Shakshuka (poached eggs in spiced tomato sauce)

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This was delicious. And from now on I feel like I will only want to eat my eggs for breakfast this way.

What is shakshuka? It’s basically a spiced tomato sauce that you poach eggs in. Eaten with buttered bread – there is nothing better. The recipe originates from the Middle East – N has had this before – for lunch or dinner. He made me super happy when he was finished eating it, he said it’s better than any version he’s had before! I love that, feels like a serious accomplishment. This recipe was adapted from my new cookbook, Balaboosta. So far, I’ve made 2 recipes from the book, and both have been delicious. I adjusted this to my taste – reducing the amount of onion and green peppers. Other than that, the recipe is pretty much the same.

If you’re a fan of eggs and are looking for some new inspiration – stop what you are doing and make this.

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Here’s what you’ll need: 1.5 T. canola oil, 1 onion, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1/2 jalapeno, 6 garlic cloves, 1/4 c. tomato paste, one 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, 1 bay leaf, sugar, salt, Hungarian sweet paprika, cumin, black pepper, ground caraway, Swiss chard (or spinach), and finally – eggs.

Note: this does sound like a lot of ingredients – but the process for cooking isn’t complicated. And once your chopping is complete – the rest goes very smoothly.

First – get the veggies prepped and ready to go. Like I said, after the chopping of veggies, the rest of this recipe is simmering and stirring – not too bad!

Chop 1 medium onion into small pieces. This should make about 1 to  1 1/2 cups of chopped onion. Do the same with the green peppers. How small to chop? Small enough that you won’t bite into any large pieces when eating. Same size I would do for a pasta sauce. Small. Shakshuka_SAC (3)

Now, mince half of the jalapeno. I like heat, so I left the seeds in.

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Now, peel and mince the garlic cloves. Shakshuka_SAC (5)

Almost done – it’s time to chop the Swiss chard. Simple – pull the leaves off the stem, and then chop.

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Set aside all of the veggies and get started on your spices. This recipe calls for caraway. You know, the spice that’s in rye bread!?! I only had the seeds – so I had to crush them. I used my mortar and pestle. So old school, right? Shakshuka_SAC (8)

Get the rest of your spices ready – I measured them out and added into a small bowl, so all I had to do was toss them in together.

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Now it’s time to start cooking – heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the 1.5 T canola oil – then add the onion and cook until translucent – about 5-7 minutes. Add the green bell pepper and jalapeno and cook until softened – about 4-5 more minutes.

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Finally, stir in the tomato paste and minced garlic – cook and stir until the tomato paste is incorporated and you can smell the garlic. This should take less than a minute.

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Stir in the whole, peeled tomatoes. Now – this was pretty fun. How do you get these crushed? Simply take a peeled tomato in your hand, and crush them! It’s quick – but a somewhat messy job. Do not wear a white shirt when doing this! Some of the seeds and juices may go flying. Repeat until can is empty – and put the rest of the juices in the pan. Shakshuka_SAC (12)

Add the spices to the dish – and cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir a few times. After 10 minutes, add in the Swiss chard and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.

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The sauce should be smelling good – and thickening up. That’s perfect. Time to lay the eggs in.

Helpful hint: crack each egg into a small dish prior to placing into the pan. This will ensure you catch any stray shell bits, and that each egg is placed into the pan where you want it.

Lay the eggs ontop of the sauce, COVER, and put a timer on for 10 minutes – walk away. You need the whites to be completely cooked, if you see that they are still runny, add 1-2 more minutes.

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After 10 minutes, you will have a hot, delicious pan of egg and tomato goodness.

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Remove each egg, with sauce, and plate. Serve with toasted bread to sop up the tomato sauce. Note: the eggs will not be runny. The centers will be just cooked – not rock hard like a boiled egg, but definitely cooked through. Enjoy!

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Shakshuka
Adapted from the Balaboosta cookbook
Serves 3-6 – Click here for printout of recipe
Total prep time: 10 minutes
Total cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 
1.5 T. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch Swiss chard (or spinach) chopped
1/4 c. tomato paste
1-28 oz. can, whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed
1 bay leaf
2.5 T. sugar
1.5 T. kosher salt
1 T. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 T. ground cumin
1 t. ground caraway
1 t. ground pepper
6-12 large eggs (2 per person is a good way to think about it)

Directions: 

  1. Chop the onion, green bell pepper, and chard. Mince the jalapeno and garlic. Set aside.
  2. Prepare spices – grind the cumin or caraway, if needed. Combine in a small bowl the salt, pepper, sugar, Hungarian paprika, caraway, cumin, and bay leaf – set aside.
  3. Heat 1.5 T. canola oil in a large pan, add the onions and sauté, until translucent – about 5-7 minutes. Once finished, add the green bell pepper and jalapeno to the onions, cook until softened – about 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and minced garlic, cook and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan, followed by the spices. Stir to incorporate. Cook, over medium heat, for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  5. After 10 minutes, add in the Swiss chard. Stir to incorporate, and cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes. Uncovered.
  6. Add the eggs to the dish – COVER and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the whites have completely cooked.
  7. Serve with toasted bread to sop up the tomato juices.

