Obviously, an egg from a quail, these dainty little morsels are starting to appear in supermarkets, usually sold in packs of a dozen at a time. If you can't find any there your best bet is probably a delicatessen or game monger.

The nicest thing about quail eggs is their colour; a very subtle pastel blue with the occasional dark blue speckles. Due to their tiny size (no more than about 2 cm / 3/4 inch) they don't take long to cook. In fact the easiest way to soft boil quail eggs is to bring a pan of water to the boil, then remove it from the heat and sit the eggs in the hot water for about 2 1/2 minutes. Once cooked it's vital to plunge them into cold water immediately if they're not to continue cooking in their own heat and become hard boiled.

If you do want hard-boiled eggs you should cook them in boiling water for 4 minutes. Because the shell is so thin the easiest way to remove it is in a bowl of cold water, using your fingers. Quail eggs have a similar flavour to hen's eggs, although a bit more delicate.

A common use for quail eggs is in a pretty-looking miniature salad. Prepare a salad as usual but ensure that any lettuce or other leaves are cut into small pieces. Hard boil some quail eggs and shell them, as above. Toss them into the salad along with cherry tomatoes and baby sweetcorn. Very dinky and guaranteed to impress the vicar if he pops round for tea.

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