Friday, November 25, 2011

Shaksuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

As I'm approaching the one year mark for posting anything on this blog, I've been feeling pressure to come up with a post. The problem is that I've been repeatedly cooking recipes from the blog, but I haven't been coming up with anything new. Then I had a craving for a stewy, spicy, yummy tomato and egg dish I had once at Eltana. But when I went there to have it, I was too early. Even though it has eggs in it, it's really a lunch or dinner dish. So, darnit, I had to come home and make my own version. Suddenly, a blog post was ready. The Eltana version has more vegetables than mine and it comes with a bagel to dunk in it. I think there are a ton of variation possibilities - add zucchini, eggplant, more spicy peppers, olives, artichoke hearts. It's so quick and easy.
P.S. Part of starting to post again is promising myself I won't skip a recipe just because I didn't get a great picture!

Shaksuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)
serves 2

1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno
2 Anaheim peppers (or bell peppers if you can't find these)
1 1/2 T cumin
1 T smoked paprika (or substitute hot paprika)
pinch of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 14.5oz can of whole tomatoes
1 cup water
4 eggs
feta cheese for sprinkling
bread for dunking

  • Get the jalapenos and peppers ready by cutting off the ends and scraping out the seeds. Chop the  jalapenos tiny and the Anaheims just a little smaller than bite-sized.
  • Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, deepish pan. Saute the onion for a few minutes and then add the garlic. Let them cook until they're just turning brown.
  • Add the jalapenos and peppers and cook for a few minutes to soften them.
  • Add the cumin paprika and toast for a minute or two. If they start to stick too much, just skip to the next step.
  • Dump the liquid from around the tomatoes into the pan to stop the spices from sticking. Then squish up the tomatoes with your hands and add them in. You could probably really easily substitute canned tomatoes, but I haven't tried that yet.
  • Add the cinnamon, bay leaf, and water and simmer for about 15 minutes to get the flavors all together. If you need to splash in a little more water, that's no problem, just do it a bit at a time so it doesn't get too thin.
  • Crack each egg into the pan so they aren't touching. Put a lid on and let them cook for about a minute to set. Then I learned a great trick from my new favorite cookbook - use a soup spoon and baste the whites of the eggs with the sauce. This makes them taste better and set better.
  • The dish is done whenever the eggs are done to your liking. I don't like a really runny yolk so we let ours cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve sprinkled with feta cheese and with toasty bread for dunking in the sauce. It would probably be great over pasta too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Broccoli Rice Bake (a.k.a. Leftovers Casserole)

Now it seems like a no-brainer to cover some leftovers in creamy sauce, bake them up with some cheese, and then - voila - a whole new dinner, but I'd never tried it until I saw a recipe similar to this in a Cook's Illustrated special issue about quick meals. I love that magazine for ideas and tips, but even the quick recipes are so fussy I often don't follow the exact instructions. It's not that I doubt their version is more efficient and maybe even better, they're just so bossy. But the interchangeability of this meal is undeniable. You could make it with rice, pasta, or even potatoes for the "base," then add just about any protein (or not), and a wide variety of vegetables. All you'd make is the sauce. I do make it sometimes with no leftovers at all, but it's better to wait until I have some rice and chicken in the fridge so it's less work (the only thing I wouldn't use - veggies that are already on the soft side). And it freezes well. Oh, I forgot to mention it's delicious.

Broccoli Rice Bake (a.k.a Leftovers Casserole)
serves 4 generously

4 cups cooked/1.5 cups uncooked brown rice
2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
4 cups broccoli
4 T butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup stock
1 cup cream
1 t mustard
1.5 cups cheese (I like a mix of Parm and Cheddar)

  • If you're not using leftovers, cook the rice; steam the broccoli until it's still a little crunchy (so it doesn't turn to mush when baked); then cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter or oil until light brown and cooked through. Set these aside.
  • In a large, high-sided frying pan that can go in the oven,* melt the butter and add the onion. Saute until the edges start to brown and then add the garlic. 
  • Saute until the garlic softens (a couple of minutes) and then sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic. Stir well so the flour has a chance to brown for a minute or two, but not burn (it will stick to the pan, but don't worry).
  • Dump in the cream, stock, and mustard and whisk vigorously.
  • Add the broccoli, chicken, and 2/3 of the cheese and stir well. 
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste. 
  • If you're using leftovers, stir this on the heat for a few minutes so that the ingredients are heated through.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and pop under the broiler until brown and bubbly. 
  • Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
*If you don't have a big enough pan, you can combine everything in a bowl and then transfer it all to a broiler-safe dish in the end.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup with Cheesies

I blame learning to crochet for my recent lack of blog posts. It's not that I haven't been making dinner, it's that I'm spending all my free mornings making hats instead of writing up blog posts. Add to this John's new, let's call it challenging, work schedule and it also hasn't been a month for much experimenting in the kitchen. Enter Tomato Soup with Cheesies. I hadn't made this soup in years, but I remembered it as the great Emergency Soup from when I was cooking. We always had roasted garlic in the fridge, cans of good tomatoes on the shelf, cream in the pastry department, and that's about all it takes. It's a rich enough soup that I like to eat it with Cheesies (that's what we called toast with melted cheese on top when we were kids) instead of the usual grilled cheese sandwich. I don't keep roasted garlic around now (though maybe I should), so that was the one element I had to plan ahead for. You could probably skip it if you're in a hurry.

Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup with Cheesies
served 2 for dinner with 4 servings left to put in the freezer for lunches

1 head of garlic
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 T tomato paste
2 cans of whole tomatoes
1 t dried thyme
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups stock*
1 cup cream
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or sub1 T dried and add it with the thyme)
a few slices of your favorite sliced bread and cheese

  • To roast the garlic, start by cutting off the top of the head so that some of the tips of the cloves are exposed. Set the head on a square of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, and close it up in a little packet. Roast in a 350 oven for about an hour. The cloves will be soft and brown. This keeps in the fridge for about a week.
  • In your soup pot, saute the onion in a little olive oil until it is nicely browned - about 8 minutes or so.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir and cook until it's just starting to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the tomatoes with all their liquid, stock, thyme (and basil if using dried), red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Squish the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add.
  • Simmer 30 minutes to an hour depending on how thick you like your soup. Remember that you're going to add cream next, so let it be a little on the thick side.
  • Remove from the heat and add the cream, basil, and balsamic. 
  • Blend with a hand blender or in batches in a food processor or blender.
  • Serve with Cheesies: toast one side of the bread under the broiler until it's just about to start turning brown. Flip the bread over, top with cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted.

*I use a stock base (Better than Bouillon) instead of liquid stock so that I don't have to simmer the soup as long to get it to the right consistency. So for this recipe I'd add 2 cups of water and 4 t of stock base instead of 4 cups of stock. If you don't have, or don't like, the paste stock consider putting your liquid stock in a pot and reducing it by half while the garlic is roasting. It will make the actual soup making part go faster.
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