Enjoy!

Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings w. Mustard Coleslaw

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Sriracha Chicken Wings_SACHello chicken wings. I love you.

Yesterday was a great day. I sat around and read my new cookbooks and made lists upon lists of the things I want to make and need to buy. Fun! I’m sure for some people that sounds like torture – but I really loved it.

I was all set to make a spicy chicken tagine yesterday, when I flipped through Michael Symon’s cookbook and these chicken wings just called out to me. I asked N which he’d prefer – and we both agreed, Friday night chicken wings were the way to go.

So – here’s what we’ve got. I didn’t take step-by-step pictures – I got home from the grocery store and prepped the wings and put them in the oven right away so we could eat soon!

Like I said, this is from Michael Symon’s book, Carnivore, and so far, so good. I did adjust this recipe for our tastes – but overall the concept is exactly the same.

Sriracha Chicken Wings_SAC2And the verdict? Tasty. Not incredibly hot – but delicious. Crispy, oven baked wings with the spicy, succulent sauce – yum. The coleslaw was a great accompaniment – creamy, tangy, crisp…..great Friday night dinner.

Note on original recipe & adjustments I made: Symon bakes the chicken wings, then fries them. I didn’t do that obviously (only baked). Also, he calls for triple the butter and double the lime. I thought the adjustments I made were perfect. The lime shined through in my version, if it was doubled it may have been too much.

Here’s what I did:

Sriracha Chicken Wings_SAC3Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings w. Mustard Coleslaw
Recipe adapted from Michael Symon’s Carnivore
Serves 4  –  Click here for recipe printout 

Ingredients:

Chicken Wings:
5 lbs. chicken wings, split
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. coriander
2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3/4 c. Sriracha
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
4 T. butter

Mustard Coleslaw:
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 thinly sliced onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 T. mayo
1 T. whole grain mustard
3 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire
1 T. sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, prep 2 large baking pans with foil and cooking spray.
2. Spread chicken wings out evenly on pan – sprinkle spices and seasoning on chicken wings
3. Roast for 60 minutes (switching pans around in oven at 30 minutes). Note: I don’t like to flip the wings. I find that if you do, they stick and it’s just not pretty. When baking the wings, just leave them in the pan, as is, and they turn out fantastic and crispy.
4. While wings are cooking, get the sauce prepared: melt the butter in a large bowl, add the Sriracha, lime zest, and lime juice.
5. Wings are complete, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then toss in the Sriracha hot sauce.

For the coleslaw:
1. Add the mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, sugar,salt, and pepper. Mix. Add in the shredded cabbage, onion, and jalapeno. Mix.
2. Place into bowl and refrigerate an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

New Cookbooks – New Year

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Well that was quite a hiatus, wasn’t it? Excuses? Work. Stress. Work. Stress. Repeat. I decided to take a few days off from work – before I have a stress induced heart attack at the ripe old age of 29. So there it is.

I need to take some time to renew myself – what do I like, what do I want to do, what makes me happy….etc. You get the picture.

What’s going to help me do that? These new fantastic cookbooks I received for Christmas! Naaman got me two – the Balaboosta and Jeni’s cookbooks. My Dad got me the other 2: a signed copy of Michael Symon’s cookbook and a cookbook from Martha Washington! How awesome is that!?!

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This will kick me into gear and allow me to start playing around in the kitchen and get re-inspired – I can’t wait!

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Favorite recipe so far: how to boil a pigeon from the Martha Washington cookbook – I mean, who knew? Christmas 2013 (19)

Thank you for the books, Dad and Naaman – I love them! Look out for a lot of new recipes posts soon!

Greens and Citrus Smoothie

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I haven’t been cooking anything fun lately – just a lot of random foods pieced together to make a meal. I am, however, obsessed with my new Vitamix, and am making smoothies daily.

Here’s a great recipe for you to try if you are interested in trying to incorporate more greens & veggies into your smoothies – but still keep it sweet.

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Here’s what you need (for 1 serving): 1 orange, 1/2 banana, handful of spinach leaves, 1 celery stalk, 1/2 persian cucumber (or 5 slices of regular cucumber), 6 fresh mint leaves, 1 t. chia seeds (optional), and 1/2 cup light lemonade (or water and fresh lemon juice).

