Shakskuka

Shakshuka

The classic combination of tomatoes and eggs can be found all over the world. This dish has a North African accent with the addition of cumin. Apparently it originates in Tunisa, but is common all across North Africa and in Israel, to where it was brought by Tunisian Jews. I’ve seen a very similar dish called Persian Eggs, so who knows where it really comes from. Who cares either, since it tastes so good.  It’s quick and easy to prepare, which makes it great for mid-week dinner. Try to use really ripe tomatoes: it makes all the difference. The flavours are great in the winter too but it’s very difficult to get hold of ripe tomatoes, so you can use good tinned tomatoes.

Summary

Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 15mins
Cooking: 20mins

Ingredients

1kg
1
4
2
3 cloves
1 r.tsp
1
1 r.tsp
Tomatoes or 3 tins of whole plum tomatoes
Red pepper (optional)
Eggs
Onions
Garlic
Cumin (pre-ground is OK too)
Bird’s eye chilli (optional)
Sugar (depending on ripeness of tomatoes)
Salt
Pepper
Good olive oil
Flat-leaved parsley
.
25cm frying pan and lid

Method

Wash the tomatoes. Cut into quarters and scoop out the seeds, leaving just the flesh. Cut each quarter in half again. Half the onions and slice quite thinly. Slice the red pepper if using. Chop the garlic roughly and break up the bird’s eye chilli with the back of a knife.

If using tinned tomatoes don’t include all the juice as the dish will be too runny.

Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil and place on a medium to low heat. When the oil is hot add the onions and chilli (if using), followed a couple of minutes later by the garlic and the red pepper if using. Fry gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just starting to colour. In the meantime, roast the cumin lightly, grind coarsely and add to the pan just as the onions are ready.

Add the tomatoes and a spoon of sugar. Adjust the seasoning. Mix a little to distribute the ingredients equally. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft but not mush. Make a small well near the edge of the pan and break the first egg into it. Repeat around the pan with the other eggs. Crack a little black pepper on each. Place the lid on the pan to help the eggs poach. After about 3 minutes the whites should be set and the yolks still runny, which is the way we like them.

Sprinke with some chopped parsely and serve straight from the pan with some crusty white bread to mop up the juices.

Country Rhubarb Cake

Country Rhubarb Cake

This delicious dessert is a real blast from the past – just like Mammy used to make! I got this recipe from Darina Allen’s Simply Delicious 2 book. You can vary the filling depending on which fruits are in season. Just remember to adjust the sugar as rhubarb is considerably sourer than most other fruit. The original recipe was in imperial units so some of the amounts are a little uneven. Also granulated sugar was used to sprinkle over the rhubarb but it turns out just fine using all caster sugar.

Summary

Makes: 10 portions
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 45 mins approx

Ingredients

750g
340g
165ml
250g
85g
2
½ tsp
Pinch

1

Rhubarb
Flour
Buttermilk
Caster sugar
Butter
Eggs
Bread soda
Salt

25cm ovenproof plate (Pyrex or similar)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Wipe the rhubarb clean with a damp cloth, top’n’tail and cut into 1cm pieces. Reserve. Break one egg into a cup and mix to use as an egg wash.

Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add 50g of caster sugar, the bread soda and a pinch of salt. Rub in the butter. Break one egg into the butter milk and mix until the egg is incorporated. Make a well in the flour and add most of the buttermilk mixture. Mix to a soft but not sticky dough, adding as much of the remaining buttermilk as is necessary.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces, one a bit bigger than the other. Take the smaller piece and spread it out with your hands to cover the plate. This forms the base of the cake. Pile the rhubarb onto the base and sprinkle with all but a couple of teaspoons of the remaining sugar. Egg wash the edge of the base. Roll out the remaining dough to a size big enough to cover the rhubarb and base completely – about 10cm bigger than the plate diameter. Seal the edges and trim any scraggly bits.

Brush with egg wash and make a small hole in the top to let the steam escape. Bake in the oven until nicely golden – about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and leave to cool for about 15 minutes to allow the juices soak into the base.

Serve with some freshly whipped cream.