Shakshuka

We love any shakshuka we have come across. Especially the one we enjoyed at Tatte (BMH Review of Tatte Fine Cookies and Cakes, Cambridge). We tried this recipe at home and enjoyed the shakshuka, but should have added goat or feta cheese.

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Serves 3

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  •  6 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped or fire roasted canned tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 5 cage free eggs
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water, up to 200ml

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Heat some olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan or skillet. Lightly fry the onion and garlic until they’re soft, for about 10-15 minutes.Then stir in the peppers and gently cook for 5-10 min.  Add the spices for 1 minutes, stir.

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Mix in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste it as you go along and add black pepper and sea salt accordingly. If it reduces too quickly and becomes dry, pour in a little water to keep it moist. By the end of 20 minutes, the sauce should be well balanced with a rich reduced piquant flavor.

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Make small wells and break the eggs into the pan one by one and slide on to the tomato sauce, arranging the yolks around the pan. Season the whites with salt. With a wooden spoon, scramble the white part a little into the tomato sauce. _MG_0761

Cover the pan and allow the eggs to poach to the consistency you prefer: about 5 min for runny yolks, up to 10 min for hard yolks. _MG_0764

Serve with delicious french or challah bread. _MG_0770

Blue Apron Meals Review: Three Chile Beef Chili

We always love the next day chili because the flavors have fully developed overnight. The Three Chile Beef Chili with red kidney beans and pepper jack cheese is quite tasty, especially with a glass of red. The poblano and cubanelle peppers, popular in Cuban cuisine added the heat and the serrano pepper, “highlander” as described in the recipe provided a spicy complex finish. We loved the addition of creamy avocado and lime. The melty cheese and flavor was delicious and would consider putting the entire portion of chili spice mix versus half.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 ounces pepper jack cheese
  • 1 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cubanelle pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 10 ounces ground beef
  • 1 15 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp chili spice blend (cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano and thyme)

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Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Grate cheese. Drain and rinse kidnehy beans. Pick cilantro leaves off stems. remove green rind of lime and avoid white pith. Mince and peel 2 tsp lime zest. Cut lime into quarters. Peel and mince red onion and garlic. Peel, pit and dice the avocado then toss with the juce of 2 lime wedges to prevent browning.

Place the cubanelle, poblano and Serrano peppers on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. place in the oven and roast 7 to 9 minutes or until the skin is browned and blistered. _MG_0975

Remove from oven. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the seeds and stems, then roughly chop the peppers.

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Once the peppers have roasted, in a medium pot, heat 2 tsp of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking apart the meat with a spoon, 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Add the vegetables to the beef, add the garlic and all but a punch of the red onion (for garnish). Season salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until the onions has softened (2-3) minutes. Add as much of the chili spice as you like (we suggest the whole pack), depending on how spicy you would like the dish to be. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until toasted and fragrant._MG_0982

Simmer the chili: stir in the crushed tomatoes, rinsed kidney beans, lime zest, chopped peppers and 1 and 1/4 cup of water into the chili. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly combined and slightly reduced in volume. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in all but a pinch of cilantro (roughly chopping before adding, if you’d like). _MG_0984

 

Plate your dish: Divide the chili between 2 dishes. Garnish with the grated cheese, avocado and the remaining onion and remaining cilantro. Serve with the remaining lime wedges._MG_0987

Blue Apron Review: Roasted chicken, jalapeno herb salsa, mixed citrus and cracked wheat berries

We were quite excited to try Blue Apron after several meals from Plated (Pan Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Coconut Curry and Na’an and Berbere salmon with new potatoes and greens). Our work colleague has been bringing in delicious leftovers for lunch from Blue Apron, so it was time to pull the trigger. We had to choose what to make first of the beef chili, tilapia veracruz or the roast chicken with cracked wheat berries. It was just a roast chicken and salsa evening. The salsa was refreshing and the citrus offered the perfect zing. _MG_0953

One of our favorite aspects of Blue Apron is the impressive packaging and insulated box. All the ingredients looked fresh and perfectly safe in sound after shipping.

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The only downside was the quality control. For our roast chicken recipe, it was a little disappointing that we were missing one clementine for the mixed citrus and one missing chicken breast for our second portion! Small snafu that we hope isn’t the case with our other portions and recipes to come.

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So we roasted the single seasoned bone in chicken breast in the oven until it was perfectly juicy and tender._MG_0932

We loved the palate of greens from the chive, parsley, pistachio and jalapenos for the jalapeno herb salsa._MG_0939

Truly a combination herbs and citrus that we would definitely utilize again most likely in a salad versus with the more oatmeal like cracked wheat berries.

