My Favorite Shakshuka Recipe

Shakshuka. Not only is it fun to say, but it is delicious! What is it, you ask?  It's eggs poached in a chunky, spicy tomato sauce and it's so popular that many different countries claim it as their own. Tunisia, Morocco, Israel...wherever it originated, I'm pretty thankful! Since I've been making it for a while now I've made it my own, so I wouldn't necessarily say this is a traditional shakshuka recipe but I love it.

So what's not traditional about my recipe?  Mostly the addition of olives, substitution of goat cheese for feta cheese, and sprinkling Italian gremolata on top instead of parsley alone. I also make it a bit spicier than most so if you're not a huge fan of spice dial back the jalapeños some.  Shakshuka is traditionally served with pita bread, but I like it with grilled rustic whole grain bread. Sometimes I even push my Italian influence on the dish a little further and serve it over polenta, yum.

So whether you go the more traditional route or try this SavoryGirl twist to Shakshuka I promise it will become a favorite in your household as well.  Enjoy!
Weekly Menu: October 28 – November 3, 2012
Sunday: Roast Chicken with Parsnips, Golden Beets & Sunchokes & Kale Salad
Monday: Salmon over Warm Lentil, Apple & Walnut Salad
Tuesday: Leftovers:Salmon over Warm Lentil Salad
Wednesday:    Leftovers: Chicken & Roasted Vegetables
Thursday: Roasted Pear-Butternut Squash Soup with Stilton
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers:Pear & Squash Soup
I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things since returning from all of my travel.  I feel like I'm eating too much, drinking too much, not exercising enough and certainly not sleeping enough. The nice thing about cooking so much though is that at the very least, I can control what I'm eating (even if I eat too much of it!)...so this week is full of nice and healthy fall favorites.

This roast chicken recipe is a new one, but I love roasting chickens on a Sunday as the weather starts to get cooler. It also reminds me that Turkey Day is right around the corner...time to start practicing that trussing technique! If you've never had sunchokes before (absolutely delish!), they're also called Jerusalem Artichokes. The kale salad is a DIY spin-off of this salad we make pretty often.  We'll likely keep it a bit simpler to pair with this dish though.

The salmon lentil dish is one we discovered last year that we fell in love with. It's so simple, healthy and tasty. We'll likely make the lentil salad components on Sunday to save ourselves some time on Monday night since work has been crazy lately. Lastly this soup is my all-time favorite fall soup. I made it a couple of years ago for the first time and was floored at how easy it was and how good it came out. You seriously just chop up some veggies, roast them in the oven, throw them into a blender with some chicken broth, puree and enjoy!  Don't skip the addition of stilton cheese on top and serve with some nicely grilled or toasted rustic bread.  Yum...I can't wait for Thursday!
Chris Cosentino’s Incanto

Trotter cake, periwinkle snails & radishes being devoured

Christian and I have been saying that Incanto is one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco since our very first visit about two years ago, so it was only fitting that we return there for Christian's birthday this year. I'm always a little nervous when I return to a "favorite" since there's a chance that it won't live up to expectations...but Incanto more than delivered. I guess that shouldn't be surprising since chef Chris Cosentino was just named Top Chef Master recently and is even closer to über-celebrity chef status than ever.

So what do we love so much about Incanto? Well it's Italian to start (yes, we're that easy!) but beyond that chef Cosentino's philosophy about using the whole animal is right up my alley. We love trying new cuts of meat in unique and skillful preparations and that is precisely Cosentino's area of expertise. We honestly have a hard time getting past his "Odds & Ends" special board onto the main menu whenever we go there for dinner! And while we're being honest...I have a total foodie crush on Chris Cosentino. He's like the bad-ass chef without trying too hard...who wouldn't want to come home to his cute face, engaging personality (on T.V. at least!) and delicious cooking every night? Yum.

The master at work...Chris Cosetino

Ok, moving off the man-meat and onto the real food...our first dish was an amazing take on a traditional prosciutto with fruit plate - Boccalone Ibérico di bellota lardo with roasted figs, hazelnuts & rose thyme. The lardo is delicate with a slight salty-sweet essence that pairs oh-so perfectly with the roasted figs and crunchy hazelnuts. A lovely start to what promised to be a delicious evening!

Boccalone Ibérico di bellota lardo, roasted figs, hazelnuts & rose thyme

Next, onto our first special from the Odds & Ends board...beef heart tartare with chives and puffed beef tendons. I know, I know...puffed beef tendons?  But if you even remotely like pork rinds you will love these! My only complaint is that there weren't more of them to eat alongside the tartare. The tartare itself was incredibly rich and flavorful. The chives and bit of fish sauce used really brought the flavors together...yum.  I think this was Christian's favorite dish of the night.

Beef heart tartare with puffed beef tendons

The Odds & Ends specials board is always so enticing that we ended up getting 3 appetizers...we figured it was fitting to behave like little piggly-wigglys when we were in a restaurant that practically acts as a shrine to pork! Speaking of pork, this third appetizer was a Trotter Cake with Periwinkle Snails and Radishes. Definitely the best trotter cake I've ever had...large succulent pieces of pork leg/foot meat seasoned to perfection in a nicely crisped exterior. The pairings of snails and radishes with trotter cake initially seemed a bit odd (but also why we ordered it) but it really all worked well together.  

