Sunday, November 22, 2015

D = Really A Stretch

Yesterday was one of those glorious Saturday such as our family has not had in some long time.

For starters, nobody at Chez Nelson had any engagements: no food truck detritus, no soccer, no Boy Scouts, no Student Council, no friends over...NOTHING.

And, we'd just received about six inches of snow the day/night before...

It was really just the perfect day to stay home, stay inside, and stay in pajamas.

Definitely a comfort food-type of day, right?

But, not normal comfort food...because when have you ever known me to be normal?  Normal might be chili and chocolate pudding, but to me, comfort food on this snowy, chilly Saturday becomes: shakshuka and chocolate-pinot noir puddings.

Shakshuka is a northern African cuisine that consists mostly of eggs that have been simmered or otherwise cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.  It's also popular in other Eastern countries such as Israel, Tunisia, Morocco, etc. While we had it for dinner, it's definitely a breakfast favorite in those countries.

Diced onions and garlic, sautéed with olive oil.  Add cumin, salt and pepper, and let the onions get softy.  Add two cans of petite diced tomatoes, a can of diced green chilies, and a drained can of chickpeas.

The great thing about this dish that you can adjust the spice rather easily.  My daughter and I like spicy, but the boys in the house do not, so I keep the spice moderate in this recipe.  A little cayenne or similar would certainly not go amiss should you feel the inclination.

After a 15 minute simmer, I divvied the shakshuka into five bowls, cracked one egg into each bowl, and placed them in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes...

I'm no world-reowned photographer, and so I understand that these pictures don't really do the shakshuka justice.  But, I remember what it looked like and it makes me want to exclaim, in the manner of one practicing an ancient martial art, SHAKSHUKAAAAAA!

I think it's more typical to do the dish in a cast-iron or tagine dish...but I like the portion element with these bowls here.  Totally a personal choice.  Also, an important's okay if the eggs are a little transparent when you take them out...they continue to cook as they sit cooling.

I discovered a little cilantro and goat cheese that was begging to be they became the shakshuka's garnish.  Awesome.  Fresh, meaty, tangy, eggy...and the best part?  When the yolk finally broke and mixed all in the chickpea-tomato stuff.  I may have heard the hallelujah chorus at some point after this.

Funky comfort food #1 - score.

Next up, a traditional chocolate pudding...with a silky Pinot Noir reduction.  Some sugar, the wine...boiled down until thick.  Then, chocolate, butter, egg yolks, more sugar and magicked together...the pinot syrup added to it...poured into ramekins, and chilled for a few hours to set.

Then, a tablespoon of the leftover syrup on top of each pudding, followed by a smear of homemade whipped cream.  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaas.

This is a really really really rich pudding.  In fact, two of the three kids opted NOT to finish it.  So, if I ever use this for parties, it'll be in a 4-oz. portion.  I love using the pinot syrup on top: it helps protect the pudding from getting that weird skin and it provides another texture besides the creamy pudding.  Also, even though I added some of the pinot syrup to the pudding, it was barely discernible, taste-wise.  But with the syrup on top, I definitely feel more justified in calling it a Chocolate-Pinot Noir Pudding.

I love Saturdays like this...and they love me.

Oh, and? Where does the 'D' come in?  Dark chocolate, of course!

It's a stretch.  I know.  I said it was going to be.

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