Food Friday: Shakshouka

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Food Friday recipe. To make up for it I give you one of my favorite things to make.


As I have mentioned on other food fridays, this is not a foody blog and I am not a photographer. You are going to see poorly lit shots of the mess that is my kitchen. A lot of the mess  was actually made during the cooking process since the pan was a bit too small. I don’t know why I am defending myself this is my blog 🙂
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Shakshouka is a North African dish of poached eggs in peppers, tomatoes, and onions. The final result provides a lot of flavor, is  good for you, and easy to make. With a basic starting recipe, shakshouka can be versatile in how you spice it and what you can add. People eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Let’s get to it.

Ingredients:

  • Medium sized onion (diced)
  • Large red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1-3 cloves of minced garlic (depends on how much you like garlic)
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes or equivalent(I used whole peeled since it is what I had)
  • 3ish eggs
  • cumin 
  • paprika (not pictured)
  • cayenne pepper 
  • chilli powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • handful of parsley (actually important)
  • tbsp of olive oil (not pictured)

Preparation:

I recommend preparing this in a large saute pan with a lid.  I used my cast iron skillet since it was clean and at hand. If you look closely at the pictures you can see it was almost not big enough. In fact some spillage occurred because of its size. I ended up using the lid from the saute pan anyway in the final stage. 
Slowly heat the oil over low heat in the pan while you dice up the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onions to the pan and let them soften over low heat for 4 to five minutes.  Then add the garlic and let it all soften for another 5 minutes or so. While this is going on dice up the red pepper.
Now stir in the red pepper and give the whole thing another good five minutes to continue softening everything. I think I actually gave it like 10 minutes.
Now add the diced tomatoes with all the juice from the cans.  I had whole tomatoes so I had to use my wooden spatula to smoosh them into smaller chunks. No you season the dish.  I am not going to give specific amounts. Season to your specifications. I dumped a whole bunch of cumin and paprika in mine. I like it nice and spicy.  Let this mixture simmer for a bout 8 minutes. It should start to reduce a bit before moving onto the next step. 
Now add the eggs. Crack the egg and dumped them carefully right into the juice. We are going to poach these eggs in the spicy saucy goodness. I like to dish some of the sauce over the eggs just to make sure I get as much flavor as possible. Then cover the dish and let it simmer from between 10 – 15 minutes. I went with 15 since I didn’t want the yokes to be runny. If you want a a softer yoke only cook it fifteen minutes.
Now comes the last but important part. Sprinkle over a good bit of parsley. Your think you can skip the parsley. It’s just a useless visual garnish that nobody wants anyway. WRONG!  The parsley adds an important mild bitter flavor to the concoction of tastes we have filled this dish with. Now I have made shakshouka without the parsley and it is still excellent but It tastes noticeably better to me with the parsley added. 

Servings, Storage, and Reheating:

This serves 2 or possibly 3 if you have something else or it is a light meal. I’ve found that the eggs don’t reheat well. So I make sure to eat all the eggs during the first sitting. That usually leaves me with a good half if not more of the vegetable mixture. This can easily be stored in some plastic ware and then reheated in the microwave for a few minutes.  It makes a great side for something the next night. I particularly like pairing with a pork chop.

That was the Week: August 24th through August 30th 2015

Monday I stayed home sick with a really bad sinus or pressure headache. It took almost all day for the headache to subside.  Pills did nothing.  Sadly, the headache ruined what turned out to be an almost perfect day weather wise. The temperature stayed in the mid seventies and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

On Thursday my recent string of being near important people continued. This time I helped run a meeting attended by Timothy Killeen (or as I now know he goes by Tim) the current president of the University of Illinois. I will not here discuss the rather sad state of my Alma Mater. I hope he can get things going in the right direction.

Friday came and the bizarre times at the University of Illinois continued. With one week until the start of the Football season, the campus was shocked.. and overjoyed by the news that Football Coach Tim Beckman had been fired for cause.  I have written previously about Coach Beckman.  The TLDR version is that he is a terrible coach and needed to go away if Illini football would ever be successful. Sometimes you have to strip a car down to its frame to rebuild it and that seems to be where we are with many things about the University of Illinois. Heck that pretty much applies to the entire state. The big question being asked now is if the athletic director Mike Thomas will be the one to hire the new coach or if his butt will be out the door soon as well.

The highlight from Saturday was watching an amazing movie. I had heard some talk about and seen a few commercials for Ex Machina.  Even though people told me it was good I think the commercials turned me off.  Watch below:

The commercial makes it looks much more horror themed than it is.  I turned it on expecting to watch it form maybe twenty minutes and then to head off to do something else. From almost the very start I sat mesmerized. It captured my interest immediately with the beauty of the film making. The framing of the shots is compelling, the sound is prefect, and the dialogue intriguing.  The movie challenges your mind. It is very cerebral.  You will be thinking about big ideas from the very beginning to hours after the film has finished. There came a specific point in the movie, I won’t spoil it, in which one of the characters thought they exact same thing I did. At that moment I realized how  brilliant the movie was.

