My Kitchen Go-To: Quick and Easy Shakshuka

Quick & Easy Shakshuka

Quick & Easy Shakshuka

This, right here, is what I like to make when I’m in a bit of a kitchen rut and have no idea what I want to eat for dinner… or breakfast… or lunch… or when I’m having people over for brunch… Really, it’s an anytime dish that is way too easy to make.

Quick and smokey shakshuka with feta and lemon-y, parsley-y couscous is as easy as chopping a few things, boiling water, heating some sauce, and poaching some eggs. A delish anytime meal, lickety-split.


Quick and Easy Shakshuka

Serves 4 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons white wine, optional
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 – 796ml (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
2 cups couscous
4 - 8 eggs, depending on how hungry you are
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the onions.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes or until the onions start to soften.  Add the finely minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so just to cook off some of that raw garlic hit. Stir in the smoked paprika, chili flakes, and cumin and allow the spices to toast for about 1 minute or so. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, if using, or add two tablespoons of water.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down a bit.  Add the canned tomatoes and stir well to combine.  Cover the pan and lower the heat.  Allow the sauce to simmer away for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, set your kettle to boil and pour your couscous into a heatproof bowl.  When the water has boiled, pour 2 cups of boiling water onto the couscous, season with salt and pepper, stir, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Allow this to sit for about 8 to 10 minutes while you finish up your shakshuka.

Using a spoon, make slight wells in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each.  Cover and cook the eggs over medium-low heat until the whites are firm and the yolks are just slightly cooked but still runny, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Fluff your couscous with a fork, stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining parsley, and divide between four plates.  Top each plate with an egg or two plus a good dose of that sauce and scatter with crumbled feta cheese.

*Personally, I’m a big fan of leftover shakshuka for breakfast after a late night out with too much wine

My Favourite Breakfast Sandwich: Eggy Banh Mi with Coconut Bacon

Breakfast Banh Mi w/ Coconut Bacon

Breakfast Banh Mi w/ Coconut Bacon

If you ever find yourself in Kitchener, Ontario, do yourself a favour and visit The Yeti Cafe near the Kitchener Market. It is, hands down, my all-time favourite breakfast place ever and their vegan bacon (aka jazcon) is out of control delicious. I genuinely think I could eat the equivalent of my bodyweight in this stuff and I would have no regrets.

This here is my take on their vegan bacon scattered onto my take on a breakfast-y banh mi. It’s my favourite at-home breakfast sandwich to whip up on a lazy Saturday morning!

Also, hot tip, even if you don’t make this full recipe, just give hoisin a try on your next eggy breakfast sandwich. It’s a trick I learned from the geniuses over at The Yeti and it has changed my breakfast sandwich game for the better.


Veg-Friendly Breakfast Banh Mi

Makes 4 sandwiches

For the Do Chua (Vietnamese Quick Pickle)
½ small daikon radish, peeled and julienned
2–3 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
1 cup water
½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the coconut bacon
1 ½ cups large unsweetened coconut flakes*
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke**
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

For the sandwiches
8 eggs
4 banh mi buns, like fresh small baguettes or Portuguese rolls, split
½ cup mayonnaise, divided
¼ cup hoisin sauce, divided
Coconut bacon (regular bacon would be great too)
½ cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
Do Chua, drained
Cilantro
Sliced green onions
Sriracha, optional 

For the Do Chua (quick pickle), mix the daikon and carrots together and place them into a large glass bowl or jar. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt have dissolved then pour it over the daikon and carrots. Place the veg in the fridge to pickle for at least 20 minutes or up to one week. 

For the coconut bacon, preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together the coconut flakes, oil, tamari or soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and five-spice until very well combined. Spread the coconut out onto your prepared baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven for 10 to 13 minutes, giving the coconut a stir about halfway through. Keep your eye on it because coconut tends to go from golden and delicious to burnt and inedible pretty quickly. Remove the coconut bacon from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.

To assemble the breakfast banh mi, fry the eggs to however you like them and spread each of the buns with a good helping of mayonnaise and hoisin sauce. Layer a hefty ¼ cup of coconut bacon overtop followed by cucumber slices, two eggs, Do Chua pickles, and a scattering of cilantro and green onions. Drizzle the top with sriracha if you like things a little spicy and dig in! 

*Be sure to use large coconut flakes, not shredded coconut.

**Liquid smoke is available at most larger grocery stores as well as through Amazon

 

It's Jammer Thyme: Strawberry Thyme Freezer Jam

Strawberry Thyme Freezer Jam

Strawberry Thyme Freezer Jam

Who doesn't love jam? It's pretty much the perfect sweet saucy thing for everything from smearing on toast to dolloping over heaping bowls of ice cream. 

But, like, let's be honest here. Have you ever actually made your own jam? I don't know about you but classic jam making just doesn't fit in the square footage of my teeny little kitchen and picking up a jar from the farmers market or grocery store just seems 18,000x simpler.

That is, until now! 

Meet freezer jam, you're new favourite Springy/Summery thing to make. It's filled with fresh fruit flavours, stores beautifully in the fridge and freezer, and is a cinch to make!

This strawberry thyme freezer jam is the perfect recipe to use up all of those beautiful berries that are just about to pop up at markets and that little hint of thyme, lemon, and vanilla is a freaking dream!


Strawberry Thyme Freezer Jam

Makes three 250ml jars

4 cups trimmed and sliced strawberries
¾ cup sugar
½ lemon, zested and juiced
1–1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or ¼ vanilla bean, split and scraped

In a large pot over set over medium heat, combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and thyme leaves. If you are using a vanilla bean, add the scrapings and the pod now but if you’re using vanilla extract, save that to add at the very end.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently with a spoon and mashing the strawberries slightly. I like to use a potato masher for this. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or so or until jammy.

Remove the jam from the heat and add in vanilla extract, if using. Allow the jam to cool slightly then divide into your jars. Allow the jam to cool completely then seal with lids and pop one jar into your fridge to chill and two into your freezer for later use.

 

Challah at me! ... do people still say that?

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Challah: what isn't it good for?

Stuffing? Yes please!
French toast?  Oooohhhh baby
Slathered with butter and jam for breakfast?  OK!
Oozy grilled cheese?  Yuh-huh!
Fresh out of the oven?  Duh!

Sure, you could pick up a loaf at the store but making this beautifully braided bread at home is so easy!

The perfect eggy bread for your Easter feast or really any occasion that could use a slightly sweet, super simple, perfectly plaited loaf!  


Classic Challah

Makes 2 loaves

2 ½ cups very warm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup honey
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
7–8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar and allow the yeast to bloom and bubble up for around 10 minutes.

When the yeast is all lovely and foamy, beat in the honey, vegetable oil, and eggs.  Holding the hook attachment for your stand mixer in your hand, beat in one cup of flour at a time until it gets too difficult to mix by hand.  Add in the salt.  Attach the hook to the mixer and knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed.

Cover the bowl with a small piece of plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1–1 ½ hours or until doubled in bulk.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half and give each a few kneads.  Set the balls of dough aside for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten then divide each ball into three equal pieces.  Roll each into a long snake about 1 ½ inches in diameter.  Pinch the ends of three snakes together and braid them into one loaf.  Do the same to the other three pieces of dough and lightly grease two baking sheets.  Place the braided loaves onto the baking sheets and lightly cover each with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow them to rise again in a warm spot for about one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F and beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle each with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds.  Pop the loaves into the oven for 20–30 minutes or until a deep golden brown then loosely tent the loaves with aluminum foil.  Continue baking the loaves for 10–15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread registers 190F.

Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Store the loaves well wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.