Shakin’ Shakshuka

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When I booked my fare to Israel the very last thing I envisioned was cooking a meal or funnier still, finding myself in front of a hot stove!  But Tel Aviv is full of surprises. Dr. Shakshuka is a culinary treasure in a country where there are so many fabulous meals to be sampled. This was my first taste of the classic egg-based dish and certainly, my first time cooking it – although I had some help from the doctor himself.

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If you’re planning a trip to Israel then this has to be a stop. Travel plans or not, the recipe is simple and satisfying:

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Shakshuka Recipe
Courtesy Shai Deluca

INGREDIENTS
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
• 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 1 tsp chili powder (mild)
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste– spicy!)
• Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 5-6 eggs
• 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.

2. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.

3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne… it is extremely spicy!).

4. Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.

5. Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which can lead to burning.

6. Garnish with the chopped parsley, if desired. Shakshuka can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For breakfast, serve with warm crusty bread or pita that can be dipped into the sauce (if you’re gluten-intolerant or celebrating Passover, skip the bread). For dinner, serve with a green side salad for a light, easy meal.

Pom Pom Pomegranates

Lucky for us, it was pomegranate season when we touched down in Jerusalem.

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The ruby red orbs were everywhere – sold in restaurants and on street corners. We sampled our first taste (though it wasn’t the last) from this jovial man in the Jerusalem market. He made swift work of the juicing, adding the contents of two full fruits to each glass.

The taste. Just as sweet and “puckery” as you’d imagine.

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How many things can you say “puckery” about??

Barcelona’s Top 5 Restaurants

“Reset your body clock,” advises Dabble’s principal photographer, Simon Burn. “Locals never eat dinner before 10:00 pm, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy several meals each day.”

Nearly every restaurant in Barcelona suffers from mixed reviews when it comes to service. Frankly, how attentive the wait staff is depends largely on the day. Be patient and go with the flow if you want to have a good time.

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1. In the Barri Gòtic neighbourhood of Barcelona is the city’s oldest (and most delicious according to Simon) restaurant, Can Culleretes. For a set price, diners enjoy a three course meal plus wine in a rich, warm setting. Try the seafood which tastes fresh from the sea or the more hearty roasted duck with prunes.

2. Grab a spot at the bar if you can because the popular Cal Pep only has five tables. The Born neighbourhood haunt is packed with hungry locals who sometimes sneak in the back door. The cuttlefish and garbanzo beans can only be described as perfect.

3. Spanish for skylight, Tragaluz offers moonlight dining to those lucky enough to secure a table on the second floor. A passion for good food continually inspires the owner Rosa Esteva and her son Tomas to create fresh fare for a crowd that returns frequently.

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4. Placed in tandem (Fishop at the front and Beefshop at the back) are sister restaurants—though these relatives look nothing alike. Fish and sushi are served raw at tables with industrial seating, while the beef menu is served in cozy armchairs near a stone fireplace.

Dabble Savvy: On the last Monday of the month there’s a 35€ all you can eat menu that includes wine.

5. Food show fans drool at the mere mention of molecular gastronomy. Since elBulli is temporarily closed it’s high season for Comerç, 24. Dining in this fashion is a unique experience. The food items, served in seven courses, are complex creations. Sit near the kitchen and watch the culinary ballet as several chefs work together on each dish. Dinner for one with two glasses of wine came to 105€.

Top 10 Worldwide Dabble Does Culinary Destinations

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As the Editor in Chief of Dabble, I get to travel all around the world to taste-test food for upcoming Dabble destination features. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it…

Featured Image: Southern comfort food: Shrimp and grits from High Cotton in Charleston, South Carolina.Top 10 Faves:

1- Nashville: Locals claim Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack does hot chicken best, and I can’t disagree. A Nashville specialty, hot chicken is battered in buttermilk and cayenne pepper, and then pan-fried. Better have a beer nearby because when we say hot, we mean hot.

2- Barcelona: Cobalt blue water bottles cast a watery tinge onto crisp white tablecloths in the contemporary setting of Matamala. Asking the waiter for a recommendation yields what can only be described as fish donuts. Sounds weird, but the bite-sized cod balls are drizzled in honey and taste like heaven with the accompanying cold beer. A small, well-stocked grocery selection includes fun gift ideas such as the pa amb tomaquet (Catalan bread with tomato spread) kit.

