Morning all - for once, not from bed with my mug of tea (been there done that), it is 7:22am and I am tapping away at my keyboard in my office instead. Generally speaking I am not a fan of people who always arrive late, flapping about, gasping for air and talking about how busy they are - in a grumpy old lady kind of way I usually just wonder why they can't get their sh*t together. As penance I have turned into that person. At this time of year magazine and newspaper deadlines are converging, I have a travel story for Dish to (re)write which I really want to be good, it's my bollocking birthday on Saturday (lovely friends coming for mystery - in that I have no idea what it is yet - dinner), and stupidly timed dentist, dermatologist and mammogram appointments to fit in. (The end of the year is not an optimal time to start trying to be medically organised, surely this is a start of the year thing to do..?).
Anyhoo, I should stop fluffing, tell you about the recipe and keep going. So - this is shakshuka, eggs poached in a spicy, fragrant tomato sauce, served with toasted cumin-y Turkish bread and a smear (or blob) of cumin spiked labneh. The tomato sauce can easily be made in advance and just kept in the fridge, and the labneh is one of those dead-easy and moderately impressive things to serve, a quick home-made soft cheese. If you fancy, stir some fresh spinach through the hot sauce to wilt before adding the eggs, and if you have it in the cupboard, a sprinkling of dukkah would also be nice. As with any hearty breakfast recipe it is also great for lunch or dinner :) Right, off to wrangle that story...
450g Greek yoghurt (I used Puhoi)
1 clove garlic, crushed
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds
Wet a large piece of muslin and fold it in half. Lay it into a sieve placed inside a bowl, with enough space for liquid to pool in the bottom without touching the base of the sieve. Whisk the yoghurt with the garlic, lemon zest, salt and toasted cumin seeds. Pour it into the muslin and draw up the sides to enclose the yoghurt. Twirl the top into a loose knot, then put in the fridge to drain for at least 4 hours. I like my labneh soft, so only leave it for 4 hours, but for a firmer consistency, you can keep draining it for up to 8 or even 12 hours. Once it has reached your desired consistency, tip the cheese out and store it, covered in oil in a sealed container in the fridge. I used mine straight away so you will see no oil in the picture. Makes 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, cored and chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons caster sugar
800g crushed sieved tomatoes
400 grams tinned cherry tomatoes in juice
4-8 eggs (I used 6)
¼ cup coriander leaves, to garnish
Turkish bread, toasted to serve
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1 minute. Add the onion, capsicum, chilli and garlic and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the coriander, caster sugar and tomatoes and their juices and cook a further 30-35 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick. Test the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper after 15 minutes. Make 4-8 shallow indentations in the hot sauce and drop a cracked egg into each one. Cook the shakshuka for 10-12 minutes until the eggs are cooked through. To speed up the setting of the whites you can pop a lid over the pan. To serve, break up some chunks of labneh and dot over the shakshuka and sprinkle with coriander. Serve with toasted Turish bread and extra labneh on the side. Serves 4
*If making the tomato sauce the day before, simply reheat it in a frying pan, adding a little water if necessary to thin, and continue with the above cooking method.