shakshuka

New Year's Shakshuka

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I'm finding it a bit weird to be thinking about New Year's, even though we are well into December, because the weather where I live is balmy. For Connecticut in December that is. It feels more like October.

It is December though and New Year's is coming and Ed and I always spend New Year's Eve with my brother and sister-in-law, Jeff and Eileen, and also cousins Leslie and Neil. Then Les and Neil stay for a few days and we just hang out, watch movies and eat. And drink.

Most of the time we have smoked fish for breakfast 3-4 days in a row but for several reasons we are changing course this year. One day of lox-and-bagels will do.

So then what?

I'm planning to serve shakshuka one morning. I have several versions, some with cheese, some with mergeuz sausage, some all-vegetarian. Some with middle eastern seasonings, some with Mediterranean herbs such as basil or oregano. A quickie or two.

This is the one I'm thinking of for this year, a substantial dish that reminds me of Huevos Rancheros. The pita bread sops up the juices from the vegetables. Also, the eggs aren't poached, but baked under a layer of grated cheese. I can set this up ahead and just pop it into the oven before we are ready to eat.

Huevos Rancheros Shakshuka

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 medium serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pita breads
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and serrano pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until the ingredients are soft and sauce-like.

While the sauce is cooking, spread the butter over one side of the pitas and place the pitas in a large baking pan. When the sauce is done, spoon it over the bread.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl one at a time then transfer each one next to the other on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Place the baking pan in the oven and cook for 15-18 minutes or until the eggs are cooked but with slightly runny yolks and the cheese is hot and bubbly.

For a crispier looking top, place the pan under the broiler for a minute or so.

Makes 4 servings.



Mock Shak

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It isn't Shakshuka. But this dish is a quick, incredibly satisfying substitute.

Or maybe just it's own thing.

It came about this way: I had some roasted tomatoes left over and wanted to use them in some other way than the leftover reheat.

But I didn't feel like cooking anything extravagant. So I made the leftover reheat.

But then I topped it with sunnyside egg/runny yolks, which I think can make just about any vegetable dish worthier.

This quick Mock Shak is a good bet for lunch, brunch and even dinner when you don't feel like fussing or spending too much time making a meal.

Obviously you can make the tomatoes a day or two ahead and reheat.

Glorious isn't it?

Mock Shak

  • 12 plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 4-8 large eggs
  • grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  •  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side up in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Brush the tops with olive oil and scatter the garlic on top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil and parsley. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Place 6 halves on each of four plates.

When the tomatoes are almost finished roasting, heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat (or use two pans if making 8 eggs). When the butter has melted and looks foamy, crack 4 eggs into the pan (or 4 eggs into each of the two pans) and cook them, sunnyside-up style until cooked to the desired doneness. Place one or two eggs one each dish over the roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

Makes 4 servings

 

Shakshuka Frittata

A few weeks ago some food-blogger colleagues at  MayIHaveThatRecipe.com  posted a recipe for  montadito -  a kind of tapa with crunchy bread as a base (and almost anything on top). The tops on theirs were small, cut up chunks of eggplant frittata. You can find the recipe  here . 
 I thought the idea was such a good one that I decided to embark on my own versions. My favorite was this one, a version of a version. That is, classic Shakshuka is made with braised tomatoes and peppers, a toss of feta cheese and poached egg on top. But I thought the vegetables and cheese could be cooked right along with the eggs, into a frittata. 
 You can eat the Shakshuka frittata by itself, of course. It’s a terrific brunch dish and way easier to cook than the traditional version. 
 But I cut it up to imitate my friends’  montadito  and it became hors d’ouevre. 
 Nice thing about Shakshuka in frittata form — you can make it ahead and serve it at room temperature or reheat it. 

  Shakshuka Frittata   
     
  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  
  1 medium onion, chopped  
  1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped  
  1 Serrano chili pepper, deseeded and chopped  
  2 cloves garlic, chopped  
  1 cup halved cherry tomatoes  
  8 large eggs, beaten  
  2 tablespoons milk  
  2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil  
  1/2 teaspoon zatar  
  1-1/2 tablespoons butter  
  1 cup crumbed feta cheese  
  Freshly ground black pepper, to taste  
  30 1/4-inch slices baguette bread  
  2-3 tablespoons olive oil or mayonnaisparsley or basil leaves, optional  
     
  Preheat the oven broiler with the rack about 6 inches from the heat. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the bell pepper, chili pepper, garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Dish out the vegetables and set them aside. Mix the eggs, milk, basil and zatar together in a bowl. Heat the butter in the sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, return the cooked vegetables to the pan. Scatter the feta cheese on top. Pour in the egg mixture and turn the heat to low. Stir once or twice, then cook undisturbed for 6-8 minutes or until the bottom has set. Place the pan under the broiler for up to a minute or until the frittata is puffed, golden and crispy on top. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. While the frittata is cooking, brush the bread slices on one side with a film of olive oil and toast for a minute or so or until lightly browned OR, toast plain, let cool and spread with a small amount of mayonnaise. Cut the frittata into small squares just large enough to fit on top of the baguette toasts. Garnish with parsley or chopped basil if desired.  
     

  Makes about 30 hors d’oeuvre

A few weeks ago some food-blogger colleagues at MayIHaveThatRecipe.com posted a recipe for montadito - a kind of tapa with crunchy bread as a base (and almost anything on top). The tops on theirs were small, cut up chunks of eggplant frittata. You can find the recipe here.

I thought the idea was such a good one that I decided to embark on my own versions. My favorite was this one, a version of a version. That is, classic Shakshuka is made with braised tomatoes and peppers, a toss of feta cheese and poached egg on top. But I thought the vegetables and cheese could be cooked right along with the eggs, into a frittata.

You can eat the Shakshuka frittata by itself, of course. It’s a terrific brunch dish and way easier to cook than the traditional version.

But I cut it up to imitate my friends’ montadito and it became hors d’ouevre.

Nice thing about Shakshuka in frittata form — you can make it ahead and serve it at room temperature or reheat it.

Shakshuka Frittata

 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 Serrano chili pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

8 large eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon zatar

1-1/2 tablespoons butter

1 cup crumbed feta cheese

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

30 1/4-inch slices baguette bread

2-3 tablespoons olive oil or mayonnaisparsley or basil leaves, optional

 

Preheat the oven broiler with the rack about 6 inches from the heat. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the bell pepper, chili pepper, garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Dish out the vegetables and set them aside. Mix the eggs, milk, basil and zatar together in a bowl. Heat the butter in the sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, return the cooked vegetables to the pan. Scatter the feta cheese on top. Pour in the egg mixture and turn the heat to low. Stir once or twice, then cook undisturbed for 6-8 minutes or until the bottom has set. Place the pan under the broiler for up to a minute or until the frittata is puffed, golden and crispy on top. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. While the frittata is cooking, brush the bread slices on one side with a film of olive oil and toast for a minute or so or until lightly browned OR, toast plain, let cool and spread with a small amount of mayonnaise. Cut the frittata into small squares just large enough to fit on top of the baguette toasts. Garnish with parsley or chopped basil if desired.

 

Makes about 30 hors d’oeuvre