shamelessly good shakshoukah

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Serving this shakshoukah was my Sunday saving grace. Without this deliciously spicy baked egg number to provide me with the satisfaction of next level stay-at-home brunching, I’m afraid the latter half of my weekend would have been vastly less fulfilling (my attempts at napping twice were pathetic at best and I cleared my Gmail inbox out of over 4,000 messages dating back to 2005). I know something must taste good when I instantly want to share it with other people – so here you are, hastily snapped iPhone photo and all. I was far too busy demolishing my plate with a voracious appetite to grab my camera and haphazardly attempt to style the dish during the glorious eating process.

I’ve never made shakshoukah before – I think something about having to do two things and open a tin of tomatoes put me off, and now I’m seriously wondering why. With a handy pair hands nearby to cut the onions so I didn’t have to do any of the crying (seriously, it’s profuse and unfortunately not at all cathartic), it was nearly as easy as simply frying up my usual bacon and eggs. Perhaps what’s put me off further is that I’ve also never had a particularly amazing rendition of what I feel is its true potential when I have ordered it out at a restaurant – the tomato never quite reduced enough, the chorizo more sausage than Spanish vehicle for salty spiciness. I went all out in preparation for this, purchasing my very own “chorizo hot piece” imported from Spain for the experience.

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smoked salmon and preserved lemon frittata

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Egg bakes are one of the easiest, most nutritious ways to make four portions of main meals. The additions of smoked salmon with the salty, citrus bite of the preserved lemon makes these eggs taste next level – to the point where I have brought this along for night shift and quite happily consumed it on four consecutive occasions.

I’m a huge advocate for lazy, one bowl situations for meal preparation, and this dish here is no exception. I’m obviously not coming up with anything new – a frittata is a frittata, after all, but I can’t overemphasise how great a combination the fish and preserved citrus are together. I’ve had the two things lying about in the fridge for a while (another bonus) – both bought on special and keep forever – and so ultimately very little effort was taken here. Previously when I’ve been throwing together egg bakes I’ve used cheese to cut through the obvious “egginess” of the eggs, but with the lemons finely chopped throughout, there’s really no need. I’m not just catering to dietary restrictions here (dairy free, paleo, primal, low carb, pescatarian) – this is simply delicious in general.

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christmas ham and brie omelette

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Leftover ham is pretty ubiquitous after Christmas events, right? We hosted a barbecue at our apartment a few weeks ago and a fortnight later, the leg was still kicking around (albeit looking a little worse for wear), despite being carved up generously to serve sixteen people. While it kept pretty well for the first week, by the second it was looking a bit dry and unappealing. I made this omelette variation at least twice, and it would be a surefire way to feed the masses on boxing day whilst clearing out the fridge from looking like a yuletide hangover amidst unwanted rum balls with too many raisins, brandy butter that was left out in the sun, etc. etc.

I’ve only really persevered with making half-decent omelettes recently. Previously I’ve been inclined to throw in the towel prematurely and call it a scramble. However, I think there’s a certain elegance to being able to fold the cooked egg in half, sliding it onto the plate with the delicious fillings (ugh, I can’t find a good word to use here, oozing, seeping, all seem far too revolting) melting out. I would probably eat them for any meal of the day – and in fact, I have done.

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For 1 omelette (multiply as needed to serve a group):

  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly with a fork
  • ~100g ham off the bone, thinly carved
  • 50-70g brie, thinly sliced
  • Small handful roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A little butter to oil the pan (I used Whitestone manuka smoked butter)
  • (I also served mine alongside asparagus fried in the butter alluded to above)
  1. I prepped my vegetable side in advance (asparagus in butter because they are in season, but this would also go well with fresh watercress, fried mushrooms, rocket/arugula), frying the fresh asparagus until browned in the smoker butter.
  2. In the same small nonstick pan, melt a pat of the smoked butter before pouring in the beaten eggs over a medium heat. Arrange the ham and brie to cover (don’t worry about overlapping) one half of the eggs before seasoning with salt, pepper and sprinkling with the herbs.
  3. Allow the egg to cook enough that the omelette is starting to set around the edges and if you lift to check on the base, it’s looking a little ~bronzed~. This means it’s ready to flip! With a fish slice, get under the half of omelette without toppings and fold it over the ham and brie. Press down to set it in place and leave to cook a little longer so it can set.
  4. Slide onto plate, serve, eat. This entire process takes ~5 minutes tops – if serving multiple people, ideally have more than one pan of the same size on the go at once, or at least have your oven on warm so plates can be kept ready for serving.

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