Tex-Mex Shakshuka

I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional shakshuka, but found a way to make it delicious. Instead of the regular tomato sauce, I use a can of Ro-Tel.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 can ro-tel

Directions

  1. Heat 1 can of Ro-Tel in small-medium skillet
  2. make 4 small indentions in the tomato, and add one egg to each
  3. reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until eggs are poached to desired doneness.
  4. Season with pepper, za’atar, cumin, cayenne, etc.
  5. Sprinkle with olive oil before serving.
  6. Serve with tortillas (corn or flour), tortilla chips, or pita, with a side of Israeli salad and guacamole, sour cream, and schug/Cholula

Variations

  1. for extra tomato flavour, mix in 1-2 TB of tomato paste
  2. For extra spice, add a chopped jalapeno
  3. For more crunch and extra flavour, saute a chopped onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil before adding the Ro-Tel. This morning I used the leftover vegetables from last night’s fajitas and it was fantastic

 

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Baked Ziti

I’ve been planning on making baked ziti since thanksgiving, and finally got around to it. In fact, for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me, I did a double batch. The quantities that follow are for a normal pan full, just double if you want extra, it’s barely any extra work.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb box of Barilla dried ziti n.74 or mostaccioli n.71 pasta (or half-half)
  • 2 links hot Italian sausage (.25 lb)
  • 2 links sweet Italian sausage (.25 lb)
  • ½-1 jar Classico D’Abruzzi sauce with sausage
  • ½-1 jar Barilla Marinara sauce
  • red or white wine
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in an 8 quart pot. Add some salt and a splash of olive oil. When at a full boil, add pasta and cook for 9 minutes, then drain and return to pot.
  2. Sear the sausage on all sides in a frying pan coated lightly with olive oil. When brown on all sides but not cooked through, remove from pan and slice thinly. Add back to pan and cook on both sides until brown and cooked through. Add to pasta.
  3. Add sauce to pasta. Start with ½ jar of each, stir, and add more to taste, until it looks “juicy” enough. Stir in cooked sausage.
  4. If the sauce jars are empty, rinse out with a splash of wine. Add to pan and deglaze, then stir in to pasta. If there is still leftover sauce in the jars, then just add the wine directly to the frying pan.
  5. Add the ricotta and about ¼ cup (or to taste) freshly grated parmesan cheese, and stir to mix. Spoon into a 9”x13” pan greased lightly with olive oil (or non-stick cooking spray).
  6. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake in preheated 350F oven or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  7. Serve with a side of more baked ziti. Or a salad if you want to be healthy about it. And red wine.

Notes

  1. Yes, I use store-bought sauce for this. With everything else going on its fine. But if you are Italian and/or your grandmother would have a fit if she found out, feel free to make your own.
  2. You may be tempted to buy some pre-shredded “mozzarella”. Don’t. I guess it’s ok if serving to kids (in which case leave out the hot sausage too), but please try to use the real stuff. Doesn’t need to be the fancy stuff, the prepackaged supermarket kind is fine.

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Banana Chocolate Pudding

I was inspired by watching MasterChef to make a quick dessert with a banana. I wanted a banana pudding, or a banana cream pie, but also something light, and easy. So I made a basic blancmange with cornstarch (the traditional Fanny Farmer recipe), then dumped in a couple of big handfuls of chocolate and sliced bananas soaked in rum. No added fat or eggs, and can easily be made parave or vegan. Not the same as a real Southern-style ‘nana puddin’, but delicious and so much more healthful.

Ingredients

  • 3 TB cornstarch
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3.5 oz (100 grams) Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 oz dark or spiced rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 2 ripe bananas

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix cornstarch and sugar with hot coffee, stir well over medium heat.
  2. Gradually add milk, stirring continuously to incorporate without lumps.
  3. Add chocolate chips and stir to melt.
  4. Cook until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring often to keep from burning.
  5. Slice bananas, and sprinkle with rum.
  6. Remove pan from heat, season with extracts, and stir in bananas.

