February 20, 2014

Shakshuka eggs with an Indian twist

Yottam's shakshuka eggs

I didn't even know what shakshuka meant till I opened Yottam Ottolenghi's book Plenty and found the recipe. Immediately, the picture arrested me. Of course we had to make it and once we did, shakshuka become a favorite in our  house and among our friends.

We've made it again and again tweaking it just a little every time, adding one vegetable, or a spice till it was perfect for sharing. 

Although there are several versions of this North African dish, the most common recipe involves eggs that are softly cooked in a hot skillet of spiced tomato and vegetable sauce. And the interesting combination of seasoning in which the eggs are cooked has stayed in our memory ever since we made it first. I mean, I had no idea that just adding saffron to the eggs would make such and interesting flavor!

We've tweaked the original recipe from Yottam a little bit adding an Indian flavor to the North African dish and hope that it will become a favorite in your kitchen too.

(adapted from Yottam's Plenty, serves 4-6)

1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
3-4 tbspoon olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
1 red and 1yellow peppers, cut into thin strips
bunch of greens
1/2  tspoon brown sugar
¼ tspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ tspoon cumin seed powder
¼ tspoon turmeric powder
2  bay leaves
4-5 curry leaves
bunch of chopped coriander and  parsley
2  ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tin chopped tomatoes
good couple of pinches of saffron threads
1  cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
6 eggs
salt to taste
In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes then grind them to a powder. Set aside

Add the oil and then temper it with bay leaves and curry leaves. Then add the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the peppers, turmeric powder sugar and half of the cilantro and parsley mix and cook for another 5 minutes.

Then, add the tomatoes, saffron, cumin seed powder, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 8-11 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a gravy consistency.

Yottam's shakshuka eggs
This mix can also be prepared in advance and the eggs can be added the day of the brunch/breakfast.

Now make gaps in the pepper mix and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a gentle heat for another 8-10 minutes, or till the eggs have set. 
Yottam's shakshuka eggs
Sprinkle with leftover cilantro and parsley mix and serve with chunky bread.

February 11, 2014

Sriracha, onion and maple syrup chicken

Sometimes, I get stuck in one way of cooking and sometimes it takes a meal outside to break out of that rut. I make tandoori chicken and Lil A likes it, so I keep making it the same way again and again. Just when I was getting a little bored of it, I had chicken at a friend's place recently with some harissa and lemon juice. That's what I needed to jolt me out of the routine! I started rethinking my chicken recipe too.

For the last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with chicken and spices and now I think it is ready to share. With spice, color and a hint of sweet, this chicken recipe covers it all. The best thing is, this recipe is quite flexible. You can change it as you want. No yogurt, add some lemon juice instead. I've done it and it has worked.

In kids news, Tiny M is walking around nowadays. He stumbles and falls, but always manages to pick up and start again. He loves balls and hats and will go after them with a determination that's funny and endearing.

Lil A is starting to read. He can read start books with three or four words. But, sometimes he just makes up a word. What are some of the books your child liked when they were starting to read?

Coming back to the recipe, here is how I did it.

8-10 pieces of chicken
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tbspoon maple syrup
1 1/2 tspoon sriracha sauce
1/2 small onion chopped
1 tbspoon cilantro stems chopped
1/2 tspoon paprika powder
1/2 tspoon cumin seed powder
1 tbspoon oil
salt to taste

Sriracha, onion, maple syrup chicken
Mix all the spices, onion and cilantro stems in the yogurt.

Sriracha, onion, maple syrup chicken
Add the chicken pieces and let it marinate for 4-5 hours.

Heat the oven to 350 deg F. Bake the chicken for 13 minutes and then switch the oven to broil.

Broil the chicken for another 12 minutes, turning them over at mid point.

Sriracha, onion, maple syrup chicken
Spoon all the sauce in the tray over the chicken pieces and serve warm. Goes very well with some naan and even makes a great sandwich.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 02, 2014

Orange and lemon birthday cake for 4th birthday

Orange and lemon cake

This year the cold has been relentless and so when it was time to bake a birthday cake for Lil A's 4th birthday, I had citrus on my mind. Not just little but a blast of citrus that will remind us of sunny days and warm summer.

There has been a lot of baking. First, Lil A took cupcakes to school for his friends. I baked about 40 cupcakes after the little ones had gone to bed, but I don't have any pictures. Their school does not allow any toppings, so it was plain vanilla cupcakes and I sent sprinkles on the side for anyone who wanted it. Lil A tells me that everyone used it.

After the cupcakes, I made a cake for family dinner. I adapted the recipe by using whole wheat flour, reducing an egg and some butter. The end result was delicious.

Lil A wanted red frosting. I put some food color in the whipped cream, but it came out pink. Thankfully, Lil A was distracted enough with his cousins and gifts that he didn't mind the pink cake!

(adapted from technicolor kitchen recipe)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tspoon baking powder
1/2 tspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated zest from 1 lemon
grated zest from 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
11/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Whipped cream:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
6-8 red food color

Chocolate jungle:
3 tbspoon chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F, butter and flour 2 medium cake pans and set it aside.

Sift together whole-wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then add the orange and lemon zests and mix it well. Set aside.
Orange and lemon cake

Now combine the butter and sugar and mix for 2 to 3 minutes till the color changes and it starts to appear fluffy.
Orange and lemon cake
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time. Make sure that you scrape the sides after each egg.

Now add the orange juice and the lemon juice together. Add it gently to the milk.

Now start adding the dry ingredients alternating it with the milk/juice mixture. Do it in three additions.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes till the toothpick comes out clean.

Once done, remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Now make the whipping cream by whipping all the ingredients together till the soft peaks form.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (over hot water). Once melted, add it in a sandwich bag and lace it on a parchment paper. Take it out, once dry.

Orange and lemon cake
Add one of the cake, add whipping cream and then add the other cake on top. Cover the cake completely with whipping cream and smooth out the edges.

Orange and lemon cake
Take the chocolate jungle and add it around the cake gently. Add the number with sprinkles. Keep it in the fridge till it's ready to be served.

Here are the previous birthday cakes:
1. Year 1: Chocolate and banana birthday cake
2. Year 2: Strawberry birthday cake
3. Year 3: Vanilla cupcakes


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