Back in November, a serious obsession began for me in the form of Jerusalem: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. This glorious tome arrived in the mail one morning, and I’ve been more or less cooking from it ever since. How much do I love this book? Let’s put it this way: Jerusalem landed on my doorstep the same day as Ina Garten’s Foolproof, and after nearly three months, I still haven’t touched Ina’s book. Clearly, this is a serious situation.
In the past several weeks, I’ve made plenty of amazing dishes from Jerusalem, but I’ve failed to document them on this here blog because — like my photocaps — I simply haven’t had the time. Well, people, yesterday I turned in a draft of a project I’m working on, which means I can don my blogger cap once again (at least for the time being). I haven’t penned an Adventure In Domesticity in forever; so I thought why not take pics of my latest foray into Jerusalem and share this exciting culinary journey to THE LEVANT?
To celebrate this most Israeli experience, I decided to make shakshuka, which is apparently a very common egg dish in Israel (although, it’s origins are from Tunisia… so think about THAT). There are many recipes for shakshuka out there (including a variation in Ottolenghi’s other cookbook, Plenty), but this is the one I will basing all the others on because a) it was my first, and b) it turned out so so so well.
After the jump, check out pics of the shakshuka process as well as some of the other dishes I’ve made over the past few months, including a nifty dinner party that my friends and I put together…
As is often the case in life, we begin with a pepper.
A quick drizz of olive oil in the pan makes it look like an errant dog may have had an accident on my range. I suspect a Westie.
We have no tolerance for seeds, and thus they have been removed.
I julienned, and then I julienned more. Get it? JULIENNE MORE. Think about it…
Two cloves of garlic enter the picture.
The diced pepper heads into the pan as well as a tablespoon of harissa, which can be homemade or store-bought. Mine is the latter (it’s what resides in that plastic bag a few pics up).
One mustn’t forget the tomato paste. About a teaspoon.
The peppers, garlic, harissa, and tomato paste sauté along with some cumin and salt. This lasts for about eight minutes or until the peppers are tender — like the night.
While the peppers surrender to the heat, it’s the perfect time to dice up a few tomatoes. They go into the pan once the peppers are soft. Then it’s another ten minutes of waiting as the tomatoes reduce down and thicken into a chunky sauce. A perfect time to do dishes, I might add.
Once the mixture is thick and saucy, we’re directed to make eight pools in which to crack eggs. However, I’ve decided to halve the recipe; so there are only four pools. I may have chosen too large of a pan. Forgive me.
In go the eggs. It’s really supposed to be four eggs and four yolks (or in this case, two and two), but I was too lazy to separate two of the eggs. Four whole eggs it is!
After about eight or ten minutes on a low flame, the whites set up. The eggs are still a little runny, but that’s the way we like it.
We’re also instructed to swirl the whites amongst the red sauce for optimal shakshuka enjoyment.
Once the eggs are ready, I scoop half the dish into the bowl and dollop with yogurt. It’s supposed to be thick, Greek yogurt, but I only have the regular plain stuff on hand. No big deal.
My presentation isn’t so great, but I can assure you that this dish tastes delicious. I gobbled it (and the rest of the eggs in the pan) up in about two minutes.
Of course, the shakshuka is just the latest in many great and beautiful recipes from this book. Check out some of the other things I’ve whipped up:
My first foray into the cookbook in November: za’atar-spiced beet dip with goat cheese; butternut squash, red onion, and tahini (the other two dishes weren’t from the book).
The butternut squash I’ve now made several times, and it’s sensational. Pretty too!
The beat dip is also really tasty. Word to the wise: it’s best with a pita chip, not pita bread.
This here is a serious dish. It’s actually on the cover of the cookbook. Braised eggs with lamb, tahini, and sumac. However, I used turkey instead of lamb.
Not only is this dish gorgeous, it’s super flavorful. I even made it for my parents, who enjoyed it immensely.
In December, my friends and I decided to convene for a cooking night. That’s Drew tending to meat in the background, and Kristen washing dishes (LIKE A WOMAN SHOULD) in the foreground. Many Jerusalem recipes were on the docket.
Drew getting up close and personal with the ground beef.
Cranberry mojitos were had. These were not from the Jerusalem book, but tasty nonetheless.
Some much celebrated hummus. Kristen was the Hummus President, and she more or less followed the cookbook’s instructions, but at a certain point, one must go by taste. Kristen did a superb job with this batch. I should also note that we began prepping and cooking at around 7:30, and by the 9pm mark, this dip was MUCH needed.
Our starter: eggplant with bulgar and chermoula. Divine. Excellent.
Here’s another pic from when I made the same dish about two weeks ago. Of note: the recipe calls for users to pour boiling water on the bulgar and let it sit for ten minutes. This leaves the grain too al dente for my tastes. I recommend cooking the bulgar normally. Also, be sure to use Greek yogurt for this dish. Unlike the shakshuka above, regular plain yogurt does not substitute nicely. Too runny.
By 11:15 PM, the rest of our dishes were ready for consumption: roasted sweet potatoes with figs; couscous; chard with pomegranate; and a meatball tagine (not from Jerusalem).
This. This is heaven right here.
Drew’s tagine was also very well received.
We kind of messed up the chard. Basically, we bought too little. Also, it’s actually a wheatberry dish, and we couldn’t find wheatberries; so we veered from the recipe and just sautéed the chard and added pomegranate syrup. It was in the spirit of the dish and actually turned out very nicely. Unfortunately there was only enough for about one bite per person. Oops.
Just couscous, but a welcome addition to the table.
Let the feast begin!
Middle Eastern food is the new French.
Oh! And we made an apple pie. It was ready at 1 AM.
A few dishes.
A few more…
And some more…
Lesson learned: this cookbook rocks.
Some online versions of the recipes in the book:
• Butternut Squash, red onion, and tahini
• Beets with za’atar
• Braised eggs with lamb, sumac, and tahini
• Eggplant with bulgar and chermoula
• Wheatberries with chard and pomegranate molasses
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes and figs