Here at I Heart Cooking Clubs we believe that cooking and sharing the same recipe is a very fun and exciting way to build our cooking community and share our kitchen adventures while learning a little bit more about each other. It is with this in mind that we created the Optional Monthly Community Recipe. This is our way of getting in the kitchen with you and sharing in the fun. We encourage you to let your personality shine by adding your own personal touch to the dish. Feel free to shake things up a bit!
Yotam Ottolenghi's vibrant and inviting Shakshuka is our very first Optional Monthly Community Recipe. In case you're wondering, Shakshuka is a beautifully presented breakfast or brunch dish that can be served family-style or individually. It is essentially a sauce made from bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spices. After the sauce has been cooked down and reaches the right consistency the eggs are nestled in and poached right in the sauce. This makes for a very welcoming dish.
It was very interesting to read about all the similarities and differences between each participant's dish. One thing we all had in common was reducing the olive oil. The recipe called for a hefty dose (3/4 cup) olive oil and we all felt that was an excessive amount. We all agree that the oil can be reduced by half. Another common theme was to replace the spicy heat of the cayenne with other forms of heat (such as Mexican chile powder, harissa, and in some cases even doubling the spices). So, if you like things nice and spicy, go ahead and spice this one up with your favorite form of heat! And lastly, Sue's version of Shakshuka showcases the differences best of all. Sue took the basic concept of the Shakshuka and turned it up a notch. She used Ottolenghi's recipe as a base and added all her own flavors. After reading about Sue's version I think the rest of us are filled with ideas for creating our own personal Shakshuka.
Sue, of Couscous & Consciousness, is no stranger to Ottolenghi's Shakshuka. Sue discovered shakshuka awhile back when she first received her copy of Ottolenghi's Plenty. It was love at first bite and has been a regular staple in her home ever since. In fact, she's made the shakshuka so many times that her cookbook automatically opens up to the recipe. I'd say that's definitely a sign of a well-loved recipe! Sue added a lot of personal touches to her shakshuka. She favors the look of a vibrant red base so she uses only red bell peppers (no yellow). She also added chorizo (brilliant) and pomegranate molasses, omitted the onions, and substituted harissa for the cayenne pepper. I know our readers will enjoy the changes she made. Thanks for sharing your experience with this dish, Sue!
Kahakai Kitchen, made a half batch of Ottolenghi's Shakshuka but accidentally added the full amount of spices. This little kitchen mishap actually worked in Deb's favor because she is a fan of big, bold, intense flavors. Deb enjoyed all the layers of flavor in her spiced up version and would definitely make shakshuka again. It's also worth noting that Deb decreased the oil by more than half. The original recipe calls for quite a bit of oil (about 3/4 cup) so this is a huge improvement!
Over at Stirring the Pot I shared my version of Ottolenghi's Shakshuka and was very impressed. I think this would be a wonderful dish to entertain with since the dish presents so well. I made two small changes to the recipe. The first thing I did was reduce the oil. Since it isn't exactly tomato season I went ahead and subbed canned tomatoes. I would, however, make this dish again at the height of tomato season when tomatoes are at their best. Also, next time around I would definitely add more spices like Deb (a great little mishap if you ask me). I'd also like to try this with some chorizo, like Sue.
OPTIONAL MONTHLY COMMUNITY RECIPE FOR MAY
That's right! May's Optional Monthly Community Recipe is Preserved Lemons! Feel free to chose from any of Ottolenghi's preserved lemon recipes. Please note that preserved lemons take about 4 weeks before they are ready to be used. However, there is also a quick pickle version for those of you who are interested in saving a little time. The quick pickle version takes only 24 hours and is described as being similar but not as perfumed. Make and post your preserved lemons anytime during the month of May in place of any theme or as a bonus recipe, if you wish. As an added challenge we'd love it if you show off your preserved lemons in a final dish. As you can see from the short clip above, Ottolenghi adores lemons so you will find all sorts of ways to enjoy your preserved lemons!
If you are unable to find a recipe for preserved lemons, please leave a comment below and one of us will email you the recipe.
*There will be no linky on this post. Please link your preserved lemons to our weekly themed posts.