During weekdays I often browse through possible breakfast and brunch foods to cook in the weekends. I was not familiar with Israeli brunch food shakshuka until I bumped into this and this recipe. The pictures were so beautiful that even though I was doubtful about tomato sauce combined with eggs I wanted to give it a try.
And yes it worked. I think eggs are always a must at brunch, in form or another. With tomato sauce they again have a different flavor than when eating scrambled or fried. And as the original recipes say, this dish is extremely adaptable! I also did not follow the recipe, but made it my own version based on what we happened to have at home. This recipe works perfectly like that, as you can mix in different vegetables, different cheese and for example beans, lentils or even sausage of your choice. I had English cheshire cheese in my fridge, but you can as well use feta cheese, cheddar, goat cheese or ricotta, for example.
A friend of mine who lived in Israel told that shakshuka works even better with hummus spread on the sides of your pan. Wipe the hummus and shakshuka with a piece of fresh bread and enjoy the flavors together. Sounds really worth a try!
Here’s my adaptation.
Israeli Shakshuka (serves 2)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small green bell pepper, chopped in small cubes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili flakes, or to taste
400g jar chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper and Himalayan pink salt
pinch of sugar
1 handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 can of chickpeas, drained
50g English cheshire cheese, crumbled
fresh cilantro to garnish
Preheat oven to 200° C.
Sautée onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until the onion softens and gets transparent color. Add cubed bell pepper and sautée for a few minutes more.
Add cumin, paprika and chili and stir to incorporate.
Lower the heat to medium-low. Mix in chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar. Add spinach and chickpeas and let bubble gently for a few minutes.
Move the mixture in two small oven-safe skillets or pans. Sprinkle with cheese crumbs.
Make two holes in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs in the holes.
Place the skillets in the oven and bake until the eggs have settled. Mine got a bit over-cooked, don’t you let yours to do that ;-)
Top with cilantro and serve with freshly baked bread.
I think for starters I should admit something. I did not succeed in my cleansing diet of just green and superfood that I last blogged of. I feel kind of embarrassed about it, but on the other hand I realized something: for me food is primarily, and utterly, about enjoyment. When I had raw spinach, broccoli and arugula for dinner, without salt, just a splash of olive oil, I didn’t enjoy it. Instead of wishing the portion would last forever, so that I could keep eating, I wished it would end soon. Eating felt like an obligation, just to fill my stomach and be done with it.
And I don’t want that! I love food, I want to be happy for every bit of it! So I realized that these diets are not for me. Not even this kind of lifestyle is for me. But I can keep these healthy bits in my diet, and give up some less healthy things in it. One thing I cannot give up is pizza. I think my blog activity doesn’t give a correct image of how much we actually eat pizza. We basically never, or at least veeeery rarely eat pizza out, because I love doing it from beginning to end, and we both enjoy getting our favorite toppings in our pizzas.
This time I gave a go to asparagus in pizza. I never tried it before, but it was delicious! And you know, asparagus is one of my definitive favorite veggies. Sautéed broccoli gave it a nice twist, and this white version goes also to those (like S) who don’t like tomato in their pizza that much. So based on this experiment I would highly recommend this crunchy piece of spring to anyone out there :-)
White Pizza with Asparagus and Broccoli
See recipe here. This amount makes two medium pizzas.
300g green asparagus, washed and tough ends trimmed
150g broccoli, washed and cut into small florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
250g fresh mozzarella (2 balls), sliced
150g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
2 handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt & black pepper
Prepare the dough with recipe above. Once it has doubled in size, roll it into two balls, and then roll both of them out into two pizza bases. Place the bases over parchment paper.
Preheat oven into 275° or as hot as it gets. If you use a pizza stone, let it get hot in the oven too while it heats up.
Sautée the broccoli florets over high heat in a frying pan with olive oil until they get just slightly burned from the smallest tips. Spice up with a splash of lemon juice, salt and black pepper.
Using a cheese slicer or a peeler slice the asparaguses from ends all the way to the top, forming beautiful green strips.
Spread the cream cheese evenly on both pizza bases. Top with handfuls of parmesan cheese (as said many times, DON’T ever use the ready grated “cheese”) and arrange the sliced mozzarella balls on top, evenly.
Spread the sliced asparagus and sautéed broccoli on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with pine nuts and some olive oil and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven.
Today I’m not gonna write a recipe post. I’m gonna write about the color green! And a little bit of the expensiveness of food in Finland.
My friend has been updating detox statuses on Facebook lately. It has seemed like a great thing, so it made me think about myself and my eating habits too. Last night I was already in bed when it hit me: I love greasy, sugary food a little bit too much, don’t I? I love the taste of chocolate and the feeling after eating a huge bowl of pasta. This cannot continue, I said to S and immediately decided to make a change. For five days from now I would give my body a chance to clean itself - detox, as they say. No wheat, no fast carbs, no sugar, soy products or dairy products. Then gradually I would take the previous back in my diet, but not in excessive amounts, not daily.