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We are pretty impressed how colorful and dashing this dish looked. It was very satisfying and had a bit of heat, sweetness, herbacious flavor and familiar and tasty roast chicken. We hope the upcoming meals in the shipment go well and all the ingredients listed are ready for use!_MG_0953

Kokkari Estiatorio, Financial District, San Francisco

Kokkari has been on our radar screen for some time now, known as the perfect place for a date night and we finally got reservations to the Greek/Mediterranean restaurant. The restaurant is expansive and we loved the open rotisserie.

_MG_0310We started with the complimentary bread and olive oil while we decided on mezethes and our entrees._MG_0322Per our server’s suggestion, we had to get the grilled lamb meatballs in spiced tomato sauce & Greek yogurt for $11.50 and we were thrilled we did. The nuggets of tender lamb swam in a pool of tangy and tasty tomato sauce. I could have a whole pot of these meatballs._MG_0324The Zucchini Cakes with cucumber & mint yogurt dressing for $10.50 we really tasty. We loved the pickled cucumber with the cakes which went well with the delicious zucchini cakes. The tangy and refreshing mint dressing cut the fried fritter.

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We decided on the lamb souvlaki was super tender and served with a wedge of potatoes. The marinated lamb skewered with sweet tomato, lightly charred onion, lay leaf with creamy tzatziki was just so delicious for $20. _MG_0344

The Moussaka was very rich, the meat filling flavorful and was a piping hot casserole of spiced lamb, eggplant, potato & yogurt bechamel for $21. _MG_0343

 

We absolutely loved the lamb flavor and the crust of creamy bechamel._MG_0345

 

Our dishes were all delicious and filling. The only aspect that was noticeable was how busy we were and as a result our server seemed non-existent. We definitely got water refilled and the food came out piping hot, but we didn’t feel well cared for. Kokkari Estiatorio on Urbanspoon

Frankie’s, Mendocino, CA

We had several restaurants we were interested in and tried to get reservations at Wild Fish, but they weren’t available. Instead, we decided on Frankie’s. Frankie’s serves pizza and ice cream and even offers a gluten- free pizza option. We loved that the 14″ & 16″ pies can be done half and half.

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Frankie’s had a port – a- potty and signage for the drought._MG_9463

We ordered the 16 inch pizza Smugglers, a traditional Italian red sauce, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, cremini mushrooms, garlic, caramelized onions, but added sausage for $25.35.

It was the bomb-dot-com. Generous portion of organic vegetables, sweetness from the onions and peppers. The Italian sausage kicked the pie up a notch and went well with the earthy mushrooms. We had to order the 16 inch because they ran out of the smaller sizes, no complaints here because the leftovers were perfect for a late lunch after  the morning drive.

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We also tried the mushroom cap ice cream. Interesting flavor name right? It was described as a mushroom and maple ice cream which was more a maple creamy flavor with a hint of earthiness. Unique._MG_9474

Definitely return to Frankie’s if we are near Mendocino for both the pies and mushroom cap.Frankie's Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor on Urbanspoon

Plated Review: Pan Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Coconut Curry and Na’an

Our second meal with Plated was pan roasted vegetables with creamy coconut curry and na’an. There was substantial veggie prep, but after that the dish cooked itself. We loved the crispy char (almost crisp cracker like in the center) of the na’an and the hearty veggie curry went really well with the spinach leaves. We just wish there was an option to add additional heat (hot). Other than that a dish will definitely enjoy another time!_MG_0654

We loved the explanation of the garam masala spice. Garam masala is a North Indian ground spice mixture, most commonly used to flavor curries, soups, and rice dishes. Blends vary by region, but most include black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, and cinnamon.

We also appreciated the tip when using spinach in soups and stews, always add it at the very end of preparation. The delicate leaves cook quite quickly– adding them too early will lead to overcooking.

Ingredients in our kit:

    • 1 yellow onion
    • 1 clove garlic
    • ½ inch ginger
    • ½ head cauliflower
    • 1 carrot
    • 3 ounces cremini mushrooms
    • ½ teaspoon vegetable base
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon garam masala
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 1 piece na’an
    • 2 cups baby spinach

What You Need At Home:

    • large high-sided pan
    • medium pan
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 cup water
    • kosher salt (we used sea salt)

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1. Prepare Ingredients Peel onion and cut into small dice. Mince garlic. Peel ginger with a spoon and mince. Rinse cauliflower and break into 1½-inch florets. Peel carrot and cut into ¼-inch dice. Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel and quarter. In a small bowl, whisk together vegetable base with 1 cup water.

