Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)

Shakshuka

During the last few months of my pregnancy, I had to increase my protein intake. Lucky for me, J found several recipes that tasted good, included several servings of vegetables and had lots of protein. This one from Tori Avey with a few modifications quickly became one of our favorites.

You can modify the spice level based on your tastes. If you want to add more eggs, feel free! It’s just as good the next morning on toast like huevos rancheros.

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Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium (we use our cast iron skillet for this).
  2. Heat olive oil in the pan.
  3. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.
  4. Add garlic and continue to sauté until mixture is fragrant.
  5. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat until softened.
  6. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir to blend.
  7. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for another 5 to 7 minutes until it starts to reduce.
  8. Taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences.
  9. At a minimum, add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. You can also add more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.
  11. Sprinkle the feta over the dish, or mix it in if you like.
  12. Then crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. In our cast iron skillet, we can get about five eggs around the outer edge and one in the center.
  13. The eggs will cook over easy on top of the tomato sauce. If you prefer more done eggs, you can heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook in the oven until set (when the skillet is jiggled, the eggs don't jiggle back).
  14. We leave the mixture uncovered and let simmer for between 5 and 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced.
  15. Be careful at this point, because the mixture can go from reducing to burning quickly. 
  16. Serve in a bowl alone, over rice or with some french bread.

My opinion:
This dish is delicious hot or cold. With sides or alone. It’s easy, filling and perfect for a late fall evening.

p.s. Summer 2016 update: without the cayenne pepper and the chili powder, our toddler loves this dish. We just add the extra spices onto our own plates. 

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Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac


As the arrival of our daughter gets closer, J and I have started perfecting some of our favorite restaurant dishes at home. We finally got this dish perfect and couldn’t be happier. The original recipe can be found here.

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Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac
Servings
people
Ingredients
Beef Marinade Ingredients : makes the gravy
Dipping Sauce Ingredients (this is our favorite part it really brings the whole dish together!)
Non-sauce Ingredients
Servings
people
Ingredients
Beef Marinade Ingredients : makes the gravy
Dipping Sauce Ingredients (this is our favorite part it really brings the whole dish together!)
Non-sauce Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prepare marinade by combining garlic, oyster sauce, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil with the beef for at least half an hour, preferably 1-2 hours let marinate in the refrigerate. (Note: If you're thinking ahead (like we occasionally do), feel free to combine the beef and the marinade and freeze the mixture. Then you can just take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator when you leave for work.)
  2. Prepare vinaigrette by mixing rice vinegar with salt and sugar. It should be a balance of sour, salty and sweet. It should look something like this:
  3. Thinly slice the red onion and use about 3-4tablespoons tablespoons the vinaigrette to pickle and set aside covered in fridge for about 10 minutes (longer is better here too!). Prepare bed of lettuce and tomatoes in a serving platter and set aside.
  4. Heat a large wok or pan over high heat.
  5. Add about 2 tablespoons cooking oil and when it begins to smoke, add an even layer of beef and allow to sear for about 2 minutes, before “shaking” to sear the opposite sides for about another 1-2 minute more to brown all the sides. Do this in batches to cook all the beef if necessary. This will sear the beef so it looks like this:
  6. Transfer beef to bed of watercress and tomatoes.
  7. Drizzle another 3-4 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the beef and greens and top with pickled red onions.
  8. Lastly, squeeze lime juice over salt and pepper in a small bowl and use for dipping the beef, or feel free to just drizzle it on.
  9. The dipping sauce should look like this:

My opinion:
This has to be in my top 10 favorite dishes of all time. I love the veggies and the balance of all five flavors. I also love that the rice isn’t even really necessary for this to be a filling meal. Plus even if you do all the prep work right before dinner, the whole start to finish time is only about 30 minutes.

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad
Summer finally arrived about a week ago and it’s been too hot to cook. Too hot for heavy meals and just generally too hot. My favorite thing about this dish adapted from this Shape.com recipe is it’s served chilled and for a light dinner, it is really filling.