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Simply peel the orange with a pairing knife – and reserve a 1″ slice of the zest to add to the smoothie – slice celery and cucumber into 1-2 inch pieces – remove the mint leaves from the larger stems — throw everything into a heavy duty blender.

Note: I was using a food processor for a long time before I splurged for this new blender. I bought directly from vitamix.com and chose the refurbished model. It was about $100 less and has the 5 year warranty on it – I’m very happy with my choice so far. You can easily make this smoothie in a less powerful machine – but be prepared for it to have a thicker and more chunky texture. My dad also got a Vitamix a few weeks before me…..we’re obsessed!

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Blend for 30-60 seconds – add more or less light lemonade to your preference – the consistency of this is a thick juice.

And that’s it. A seriously quick, healthy option for a breakfast or afternoon snack. I like to have one of these when I get home from work because it reduces my urge to snack right away.

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Also – this is just a suggestion of ingredients based on what I had available. Other ingredients that are amazing to try: fresh ginger, lemons, limes, nectarines, and apples – just to name a few. Adding in other dark greens, like kale or broccoli – is also pretty fun. But this is an easy and fairly tame take on the veggie smoothie.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Crostini

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As promised – here is one of the other crostini recipes! That was such a fun lunch! See here for link to the brie & fig crostini.

Second one: Roasted Tomato and Basil Crostini

I love this recipe: this is another recipe from my attempt at catering. This is a nice change from the traditional bruschetta recipes out there — the roasted tomatoes impart a heartiness and robustness that is just perfect.

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Here’s what you’ll need: 8 tomatoes, ¼ cup julienned basil leaves, 1 crushed garlic clove (or ¼ t. ground garlic), 3 T. olive oil, 2 T. balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

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And here’s what you’ll need to do: slice the tomatoes into quarters.

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Then gently squeeze some of the excess seeds/juice from the tomato. This seems like a random step – but it eliminates the excess moisture from the topping – that you replace with olive oil and vinegar – and allows the tomatoes to roast nicely.

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Place onto a baking dish, covered in foil or parchment paper, and spread evenly in one layer. Sprinkle over 1.5 T. olive oil, and 1 T. balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. About ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper.

Bake for 17-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Allow the tomatoes to get slightly browned in some areas.

Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Julienne the basil leaves (about 10-12 large leaves) and finely mince or grate a garlic clove. Add to a bowl.

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Once tomatoes have cooled down – chop them up into bite size pieces – then add to the bowl with the basil and garlic. Add the remaining 1.5 T. olive oil and 1 T. balsamic. Mix – taste and add more s&p per your taste.

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While this is happening – you should bake your bread slices. Simply slice the bread into ½” pieces (I used a French loaf) and then sprinkle over about 1-2 T. of olive oil – bake at 400 for anywhere from 6-10 minutes. I did about 6 minutes so the bread wasn’t too crunchy/hard. Remove from oven – then – while the bread is still hot take a garlic clove and rub it onto one side of the bread. This imparts a wonderfully garlic flavor on the bread – delicious.

Now it’s time to assemble – simply take a heaping spoonful of the roasted tomato mixture and place onto a piece of bread – repeat for the remaining mixture – should make about 18 crostini’s. Serve right away — I’ve actually kept leftovers in the fridge and they turned out good still. The middle of the bread gets a little soggy – but still delicious!

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Super simple appetizer recipe – great for any party or event. Simple to make and super delicious. Always a hit!

Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato and Basil Crostini
Makes 16

Ingredients:
8 tomatoes
¼ cup julienned basil leaves
1 crushed garlic clove (or ¼ t. ground garlic)
3 T. olive oil (divided)
2 T. balsamic vinegar (divided)
salt and pepper to taste
French loaf – olive oil and garlic clove – for the bread

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes and gently squeeze out excess juice/seeds from tomatoes.
  3. Place onto a baking dish, covered in foil or parchment paper, and spread evenly in one layer. Sprinkle over 1.5 T. olive oil, and 1 T. balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. About ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper.
  4. Bake for 17-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Allow the tomatoes to get slightly browned in some areas. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Julienne the basil leaves (about 10-12 large leaves) and finely mince or grate a garlic clove. Add to a bowl.
  6. Once tomatoes have cooled – dice into bite size pieces. Toss with the basil and garlic – add remaining 1.5 T. olive oil and 1 T. balsamic. Toss – season with additional salt and pepper per taste.
  7. Place spoonfuls on top of baked crostinis (round pieces of french bread – baked at 400 for 6-10 minutes and rubbed with garlic).
  8. Serve immediately to your guests  —- Enjoy!