Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I love poached eggs. Love 'em. For years my standard breakfast has been a simple poached egg with a slice of toast. Easy to prepare in under five minutes, and filling. Eggs Benedict are my favorite, but I also adore eggs poached in red wine a la Julia Child.
A few years back, Ben and I took a trip to Leavenworth, a little town the Cascades built to resemble a Bavarian village (including the bank and Safeway). It's irresistibly touristy, with great hiking and amazing German food. We stayed in a little bed-and-breakfast named Autumn Pond (yes, I picked it for the name), and while ensconced there, our hosts made us the most delectable breakfast of eggs baked in tomato sauce. I'm sure it was inspired by our darling Julia. The eggs weren't precisely poached, but baked and poached occupy the same esteemed spot in my brain, and I've been hooked ever since.
With my adoration of poached eggs comes a fascination with breakfast and breakfast foods. Why do Americans eat cold cereal while the French prefer a bit of bread and jam and the Israelis eat salad and white cheese? I'm sure someone, somewhere has written a treatise on such questions, but I prefer to explore with my palate rather than my brain.
David Lebovitz recently wrote a post on Israeli breakfast and I swooned at the sight of eggs in tomato sauce. Shakshuka is a North African dish adopted by Israel, and every person makes it a little differently. You can use lemon and feta or zucchini or peppers with your tomatoes and spices. What I loved about this was the intense savory flavor. I've never been one for sweet breakfasts like waffles or donuts. I can tolerate brunch only after I've been up for a respectable amount of time and have already consumed some tea and a bit of toast.
I cribbed off of Yotam Ottolenghi's shakshuka recipe to create my own, and I humbly suggest you do the same. Yotam has a wonderful how-to video and is quite the expert.
Yotam's recipe calls for peppers, which Ben doesn't like and we never have in the house. I didn't go shopping to make shakshuka; I woke up early Monday morning, read David's post and decided to make it with whatever ingredients I had, which didn't turn out to be much!
In my shakshuka I used cumin seeds, safflower oil, shallots, sugar, bay leaves, dried thyme, fresh cilantro (coriander), fresh parsley, a little cayenne, canned tomatoes, salt and eggs. I poached the eggs for 15 minutes as suggested and found the yolks came out harder than I like, so next time I'll check them more frequently.
Are you going to make shakshuka? What are you going to put in it?