Thursday night I cooked Shakshuka, a fiery dish I first tasted in Israel that consists of eggs poached in tomato sauce. I bought one of the spiciest peppers that I could handle from the grocery store, a long green one that curls around the bottom, and wore gloves while seeding and cutting it. My last experience with this pepper taught me to care as much — no amount of washing seemed to remove the heat from my fingertips, and alas I ended up with burning eyes when I went to remove my contacts later that evening. Along with the pepper, I also chopped some onion and thinly sliced 5 cloves of garlic. While the fragrant bits melded in the pan with some cumin and paprika, I crushed whole peeled tomatoes by hand. With tomatoes added, I let the sauce simmer for a while to allow it to thicken and the flavors to develop. I followed Deb Perelman’s recipe this time around because I found it suitable for a beginner such as myself; the ingredients list was short and her instructions unintimidating. The last go around I followed David Lebovitz’s recipe. I found his tomato sauce more complex, though I think I may like it better as it tastes truer to the Shakshuka I ate overseas. He includes caraway seeds, turmeric, and even honey. Yotam Ottolenghi also includes a good recipe for the dish in his book Plenty, which I think may be the middle ground between the other two I’ve mentioned: authentic, yet still simple. I cracked four eggs one at a time into a bowl, and carefully added them to the pan with the heat dialed way back. A 12 inch pan is recommended, I bet because the larger surface allows enough space for the eggs to cook evenly and quickly. Cover with a lid and let cook for a good while; yes, they say 5 minutes but I found it took longer — maybe because I used a smaller pan. Serve family style at the table with plenty of chopped parsley to garnish, and pita for dipping. We warmed our bread in the oven as an extra treat.
Yesterday, we ate more moderately and even juiced a couple of times. I love the little burst of energy I get from fresh juice, and we bought some produce from the market today so that we could continue to juice throughout the week. Mainly, we bought radishes (with greens), cucumbers, and lemons to juice, but also brought home a huge head of green leaf lettuce, green beans, new potatoes, peaches, and two small bags of salt – Himalayan and a smoked chili pepper/sea salt blend. We’ve already eaten the beans and potatoes! I cooked them for dinner tonight. We used a masala to spice up the green beans, which I blanched and then sautéed along with some onions in olive oil. For the new potatoes we made our own little “Roasties” (courtesy of David Bowers, author of Real Irish Food. I parboiled them, too, and then tossed them onto a preheated tray and into the oven to bake until nice and caramelized around the edges. Earlier today we also enjoyed some gazpacho sold at the market, and a quick lunch of couscous and black beans, with bits of mango, red onion, cilantro and a honey vinaigrette. Will met a man at work who treats his bees with the utmost care, and so for the first time in maybe four years we have enjoyed some orange blossom honey. Anyway, a weekend of feasting, indeed! I hope you all are having as much fun.
Until the next time — W.