Notes

  1. Cow’s milk can be used instead of the coffee and almond milk.
  2. Amount of sugar can be adjusted to taste. Add 1-2 TB if bananas are less sweet.
  3. Unsweetened baking chocolate or regular semisweet chips can also be used, adjust sugar accordingly. 

Sausage & Peppers

I  made authentic sausage and peppers for the first time tonight.Not the best I’ve ever had, but really tasty. I used more tomato than appears below (750ml box of Pomi) and it was a bit much. The peppers also should have been seared a bit more to simulate grilling, make sure the heat is high. And turn the sausages frequently to brown evenly on all sides.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sweet italian sausage
  • 1 lb hot italian sausage
  • 500 ml Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • oregano
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. brown sausages in large skillet in 1 TB of olive oil over medium heat, until browned on all sides but not cooked through
  2. Thinly slice onions and cut peppers into strips.
  3. Remove sausage from pan and drain off excess grease if necessary, reserve 1 TB and increase heat to high
  4. saute onions until starting to wilt, then add peppers and cook quickly until slightly soft. 
  5. Add garlic and cook for a minute.
  6. Deglaze pan with wine.
  7. Add 1 TB tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and spices. Stir well and adjust seasonings.
  8. Add sausages back to pan, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  9. Stir and cook 5 more minutes uncovered if necessary.
  10. Slice each sausage into 4 pieces, 1 mild and 1 hot per serving
  11. Pile onto Italian rolls or Greek pita

Greek Cheesesteak Casserole

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a confluence of several factors. And yes, that tends to happen a lot.
1. There was some leftover steak and sauteed onions for a cheesesteak, but no more rolls and not enough for a whole meal.
2. A recent Facebook discussion on mashed cauliflower and turnips
3. My Greek lunch the other day of moussaka and pasticcio.

.Preheat oven to 425 and bring large pot of salted water to boil
. Slice one eggplant, salt on both sides and allow water to drain off.
. Peel rutabaga and yam and 2 medium potatoes
. Boil root vegetables until tender, drain but reserve water
.Wipe off eggplant and fry in light olive oil until slightly soft and browned on both sides.
. Boil half pound of small shells or other pasta until al dente in same water
. Drain vegt and Mash with butter and milk
. Mix leftover meat and onions with half jar of cheese wiz and pasta
. Line casserole dish with eggplant slices
. Add pasta-meat filling over eggplant
. Top with mash
. Bake in oven until hot and starting to brown

Drunken Chicken

I somehow ended up with two open bottles of sherry, and decided to fix the situation by cooking with one of them. I’ve always wanted to make Chinese style drunken chicken, and since there was also a whole chicken in the fridge, I went for it. Since I used Taylor’s New York State Golden Sherry and not Chinese rice wine the flavour is somewhat less than authentic, but still quite delicious.

. Cut chicken in half, separating breast from legs. Sprinkle with black pepper and 5 spice powder. Allow to rest while preparing cooking stock.
. In a 6 or 8 quart pot, add 1onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 2 cloves garlic, and 3-4 thick slices of ginger to 6 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 min.
. Add dark meat to pot, cover and cook on low heat for 5 min, then add white meat and cook for another 20 min. Make sure that chicken is covered by liquid while cooking.
. Remove from heat and Allow chicken to cool in broth.
. Remove chicken from broth when cool enough to handle. Strain broth and reserve for making soup.
. Using a heavy cleaver, chop chicken into 2″ chunks, keeping skin and bones attached.
. Prepare marinade with 1.5 cups sherry or rice wine, 3/4 cup of the cooking broth, and a tablespoon each of mirin and soy sauce.
. Put chicken pieces in 1 gallon freezer bag, add sauce, mix well, and refrigerate at least overnight, preferably 24 hrs.
. Serve cold, with hot white rice, leaving a thin coating of the aspic clinging to each piece of chicken.