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Ingredient: Quail eggs

What: “The main thing is that they are cute,” says Aaron McCloud, chef of Cedar in Penn Quarter. “But it is a little more mild than a chicken egg.” Because of their diminutive size (think: shooter marble), quail eggs offer a smaller, more manageable yolk for use as a garnish or appetizer.

How to cook: Quail eggs ($4/dozen from Sand Hill Farm at the Penn Quarter farmers market) have a tougher inner membrane than a chicken egg, so McCloud recommends using a sharp paring knife to cut off the narrow end of the teardrop-shaped shell. Avoid cracking the eggs on the side of a bowl—it’s too easy to break the yolk. If you want to hard-boil the eggs, bring them to room temperature, and get your water just below a rapid boil (too rough and the shells will break). Cook for 5–6 minutes, then shock in cold water to stop the cooking.

How to serve: McCloud serves quail eggs as a bar snack, in a miniature take on bacon and eggs, and on the dinner menu with caviar, crème fraîche , red onion, and capers on brioche. I served them fried sunny-side up as part of a salad niçoise with green beans, new potatoes and a piece of whitefish. Budget three to five eggs per person.

Photo by Phoebe Connelly