Thursday, January 10, 2013

Something From Nothing #8: Mexican Shakshuka



I give my family credit for my love of cooking.  My father, mother, grandmother and aunts were all great cooks and I was always welcome in their kitchens.  Sometimes I got to help, other times I just got to hang out, watch and learn.  Often times I learned more by observing their techniques and recipes while we talked and laughed than any other time.

I've also learned a great deal about cooking from my friends.  My friend Karen makes the best Yorkshire puddings I have ever eaten, Joanie makes a saffron chicken that I dream about, and Susan can throw together a five star dinner by merely cleaning out the contents of her refrigerator.  I always laugh and say that some of my best recipes are stolen from my friends.  Little do they know that I'm  not really joking.

I love the times I get to stay with ( and mooch off of) Susan and her husband Adrian during my visits to England.  I have learned so much while watching her scurry around, the whole while answering the questions that I pepper her with about the ways of her kosher kitchen.  She's a great teacher and is always very patient with me even when I break the rules and use one of her "meat" spoons to stir the cream into my coffee. 

Adrian is my kind of guy.  Not only is he funny and sweet, he will pretty much eat anything that won't eat him first.  He is such a great host that he refused to let me eat alone during our trip through London's Borough Market.  He selflessly threw aside all of his dietary concerns and the disapproving looks of his healthy eating wife and shared a dream buffet of fat and calories with me.  He is such a trooper that he didn't even bat an eye when I asked him to split a grilled cheese and onion sandwich, chase it with a duck baguette and a glass of red wine, and follow it all up with an order of fish and chips for dessert.  It was one of the best lunches I've ever eaten.

In between our culinary binges, Susan does her best to reel us in and  fortify our diets with simple, healthy foods to get us ready for our next relapse.  At the end of a busy day I love hanging out in her kitchen drinking a glass of wine and leafing through her cookbook collection while she cooks us something delicious.  She's got books from all over the world, but my favorites are her kosher cookbooks since they are so different from the ones I have in my own kitchen.

One of the recipes that I discovered in one of these books was for eggs poached in tomato sauce or shakshuka, also known as eggs in purgatory.  While researching this post I must have found a million versions of this dish and they all seemed to have two things in common, the ingredients are pretty simple, yet the preparation can be involved.

For my "Something From Nothing" version of this recipe I've whittled down the ingredient list and simplified the preparation.  This recipe proves that all you need to do is combine a couple of flavorful ingredients in a simple way and boom!  You have a delicious meal.

 Mexican Shakshuka

For my easy Mexican version of this dish, I've skipped all the chopping and sauteing by starting out with canned fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies.  To make the basic recipe all you really need are the tomatoes, egg, salt and pepper, but I have dolled mine up with cheese and chopped green onion.  Of course this is a deviation from the classic recipe, but that's how I roll.

1 cup diced tomatoes with green chilies (I use Kroger brand diced salsa style fire roasted tomatoes in tomato puree and they were perfect.  If you don't have those available look for a brand of canned tomatoes with green chilies that is packed in tomato puree.  I think Rotel is a bit watery for this recipe.)
1 large egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (you can also use cojita, queso fresco, feta or any other favorite cheese you choose)
Chopped green onion or chopped cilantro to garnish
Warm corn tortillas (optional)

Place tomatoes in a heat proof pan (I use a 6" cast iron skillet for my single serving) over medium heat.  Heat until tomatoes start to simmer.  Heat and stir until the tomatoes are piping hot all the way through.



For a medium doneness, gently crack an egg (you can also squeeze 2 eggs into this small pan for heartier appetites) into the center of the simmering tomatoes.  Cover with a lid and cook for approximately 3 - 4 minutes (my egg was cold from the fridge so it took closer to 3-1/2) or until whites are mostly set around a bright yellow yolk.  While shakshuka is simmering, preheat broiler.

  
After 3 - 4 minutes sprinkle eggs with grated cheese and place under the preheated broiler.  While watching carefully, broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, approximately 1 minute.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped green onions or coarsely chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately with warm corn tortillas.







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