Thursday, September 17, 2015
The ten day period between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as The Days of Awe — a time when the gates of heaven are said to swing open, when you can work for a divine rewrite of what goes down in the book of life. Or, as it's also known: honey cake season.
Honey cake is a stodgy, brown, boozy cake. A cake of an earlier time. But it's also a cake that transmits holidays and love, a cake that gets better as it gets older, and a cake that is just lovely with a cup of tea or coffee. You can hear more about it over at NPR. And happy 5776 to all! Hope it's a good one.
Friday, September 04, 2015
For those not in the know, making shakshuka goes like this:
Step 1: Make tomato sauce.
Step 2: Add eggs.
Step 3: Scoop up with bread, impress/delight guests/self.
Seriously, shakshuka gives you a very impressive bang for your buck. It's a Middle Eastern favorite, and I can't for the life of me figure out why it's not more popular here. Because really, it's delicious. And easy.
You can make your tomato sauce the night before, and just crack in the eggs in the morning for an insta-brunch. You can use half the tomato sauce, and freeze the other for an all-you-need-is-eggs meal. Or you can, as I did, pour your sauce into a jar, tuck it in your bike bag along with a carton of eggs, and use an office hot plate to make a truly spectacular workday meal (ah, lunch club!).
Shakshuka usually features sauteed peppers, but I'm not the biggest fan. So instead I just did the usually smattering of favorites: onions, garlic, tomatoes, with a bit of depth and interest from cumin, paprika, and caraway (the latter isn't necessary, but it's nice). You can make shakshuka all year long with canned tomatoes, but this version, with a pile of fresh ones, is especially lovely. And did I mention easy?
Fresh Tomato Shakshuka
adapted, loosely, from Einat Admony
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika (you can swap out half or all for smoked paprika)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds (optional)
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
6 good-sized fresh tomatoes, chopped
salt, pepper and sugar to taste
12 large eggs
Heat a large pot over a medium high heat, and pour in the olive oil. Add the onions, along with a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent and slumped but not colored, ~10 minutes, turning down the heat if needed to keep them from browning. Add the garlic, and stir another 3-5 minutes until softened. Add the paprika, cumin, and caraway (if using), stir for a minute or two to toast, then mix in the tomato paste, then add the bay leaf and fresh tomatoes, and salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture cooks down entirely, and the oil begins to come out — about 30—40 minutes.
When the mixture has cooked down, add enough water to restore it to a somewhat soupy tomato-sauce consistency, and taste to adjust seasonings. At this point you can proceed with the recipe, hold it until later, or freeze (all or half) of the mixture until you're ready to serve.
When it's time to cook, pour half of the sauce into a large skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high, until the mixture starts to bubble, and crack in a half-dozen eggs. Cover, turning down the heat if it's sputtering too much, and cook until the eggs are set to your liking — it should take less than 10 minutes to get a nice, set-but-runny consistency, where the whites have set but the yolks are still a bit saucy. Serve with crusty bread, and feta, olives and hot sauce on the side. Repeat with remaining sauce and eggs, or reserve for another meal.