The night I didn’t sleep very sound. I was probably waiting eagerly for my healthy week. I woke up, had a cup of white tea instead of my daily morning latte and went to work. After 30 minutes of work I was yawning, my energy levels were somewhere below the ground and I could not think clearly. I NEEDED my daily drug dosis, I couldn’t start my engine without coffee. Pretty soon I realized I was going to do an interview IN A CHAMPAGNE BAR, TASTING CHAMPAGNE AND CAKES today. Something I had forgotten, so bye bye my plan. And so I got myself a grande cup of coffee and the life smiled again.
When I left the bar after we got the work done I felt so bad. I had just had simply wonderful taste experiences but it was not something I felt comfortable with. So I went to the supermarket and started to look for something…..GREEN. I bought spinach, kale, arugula, asparagus, broccoli, pink grapefruit, zucchini, beets, quinoa, beluga lentils, agave syrup, cashew nut butter and pomegranate & white tea juice. Most of this organic. All this cost me more than 40 euros. Can you imagine? So basically I become more sure that eating healthy, clean food is a privilege of chosen people (not me). For instance, a small bag or kale cost me 3 euros, 400 grams of asparagus 4,50 euros and agave syrup 7,90 euros! I don’t like to complain, but come on, it’s so much cheaper to buy the frozen pizza with 2 euros, so I don’t wonder people do exactly that.
Now, with my fridge full of greens I would like to know what to do with them, and I’m especially interested in the green smoothies. Any suggestion of great flavor combinations, of super smoothies with great health benefits? I also have coconut oil and hemp seeds to use in them, so all recipes would be great!
This post, by the way, doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a recipe for pizza in my next post…actually it might just be! ;-)
Eggs Benedict, or Oscar Benedict, or my own version between those two. Good morning, it’s Easter Saturday! And only for celebrating the four-days holiday I decided to prepare a nice home brunch. Last night I made a dinner for me and S, the main course being Finnish whitefish and mashed potatoes with white wine sauce. The result was rather disappointing, I will tell you later about it. So my hopes were not that high when I started to prepare the brunch: poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and asparagus.
To be honest, this was my first time ever preparing the very original Hollandaise. I have made before something similar, with less chance to ruin it completely. But this time it was fo’ real. And it turned out perfectly! As did the poached eggs! S was on a computer doing stuff, and sometimes asking what’s happening in the kitchen when he could only hear happy shouts of joy - like “ahh! beautiful! deliccccciouussss! I made it!”
For both Hollandaise and poached eggs I used a video recipe by a Finnish daily newspaper. That helped a lot more than just reading the recipe, so probably would be a good thing to do if you’re not familiar with the preparation style.
So here’s my version of eggs benedict. With this I served a self-baked pita bread, even traditionally you should have your eggs benedict with an English muffin. Also toast would do!
Enjoy the Easter days with good brunches!
Almost Eggs Benedict with Asparagus (for 2)
A small bunch of green asparagus, washed and ends trimmed if necessary
Bring water to a boil in a tall saucepan and add salt. Place the bunch of asparagus into the water, ends down. Cook asparagus (bound together with a rubber band) for around 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
2 liters water
1 dl spirit vinegar
Bring water almost to a boil in a wide saucepan. Keep the heat relatively low, if you let it boil, you will get scrambled eggs instead of poached. Add vinegar.
Crack each egg into a cup individually. Don’t break the yolk.
Create a whirlpool in the saucepan by spinning the water around for a few rounds with a wooden spoon.
Place the cup with an egg very close to the surface of the water and drop the egg at once in the middle of the whirlpool.
Keep giving the water a gentle spin every now and then, so that the egg keeps slightly moving all the time. It’s ready when the egg white is set, for a few minutes. The yolk is supposed to be runny so don’t overcook.
Lift the eggs out of the pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
Repeat with the rest of the eggs.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 egg yolks
150 g butter
In a saucepan or microwave melt half of the butter. Collect the white whey off the butter so that it becomes clear yellow in color.
Place a small, thick-bottomed saucepan on a stove over a very low heat. I heated my electric stove for 10 minutes with the lowest heat and then turned it off, using the after heat to make the sauce. You can also use bain marie, but be careful not to heat it too hot. If you use too high heat the eggs will cook and the sauce curdle.
Add lemon juice and the yolks in the pan and start stirring constantly. Do not stop but keep whisking for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to get thicker and is very light yellow in color.
Keep whisking vigorously and add first the melted butter in a thin string in to the pan. When all incorporated add the firm butter in cubes, still whisking (I know this asks for some muscles, eh).
