Monday, July 15, 2013

Homemade Roasted Red Peppers

This is a recipe that my family has been cooking as long as I can remember. I've had jarred red peppers and they are really not the same, plus they have preservatives in them which I would rather do without. Homemade roasted peppers are richer, earthier, and simply more delicious. Plus the jarred peppers can get pretty pricey! Give it a try and let me know if you think the two are comparable :)
·         As many peppers as you want, I like red best
·         Olive oil
·         Garlic
·         Lemon Juice
·         Salt  and Pepper, to taste
1.            Wash peppers

2.            Flip iron grate on stovetop upside down (this creates more space for more peppers)

3.            Turn on the flame and using tongs, place the peppers on the grate on the flame

4.            Turn the peppers every few minutes so that each side is completely charred and black

5.            Once all sides of the peppers are black, place them in a bowl and cover the bowl for around 3   minutes. You can also put them in a paper bag. The idea is to allow the steam to loosen the char.

6.            Remove the peppers and scrape off the char using the back of your knife. You don’t want to wash the peppers because it will remove the (delicious) oils.

7.            Slice peppers into thin ribbons and place in a bowl or jar with olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Use as much or as little as you like as it depends on your preferences. Keep in the fridge. 

Start with the peppers on the stove, don't forgot to flip the grate for more room

Use tongs to flip the peppers and don't forget to smile :) (that's my awesome roommate Michelle)

Once the peppers are charred, put them in a bowl with cover, paper bag, or in this case, pan with lid, to let them steam for a few minutes. This makes it easier to remove the burnt part and softens the peppers.

Use the back of your knife to scrape off the char and slice into ribbons (you can also tear the peppers into ribbons, no need to be exact)
Put the peppers in a jar with the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and shake it up making sure to coat all the peppers with the oil and flavors. These peppers actually taste better after a few days in the fridge.

Zaalouk: Eggplant and Tomato Dip/Spread... Yum!

Yesterday I had some people over for lunch and one of the things we made was zaalouk, a traditional middle eastern eggplant and tomato dip. It has all but 5 ingredients (not including olive oil and a few spices) and is super easy to make. Feel free to be inspired and add any other types of herbs or spices you like!

Here is my version:

1 eggplant
4 plum tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro depending on how much you like it
1/3 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs paprika
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne if you like some heat
1. Slice the eggplant in half the long way and roast it at 400 until it's soft (about 30 minutes).
2. Separate the flesh of the eggplant from the skin and rough chop it.
3. Mince the garlic, chop the cilantro and dice the tomatoes.
4. Heat pan with the olive oil. Saute the garlic in the oil for a minute or so and then add the eggplant flesh (discard the skin... or compost it if you're cool like that), the tomatoes, cilantro, spices and water. Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium.
5. Check on the pan every once in a while to make to sure there is enough liquid, you can also stir it around and help mash it together. Leave it covered and cooking for 25-30 minutes.
6. After 25-30 minutes, take off the cover and continue to let the mixture simmer if it is too liquidy. Add lemon juice and any additional salt and pepper. 

Serve with quinoa, salad, bread, or on it's on.

Preparing the eggplants for roasting
Separating the roasted eggplant flesh from the skins

Chopping the garlic and roasted eggplant
Place the minced garlic in the pan with hot oil for a minute before adding the rest of the ingredients
Add the chopped roasted eggplant...
And the tomatoes, cilantro and spices
Add some water

Cover and let the games begin

Uncover and stir, use the back of your spatula or spoon to mash the mixture together to create a consistent texture and add some lemon juice
Plate and serve!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Samantha's Shakshuka

Samantha's Shakshuka (otherwise known as poached eggs in tomato sauce)

Shakshuka is a flavorful and rich dish eaten in North Africa, Israel, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries (though it has different names and varieties). It's usually eaten for breakfast, but I prefer it for a light dinner or lunch. The great thing about this dish is you can individualize it as much as you like. The basics are tomatoes, onions, peppers, cumin, garlic, water, salt, pepper and eggs. Other than that, it's up to you. You can add paprika, or sometimes I cook it with a dried pepper like chipotle to give it a smokey kick. You can add hot sauce or whatever herbs you like. I personally use green peppers as that's the way they do it in Northern Africa, but in Israel they often use more tomatoes and red peppers. It's very versatile.
1 green pepper (diced)
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 tomatoes, I prefer plum but it's up to you (large dice)
1/4 cup water (more as needed)
3 eggs
2 gloves garlic (chopped)
2 tbs olive oil (feel free to add more or less depending on your preferences)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin (feel free to add more)
1 tsp paprika (if you like)
1. heat pan and add olive oil

2. once olive oil is hot, saute the peppers and onions over medium heat for about ten minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic after about 5 minutes, you don't want it to brown.
3. Add the tomatoes, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Saute for about a minute and then add the water. Cover the pan and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add more water if it gets dry.
4. Once the veggies have cooked down a bit and look a little saucy, crack the eggs into the sauce. It helps to make indents in the sauce and crack the eggs into each indent. You want to keep them separate.
5. Add a little salt and pepper and cover. You are basically steaming the eggs in the tomato sauce. I cook them until the yellow's are slightly cooked, I'm not into runny eggs. That's about 10 minutes. Feel free to cook them as much or as little as you like.
6. Serve on it's own, with a side salad, pita or bread. Add chopped herbs at the end (cilantro is a good match).