Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce)

Shakshuka is an absolutely delicious North African dish. Under this adorable name hide some eggs poached to perfection in a decadent tomato sauce. Shakshuka is usually served for breakfast, but nothing keeps you from serving it for lunch or even supper. One pan. Some olive oil, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, cumin, paprika and tomatoes.  Five eggs poached for five minutes. The beauty of this dish is the fact that all the story takes place in one single pan.

Why I love Shakshuka:

  • it’s so easy to make, it’s mouth-watering, healthy and packed with protein
  • it’s perfect for brunch
  • it’s ready in about 20 minutes
  • it takes just one single pan
  • it has a charming rusticity

Ingredients (for 2 – 3 servings):

  • 5 – 6 fresh eggs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (100g)
  • 1 red bell pepper (100g)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or 1/2 tsp harissa)
  • 1 tomato can (400ml)
  • ¾ cups water (200ml)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Finely chop the onion and red bell pepper. Mince the garlic.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee it until translucent (for about 5 minutes). Add the red bell pepper and sautee it until soften (for about 3 minutes).
  3. Add the minced garlic, the chili powder, cumin powder and paprika and stir for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wash the interior of the tin with 200ml of water and add the water as well; simmer the sauce over high heat until the sauce is thick (for about 10 minutes).
  5. Season the sauce with sugar, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to minimum. Make 5 or 6 wells in the sauce with a spoon. Carefully crack an egg in each well.
  6. Cover the skillet with a lid and poach the eggs until they reach your desired doneness (I like the egg whites firm and the yolk runny, so I poach mine for 5 – 6 minutes).
  7. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley on top and serve hot with homemade pita bread (here you have the recipe).


Quail Egg Salad

I’ve been testing quail egg recipes for quite a while and I include them almost daily in my diet. I serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as appetizers, main dishes or even desserts. They are so versatile, nutritious and they are also, given their size, ready in no time.

Quail egg salad is simply mouth-watering. It’s ready in less than 20 minutes, it’s smooth and velvety and it’s a true texture and flavor symphony. Homemade mayonnaise gives this salad its creaminess; homemade mayonnaise is so inexpensive and definitely more delicious and nutritious than the store-bought version. For this salad I boiled the quail eggs for 3 minutes, I chopped them and I combined them with scallions, celery and homemade pickled cucumbers. I flavored the salad with Dijon mustard, parsley, lemon zest and chili powdered. Three tablespoons of mayo, salt and freshly ground pepper and the salad was ready. Extremely easy and over-the-top delicious!

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 30 quail eggs
  • 2 scallions (20g)
  • 1 celery stalk (30g)
  • 3 pickled cornichon cucumbers (40g)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Carefully wash the eggs, place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Place the pot on the stove and wait until the water starts to boil. Reduce heat to minimum and let eggs boil for 3 minutes. Drain eggs, let them cool in cold water and peel them.
  2. Finely chop the scallions, celery stalk, cucumbers and parsley.
  3. Pat dry the eggs, roughly chop them and place them in a bowl. Add the scallions, celery stalk, cucumbers, parsley, mustard, lemon juice and 3 Tbsp of mayonnaise.
  4. Season with lemon zest, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Coconut Cake (Torta al Cocco)

This cake is simply divine! It has 3 components, all of them delicious and all of them coconutty. A lovely sponge that melts in your mouth, and defies the laws of physics (and possibly the laws of chemistry, too), a luscious coconut glaze and a crispy topping. It’s flavorful, satisfying and not overwhelmingly sweet, so it’s perfect for breakfast or brunch. It’s also amazing served with coffee or tea as a late-afternoon snack and it’s also delicious served as a dessert, because it’s a cake after all.

