Baked Shakshuka

Shakshuka. Shakky-shakky-shuuuka. Shhhhhhaaaaaaakshhhhhuuuuuka

Sorry, I just think that it’s a really fun word to say. So, shakshuka, what is a shakshuka? A shakshuka is (commonly thought to be) a Tunisian dish. In a nutshell, it’s eggs that are poached in a thick (often spicy) tomato stew. The actual origin of this dish is unknown but it is widely served throughout countries in North Africa and the Middle East, stretching from Mauritania to Israel, the shakshuka proves to be a popular breakfast dish.

So what is so special about a shakshuka? I can sum it up in just three words for you: shpicy, shavoury and delishious. And yes, I do know how to spell, but I also like to think I’m funny. This dish is sharacterised (okay, I’ll stop now) by the tomato base, get this right, and you’re already 80% of the way to success.

Whether you use canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes is all up to you, I happen to find that I don’t need to add any extra salt or sugar when using tinned tomatoes. However if you are using fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to make sure that you dice them into really small pieces, and the cooking time is going to be extended by at least 7 minutes while the tomatoes simmer and break down into that lovely stew.

 

Tomato stew
The tomato stew with spaces left for the eggs
 
As far as spice goes, I tend to have no boundaries. Feel free to reduce the amount of chilli, or omit it all together if you are not a fan of spicy food. I’ve been informed that I do tend to go overboard sometimes, so please, drop a comment below if you need me to slow down on the spice.

I like my eggs to be slightly underdone when I’m making this dish, as I love to mop up the runny yolk with a slice of whole wheat toast (and I’m drooling). So usually, if I am making this dish, I’ll bake the eggs for about 12 minutes, but if you’re hard set on having them well done (get it?) then you should bake your eggs for 15 minutes.

Some people prefer to cook their shakshuka on the stove, then in that case, you’ll need to cover the skillet with the lid and leave it to simmer until the whites are set and the eggs are done to your liking. Typically 9 minutes for a well done egg. Yes, it doesn’t take as long if you cook it on the stove top, but I find that the yolks don’t come up looking as yellowy and beautiful when cooked on the stove top. (Or maybe it’s just my method of cooking, but this is just an affectation, feel free to use your stove #aesthetic)  

Can I say, beautiful egg yolks or what?
But seriously, look at those lovely lovely yolks!
 I find this best served with avocado slices, grated feta cheese and a slice of whole wheat toast.

Ingredients 

2 tbsp olive oil

½ yellow onion, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ of a large yellow bell pepper (Feel free to add other colours too such as red and green)

1 can of tinned tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes, diced

2 small chillies, chopped (optional)

1 tbsp mixed herbs

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp grated feta cheese for serving (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C or 350°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil on medium high in a large non-stick skillet, and fry the onions until soft, about 2 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the pepper(s) and cooking for another minute.
  4. Reduce the heat to low before adding the tinned tomatoes and chillies and simmering for a further 3 minutes. If using fresh tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and released their juices.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to make gaps in the stew, into which your eggs will go. Crack the eggs into these gaps before putting the skillet in the oven and baking for 12 minutes. (If you like your eggs well done, bake for 15 minutes)
  6. When the whites have set and the yolks are done to your liking, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top with feta cheese and serve with toast and avocado.

  

  

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Lemon, Garlic and Herb Chicken Kebabs

Hello and welcome to The F Scientist!

My name is Andrea Makamba and I shall be the primary author on this blog. Just a little information before we begin, I’m seventeen years old, I live in Zimbabwe and I have an awfully unusual relationship with food. Some days I wake up wanting to make everything in the kitchen. Other days I can live on an apple and a bottle of water. I’ve lived on both ends of the scale and through love-hate relationships with it, but more on that will come later. Right now, I live in the healthy green area where I can enjoy food in good stead neither stressing about calories nor piling on all the carbs (Yay!). Enough about me, onto the food.

DSCN3264
Chicken kebabs, roasted potato chips topped with ranch dressing and chilli sauce along with a jug of passion fruit juice.

Living in Zimbabwe, going to ‘braais’ (meaning outdoor barbecues, pronounced br-ys) forms a regular part of any teenager’s social life, and so I thought it would be fitting for my first post to reflect that.

DSCN3223
He’s smiling for the food, not the camera..

These chicken kebabs. Let me paint you a picture; tender chicken breast meat, the sweet yet tangy taste of lemon in your mouth, the aromatic garlic filling your nostrils. I could go on, but I wouldn’t want you to end up with a puddle of drool on your screen. This recipe is perfect for your Sunday afternoon barbecues, whether it’s just you and the family, or you’re hosting friends. Best served with baked potatoes and a cold glass of summer punch.

Ingredients

750g (1 and ½ pounds) chicken breast meat

6 bamboo or wire skewers

Marinade: 

3 garlic cloves (mashed)

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground rosemary

1 and ½ tsp dried thyme

½ tsp mixed herbs

3 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch and 5 tbsp water

Method

  1. Start by cutting the chicken breasts into thick cubed pieces, about 1 and ½ inches thick.
  2. Optional: Fill a large bowl with water and add a generous amount of salt to it. Soak the chicken in this solution for about 20 minutes then drain well. This is known as brining the chicken. Also soak the skewers in ice water for 2o minutes.
  3. Combine the garlic, rosemary, coriander, thyme, herbs and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  4. In a small cup, add the brown sugar, cornstarch and water and mix until both the sugar and cornstarch are fully dissolved. Add to spice mixture and stir until well incorporated.
  5. In a large clean bowl, combine the chicken and marinade and use your hands to mix together until the chicken is well covered by the marinade.
  6. Thread the chicken onto the skewers leaving a gap of about 2 inches on either end. Place the skewers in a medium sized baking dish and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Reserve any leftover marinade, cover and store in the fridge.
  7. When you’re ready to cook your kebabs, remove them from the fridge and allow them to reach room temperature while you either preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F or you heat up your grill/ build your fire if cooking over hot coals.
  8. Grill the kebabs for about 15 minutes on each side, or until the meat is no longer pink in the centre whilst continuously basting with the reserved marinade.
  9. Serve with ranch dressing and kick back with a cold beer or summer punch.