Ingredients:
Well-marbled New York steak or a skirt steak, grilled (we broiled and pan-seared a couple of times when it was too hot to grill) to your liking, but preferably no more than medium rare
1 small red onion, sliced into skinny wedges
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped, no stems
Large handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or 1/2 vine-ripened tomatoes cut into wedges)
1 green pepper, sliced thin
2 limes (or about 1/4 to 1/3 cup lime juice)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (you may need more. Note: the original recipe called for palm sugar, but we’ve had a hard time finding it)
1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
Thai chili powder to taste (we found a blend at Penzy’s Spices that we love for this dish – Bangkok blend)

Directions:
Grill, pan-sear or broil the meal as directed above and slice into thin strips after allowing to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Put the brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl, add some of the lime juice and mush into a thick liquid form. Add the rest of the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar.
When the steak has cooled, Add it to the sauce mixture. Toss with your hands to incorporate all over the steak. Add the rest of the veggies, toss and taste. Tasting as you go is the most important part. Add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, or more sugar if it is to lime-y.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so to let the flavors meld. Then serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish cilantro.

My opinion:
You can add the cilantro into the sauce mixture, just give it a rough chop. If you want to quick sautee your veggies in peanut oil (or your favorite cooking oil), feel free it adds another layer of flavor. This is the perfect dish for a hot summer evening.

Penne with garden Fresh Tomatoes and Basil plus Mozzarella


Our garden seems to choose every year what it will do well and what it won’t. One year, it was zucchini. Another year, basil. This year seems to be tomatoes. So with the overabundance of tomatoes and a few small basil leaves, we wanted to make something that would be quick and easy and not super hot, since of course it’s late August in Missouri.

Luckily, J found this super simple recipe on the Food Network. We’ve talked about how we love lots of Emeril Lagasse’s dishes before (here, here and here) and he did not disappoint this time either.

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Penne with garden Fresh Tomatoes and Basil plus Mozzarella
Servings
people
Ingredients
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put a large pot of salted water on for the pasta. Meanwhile, prepare your sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute or less.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just until they begin to release some of their juice.
  5. Cook the pasta in the pot of salted boiling water for 12 to 13 minutes until al dente (you're best bet is to follow the package directions).
  6. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and basil to the pan with the tomatoes and toss.
  7. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Serve the pasta in bowls, equally distribute the fresh mozzarella between the bowls. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the bowls of pasta and serve immediately.
  9. We reserved some mozzarella to top the pasta and then drizzled it with Balsamic vinegar.

My opinion:
So very tasty and perfect for a hot summer evening. Next time we might add additional veggies like onions or zucchini.

Ratatouille from Ratatouille


Also known as Confit Byaldi. I loved Ratatouille. Partially because I love Paris, French cuisine and of course Disney. The tagline from the movie, “anyone can cook!” always makes me smile. I was thrilled when J found that the New York Times published this recipe. I’ve had to modify it because spending three to four hours on dinner just doesn’t work for us.  Bon appétit!

Piperade Ingredients:
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed (we used a whole red and a whole green, they were small)
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (we used more at least 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved (we used a can of petite diced tomatoes)
1 sprig thyme (we used dried about 1 teaspoon)
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley (we also used dried, about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 a bay leaf (we used a whole bay leaf)
Kosher salt

Piperade Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely. Combine oil, garlic, and onion (which we precombined in a food processor) in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs (obviously we left the parsley and thyme in the dish, but removed the bay leaf). Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

Ingredients for Vegetables:
1 zucchini, sliced thin
Japanese eggplant sliced thin (if you can’t find Japanese, use regular, we do)
1 yellow squash, sliced thin
4 Roma tomatoes, slicked thin
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (we used more)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vegetable Directions:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees (we heated the oven to 400 degrees). Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed (this is not an exact science). Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours (if using a 400 degree oven, check after 30 to 45 minutes). Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (if using a 400 degree oven, cook 5 to 10 minutes uncovered.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm. (If using a 400 degree oven, there will be liquid. We don’t mind the liquid in the bottom. Better to use bread to soak it up! But if you do, follow the same directions for the medium head on the stove top.)

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vinaigrette Directions:
Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

My opinion:
I love this dish in the middle of summer, I love it in winter. It’s just a great refreshing, vegetable filled dish. We serve it with crusty french bread. We serve the leftovers over pasta or blend it into a thick sauce and serve over pasta. Sometimes the second day dishes are a tinge better than the first.