Why I love Coconut Cake:

  • it has a lovely coconut flavor
  • it has such an interesting texture, it’s very soft and tender
  • it’s flourless, it has only to 2 Tbsp of corn starch, so it’s gluten-free
  • it’s ready in 40 minutes
  • and before I forget: it has a lovely coconut flavor


for the sponge

  • 3 large eggs
  • 140g granulated sugar (I used 70g white granulated sugar and 70g brown Demerara sugar)
  • 250g unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 250ml whipping cream
  • 20g corn starch
  • 5g baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt

for the glaze:

  • 30g coconut cream
  • 50g powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

for the topping:

  • 3 – 4 Tbsp raw coconut chips (dried)


  1. Preheat the oven at 400°F / 200°C (gas mark 6).
  2. Take a 26cm round cake pan (preferably with a removable bottom) and line it with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl mix the eggs with she sugar and salt until the sugar has melted and the composition has doubled in size.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and the whipping cream and stir with a silicon spatula until combined.
  5. In another bowl combine the coconut flakes with the corn starch and the baking powder.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter in the tray and level with a spatula. Bake the sponge in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F / 180°C (gas mark 4) and bake for further 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the sponge comes out clean.
  8. Remove the sponge from the oven and let it cool down for 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the tray and let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  9. Meanwhile prepare the glaze. In a bowl combine the coconut cream with the powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract.
  10. Prepare the crunchy coconut chips. Toast the coconut chips in a pan over medium – high heat for 3 – 4 minutes.
  11. Pour the glaze over the sponge garnish with coconut chips, slice and serve.

Red Wine – Poached Pears Served with Mascarpone Orange Blossom Cream

Poached pears are simply amazing! If simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication, this dessert might be the quintessence of this idea. Ripe pears, brown sugar, wine. Maybe a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick and a star anise. This simple ingredients, combined together, create a mouth-watering, exquisite and stunning dessert.

Poached pears are so versatile. They can be paired with a cheese platter and nuts, creating the perfect way to end any sophisticated menu. They can be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and they make a refreshing dessert ideal on a hot summer evening. I chose this time to serve them in a wine and brown sugar reduction and I paired them with a flavorful orange blossom mascarpone cream. Regarding poached pears, the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 4 large pears, or 5 medium pears ( I used William pears)
  • 1 cup caster brown Demerara sugar – 200g
  • 2 cups semi dry red wine – 480ml
  • 2 cups water – 480 ml
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod

Mascarpone cream:

  • 115g mascarpone cheese (8 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp orange blossom water


  1. Whenever I’m making poached pears, I’m using the following scheme: for every pear I use ¼ cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of wine and 1/2 cup of water.
  2. In a large saucepan combine the wine with water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using a knife or a spoon. Add the vanilla seeds and the seeded vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and star anise.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the pears. Cut about 2 cm off from the bottom of the pears (to give them stability while plated). Peel them carefully using a vegetable peeler and leave the stem intact. You can also scoop out the seeds using a noisette (exactly like I did in this recipe), but I personally skip this part.
  4. When the poaching liquid begins to simmer, reduce the heat to minimum, place the pears in the saucepan and cover them with a parchment paper lid (cut out a parchment paper circle slightly larger than the saucepan’s circumference and cut out a small orifice in its center).
  5. Poach the pears for 20 – 30 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a knife (the time depends on their ripeness). Make sure you turn them every 5 minutes.
  6. Let them cool down in the poaching liquid for at least 1 hour (you can keep them refrigerated in the poaching liquid for 1 – 2 days).
  7. Place the pears on a platter, simmer the poaching liquid over medium-high heat for 30 – 40 minutes, or until reduced by half to sticky glaze.
  8. Meanwhile prepare the mascarpone cream by combining the mascarpone cheese with honey and orange blossom water.
  9. Place the pears on plates and top them with 2-3 Tbsp of wine reduction (use the remaining reduction for ice cream, choux a la crème or brownies). Spoon 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese, sprinkle some cocoa powder and garnish with fresh blueberries.

Cabbage and Cured Duck Breast Salad

Cabbage and smoked duck salad is such an interesting salad. Everything about it is interesting, the bold flavors, the sweet and the earthy scents, the warm colors and wild textures. Crunchy cabbage ribbons dressed with olive oil and apple cider vinegar, juicy blood-oranges, toasted hazelnuts, flavorful candied apricot strips and salty and gamey duck breast; this simple yet sophisticated salad has about five or six ingredients, but they work so well together, creating a veritable taste and texture symphony.

