Monthly Archives: March 2015

Shakshuka…Or how to be more exotic for breakfast.

March 29, 2015

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Shakshuka.  Or how to be more exotic for breakfast.

Remember when I told you a few weeks ago how vongole sound better in Italian?  Well it turns out eggs also sounds better in foreign languages too.  Why say baked eggs, when you can say:


I love the way that word sounds. I love saying it over and over again.



Try it. You’re feeling more exotic aren’t you? What I love more than how this dish sounds, is how this dish tastes! It’s basically a classic North African version of eggs baked in a sauce.

Almost every country in the Mediterranean has a variation of this sexy, little dish.  In Italy, you break a few eggs over tomato sauce and top with some shaved parmigiano reggiano and call it Uova al Purgatorio. The Greeks make Kayiana in which you scramble your eggs in a tomato sauce base, served with “pasto”, a salt-cured and fat-preserved pork with some fried potatoes mixed in. And the Spanish Pisto Manchego take fried eggs which will sit over a base of bell peppers, tomatoes and zucchini all topped with manchego cheese.

Shakshuka is one of my favorite versions. I like the mix of Spanish Chorizo, Greek feta, and wilted greens (for that extra veggie kick) and roasted red peppers for a truly Mediterranean amalgamation of baked eggs.  Here’s how:

Shakshuka – serves 2

2 Spanish chorizo sausage

1 handful or cup of baby spinach or chopped swiss chard

2 small garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup red pepper sauce* (recipe below)

2 eggs

2-3 oz. crumbled feta

pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of paprika


Pre-heat your oven to 400 F.  First, start by slicing your chorizo sausage and rendering it down in a hot pan.  When the fat from the sausage has been released, that’s your cue to add a handful of spinach and chard and wilt the greens.  Add crushed garlic cloves, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a cup of the red pepper sauce.

Divide the mixture between 2 individual sized baking dishes, or ramekins.  Crack an egg carefully over each one and top with some crumbled feta.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or to preferred level of egg doneness.  When you remove from the oven sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each dish and serve with some toasted pita bread to break your yolks and mop up that sauce.  Enjoy!


Red Pepper Sauce (adapted from Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Cookbook)

This red pepper sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for a week (but it’s too good to last that long).  To make the sauce, you will need:

6 red peppers

4 cloves of garlic

425 F oven

40-45 minutes roasted until skin is blackened

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and roast peppers for 40-45 minutes, until blackened.  You will want to turn the pepper half way during the cooking process. Also on your baking pan, you can make a small foil packet of garlic cloves, topped with olive oil and let that bake during the second half, after you have turned your peppers.

Remove roasted peppers from oven and place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  The steam will help loosen the blackened skin from the peppers and make cleaning them easier.  Once the peppers have cooled, peel the skins off the peppers and remove the stems and seeds.  Place your cleaned peppers in a food processor with the softened garlic cloves (skins removed) and blend.  Put in a mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Vongole…or how everything sounds better in Italiano

March 16, 2015

See these little guys?  They didn’t stand a chance.


Vongole…or how everything sounds better in Italiano.  

Have you ever noticed how some foods sound better in foreign languages?  You could say chicken liver, but doesn’t fegato di pollo sound more appetizing?  You could say cheese, but formaggio sounds more decadent.  And you could say clams, but why not say vongole instead?  Except maybe funghi, which is just a funny sounding way to say mushroom in Italian.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that things even taste better in a foreign language too…try it.

What are your favorite foreign food words?

So I got pretty lucky and found the tiniest little vongole, only about an inch or so across and picked up a pound to decorate my risotto.  See how I didn’t say rice dish?  Sounds better no?  Anyway, they remind me of my honeymoon in Positano.  So I couldn’t resist them.

So here is how to do it:

Risotto con Vongole, Funghi e Asparaghi (Risotto with Clams, Mushrooms and Asparagus) serves 4

1 lbs of tiny manila clams or vongole

1 small onion, diced

1.5 cups of arborio rice

1 small bunch of asparagus

6-8 cups chicken stock

1 package of cremini mushrooms

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp of finely grated lemon rind

1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano


olive oil and pat of butter

1 cup of white wine (half for risotto, and half for vongole)


First thing I like to do is my prep work or mis-en-place, sound less like drudgery right?  You are catching on.  I start by slicing my mushrooms and sautéing them in a pan with a pat of butter and a small bit of olive oil.  I like to get them a nice toasty brown.

Next, wash and trim your asparagus.  Cut into about 1 inch pieces, set aside.  The asparagus will be the last thing added to the risotto.

While you are finishing the mushrooms, begin heating your chicken stock until it comes to a simmer and keep it warm while you make this dish.  You will be adding warm chicken stock a 1/2 cup at a time as you make the risotto.

Next, dice your onions and sauté them in the pan in which you plan to make your risotto.  Once the onion has softened add your 1.5 cups of arborio rice and toss around until very lightly toasted.  Add 1/2 cup of white wine.

Once the wine has evaporated begin by adding your chicken stock a 1/2 cup at a time.  You do not want to add the next 1/2 cup of stock until the first has been absorbed by the rice.  Using this method will help cook the rice properly and obtain the right creamy consistancy.  The whole process of adding stock, stirring until absorbed and then adding more should take you no more than 20-25 minutes.  Risotto is one of the easiest dishes to make, but it does demand that you babysit it during this time to ensure it becomes nice and creamy.  Taste for salt and pepper.  You will want to salt at the end, just in case your chicken stock was salty enough.

Once the the arborio rice is almost to that al-dente stage (meaning not mushy, but toothsome), you can take a little side pot, place a splash of oil in it.  Once hot, add the vongole that you have rinsed first to the pot. Stir around, add 1/2 cup of wine, one finely diced garlic clove.  Place the lid on that pot and let it steam.  After 2-3 minutes you will want to check on your little vongole to see if they have opened up.  Once they have opened, they will release their own juices and be ready to eat.  That sauce it amazing!  You can add that sauce to your risotto right at the end.

To finish, add your lemon rind, parmigiano reggiano, mushrooms and asparagus to the risotto.  Add your final 1/2 cup of chicken stock and stir until absorbed.  Serve in a nice little bowl and decorate with your vongole.  Buon appetito!  

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