How's your sense of humor? Does the word Shakshuka tickle your funny bone as much as the word, Guacamole?
When my niece, Cara, and my son, Josh, were little, they had a game they liked to call, making guacamole. To them, the word guacamole was the funniest thing, in the same way vaudevillians of old thought a joke about a banana peel on the sidewalk was funny. Just saying the word guacamole out loud would send them into giggling fits, and then, outright peels of laughter. Their game was to pretend to make guacamole, which they would make using that old childhood stand-by, Play Dough. They would serve their gourmet treat up to the adults in the room, following the real meal of our family get-togethers. We would pretend to eat our Mexican appetizer, and when we had finished our small repast, Cara and Josh would ask us all how we liked our "guacamole." When we would compliment them on how delicious it was, Josh and Cara would then proceed to roll on the floor, laughing so hard they had to hold their sides, or would run out of the room, laughing as they went to make some more guac for us.
Turns out that we were living with Pugsley and Wednesday, children from The Adams Family. As my niece now recollects the story, they had pretended that the guacamole was poison, and that they had "in effect, murdered us all."
Was this evil duo spending too much time playing too many rounds of the board game Clue, I ask you? I surmise that "Professor Plum murdered Mr. Boddy in the Conservatory, with the lead pipe." Guacamole, ah ha ha ha ha ha...... I had remembered it as innocent fun, with just the word guacamole triggering boundless laughter. The word, Shakshuka, sparks laughter in my heart, and luckily, still retains its innocence.
Shakshuka makes for a very hearty breakfast....
The word Shakshuka brings out a puckish amusement in me when I see or hear the word. I don't know why, but saying it, either aloud, or in my head to myself, brings a smile to my lips. It seems like a friendly, happy, funny word.
Dear Reader, what cooking words do you find funny? Which ones make you inwardly smile? Please add your two cents, and post a comment at the bottom of this post.
Shakshuka is Tunisian in origin but has become hugely popular in Jerusalem and all over Israel as substantial breakfast or lunch fare. Tunisian cuisine has a passionate love affair with eggs and this particular version of shakshuka is the seasonal variant for the summer and early autumn. Potatoes are used during the winter and eggplants in the spring.
The cookbook, "Jerusalem" was published in October of 2012, and was an immediate phenomena in America. Just based upon my own experience, everyone I knew seemed to buy a copy and started cooking from it. And one of the most popular recipes that people learned to cook from it, was "Shakshuka." Soon enough, Shakshuka became a trendy breakfast and brunch staple on most restaurant menus.
I am including the recipe from "Jerusalem," as it was written, but my own Shakshuka, made this morning, was an easy peasy variation on Ottolenghi's and Tamimi's recipe. I used a marinara sauce that I had in the refrigerator, as the main base for the recipe. I started off by sautéing one sliced red onion, and two diced yellow onions, in olive oil. I added coarsely chopped up red pepper, sautéing them until the ingredients had softened. I added the tomato sauce, and because it was so thick, thinned it down with water, and let the pan simmer for about ten minutes. I then made nests for four eggs, and added the eggs to the pan. I let the pan simmer for another ten minutes, and covered the pan for the last two. You may want to adjust the cooking time for your own Shakshuka. I adjusted mine to the preferences of my husband Dan, who does not like his eggs runny. The fashion of the times, and the directions for this recipe as written, is to cook the eggs just enough so that the yolks will be runny, so that when you break the center, the yolk will meld with the goodness of the tomato sauce. And of course, add a dollop of yogurt to finish. The yogurt makes for a soothing, cool, and creamy contrast to the spicy flavor and hot temperature of the cooked dish.
According to Wikipedia, my funny word "Shakshuka" means:
"a mixture" in Libyan Arabic or other Maghrebi Arabic dialects. It is likely that it was first known as chakchouka, a Berber word meaning a vegetable ragout, although "shakshek" means "to shake", in Libyan Arabic, Berber and Hebrew, giving a possible punic origin to the name of the dish. (footnote: Gur, Janna (2008). The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey. Schocken. pp. 80–82. ISBN 0-8052-1224-8.)
So get on board the Shakshuka breakfast train dear readers, try this recipe for yourselves, and mix it up any way that suits your fancy. Most of all, Enjoy!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp harissa store bought is fine
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 large red peppers cut into ¼ inch pieces (2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 5 large very ripe tomatoes chopped (5 cups). Canned are also fine.
- 4 large free-range eggs plus 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup labneh or thick yogurt
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the harissa, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, cumin, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes to allow the peppers to soften. Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for a further 10 minutes until you have quite a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.
Make 8 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pour each into its own dip. Do the same with the yolks. Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny (you can cover the pan with a lid if you wish to hasten the process). Remove from the heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, then spoon into individual plates and serve with the labneh or yogurt.