Why I love cabbage and smoked duck breast salad:

  • it’s exquisite, it has a verisimilar complexity, it’s sweet, salty, sour and bitter, somehow each one in the right amount
  • it’s lovely during the cold months
  • its hearty and satisfying
  • it’s ready in less than 15 minutes and it takes even less to devour it
  • it looks so appealing and sophisticated, even though it is so effortless

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 350g white cabbage (12 oz)
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 100g candied apricots (3.5 oz)
  • 70g hazelnuts (2.5 oz)
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (60 ml)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (15ml)
  • 40g cured duck breast (I sometimes use pan-seared duck breast – I use this recipe)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Using a sharp knife, finely chop the cabbage. Slice the apricots into thin stripes.
  2. Combine together the olive oil and the vinegar in a large salad bowl. Add the shredded cabbage and toss to coat evenly.
  3. In a small skillet brown the hazelnuts over high heat, to intensify the flavor and to get rid of their skins. Leave them aside to cool and remove their skins using your fingers.
  4. Prepare the orange slices. Take an orange and cut off the top and the bottom. Place the orange on the cutting board and cut off the peel and the pith. Cut the segments out of the oranges (picture).
  5. Add to the bowl the orange slices, hazelnuts and apricots. Refrigerate until serving.
  6. Before serving season with salt and pepper, divide the salad into four plates, garnish with cured duck slices and serve immediately.

Source: Barilla Academy – Salads

Hot Chocolate

I love chocolate. I love it in every state of aggregation, in every color or flavor combination. And I love it even more when outside is freezing and the chocolate waits for me patiently in a huge cup, garnished with tangy cocoa powder and silky marshmallows.

I love hot chocolate because:

  • it’s sweet and slightly bitter, with subtle notes of vanilla and coffee
  • it’s quite dense and creamy, silky and decadent
  • it warms both my body and my soul
  • it’s ready in less than 10 minutes
  • reminds me of my childhood

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • 1 + ½ Tbsp cocoa powder (12g)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp granulated brown sugar (15 – 30g)
  • 1 + ½ cups whole milk (360ml)
  • 3.5 oz semisweet chocolate ( I used Milka Extra Cocoa – 45% cocoa) – 100g
  • ¼ tsp instant coffee powder
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

for serving:

  • marshmallows
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder


  1. In a medium saucepan bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cocoa and the instant coffee powder and whisk for about 2 minutes, until the cocoa powder has dissolved.
  2. Add the sugar and milk and let it simmer  for about 2 minutes, whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat to low, add the chocolate squares and simmer the mixture for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
  3. Remove from heat and season with salt and vanilla extract.
  4. Serve hot garnished with marshmallows and cocoa powder.


Scotch Quail Eggs

Scotch eggs are nothing else but boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, coated in bread crumbs. Whenever I’m making scotch eggs, I like to use quail eggs because the final product is small and appetizing, but you can also use chicken or duck eggs. They can be served either hot or cold. Served hot, they make a delicious and hearty main dish and served cold, they make some eye-catching and mouth-watering appetizers.

I love my scotch eggs soft boiled with a crispy crust and an oozing, velvety and buttery yolk, but this is of course a matter of preference. If you like your eggs soft boiled, it is extremely easy to get that oozing yolk in this recipe too. The secret is that the boiling time should not be longer than two minutes and a half. A two-minute boiling interval makes the quail egg very difficult to peel and a three-minute boil starts to solidify the yolk, so a two and a half minute interval seems to be golden.

Why I like Scotch Eggs:

  • they are so easy to make and they are ready in less than 30 minutes
  • they are delicious and so flavorful
  • the contrast between the crunchy crust and the velvety yolk is simply divine
  • they are adorable
  • they are satisfying

Ingredients (for 6 servings):

  • 12 quail eggs
  • 300g sausage meat (I used homemade paprika sausage)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (30-35g)
  • 2 chicken eggs
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (60g)
  • ¼ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper


  1. Wash carefully the eggs. Fill a medium saucepan with water, place it on the stove and wait until the water starts to boil. Place the eggs in the water and boil them (on medium-high heat)  for 2 minutes and a half. Drain eggs and let them cool in cold water for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile divide the sausage meat into 12 equal balls. Finely chop the parsley (picture).
  3. After 5 minutes, carefully peel the quail eggs.
  4. With your hands wet, flatten a sausage ball out in your hands. Sprinkle with parsley and place an egg in the center (picture). Shape the patty around the egg, seal the meat and use your fingers to give it a round shape (picture).
  5. Take 3 bowls. Place parmesan in a bowl, place the eggs, salt and pepper in another bowl and place breadcrumbs in the third bowl. Roll the Scotch egg in the parmesan and use your fingers to shake off the excess. Dip it in beaten egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Dip it one more time in beaten eggs and then in bread crumbs (flour, egg, crumbs, egg, crumbs). Proceed the same with the remaining eggs.
  6. Deep-fry the Scotch eggs in two batches at 175°C for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer them to paper towel to drain.
  7. Serve warm or cold with raw vegetables (I used Kalamata olives, cucumber and cherry tomatoes).

Quail Egg Butter Curry






Quail eggs boiled to perfection, served in a velvety and decadent butter and beetroot sauce, scented with ginger and Garam Masala. It does sound appealing, doesn’t it! The fact is I’m seldom dazzled by a combination of flavors, not because I’m a person hard to impress, but because I try really hard to content my emotions, at least culinary-wise. But this flavor profile mesmerizes me, it fascinates me to the point I drag myself to the kitchen at 1 am, in my pijamas, just to enjoy that taste again.

The starting point of this recipe is in fact Murgh Makhani, a delicious Indian butter chicken curry. About three years ago I substituted chicken with quail eggs and the recipe made so much sense, that I’ve made it only with quail eggs ever since. I often make this recipe with ghee, the Indian clarified butter, a very nutritious ingredient, but since I make my own ghee and I happened to run out ot it, I decided to use regular butter. And yes, that gorgeous chick in the picture is one of my quail-pets. On this note, how cool is the fact that my pets also provide breakfast?

Why I love quail butter curry:

  • it’s a quick recipe, made in about 30 minutes
  • it’s satisfying, it goes so well with Basmati rice or homemade naan
  • it’s smooth, silky and decadent
  • it has a mesmerizing color
  • it has an exotic yet so familiar scent

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 48 quail eggs
  • 75g butter or ghee (5 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 small red onions, finely chopped – ½ cup (70g)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes (250g)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth (120ml)
  • 15 raw cashew nuts
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 small beetroot (50g)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (30ml)
  • salt and pepper to taste







  1. Wrap beetroot loosely in aluminium foil. Place it in the preheated oven at 400°F / 200°C (gas mark 6) for 20 – 25 minutes or until tender.
  2. Place the cashew nuts in a bowl and cover them with warm broth.
  3. Wash carefully the eggs, place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Place the pot on the stove and wait until the water starts to boil. Reduce heat to minimum and let eggs boil for 3 minutes. Drain eggs, let them cool in cold water and peel them.
  4. Meanwhile melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the ginger and the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the onion and sautee it for about 10 minutes, or until soften. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Peel the roasted beetroot and chop it. Place the onion mixture in a blender, add the beetroot, the cashews and the broth and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  6. Clean the skillet, place it on the stove and heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the chili powder and the Garam Masala and stir for a few seconds. Add the sauce from the blender, 2 Tbsp of cream and the eggs. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Serve hot with Basmati rice or homemade naan.



Cream of Pumpkin Soup




Cream of pumpkin soup is one of my favorite soups. I know I say the same thing about almost every soup I try and I’m also aware of the fact that I might have a problem. I wouldn’t call it a problem, though. I would rather call it an affinity for everything that’s nutritious, delicious and hydrating.
Pumpkin-wise, this year has been extremely productive and rewarding. I harvested some huge pumpkins from my own veggie garden. And when I say huge, I mean huge-huge, that’s-the-biggest-vegetable-I’ve-ever-seen kind of huge. If last year I had two semi-decent looking pumpkins (who am I kidding, they were a cross between a melon and a tennis ball, to be more accurate), this year I had about a dozen giant ones. And they were so incredibly tasty! Sometimes I looked at them and I felt it would be a shame to cook them, and then I remembered their perfect flavor and their addictive sweetness. And that was the nudge I needed to get things going!

