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May 1, 2011 05:44 AM

May 2011 COTM, PLENTY: Capsicums, Brassicas, The Mighty Eggplant


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      1. This should be the COTM Chapter Reporting Thread for Capisicums, Brassicas, The Mighty Eggplant since there have been replies here and not in the duplicate thread...

        17 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          Shakshuka p.87

          This recipe starts off with a compelling story about a quaint alley in Jaffa - so inspiring that while I was cooking it I kept chanting, " Shakshuka! Shakshuka!"

          It was very tasty, but didn't live up to my expectations 100%, and here's why:

          - they aren't kidding when they say to use a very large pan: my 12" frying pan was about 50% insufficient - by the time you get all the onions and peppers in there, it's basically impossible to get a good brown, as they all start to steam. SUGGEST: halving the recipe or using two saute pans. Or buy a massive pan.
          - the plight of the spring tomato: this recipe is fairly dependent on tomatoes for flavour, so if you live somewhere intemperate like me, fresh tomatoes don't start to taste good until mid-summer. SUGGEST: consider using canned
          - the serving suggestions: they suggest dividing the recipe amongst four saute pans. Which as a home cook, I basically interpret to mean, "wash an additional four pans". Forget it. SUGGEST: Cook the eggs directly in the original mixture - I did it and it worked out fine.

          All in all, this was tasty, but if you can't get a good brown on the onions and peppers, it might fall a little short for you.

          1. re: Zollipop

            Shakshuka pg. 87

            Made this dish this morning for a late breakfast early brunch meal, and must say I loved it. Really loved it, and this despite my not being a big brunch or poached egg lover.

            Toast cumin seeds in a large pan (in my case an 8" cast iron frying pan, as I was making a 1/2 recipe), add sliced onions and olive oil (I used 3 TBSPs, a quarter of the oil called for in the original recipe, and the reduced amount was plenty), cook on high for five minutes--a bit too long my thinly sliced onions were getting VERY brown by the third minute--add sliced red & yellow bell peppers, chopped parsley & thyme, a bay leaf, sautee for an additional five or more minutes, add chopped tomatoes (although the recipe doesn't call for it, I skinned mine, and would again), saffron, and demerra sugar (I used 1tsp sugar, and could have used less, next time I'd add the tomatoes, taste and then decide on how much if any sugar to add), reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, adding water as needed (I needed none, my tomatoes had plenty of juice). At this point the recipe calls for separating the sauce into individual sized pans, but I skipped that, and poached my eggs directly in the sauce in the original pan. Top with cilantro and serve.

            I served it over some nice toasted bread, and yum, it was so good. Granted our tomatoes and bell peppers are at their peak right now, which I'm sure was important, but the saffron/cumin/red pepper/tomatoe combination is just divine

              1. re: qianning

                This dish is becoming something of an annual treat. We had it this morning for a lazy Sunday breakfast, and since last years picture miniaturized itself, I can't resist posting this one.

                1. re: qianning


                  I just copied your notes and plan on making this my breakfast tomorrow! Thank you so much for the details.

                  1. re: qianning

                    I have been wanting to make this recipe for ages, and your photo just may have sealed that deal. Looks great!

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      it is really good when the tomatoes & peppers are at their best....around here that's now.

                  2. re: qianning


                    I think I'm in love. This is one of those "where have you been all my life?" dishes. I only loosely followed the recipe, made about a half-batch. Had some leftover grilled peppers and onions sitting around, so I tossed those into a pan along with all the seasonings called for. Dug some sweet heirloom tomatoes from summer's bounty out of my freezer. Those dissolved into a nice, thick sauce. I added demerara sugar as well, but needn't have done so with my choice of tomatoes.
                    Served this with freshly baked pita....a perfect vehicle for sauce-scooping.
                    This was truly a delight. *Drool*

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      You know, it amazes me how much our tastes are in sync.

                      1. re: qianning

                        Agreed! I often think of you as a kindred spirit of the food world.

                      2. re: Allegra_K

                        Thank you for bumping this thread back up by posting your review. I have a ludicrous abundance of peppers & heirloom tomatoes in my kitchen thanks to my CSA subscription (the farmer's had a terrible season in a lot of ways but his pepper plants have been thriving, much to our consternation as the bags of peppers piled up in our fridge).

