It was – 250 degrees in New York yesterday, or at least it felt like it, and the city had a look of a frozen forest, even the tears froze, and, yes, I was crying every time I had to go outside. And of course I was out on such a night, I know, silly me. Champagne did help to mediate the chill, so did great conversations, but the weather was just too brutal, I think I’m still shivering.
On a warming up trend, the kid started getting some college acceptance letters already, so I think next month could be busy traveling to all these schools to finally pick the one. His dad was asking me yesterday “what are we going to do when he’s gone”? Hmm, “have a party?” (kidding), or “rent his bedroom as bed & breakfast?” (kidding again). In reality, I know I’ll cry when he’s gone, I should probably start practicing now so it’s not one gushing waterfall when August comes. His graduation is just 3 months away, and I’m not ready for it!
I’ve been lounging in pajamas all day today – it’s snowing outside, yet again, and there’s no way I was leaving the house, I had my share yesterday. A lot is on my mind, but none that has to be figured at this moment (and no complicated issues have that on a spot solution anyway), so as my thoughts were drifting in and out all day, there was both physical and emotional comfort in stillness of body and free flowing mind to keep you daydreaming (about something that will most likely never happen but, at that point in time, was just too soul-soothing to concentrate on and imagine all the possible “what ifs”).
What’s Cooking This Week
Just because it’s a deep freeze outside, doesn’t mean you can’t cook something sizzling hot in a kitchen. Today’s dish does just that, before you know, you’d be fanning yourself feeling all warmed up. Shakshuka is one of my favorite breakfast dishes, but it’s also great for brunch, lunch, or really just any time of a day. The dish is a traditional Middle Eastern food, and it’s actually offered for an evening meal there. I think it’s just our interpretation of it as mostly suitable for breakfast because it has eggs in it, so go ahead and have it any time you want it. Shakshuka is basically a dish of eggs baked in a spicy stew of red peppers, onions and tomatoes. I often like to jazz it up a bit, but if you want a traditional recipe, just omit zucchini and prunes that I’m adding in today. I do recommend it though, the sweetness of prunes and mild flavor of zucchini helps to mediate the spices in this dish. You can add 2 to 4 eggs, depending how many you want, the recipe is enough for 2 people.
Shakshuka with Zucchini and Prunes
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup of shredded zucchini (about 1/2 of a medium one)
1 garlic clove, pressed
5-6 prunes, cut
3 Tbsps of tomato sauce
2 tsps of crushed red pepper
1 tsp of sweet paprika
1 tsp of raw sugar
1/4 tsp of coriander
1/8 tsp of nutmeg
salt, olive oil, scallions for garnish
This dish is better made in an iron cast skillet (mine needs to be replaced, so I used a regular frying pan and then a baking pan). Heat up some olive oil and sauté onions and garlic, then add peppers and cook for a couple minutes, add zucchini, tomatoes, prunes, tomato sauce and all the spices, cook till all is about half way done.
Transfer the stew into a baking dish (unless using iron cast skillet) and carefully break in the eggs on top. Sprinkle them with salt and crushed red pepper.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400F degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending how you like the eggs done. Top with cut scallions or other fresh herbs.
Sweet and hot and definitely sizzling with all the spices. You won’t even notice it’s snowing outside.