Skillet Eggs and Polenta

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And, finally, it rains. Not so joyous an occasion for sun bathers, felines, and other bitter Betsy-types, but most of California breathed a slight sigh of relief when the skies opened up this morning. My reaction? “I don’t have to water my plants!” and a beer was opened in observance of this glorious day. So, I’m in the celebration camp, but probably for the wrong (read: lazy) reasons.

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Shakshuka

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Never heard of it? Neither had I. But that is one of the many beauties of the internet— visual aids that provide us with the pretty pretty pictures we need in order to become interested. “This book has no pictures. Ergo, this book is a waste of space.”

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Shakshuka is a popular Israeli dish that has North African-roots. Eggs are poached in a spicy tomato sauce and served with pita. I saw some variations during my research that got creative with the vegetables and various cheeses, but overall: this is very, very easy and delightful. Most people have the basics on hand– canned tomatoes, eggs, onion, garlic, etc, so if you’re interested in a simple, healthy breakfast option, then I advise you to keep reading.

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I’ve been dabbling in homemade ricotta recently and found it to work beautifully in shakshuka. Some of it sort of melted into the sauce, but big chunks remained intact and were perfect for scooping up on the bread. My intention was to share this batch of cheese with my neighbors, but…that isn’t going to happen. Piggie has taken over my body and won’t let the concept of generosity interfere with my cheesy feeding frenzy.

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Shakshuka

3 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced fine
2 anaheim peppers, diced fine
2 carrots, diced fine
2 t paprika
1 t cumin
2 T tomato paste
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 t sugar
2 t salt
pepper
7 eggs
1 c ricotta cheese (feta would also be quite nice)
flat leaf parsley
pita (or naan) for serving

In a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high. When hot, add the oil. Toss in the onion, garlic, pepper, and carrot, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add spices and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced– about 10 minutes. One at a time, crack the eggs into a ladle. Push the ladle into the sauce to create a hole for the egg, turning it out into the sauce. Do this for all 7 eggs. With sauce on a low simmer, cover and cook 10-15 minutes. Add cheese a few minutes before eggs are set (sprinkle over the top– don’t mix in). Eggs may be a bit soft, but they will continue to cook in the sauce. Turn off heat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with warm pita (I wanted garlic naan instead, which was great) and enjoy!

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12 Holiday Food Comas: Jelly Doughnuts

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I know what you’re thinking: you’ve never had a jelly doughnut around Christmas, so what on earth am I talking about? Well, according to my in-the-know Jewish sister, jelly doughnuts are a traditional treat for Hanukkah. Since doughnuts are one of my favorite foods, there was no way I could turn down such a golden opportunity. Signed, sealed, delivered to my gullet.

Pinterest has been hopping with doughnuts made from Grands Biscuits and I was feeling extra curious, so I went the lazy route and bought the roll of Buttermilk for this adventure. For a quick, delicious treat, this was perfect. The doughnuts cooked in about 2 minutes, tasted like the “real” thing, and were very easy to fill. I went with standard jelly filling dusted with cinnamon-sugar for half, then the rest got a coffee-whipped cream filling with chocolate glaze. Served up with a pot of Earl Gray’s finest brew, this was a lovely breakfast (don’t worry, I did share some of them).

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Hanukkah may be over for this year, but you can still enjoy a plateful of doughnuts to get into the holiday spirit!

Jelly Doughnuts

1 can refrigerated biscuits
oil for frying
1 t cinnamon
3 T white sugar
jelly of choice
1/2 c whipped cream
1 t instant coffee
1 t vanilla
1-2 T milk
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T cocoa powder

In 3 small bowls: 1) Combine the white sugar and cinnamon; 2) combine the instant coffee and vanilla, then stir to dissolve; then mix in the whipped cream; 3) whisk together the milk, powdered sugar, and cocoa (this mixture should be the consistency of room temperature honey). Place the coffee whipped cream in a piping bag with a small circle tip on the end. Refrigerate until ready to use. Place the jelly in a separate piping bag with a similar tip.

Open the can of biscuits and cut into quarters. Roll the bits in your hands to form small balls. In a frying pan place about 1.5″ of oil and heat on medium-high. When the oil starts to shimmer, test the temperature by placing one doughnut and, if it starts to sizzle, you’re ready to go. Place the doughnuts in the pan with about 1″ between them. Fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn and brown the other side, about another 60 seconds. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon onto a cooling rack with paper towel underneath.

When cooled (a minute or so, it doesn’t take long) you can start filling with the jelly or cream. Shove the piping tip firmly into the doughnut and squeeze until you feel the doughnut “puff” out a bit. The jelly-filled ones should then be rolled in the cinnamon-sugar, and the cream-filled joys should be dipped in the chocolate glaze. Feel free to experiment with other kinds of glazes and fillings– the options are endless (marmalade filling with almond glaze? Marzipan filling with raspberry glaze? This could go on for days.). Serve warm with a big glass of milk!

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