                        I cooked the shakshuka up for lunch and my kids and I just now polished the whole lot off. This is truly wonderful stuff - the kind of food that makes you grab a bit of bread & carefully wipe the plate so you don't leave any of that flavour behind.

                        It's important to keep the heat as low as you possibly can when you are cooking the eggs (like others, I didn't bother with the separate pans & just cracked the eggs into the big pan of tomato mixture). I should have turned the heat lower - I ended up with the eggs a little too firmly cooked on the bottom and still a bit jiggly on top.

                        Anyone else feel like this dish could have benefited from the occasional punch of a finely chopped chipotle pepper, or maybe some little bits of a nice spicy smoked chorizo? I will be trying that next time.

                        1. re: geekmom

                          Absolutely! I think this is one of those dishes where there are a million different variations; in fact, in Jerusalem, Ottolenghi offers another version up that sounds just as fantastic as this one, and it involves harissa and I believe smoked paprika. That one is definitely on my 'to try' list.
                          So glad you liked this as well.

                          1. re: Allegra_K

                            Yes -- I picked up Jerusalem from the library last night and my daughter pounced on it & immediately noticed the variation on Shakshuka. I think I know what I'm going to do with that tube of harissa in the cupboard...

                            1. re: geekmom

                              This is officially Shakshuka Week in our house - I just made the variation from "Jerusalem" and the harissa definitely added some punch to it. I think I prefer the "Plenty" version so I'm going to try and figure out how to add a smoky/spicy/hot component to that recipe without overpowering the other flavours. Will report back here :-)

                              1. re: geekmom

                                Shakshuka season 2013 just officially opened in chez QN. Made the "standard" version from Plenty this morning, yum; now looking forward to trying other versions over the oh-too-short red pepper and tomato season.

                2. Purple Sprouting Broccoli w Rice Noodles - p. 98

                  This recipe sounds wonderful and if someone is making it before I have a chance to get to it, could you please note the quantity/yield of the "Spice Paste".

                  Ottolenghi notes that you can substitute commercial Thai curry paste for the Spice Paste he provides a recipe for but he doesn't specify a quantity. I'd like to make a note in my book for future reference.

                  1. Multi-vegetable paella, p80

                    This is a great main-course for vegetarians and carivores alike. It's not only delicious, it looks beautiful, with a rainbow of vegetables. Here's a copy of my review from the other thread, with a link to the recipe for those who don't have the book.


                    A vegetarian friend came for lunch today , so I made this and it was pretty easy and delicious. I did have a problem with the rice though. I made it in a pretty large paella pan, which I think was too big for the amount of ingredients, so some of the rice was a little undercooked. Next time I'd use a large frying pan.

                    I loved the combination of veggies though - fennel, peppers, broad beans, artichokes, cherry tomatoes. Yum. i forgot the olives though. No matter - my friend raved.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: greedygirl

                      I made this a few months back, as well, and just loved it. Here's my review from the previous thread:

                      I made a few minor substitutions, based on what was on hand. Instead of a Spanish rice, I used carnaroli; instead of the red and yellow bell peppers, I used a jar of roasted piquillo peppers (great price on these at Trader Joe's); instead of broad beans, I used frozen shelled edamame; and instead of jarred grilled artichokes, I used a bag of frozen hearts. I made it in a 12-inch skillet. I added the edamame after sautéing the rice, as they were straight from the freezer, and added the peppers for the last 10 minutes along with the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. I didn't use the foil for the last 10 minutes, as I have a glass lid with a good fit for my skillet. The timing given worked perfectly for me.

                      This is both delicious and beautiful, and has lots of flavor from the saffron, smoked paprika, sherry, and kalamata olives, along with the vegetables (the piquillo peppers were very nice here). Very worthy of a special meal where you want a vegetarian main dish. He says it serves two generously, I say three. I served it with a little salad of field greens and navel orange, dressed with olive oil and sherry vinegar.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        GG, the Gurdian page is not available:(

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Multi-Vegetable Paella, Pg. 8

                          We made this paella last night but were not as enthusiastic as GG and Caitlin, sorry to say. Nothing went terribly wrong, in fact I had all the right ingredients as listed and the timing was perfect. I used aborio rice and increased the turmeric, smoked paprika and cayenne 1/4 tsp each. My paella pan is newish but seasoned properly so I don't know why we didn't like it. The taste was flat and blah. Pretty to look at though. There's quite a lot left so I'll let it sit in the fridge till tomorrow and see if that mellows the flavors out.