3- Budapest: A must-visit gem of Hungarian home cooking is Cafe Kar. The restaurant is fairly small, not terribly picturesque, and the staff is not overly affectionate (have I wowed you yet?). However, the memorable home cooking makes these minor issues easily tolerated. Perfect goulash, sublime veal tenderloin and a Viennese style, thinly pounded Wiener schnitzel with parsley potatoes are just a few favourites.

4- Toronto: Is there any better way to wrap up a long day’s work than with refreshments on a twinkling patio? Caren’s Wine and Cheese Bar is unassuming and casual in contrast to its chi-chi Yorkville setting. It boasts a varied list of reasonably priced wines and cheeses, as well as a spicy baked macaroni and cheese that’s worth blowing the diet over.

5- Charleston: You can’t go all the way to Charleston without eating some good ol’ Southern cookin’. Maverick Southern Kitchens operates two fabulous restaurants on East Broad Street: Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) and High Cotton. Try the shrimp and grits at both locations. Tip: Don’t fill up on the wonderful corn bread they serve…or do. If you feel like learning how to make a Southern dish, visit Cooks right across the street and participate in a cooking class.

6- Puerto Rico: Lusty describes the setting and menu at Dragonfly, Puerto Rico’s first Latin-Asian restaurant. Red walls, beaded curtains and fringed lamps are right out of Shanghai Surprise, but the food is delish.

7- Santa Monica: Always on a roll, LA food trucks are famous for their variety of fare. Quell midday hunger with a visit to Pennsylvania and 26th streets where you’ll find at least a dozen trucks Monday-Friday. The setting is meh, but $5.00 buys a feast–fish tacos, kogi beef skewers, fish and chips, even a green salad truck.

8- Quebec City: Seeking a truly French meal? Then make your way to la rue St. Jean to Le Moine Echanson. This restaurant comes highly recommended from locals, who tend to be demanding gourmets. Every dish is paired with a wine recommendation. Be sure to make reservations if you want to enjoy this unique culinary experience. Try a savoury dish like the Gratin d’Escargots et Fromage Chevre; you’ll swear you are in France.

9- St. Pierre et Miquelon: Dreaming of a trip to France? Moi aussi. So I pack my bags and do what any croissant-loving world traveller does, I fly to Newfoundland. That’s right. St. Pierre is a small patch of French soil in the province of Newfoundlad. The Auberge Quatre Temps’ award-winning chef, Pascal Vigneau, chats with his guests before dishing out heavenly lobster and salmon (best accompanied with a chilled Muscade or Sylvaner) and the fluffiest lemon-lime cheesecake.

10- Prague: If your taste buds are overwhelmed by hearty Czech fare, stop for lunch at Cukrkavalimonada Caffe. The imposing name translates to ‘coffee sugar lemonade.’ Perfect for salads, omelettes, grilled chicken and tempting desserts like palacinky (Czech crepes).

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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by The new Scotiabank ®* Gold America Express ® Card via Glam Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Scotiabank ®* or America Express ®’

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Searching for yummy noodles in Hong Kong

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Eating in exotic places and savoring culinary delights is the norm for travelling chef, Marc Matsumoto. Three of Marc’s recipes were previously featured in Issue 2: May/Jun’11.

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On a recent trip to Honk Kong, it was suggested to Marc from his Twitter followers to visit Mak’s Noodles for a bowl of noodles. Through his travels, he was unwittingly able to unearth an even more flavourful noodle.

Here’s an except from Marc’s blog The Wandering Cook.

‘Since I was in Hong Kong to research some food stories, my first day was literally crammed with a gut-busting food crawl across Kowloon. My plan was to cram in as much food as I could during the day and keep dinner light with a bowl of Mak’s Noodles. Unfortunately a very long wait at The Peninsula had turned afternoon tea into evening tea and I decided to wander around the Kowloon waterfront before heading back back to Hong Kong island.’

‘This delay along with a few wrong turns meant I showed up at Mak’s around 8:00 pm, right as they were lowering the shutters for the evening. Still not hungry, but unwilling to forgo a meal during my short visit, I wandered up and down Wellington Street checking out the food options.’

Spend a day with Dabble and Chef Matsumoto: Issue 2: May/Jun’11.

To read the complete article, visit The Wandering Cook.

Read the entire article ‘A Day with Chef Marc Matsumoto’ in Issue 2 of Dabble.