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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cauliflower “steaks” on cauliflower puree

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Cauliflower with cauliflower.

There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, here. I’m not about to produce a vegetarian meal by halves.

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This recipe calls for an entire head of cauliflower to be consumed between two people. We are using the whole damn thing. If I was truly innovative, I would have crisped up the leafy fronds encasing the florets, but I’m afraid I was a little busy massaging my kale. Could I be more of a food wanker? Let me just add that this recipe can be easily adapted to be vegan, paleo or even both for good measure. I don’t often cook an entirely vegetarian meal, and so for some reason, making a dish based around vegetables in various disguises and then adding more vegetables to compliment it somehow made a lot of sense to me. Given that I absolutely love celebrating fresh produce, I’m seriously considering challenging myself to one meat free day per week. Once upon a teenage time, I was a vegetarian!

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gado gado – indonesian satay salad

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My Opa (Dutch) grew up in Indonesia, and as a result, some of my fondest food memories featuring cuisine hailing from there. Peanut satay sauce has forever been on regular rotation in my family home. We usually serve it alongside a barbecued, marinated butterflied leg of lamb, but gado-gado is another marvellous option, especially if you have vegetarians coming along for a spot of dinner and have already served them haloumi. The peanut sauce can be prepared up to a day in advance, and if you mise-en-place cleverly and chop your vegetables with time to spare, it’s a perfect dish to serve to a large group.

I’ve provided measurements for the peanut sauce, but they’re loose and I encourage you to taste your own satay regular and adjust ingredients accordingly. As for the shrimp paste? My Opa used to tell us of the factory in which the fermented fishy stuff was made, and of an adjacent luxury hotel forced to drop their nightly rates because of the smell. I’m not sure if it’s true, but fry it and you will understand why such a place would be so cheap (an extractor fan or alfresco preparation will not go amiss).

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Ripe’s raw broccoli salad

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Simple, crowd-pleasing, prep in advance when hosting many people, bring to pot lucks, pack for lunch, etc. This is turning into some kind of I-will-convert-you-to-broccoli series, because I promise this salad wins everyone over.

Taken from Ripe Recipes: A Fresh Batch

Ingredients:

  • 375ml mayonnaise (I use Bestfoods)
  • 3 tbsp apple cider/white wine vinegar
  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, or the seeds of 1 fresh deseeded pomegranate
  • 70g toasted pinenuts
  • 70g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 red onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo and vinegar.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the nuts/seeds and stir to combine.
  3. Cover with clingfilm to marinade for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight (I tend to make this the morning of occasions).
  4. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with the freshly toasted seeds to serve, top with more salt, pepper and microgreens (sweet basil) for aesthetic purposes.

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Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic

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One of my New Year’s resolutions is to befriend Yotam Ottolenghi, but that’s beside the point: this recipe transforms broccoli into something spectacular. I have always been a broccoli believer – as long as it isn’t overcooked, it’s practically guaranteeed that I will be enthused by it. This recipe is simply perfect as barbecue side-dish food, packed lunch sustenance, night shift nutrition, and even better, it’s open to adaptation. I’m not inclined to measure anything out when prepping vegetables – I prefer to simply eyeball and assess the result via taste. I’ve attempted to approximate what I do, in any case.

This is not Ottolenghi’s exact recipe – I’ve adapted it for simplicity, laziness and what I have on hand, as any good recipe should, eh?

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large heads broccoli, torn into floret/stem segments, suitable for rather large bites
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I use a lemon-infused variety)
  • 1 large spoonful crushed garlic (I buy mine pre-crushed with as few preservatives as possible)
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes (adjust for desired spiciness, obviously)
  • 2 tablespoons verjuice
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Optional: toasted slivered almonds, fresh pomegranate, etc.
  1. Blanche the broccoli florets in a large saucepan of gently simmering water for 2 minutes before draining in a colander and transferring to a large bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Drain in the same colander before drying thoroughly with paper towels or a clean teatowel.
  2. In the large bowl, combine the crushed garlic, sumac, chilli flakes, verjuice, oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss the blanched broccoli in the mixture before cooking over a barbecue grillplate on high heat. Turn when the broccoli is starting to achieve charred grill-marks (don’t be afraid for it to look a little burnt!).
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature – sprinkle extras on top if you’ve so chosen. This keeps well in the fridge for a few days for packed lunches, however I’m such a huge fan it never lasts that long.

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