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Vegetable soup base and creamy coconut milk

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2. Sauté Vegetables Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large high-sided pan over medium heat.When oil is shimmering, add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cauliflower, carrot, and mushrooms, stir, and cook until beginning to soften, about 7 minutes. _MG_0641

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3. Season Vegetables Add tomato paste and garam masala. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are coated completely, about 2 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.

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4. Simmer Curry Add vegetable base mixture and 1 cup coconut milk and stir to combine.Discard remaining coconut milk. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until curry thickens, about 8 minutes.

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6. Plate Curry Remove curry from heat, add spinach, and stir until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Taste and add salt as needed. Divide evenly between 2 bowls and serve with na’an alongside. _MG_0654

Plated Review: Berbere salmon with new potatoes and greens

For some odd reason, we have not been cooking at home lately much and have been eating out a ton. Lunch meetings, after work drinks and dinner, weekend brunch, eating out continues on. Don’t get us wrong, we loved every bite (especially our dining experiences at both ad hoc and TBD Restaurant), but we missed the ritual of preparing and building flavors through the culmination of plating and sharing the meal.

In the spirit of wellness and cooking quick, but tasty gourmet meals at home, we decided to test out two different meal kit delivery services, first Plated, and in subsequent weeks Blue Apron, both based on New York. Many colleagues have been enjoying Blue Apron and bringing their leftover creations to lunch, so our interest has been peaked for some time.

After browsing the Plated website, we selected the Berbere salmon and creamy coconut curry. (We chose salmon because we love crispy salmon skin and we had to select the curry dish because we fondly remembered our Smart Cook Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai and look forward to making this in the next few days!) We were quite impressed the flavor profiles of the entire dish. The flakey Berbere salmon had a nicely blackened crust, the tender new potatoes with greens dressing in a mustard dressing with bright and tangy onions. This is definitely a dish we would happily order at a restaurant.

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What really made this meal special was the Berbere, described on the Plated menu card as is an Ethiopian spice mixture with a warm, spicy-sweet taste. There are many varieties, but most include ground chiles, fenugreek, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. We really appreciated the extra “pro” tip. Dressing potatoes while they’re still warm helps them to absorb the maximum amount of flavor. Be sure to read through the entire recipe before you begin cooking. Trust us–you’ll be glad you did!

Our curated ingredients came in a insulated bubble wrap pouch and was not opened and refrigerated until the evening. Everything was in tact except for a dented coconut milk can (but still good to go!)

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The ingredients for the Berbere salmon with new potatoes and greens pack came with

  • 1 red onion
  • ¾ pound red potatoes
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 fillets wild Alaskan salmon
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere
  • ¼ teaspoon Maldon salt

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The items we had to provided “from home” included the following and we have enclosed the recipe and steps for our own memories and so we can recycle the paper copy of the recipe:

  • medium pot
  • medium pan
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher/sea salt
  • black pepper

1. Prepare Ingredients Peel onion and thinly slice. Rinse potatoes and quarter. Rinse kale and tear leaves into bite-size pieces, discarding stems. (We also used a bag of almost expiring power greens from TJ’s and will save the fresher Plated kale for the AM green smoothies). Cut lemon into 8 wedges. (We got 6 wedges out of the smaller lemon).

2. Cook Potatoes Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch kosher salt (we used sea salt) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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3. Marinate Onion Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss onion with red wine vinegar. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. (If we could, we would even marinate them longer for the vinegar to penetrate the onion even more).

4. Prepare Greens In a large bowl, add warm potatoes, marinated onion and vinegar, greens, whole grain mustard, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Using your hands, toss, rubbing
dressing into kale until coated and beginning to wilt. Taste and add kosher (sea)
salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

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5. Cook Salmon Rinse salmon and pat dry with paper towel. (We can not insist enough how important this step is). Season with berbere, kosher salt, and pepper, pressing to adhere. (Anticipate a hand wash after coating the spices on the salmon). Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering (awesome tip), add salmon, flesh-side (skin-side) down, and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until skin is crisp, 3-4 minutes more. (We used our phone timer to keep our timing quite accurate, which yielded a perfectly blackened and flakey salmon).

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6. Plate Salmon Divide potatoes and kale evenly between 2 plates. Top with salmon and garnish with lemon wedges. Sprinkle Maldon salt over salmon and serve.

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We can’t iterate enough how delicious the sum vs. the individual ingredients were. Our first Plated meal from preparation to consumption was a sheer pleasure and makes us not only look forward to the salmon leftovers, but the next plate, making and enjoying the creamy coconut curry.