Iron chef shares his secret for boiling the perfect egg, with his daughters' help

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Take the Yahoo Life post-Thanksgiving 5 Day Reset Your Breakfast Challenge to kick start your week. Follow along with us as we feature celebrity chefs who show us how to make a different breakfast every day this week.

Chef Geoffrey Zakarian shares his favorite breakfast — with his favorite people
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian co-authored a new book with his daughters.

Living up to the culinary reputation of their Chopped judge and Iron Chef dad might seem like a big task for Geoffrey Zakarian’s daughters, but the co-authors of the new cookbook The Family that Cooks Together seem to have no problem at all. Madeline, age 13, and her younger sister Anna, age 11, share the spotlight with their famous father well, and sometimes even steal it – as they do in their Yahoo Life 5-Day Reset Your Breakfast Challenge video.

“We love breakfast,” Zakarian tells Yahoo Life. “It’s the most important meal of the day,” so they chose a recipe from the book’s robust breakfast section. “We always have a huge breakfast,” says Anna, and Madeline calls these “Cuckoo Egg and Olive Tartines” her favorite.

The slightly wonky name comes from the same reason they chose this recipe for the Reset Your Breakfast challenge: how good these are for people that are all waking up at different times. The tartines stay fresh even if they sit out for a little while from the first cluck of an alarm clock until the last late riser wanders downstairs. Or, the girls point out, for a hosted brunch where people might arrive or eat at different times – especially since the different parts can be made ahead.

Chef Zakarian’s daughters say this Cuckoo Egg and Olive Tartines dish is their favorite breakfast.
Chef Zakarian’s daughters say this Cuckoo Egg and Olive Tartines dish is their favorite breakfast.

We love breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day.Chef Geoffrey Zakarian

The first element to make from the dish is the eggs, so Zakarian steps in to explain the science of a perfect hard-boiled egg. The secret to not getting that “nasty green ring,” he says, is to bring the water to a boil, then pull it off the heat and gently lower each egg into the water on a large spoon. Return the pot to heat and simmer it for exactly 12 minutes, then take the eggs out and put them in cold water. Not only do they avoid the sulfur that forms the green ring this way, he says, it also makes them peel easily.

As he finishes that up, the girls demonstrate the simple tapenade – a mix of anchovies, parsley, capers, olives (no pits!), and minced garlic blitzed in the food processor – and get the “little tartines” ready.

As fancy as those sound, the toast they use for the recipe is actually quite simple – English muffins – lifted to a more elegant role by the fixings on top. Madeline shows how to spread the tapenade, making sure that it’s not too thick and quite even, “so you don’t get too olive-y of a bite,” she says, which would ruin the flavor of everything else. On top of that, she adds the baby arugula, which she lets messily hang off the edges but mentions you can tear up a bit for a neater presentation.

The eggs, sliced, lay on top, getting a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then olive oil and lemon juice. “I love adding lemon to a lot of stuff,” says Madeline as she squeezes it on. “The lemon is really your sauce,” she adds, so don’t be shy with the finishing touches. The three cooks dig into the final product, nodding at how good it is, mouths too full to say much else. “That’s actually good any time of day,” says Zakarian. “It’s a great snack, too.”


  • 4 large eggs

  • ½ cup brine-cured black olives, pitted

  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained

  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped

  • 1 anchovy fillet, chopped

  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 English muffins, split and toasted

  • 1 cup baby arugula

  • A pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


To make the hard-boiled eggs: Fill a medium pot halfway with water and

bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully lower the eggs into the pot and cook

for 12 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and allow to cool for about

10 minutes, then crack and peel under cold running water. Rinse and remove

any remaining bits of shell.

To make the tapenade: In a mini food processor, combine the olives, capers,

parsley, garlic, and anchovy. Pulse to make a chunky paste. With the machine

running, drizzle in the olive oil to make an almost smooth paste. (You may

chop and mix by hand if a mini is not available.) Scrape the tapenade into a

bowl and set aside.

To assemble and finish: Place the toasted English muffins on four plates.

Spread each half with about 1 tablespoon tapenade. In a small bowl, toss the

arugula with the olive oil, then divide among the tartines. Cut each hard-

boiled egg into six slices using a slicer or by hand. Lay three slices of egg on

each English muffin half. Sprinkle the tartines with salt and serve with a

lemon wedge. Refrigerate any remaining tapenade for next time.

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