When all is incorporated, let warm up a bit, then spice with salt and pepper and serve on top of toasted bread, poached eggs and asparagus.
First of all, let me start with my amusement caused by the fact that in English the traditional Russian Easter dessert I’m going to present here is called pashka. Now there’s a reason I am going to use the Finnish (& original Russian) name pasha for this delicious dessert, as the English one doesn’t really make justice to it. Why? Because in Finnish pashka means something that comes out of you after you have eaten your pasha, so we better not go further with that.
Last Easter I blogged about the traditional Finnish Easter dessert mämmi, which is made of rye flour, malts and sugar, and typically served with double cream. But pasha…my favorite of all the Easter desserts. Originating from Russia and into the Orthodox Christian Easter tradition it has also found its way to Finland probably centuries ago. Many might know we have a lot of Russian influence here after being under the Russian rule in the 19th century, and pasha is one of those. In Russia pasha is traditionally prepared on Good Friday and enjoyed as a dessert or with afternoon coffee, typically with kulich, a sweet Easter cake.
The recipe of pasha varies depending on who does the treat and where. The two main ingredients, however, stay. They are butter and quark, a thick, sour and very low-fat milk product, typical here in the North. Actually I think I have mentioned quark in my other posts too, wondering what it might be called in other countries. Might also be cottage cheese in the US, for example. Am I any right? With the main ingredients there are many ways to spice pasha, most common of which are orange, lemon (especially the dried and sugared pieces of lemon peel), raisins and nuts or almonds.
Before starting to make pasha, it’s good to know that this version of it is not a “mix & go” type of a dessert. It’s very quick to prepare, but has to drain at least overnight (mine did for 16 hours and could drain even more). So you need also a cheese cloth and a coffee filter to do the draining.
It was the first time for me to prepare this silky dessert, so I modified the original recipe a little bit to suit better my own taste. The recipe can be found here (in Finnish).
Russian Easter Pasha
100 g butter, slightly softened
1 dl sugar
200 g quark
2 dl heavy whipping cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 heaping tablespoon orange marmalade
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 dl almond chips or crushed almonds
(1/2 dl raisins)
Lemon/orange peel and almonds to decorate.
Whip the cream until soft peaks lightly form. Using an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar until light in color.
Mix into the butter mixture all the other ingredients and beat gently to incorporate everything.
Line two small or one big steady coffee filter with damp cheese cloth. Spoon the mixture in it until the very top of the filter. Fold the rest of the cheese cloth on the mixture and top with a heavy weight.
Place the filter in a plastic jar where it doesn’t hit the bottom. The excess liquid will drain into the jar without making the pasha wet.
Let drain in a refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Pasha is at its best on the next day.
I used to be a big fan of breakfasts. Actually, I still am but these days I’m rarely putting effort on cooking them. When we lived in our previous home it was a weekly tradition to cook in the mornings, try different things and new recipes. Now we mostly spend our mornings grabbing something from the fridge, reading news and browsing social media sites before getting into the things to do during the weekend. Both of us would like to change this though, so maybe in the future you’ll indeed see again more breakfast things in the blog.
The following recipe is adapted from the original recipe of Smitten Kitchen. I actually loved the pizza dough so much that I have used the recipe in my pizzas ever since. The particular thing in it is that you refrigerate it overnight, while it won’t grow big, but in the oven give you a perfectly soft and crispy pizza crust. It’s worth all the time it takes! Talking about pizzas, I love making them and I always - always - make my own dough and never buy the ready ones. I think this is essential for a good, crispy and chewy, wonderfully tasty pizza, don’t you? :-)
The original recipe didn’t call for tomato sauce but I used it in my pizza. I just slowly cooked together crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, a pinch of sugar, salt and black pepper. It makes a perfect basic sauce when you let it boil on a low heat for an hour or so.
Here’s the recipe, I suggest you try it our tomorrow morning. A perfect treat for your slow Sunday! This amount makes two medium sized pizzas.
250ml lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
5 dl plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting
tomato sauce, self made or ready bought
ripe cherry tomatoes
ham to taste, I used smoked turkey
50g grated Parmesan
5 dl grated mozzarella
6 large eggs
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, thinly sliced
The night before prepare the dough.
Place lukewarm water in a warm bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and knead around 5 minutes until it forms a firm dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place the balls in separate bowls, cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight.
One to two hours before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. Preheat the oven to 275 °C 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.
Then we’re ready to prepare the pizza.
Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a circle.
Generously dust the baking sheet (covered with baking paper) with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Spread first a little bit of tomato sauce on the dough. Place the ham on the dough. Sprinkle on top half of the Parmesan, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. Crack 3 eggs over the top (you can prevent the egg whites from running by forming “walls” of cheese around them) and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s ready when the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked. Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.