Shakshuka my hookah/flash the bazooka/ready, get set/booyah

My experience at Oleana last weekend inspired me to prepare a Middle Eastern-themed meal, so I concocted my favorite excuse to cook, inviting some friends over for brunch.  I wanted to build the meal around shakshuka, a North African dish I had had bookmarked for awhile.  Isn’t that a wicked fun word to say?  It’s both exotic and bad-ass, and had I not known what it referred to, I could just as easily be deceived into thinking it was a fun island cocktail or the baseline for a rap beat.  Plus, it rhymes with nasty words like hookah and bazooka. Couldn’t you totally see Eminem dropping the above line? I hope he credits me when he does…though ideally not by referring to me as a b*tch or ho.

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The dish is essentially poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, but something about this simple combination struck me when I saw it. I used smitten kitchen’s recipe (doubled) as a guide, though idiotically neglected the feta, which I will be sure to include next time. It was good as is, but I would have preferred the dish to be significantly spicier. I wonder if I devein and deseed my peppers too thoroughly for my own good. Chinese restaurants typically just run a knife through the peppers whole (seeds and all) and toss them into the wok (An aside: wok-seared hot peppers, with a little salt, are so delicious. Don’t perceive them as garnish!). Next time I might try cutting the number of peppers in half and using them in their entirety for a more pronounced overall kick.

In addition to the shakshuka, I made lamb meatballs and roasted mushrooms with a healthy amount of garlic and butter.  The lamb meatballs were surprisingly successful products salvaged from my attempt to make aubergine rolls.  While cooking them, I realized the eggplant slices were neither wide nor thick enough, and thus not sturdy enough to play the role they were destined for.  I was disappointed, but rather than hazarding rolls that would probably fall apart anyway, I racked my brain for an alternative and meatballs seemed to make sense.  Even though my meat mixture was already cooked, I tossed it with an egg and some bread crumbs, gave the outsides a dusting of bread crumbs, too, and popped them in the oven so they would crisp up. The next day, the remaining meatballs, smothered in shakshuka sauce, lent themselves beautifully to a leftovers pita bread sub.

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Served with garlic and lemon yogurt sauce:

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Roasted mushrooms: nice, but could have used a briny element to cut the meaty richness and umami.

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In other news, Boston area residents can now breathe easier knowing that snow has finally graced our town. Tonight is also the winter solstice, whatever that means.

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2 thoughts on “Shakshuka my hookah/flash the bazooka/ready, get set/booyah

  1. i wish i lived in the same city as you so i could be “invited over for brunch”! new year’s resolution for you: move closer to me. hehee note how you have to do the moving..

    love the presentation of the meatballs!!

  2. Pingback: 2010: It’s a wrap « the lay gastronomer:

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