Shakshuka

Originating from North Africa, Shakshuka is a delicious combination of tomatoes, spices and eggs –  it’s an easy to make, grab all lunch, brunch or supper. There are many variations and I think like most recipes, you end up whittling a recipe down and tweaking it until it becomes your own version – one of the nicest things about cooking and baking.

So here is mine. It’s not particularly precise or formal and I like it best served on top of thinly sliced, cold chorizo so that the sauce warms it through. Add some rocket on the side and grilled sourdough rubbed with garlic and you’re all set. I’d love to hear your versions or tweaks, so do let me know in the comments.  

Ingredients

I tbsp olive oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic crushed

1/2 tbsp paprika

1 tsp brown sugar (this is to taste, so add more or less as you please)

2 onions finely sliced

2 red peppers finely sliced

2 tins chopped tomatoes

4 eggs

Salt and pepper to season

Parsley to garnish – a decent handful

  1. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan for a minute or so, before adding the oil, garlic, spices, chilli, sliced onions and peppers and fry at a low to medium heat until the onions and peppers are soft.
  1. Add the tomatoes and sugar, season and simmer gently in a covered pan for 20 minutes (during this time if needed, add enough water to keep the consistency more like a thick soup than a stew).
  1. Make four indents for your eggs in the tomatoes and gently crack them in. Cover the pan with a lid and leave for 4-5 minutes (don’t be tempted to lift the lid and keep checking – you’ll let all the heat out!). This when you need to to gather your sides, chop your parsley and char/toast your bread. When the eggs are cooked but still have runny yolks, sprinkle with the parsley.

Serve to the rapturous applause of your guests. Or, as is the norm in my case, the disgruntled sighs of your children who have yet to recognise that super noodles are not a substitute for actual food.

Horn & Cracker

 


Harry’s Restaurant – Longbrook Street Exeter

The weather may have left a lot to be desired last weekend (where has summer gone?!), but it was still a good one. A highlight was dinner at Harry’s in Exeter on Saturday night. Way back at the beginning of the 00’s, my husband and I came here on our first date. A lot has changed since then – no one listens to Portishead anymore,  Doug and Carol finally got their act together in ER and we’ve somehow become responsible enough to be in charge of two children, a dog and two cats (in fairness, the cats would disagree with that sentence).  We come back to Harry’s every now and again to pat ourselves on the back for putting up with each other for such a long time and laugh (cry) about when we thought getting up at 7am on the weekend was early.

Opened in 1993, Harry’s has long been a much loved part of the Exeter restaurant scene and with good reason. Set in a big, beautiful building on Longbrook street with high ceilings, lots to look at and a comfortable, easy atmosphere, Harry’s serves great food, cooked well without pomp or circumstance.

To start, we had the smoked salmon pate with sourdough toast and calamari with aioli which we both loved, followed by Creedy Carver chicken, and fajitas – they were again delicious. Harry’s portion sizes are on the generous size, which is great but it did mean that unfortunately neither of us left space for a dessert, I saw a few go past and they looked good! (I’ll squeeze one in next time and let you know how it was). The service is as friendly and easy going as the atmosphere and our (lovely, smiley) waitress made us feel welcome without hovering over us, something I find particularly irritating in restaurants.

One of my favourite things about Harry’s is it’s use of local produce – If you look at the photo above (I had to borrow one of Harry’s because mine was terrible) you can see the board on the wall near the kitchen which lists the produce currently on the menu and where it came from, including the distance in miles. It’s a fantastic ethos and I love seeing it up on the wall. This same ethos extends to the wine list which also features local producers – we had a great bottle of Sharphams Sauvignon Blanc that I will look out for in future.

It’s a busy place and I recommend booking plenty in advance to make sure they have space but I promise you’ll be glad you did. I’m off to bed now – early start in the morning…   

 

Harry’s

86 Longbrook Street

Exeter

Devon

EX4 6AP

Tel: 01392 202234

 


Why the humble tart should be your go-to summer dish.

Thought to have sprung from medieval pie making traditions, there’s a reason that tarts are such a popular summer food. Although I love them all year round,  when the weather is warm and cooking feels like a bit of an effort, they come into their own as a deceptively hard working foodstuff – hear me out…

Made with whatever pastry you can lay your hands on, be it shop bought puff, a sweet short dessert pastry (or, if you’ve a bit of time on your hands some herby shortcrust), making a tart is as labour intensive as you want it to be. A sweet or savoury dish that’s on the table inside of 45 minutes and needs nothing more than a salad or a (huge) dollop of clotted cream, It’s a brilliant catch all for a fridge full of leftover ingredients or to use up the odds and ends from your fruit and veg box. And the best bit is that if you make it big enough, you’ve got tomorrow’s lunch sorted as well.

This week we had the end of a piece of Blue Boy from Country Cheeses in Topsham to use up (if you haven’t already tried it -it’s delicious!). With some creme fraîche, spinach and marinated artichokes it made a great little puff pastry tart – virtually no effort and cheap to boot.

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Blue Bay, spinach and marinated artichokes with creme fraiche.

When you’re feeling a bit more committed to the kitchen, or have a spare bit of baking time it’s easy to upgrade your toppings with cured meats or fresh seafood and a slow cooked sauce as a base. Another version is the French Galette which is traditionally made with buckwheat flour –  making the crust is actually very easy and I love the golden, folded over edges. That said, this recipe from the fabulous Lavender and Lovage uses puff pastry and always goes down brilliantly with guests.

I could go on and on with this topic – on the sweet side, the list is pretty much endless….portugese custard tarts, tarte tatin and rhubarb with ginger are just a few suggestions, proving (in my opinion!) that as a low effort mainstay – the tart is a real workhorse. Let me know what you think – tag me in your tart recipes on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – extra points for photos!

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Peaches soaked in sauternes, blueberries and a lemon marscapone cream.

Horn & Cracker