Quick and Easy

Haven’t heard from me in a bit, yes?  Let me tell you why.  My darling, wonderful, sweet, good-tempered, adorable baby has been sick.  Turns out she’s had an ear infection in each ear for a few days now which has been accompanied by wicked high fevers.  And my poor, sweet, darling girl has not been herself.  This means that rather than playing in her exersaucer or sitting in her chair “helping” me cook, she has been demanding to be held by me.  And if someone else is holding her, I must be within touching distance or else she is very upset.  This has made making dinner very difficult.  And it has made blogging about dinner downright impossible.

So what do I make when we’re having days like this?  Something quick, easy and healthy. Something that comes from Israel, actually, so at least I’m sticking to the theme of my last few posts.  This recipe is something that every Israeli knows how to make, at least according to my cousin, Sivan.  I think it’s the Israeli equivalent to scrambled eggs and toast.  Or Ramen.  Or Mac and Cheese- something even people who don’t cook can make.  I think it’s quite telling that we have mac and cheese and ramen (overprocessed, salty and carb-based) whereas the Israelis have this (fresh and veggie-based).

Sivan is the granddaughter (one of three) of Myrim and she may be my favorite of the three girls (but don’t tell!).  I’ve always found her beautiful and mysterious and so, so cool.  Once, when I visited the kibbutz (I was in high school), I fell in love with the boots she was wearing while she was working in the kibbutz kitchen.  She sent me a pair, laughing because to her they were just work shoes.  I wore them all the time and felt very cool when I did.  As we both grew up, we grew closer and in the year leading up to my wedding we emailed several times a week- I used her as a sounding board for all my hopes and fears about marriage and she proved an excellent listener.  She came to my wedding and a year later I took my husband to Israel for the first time to attend her wedding.  She’s a beautiful, smart, funny, strong and graceful woman and I’m so grateful to have her in my life.  This is Sivan, a few years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter (I have lots of photos of her but this one is a favorite):

See? So beautiful!

Sivan is many things but she will tell you two things she is not. If you ask her, she will she she is not  1) a cook and 2) good at English.  Both of these statements are lies.  Her English is fantastic as evidenced by the zillions of emails we’ve sent back and forth.  In fact, she recently sent me one and then sent it again after a spellcheck- I didn’t see a difference!  Sivan is also a pretty good cook, as evidenced by the following recipe.  So I think we can add “humble” to her list of endearing characteristics. This recipe is written mostly in her words with a few clarifications by me.

Sivan’s Shashuka

(This is a dish that can be used for any meal.  I generally add some salad and some crusty bread to go along with it if I’m serving it for lunch or dinner.  I’ve also played with the measurements and ratios of peppers to tomato- once you’ve made it a few times, you can adjust it to be more tomato-y or more pepper-y or thicker or thinner…. you get the idea.)

Ingredients:

Eggs (one to two per person, you decide)

3  onions, chopped
4-5 ripe tomatos, chopped (I’ve also used canned stewed or canned diced or canned crushed tomatos and had success- better in the winter when we don’t have fresh available)
1-2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped

Chili peppers- optional  (I’ve never used these but I’m not a huge fan of hot things)
100 gr  (3.5 ounces/7 tablespoons/one tablespoon shy of a ½ cup) tomato paste (I’ve used both more and less, depending on my mood)
salt
black pepper
sugar (just a teaspoon or so)
fresh lemon juice (just a few squirts)
paprika (less than a teaspoon)
Tabasco sauce- optional (I’ve also never used this.)

Directions:

Heat some olive oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan.  Sauté the onion in olive oil until golden-brown.
Then add the red peppers and garlic. (I’ve also had success throwing in the onion and pepper together.)

Sauté for 1-2 minutes then add the tomatoes.  Let them simmer for about 10 minutes and stir from time to time.

Add tomato paste and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water.
Add seasoning: salt, pepper, lemon juice, sugar and paprika – Stir well.
Cover the pan and let cook on low heat for 15 more minutes.
The sauce should be very rich in flavor and quite thick. If needed cook for few minutes without the lid and allow the water to vaporize.

Using the back of a spoon, make indentations in the sauce.  Open eggs over the indentations in  the sauce (sunny side up) and cover the pan.
Cook for few minutes until the eggs are cooked. It is best to keep the yolks still runny and the egg whites well cooked.

Serve the eggs with the sauce using a big spoon.

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