Why I love cream of pumpkin soup:

  • it’s nutritious and satisfying
  • it’s delicious, spicy, sweet and savory, with mild hints of sage, nutmeg and coconut
  • it’s dense, creamy and velvety
  • it’s vegan
  • it’s so quick and so easy to make

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 1,5 kg pumpkin – Butternut, Kabocha or Musquee de Provence
  • 0.8 – 1l vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion (75g)
  • ½ leek (100g)
  • 1 large carrot (100g)
  • 1 stalk of celery (50g)
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup semi-dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp honey (since honey isn’t vegan, you can substitute it with maple syrup)
  • 100ml coconut milk (optional)
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg (if you use fresh nutmeg try adding only about 1/8 tsp at first – you can always add more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (for serving)







  1. Carefully peel the pumpkin using a sharp knife and chop it into cubes (I had exactly 1.2 kg pumpkin cubes). Peel and chop the onion, carrot and celery.
  2. Mince the garlic. Deseed the chili and chop it finely. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Fan out the leeks and rinse well to remove the dirt. Chop it roughly.
  3. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sautee the onion slices for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until translucent.
  4. Add the leeks, carrot and celery and sautee for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sage, thyme, chili and garlic and stir for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the wine and cook the mixture on high heat until the liquid has reduced by half.
  5. Add the pumpkin cubes and cover with broth (I used about 900ml). Cover with a lid and when the soup starts to simmer, reduce the heat to minimum. Cook the pumpkin for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until tender.
  6. Working in batches, carefully transfer soup to a blender and pulse until smooth and creamy; you can also puree it using a hand blender.
  7. Pour the soup back into the saucepan, reheat it, add the honey (or maple syrup) and the coconut milk. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve hot with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.


Roasted Pumpkin and Corn Salad




For me, autumn basically translates itself by pumpkin. Pumpkin soups and creams, pumpkin salads and stakes, pumpkin cakes, pies and smoothies.  This humble and extremely versatile vegetable has won my heart through time, due to its lovely flavor, texture and sweetness. Undoubtedly, my favorite variety of pumpkin is Musquee de Provence, a French variety that I’ve been growing in my own veggie garden for years. This beautiful giant has a gorgeous burnt orange skin with teal patches and a deep-orange flesh. The flesh is delicious and flavorful and if it’s finely sliced, it can be served even raw.

Why I love roasted pumpkin and corn salad:

  • it’s satisfying
  • it can be served by itself or it can be a appetizing companion for a protein (pork, chicken, duck)
  • it’s colorful
  • it’s packed with autumnal flavors
  • it’s delicious

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • ½ pumpkin (I had 600g peeled pumpkin)
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 200g sweet corn
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 60g walnuts
  • 60g goat cheese
  • about ½ red chili pepper, deseeded
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil ( 2 extra Tbsp for serving)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste






  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C / 400° (gas mark 6).
  2. Carefully peel the pumpkin using a sharp knife. Chop it in bite-size cubes. The surplus that remains after cubing the pumpkin can be used for soups.
  3. Take a tray and line it with parchment paper. Place pumpkin cubes in a single layer and toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil.
  4. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 20 – 25 minutes, turning once, until the pumpkin cubes are tender. The roasting time depends on the pumpkin variety. Leave tray aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a small skillet brown the walnuts over high heat, to intensify the flavor and to get rid of their skins. Leave them aside to cool and remove their skins using your fingers.
  6. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Fan out the leeks and rinse well to remove the dirt. Chop it finely.
  7. Halve the cherry tomatoes and finely chop the red chili pepper.
  8. Pour the lemon juice in a large salad bowl. Slowly drizzle 4 Tbsp of olive oil and stir until combined. Add the pumpkin cubes, corn, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, leeks, chili and spinach and gently toss to combine. Crumble the goat cheese over the salad.
  9. Season with salt and pepper just until serving. Divide the salad between four plates, drizzle ½ Tbsp of olive oil on top of each plate and serve immediately.

layers salad-ingredients