home cooking

Valentine’s Dinner, Part Two! Shakshuka means love!

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In the last post, I mentioned the delicious menu, and showed how to make Swiss chard fritters.  Well, the highlight of the dinner was something I had heard of but had never made.  It’s called Shakshuka, and it’s a tomato, red pepper and onion stew that you then poach eggs in.  Unbelievably easy, and incredibly good!  the great thing about it you can easily make the stew and save it, then warm it up and poach the eggs.  This was another recipe out of the Jerusalem cookbook.  I highly recommend it!

Shakshuka (adapted from Jerusalem)

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 6 large eggs
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in crumbled feta.
Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and allow this to bubble away until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.
All you’ll need to eat this is lots of bread!
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home cooking

My Valentines Dinner, Part One

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Happy belated Valentines Day, dears!  I do hope you had exactly the kind of day you wanted!  The Hubby and I had a lovely day.  We both worked, took a break for lunch together, worked from the house the rest of the day.  Then I cooked dinner.  It was spectacular, although unbelievably simple!

Part one will be followed shortly by part two, but both items were cooked from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook, Jerusalem.  I got it for Christmas and immediately sat down and read it cover to cover.  What a wonderful book!  The food is simple and completely easy to make for the most part.  Almost every dish is spiked with fresh herbs, onion and garlic, and so very tasty!

The menu for us was raw artichoke salad, Swiss chard fritters and Shakshuka.  I’ll be giving the recipe for the fritters here, and will save the Shakshuka for the next post.  The photo of the finished product is above, and they’re served with lemon wedges.

  • 2 bunches of swiss chard, stems removed
  • Large handful each of flat leaf parsley, cilantro, and dill (or any combo of herbs you love)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Several good grinds of pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic grated or processed through a garlic press
  • 1 cup of feta cheese
  • 1 lemon cut into quarters

Before I start, again, these can be made with any leafy green you love, I stuck with the chard because it was the first time I made it, but you can easily substitute spinach, kale, arugula.  Go wild!

In a large pot of salted water, boil the chard leaves for 4 – 5 minutes.  They will still be vivid green, don’t let them turn color too much.  Drain them and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.  Once they’re cool to the touch, drain again and squeeze as much water out as possible.  You can do it with your bare hands or in a tea towel.  The object here is to get it as dry as possible.

Place the drained chard in the bowl of your food processor and add everything else on the ingredient list, up to but not including the feta cheese.  Process until it is very smooth and amalgamated.  You’ll see flecks of all the ingredients, but that’s fine.  Pour the mixture out into a bowl and fold the crumbled feta in.  I let this sit to rest for about 20 minutes, and it thickened a bit, but you don’t need to do that at all.

In a frying pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil, and drop the mixture into the pan in tablespoons.  You should get about three to a pan.  Cook them on a medium flame for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip them and cook an additional minute.  They should get a little brown on the bottom, but the green will still be very vivid.  Keep the fritters warm in a low oven as you make the rest, adding more oil to the pan as needed.  Eat them as soon as you can, spritzed with the lemon wedges.

Green heaven in a little tasty package!

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home cooking

Vodka Sauce

Vodka Sauce

Delicious?  Yes. Easy?  Yes.  Will I tell you how?  Of course!

This recipe is simplicity itself, and the vodka can be omitted if you choose, but why do that?  You can use spicy pepper vodka too!

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 12 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 – 8 garlic cloves – minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka plus 2 tablespoons to put in at the end
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup parmesan

In a heavy bottomed cold saucepan, add the olive oil, garlic cloves and red pepper flakes.  Turn the heat onto medium, and stir the contents of the pan.  Once you get a whiff of the garlic, add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato sauce and the vodka. Stir all to combine well and cover the pan, let it come to a boil and then remove the lid, allowing it to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Be careful you stir periodically so the sauce doesn’t burn on the bottom.  Once it’s cooked down for that time, lower the heat to a simmer and add the cream and butter, stirring well.  At this point, I usually get out the immersion blender, but that’s not a rule.  You can leave the consistency the way it is and it will be delicious.  If you do want to use the blender, make sure it is completely submerged in the sauce, remove it from the heat, and blend until you are happy with the consistency.  I usually do like to leave it with some texture, but smooth.  Return it to the heat to warm again, then stir in the Parmesan well, and serve with your favorite pasta.

Now, you can make many variations with this, you can add finely chopped onion to the original oil and garlic, you can also add in some torn basil leaves, or oregano, or whatever your family likes.  Remember, it’s not about the strict recipe, it’s about trying and seeing what you like!  The pan I made is above, I added sauteed mushrooms and it was wonderful!

Happy Cooking!

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