelle can be just about anything so long as it retains that classic three sided oval shape. I have seen quenelled butters, jams, ice creams, sorbets, soft cheeses, ganache, mousse of every kind and mashed vegetables and pâtés. They can add a little culinary polish and the Wow-factor to your plates. In the photograph above I used three of my Taste Café products to make a hummus, sundried tomato pesto and duck liver pâté quenelle of each. Of the three the hummus was the most difficult as the consistency was a bit too runny, the pesto quenelle was the easiest to make and the pâté quenelle was fairly easy, but just too thick to easily slip from one spoon to the next. When this happens wet your spoons and it will assist in making the quenelle.
You name it, and as long as whatever you want to quenelle is about the consistency of soft cream cheese or cottage cheese, you can form it into a quenelle.
Traditionally, quenelles have been made using two spoons, so you end up with a kind of three-sided oval scoop. To create a quenelle, you’ll need two spoons of the same size. The size of the spoon will determine the size of your quenelle. Two teaspoons will deliver a small quenelle and two dessert spoons will deliver a large quenelle. I do not recommend larger spoons than dessert as it becomes too sloppy and you may over dress the plate with whatever you have quenelled.
Step 1: With a spoon in each hand, scoop a generous amount of mousse or whatever you use into one spoon. Gently press the bowl of the second spoon against the mousse, scooping the contents from the first spoon into the second. Don’t over fill your spoon it will add more difficulty in forming your quenelle.
Step 2: Transfer the mousse back to the first spoon in the same manner. This begins to create a smooth, rounded surface where the mousse molded to the spoon. Allow excess to fall back into your bowl.
Step 3: Keep scooping back and forth until you have a nice, smooth oval shape. With some products like ice creams, mousses and creams you’ll need to work fast as the heat in your kitchen will start to influence the shape of your quenelle.