Sunday, 17 February 2013

Shakshuka, or something like it

The good thing about following food blogs, reading cookery books and watching chefs prance around on TV is inspiration. Having quite a good memory (albeit increasingly unreliably as I dive deeper into my thirties) I can often recall interesting ideas picked up from all these recipes I come across. I don’t tend to spend money on buying the associated books – it is just their ideas I am after. As a cook I tend to be quite bold – to make things up as I go along. This comes in quite handy since I have a tendency of cooking using the ingredients at hand rather than buying ingredients for a specific recipe.

Shakshuka came to me in this way. I vaguely recalled seeing the dish raved about by Yotam Ottolenghi in his Mediterranean Feast series on Channel 4. I also stumbled upon Hemsley and Hemsley’s take on it, “Anytime Eggs”. I always have eggs, tomatoes, onions and garlic in the house, and quite often some greens as well. Cumin and smoked paprika are my staple spices, as will be very clear in this blog. Over a few weekends I ended up trying out different ways of preparing it and have ended up with a dish that is the perfect weekend pick-me-up. By no means of the imagination should this be seen as an authentic version of the dish. I do think anyone who tries it wants to have it again.

The greedy cook/photographer didn't get a chance to snap until  it was almost too late. Photo: Helene Frossling

Perfect breakfast for one VERY hungry person

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 banana shallot, or a couple of smaller shallots
1 garlic clove
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp ground cumin
60 g spinach, washed
2 free range eggs

To serve:
Smoked paprika powder, plain yoghurt, fresh dill or mint (chopped), bread.

Peel and slice the shallots thinly. In a small frying pan (approx 20 cm across) heat the olive oil and fry the shallots on a gentle heat until cooked through and beginning to get some colour. Crush the garlic and add to the pan for half a minute before adding the chopped tomatoes, the balsamic, the cumin and a tablespoon or two of water. Cook on a gentle heat until it looks like a somewhat dry tomato sauce. Add the spinach and put a lid on to let the spinach wilt into the mixture for a couple of minutes. Stir and season.  Now make two wells in the tomato and spinach mixture, large enough to hold an egg each. Crack one of the eggs into a cup, remove any errant pieces of shell then tip the egg into one of the wells in the frying pan. Repeat with the second egg. Put a lid on the pan and leave it until the egg white has set, which takes around 5 minutes.

To serve, dollop some yoghurt over the top, scatter with some paprika powder and chopped fresh herbs. Eat straight from the pan using a fork and pieces of bread. Amazing.   

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