Weekly Menu: October 21-27, 2012
Sunday: White Fish with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes
Monday: Leftovers: Frozen Many Bean Soup
Tuesday: Christian’s Birthday! SavoryGirl’s Steak with Brussel Sprouts & Bacon
Wednesday:   Shakshuka
Thursday: Leftovers: Steak tacos with avocado & grilled scallions
Friday: Dinner with Matt & Renee
Saturday: Leftovers: Shakshuka
I'm back in town and not leaving again for the foreseeable future, yippeee...so let's get cooking! Since it has been a bit hectic we're starting off the week an easy fish and roasted rapini & tomatoes dinner. Nice and healthy. Then we're reaching back into the freezer to pull out a fantastic soup we made from our October 7th menu. Tuesday is Christian's special day and he has requested my famous home-cooked steak (I swear, they're as good as most restaurants!) with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and bacon. My newfound approach to steak comes from a past Bon Appétit article about how to cook the prefect steak, which I linked to in the menu above. Trust me, you'll feel like you're using way too much salt, but just go with it!

Then we're rounding out the week with a nice Israeli vegetarian dish...you all know how much I love eggs for dinner and this one is a winner! We'll turn Christian's steak dinner into some yummy steak tacos for leftovers on Thursday and then we have a dinner date with one of our all-time favorite couples. Between the birthday and dinner with friends I'd say we have a fun and yummy week coming up!
SavoryGirl’s Childhood Button Sandwich

This is a really fun post for me...why? Well because this honestly might be the very first SavoryGirl original recipe that I ever created! I was about 6 years old and home with my dad and best friend, Aimee, while my mom was out grocery shopping. We were hungry and after surveying the ingredients that were available in the cupboards I created this sandwich...which I promptly named "The Button Sandwich" because of the way the perfectly lined up marshmallows reminded me of buttons. I have to say 25+ years later and it's still a winner in my household, and we don't even have kids yet!

So what makes it so special? Well honestly it's the simplicity but complementary nature of the ingredients. Who doesn't love apples with peanut butter? Who doesn't love a fluffer-nutter sandwich? Well this beauty combines the best of both worlds! Creamy peanut butter (on both slices of bread please!), applesauce and marshmallows...delicious.

Weekly Menu: October 14-20, 2012
Sunday: Easy chicken Stir-Fry (DIY)
Monday: Salmon with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes (DIY)
Tuesday: Leftovers: chicken stir-fry
Wednesday:   Take-Out after pick-up Suz from the Airport
Thursday: SavoryGirl’s Tortellini Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Tortellini Soup
Saturday: Dinner at Incanto for Christian’s Birthday!
This week is an easy-breezy one...mostly because I'm out of town and Christian is on his own, but he still likes to cook for himself. So this is what he's planning on making this week; a simple chicken stir-fry, his favorite veggie alongside some grilled salmon and then later in the week when I'm home we'll make my super comforting and easy Tortellini Soup. I've been eating a version of this tortellini soup since I was a kid...so really my mom gets the credit for this one, but we did make it our own by adding mushrooms!

At the end of the week we have a special day to celebrate...Christian's Birthday! It's actually not until next Tuesday but we'll go out and have a night on the town Saturday at one of our favorite restaurants in the city, Incanto...read my post from our last visit. Incanto is Chris Cosentino's place...if you haven't heard of him you will! He's an up and coming celebrity chef in his own right, recently winning Top Chef Masters and really being known for his specialty dishes that feature offal. He's one of the leaders in the "whole animal" movement that I hope will start to sweep the nation. Stay tuned, I'll likely write up another post on this fabulous spot after Christian's birthday dinner.
SavoryGirl’s New Go-To Chili Recipe

Just in time for the end of National Chili Week (who knew?!) I stumbled upon my new go-to chili recipe! What makes it worthy of becoming my "go-to"? Well, for one, Christian loves it...and he has always disliked my or anyone else's chili. But beyond that, it is super flavorful and very easy. I can't take credit though, it's not a SavoryGirl original...in fact it's an Emeril Lagasse original. That Emeril knows his way around a good chili bowl!

So the original recipe for Emerils' 5-Bean Chili can be found here, but I made a few tweaks to both ingredients and process that I included below and would recommend you make as well. Particularly if you like thicker chili as we do since Emeril's original recipe makes a thinner soup-like chili. While this is a very easy dish to make, it isn't quick so make sure to start this chili with that in mind...you need to soak the beans for about an hour first and then let it all cook in the slow-cooker for 8-10 hours if you use my approach.

Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy

This is an oldie but a goodie...we've been making it for at least 7 years so I guess it's become one of our own over time.  I'm not even sure where it originally came from.  I think a healthy cooking magazine, maybe Cooking Light or something along those lines...but I'm pretty sure we've not only adjusted the ingredients but also the cooking method over the years.  Either way, hope you enjoy this favorite of ours as much as we do.  Light, healthy and delicious Asian-inspired flavors.