Later that day I watched the Chicago Bears look really bad in a preseason game. It’s going to be a long year for Bears fans.

Great Squirrel war 2015 Update:

It would usually be a happy thing for me to report that the squirrels have left my tomatoes alone.  I have realized this week why the squirrels have been so compliant. No they aren’t dead. My tomato plants are dying. A few days after the squirrels destroyed my two nice tomatoes, I forgot to water the plants for a couple of days. I was out of town. When I came back they were all wilted. I watered them and they perked back up.  Over the next week or so I noticed that leaves started to die off. I didn’t think much of it. I assumed it was just a reaction to not getting water for a couple of days. More and more leaves died.  Then the flowers started drying up without producing fruit. Finally after a couple of weeks of this I took a long look at the plants. I noticed yellow spots all over the dying leaves. My plants have some sort of blight or mildew killing them.  I pulled off as many of the infected leaves and stems that I could. It left one of the plants almost stripped bare. The tomatoes that were already growing stopped at whatever size they had been. I am waiting for the last few tiny things to ripen then I will probably just pull out the worst plant. Today I did notice one blooming flower on the lessor blighted plant. Maybe there is some hope.

That was the Week : August 10th through August 16th 2015

He Talk Pretty

On Tuesday I had the honor of assisting with a speech given by the Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin. By assist I mean I had to stand with a microphone and hand it to people asking him questions.

He did a good job. He said pretty words tailored specifically for his audience and even got a dig or two in on the Republicans.

I don’t talk about politics much, but sufficed to say, I am not big fan of politicians.  I don’t like people who manipulate and control others.

The Beginning of the Great Squirrel War 2015 

Last year I grew some tomato plants on my balcony. I had a rage inducing long war against the squirrel menace. They kept destroying my tomatoes. They didn’t eat them. They would take one bite and then leave the tomato to rot.

This year I stepped up the effort and have added several other things to my balcony jungle. Maybe the other plants helped to dissuade the squirrels from eating my tomatoes.  That was until Wednesday. I had grown one big perfectly round tomato. It had almost finished ripening and I looked forward to savoring its delicious juiciness. I came home from work and looked out in horror at the carnage. My perfect tomato lay on the balcony. Its juicy center had been ripped apart by the vile teeth of the evil poofy tailed rats. I tromped about in anger vowing my revenge.  As if to mock my resolute steadfastness the squirrels tore down the second best tomato later that night.

I am working on a proposition to make in front of the UN. I plan to lead an international effort to free the world from the tyranny of the vile rodents called squirrels.  The A.S.L.L (Anti Squirrel Liberation League) will save us all.

Nothing to Do but Watch Cars Crash

This was the first weekend in a month, maybe five weeks,  in which I did not have some form of travel planned. I’d actually be in town the entire time. I took it easy. I did a lot cleaning and read.  I finally finished Pride and Prejudice. I also got around to watching Mad Max Fury Road.  What did I think of it?  Let me preface this. My favorite movie of all time is the Road Warrior(Mad Max 2). I am not joking.  So yes I really liked Fury Road.

Not Fury Road but the Road Warrior

This weeks words of Wisdom:
People who are bothered by being called a failure, are people who think of themselves as failures.

Food Friday: Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda Soup

Yeah yeah I know it is sunday.

I first had this soup from a local cafeteria.   I loved it so much I had to try and make it at home.  Made at home with fresh ingredients, I can tell you it is even better.

fresh veggies

Ingredients:

2 tomatoes  can and have used roma tomatoes then you need 6-8 depending on size
1 yellow onion
1 red pepper
1/2 to 1 cup grated  Gouda cheese
salt and pepper
and a little olive oil

grated gouda

Preparation:

Chop the tomatoes and onion into largish same sized chunks.  Deseed and also chop up the red pepper.  Put into a bowl and lightly coat with olive oil.  Place the veggies on a cooking sheet and place it in an oven at 350 for about fifteen minutes.  You want the peppers to actually get a little brown. 

rasted veggies

There are two ways to puree this mixture. You want to do it while the veggies are still hot so the cheese melts.  The first option is to put the veggies in a pot and use a stick blender.  Or if you have a nice thick glass blender like I have you can just dump it in there.  While it’s blending slowly at the cheese.  This will make a mess since the cheese sticks to things.  A delicious gooey cheesy mess.  I admit it is kinda of a pain to clean everything afterwards. Just blend it to your preferred consistency. I like mine to still have chunks of onion and pepper in it.

Like usual I have no pictures of the finished product.  Why?  Well, it is so good that I just stood in the kitchen and started eating it out of the pot.