Shakshuka

What is it?  Shakshuka, an Israeli dish with eggs poached in a flavorful tomato sauce.  This recipe has a small ingredient list or cheap grocery staples- packs a huge punch of flavor, and it is SO simple to make. Win Win Win!  The one tip is to use the BEST quality canned tomatoes, we used a store brand and there was a slight so so taste the tomatoes, which are the star in this recipe.
Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]

Adapted from Saveur
Serves 4
1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
4 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Warm Corn + Green Bean and Quinoa Salad

The idea that a recipe is not only sustaining our bodies, but also nourishes it and is so good for you makes us happy here at Urban Kitchen.  So when we find one with ingredients we know we love, have on hand and help us use local in season produce- well we just had to make it.  This recipe was altered a bit of course as usual to suit what we have in our pantry and to bulk it up as a warm salad dinner to fill up on.  Quinoa has been a long time favorite of ours + we always keep it stocked for quick and easy meals ( cooks in 15 minutes!)- you can use red or black varieties to punch up the color contrast of this dish.  We had the most GLORIOUS corn ever from Bob’s corn in Coloma Wisconsin from our trip- the call it ” honey dipped corn” it is naturally super sweet and amazing.  Green beans are plentiful right now, and even though it’s a pain to trim a pound of green beans- they really make this salad crunch, you can do it while the quinoa cooks!  So please make this and feel amazing while you eat it, after you eat it and when you eat it as lunch the next day!  
Warm Corn + Green Bean and Quinoa Salad
adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Dressing
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Light vinegar, like white balsamic or Champagne
2 tsp. Honey
1 Clove Garlic
1/4 cup Basil Leaves
Pinch of Salt + Pepper

1 Cup Quinoa 

4 ears of corn, hulled, boiled and chopped from cob
1 lb. Green Beans, ends trimmed
3 Scallions/Green Onions
1/2 Cup Macadamias, toasted and skins removed, roughly chopped
1. In a blender or food processor, whirl all of the dressing ingredients together. Taste for salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge.
2. Bring 2 Cups water to a boil and add the quinoa, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. Meanwhile boil your corn and in another pot steam the green beans until just barely softened. Drain well. Add the drained green beans and chopped corn to the quinoa. Thinly slice the scallions and add them, and half of the chopped macadamias to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Finish the salad with a few grinds of fresh black pepper and the rest of the macadamias. Serve warm or chill in the fridge. The leftovers hold up great.


Summer Vegetable Risotto

Risotto often raises a red alert flag in many fellow cooks because we all think it’s too difficult to make. This really isn’t true, and I think where the confusion lies is the fact that you have to slowly add liquid in and stir frequently- aka, be present while cooking. Stirring loosens the starchy molecules from the rice and into your liquid, creating a smooth rich creamy sauce. So adding in hot liquid and letting it absorb into the rice slowly and create the sauce. If you’d like to make this recipe more healthy you can use turkey or chicken sausage, or no sausage at all, and add in half the Parmesan and butter, or replace the butter with 1 T olive oil. This was a great way to use all the summer vegetables coming out of the garden right now. If you have the time and want to use fresh tomato go for it- but we had a lot of fresh corn, basil, zucchini! And let me tell you, this was SO fresh, so creamy and rich and delicious- I can’t wait to eat leftovers for lunch and make this again as the seasons change with different veggies.

Summer Vegetable Risotto
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food
Serves 6
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, about 3/4 pound, coarsely chopped in bite size pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup cooking Sherry + 1/4 cup water

1 clove garlic, minced 
14 ounces baby spinach, chopped (about 7 cups)
2 ears of corn, boiled to cook and carved from cob
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage, zucchini and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic to combine.

Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sherry+ water; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Set your timer for 25 minutes, and continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next (every 5-6 minutes), stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender (you may not have to use all the liquid).

Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, corn, basil, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

6 Plum Tomatoes
2 Garlic Cloves
1 bunch of Cilantro
2 Limes
1 Small Red Onion (or whatever onion you have)
2 Serrano Peppers
1 tbs EVOO
2tsp Kosher salt
a few cracks of fresh ground pepper

Place the tomatoes in an oven safe dish and place in the broiler.  Broil until blackened and soft.  Quarter when done.
Roughly chop the onion and the peppers, crush and peel the garlic.  Then add all three to a hot pan with the EVOO.  Saute just until soft and fragrant.
Add all of the ingredients together in a good blender or food processor and pulse until combined.  Add extra salt and lime to taste.

Turkey BLT’s

A BLT is quite perfect the way it is, but when you forget to pick up the lettuce and want to watch your saturated fat intake you can make amazingly delicious Turkey Bacon, Spinach + Basil and Tomato Sandwiches!  We used Today’s Temptations ( a Chicago bakery) Whole Wheat Italian bread, Turkey Bacon, sliced tomatoes from mom’s garden and fresh basil from ours along with some crunchy baby spinach… and a shmear of light mayo.  To make these, start by cooking your bacon, then toast the bread, spread on mayo on each side, then layer the tomato, spinach, basil topped with a couple slices of bacon.  Slice it in half and serve with a cold brew of you choics… mmmmm summer juicy tomatoes never tasted better!

Flank Steak Taco Dinner with Friends

How can you not love summer- grilling out, warm sunshiny days and eating outside with good friends and good food after a day at the beach?  We had picked up a really nice looking flank steak at the butcher and decided it would be perfect on the grill and in a taco, along with grilled tomato salsa and sweetened grilled plantains… and mojitos!  Grilling the tomatoes gives this salsa a warm smoky heat, so savory and full of fresh flavor- it’s incredible.  Plantains are starchy, like a potato, but we treated them as a dessert- melted butter and brown sugar scented with vanilla.  We didn’t cook ours long enough, so you will want to make sure these are tender because the flavors were certainly showing up to party!  A quick rub of spices on the flank steak really punches up the savory taco.  So for your next BBQ as these last long days whittle down, please give this combo a try:
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Ingredients
6 roma (plum) tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 small onion, quartered
1 jalapeno chile pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions
Start the Grill.  In a medium bowl, place roma (plum) tomatoes toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.   Transfer to the grill when it is hot and ready, checking often, grill 5 to 10 minutes, or until outsides of tomatoes are charred.  Remove vegetables from heat. Remove and discard tomato cores.  In a food processor, coarsely chop the remaining ingredients.  Transfer to a medium bowl and serve with extra lime juice and cilantro.

Flank Steak
Ingredients

2 lb flank steak
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Directions
Preheat a grill pan over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Combine the mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, cayenne and allspice in a small bowl. Rub the flank steak all over with the mix and let sit for 10 minutes.  Put the steak on the hot grill and cook 5 minutes per side. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Plantains
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 very ripe plantains (should be almost black), peeled and sliced horizontally and then in half 
1 Tablespoon canola oil
Directions
Heat grill to high. Place rum, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar has melted and the mixture reduces and thickens slightly. Stir in butter until melted. Remove from the heat.
Brush plantains with oil on both sides and grill until golden brown and caramelized, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Brush with the glaze during the last few minutes of grilling. Remove from the grill and brush with more of the glaze before serving.
Mojitos
makes 8 cocktails
Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
8 ounces light rum
1 cup tonic water
16 limes, juiced
2 cups fresh mint

TO MAKE THE SIMPLE SYRUP WITH MINT: In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water and heat over medium-high heat. Let the syrup cook for a couple of minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the syrup looks clear. This will be about the time it takes for the syrup to begin to bubble. Remove from the heat and add the mint leaves. Cover and set aside for about 10 minutes, so the mint can infuse the syrup. Strain the syrup and use immediately or store in a lidded container for up to 1 week.
TO MAKE THE PITCHER OF MOJITOS: In a large pitcher, stir together the rum, lime juice, and syrup. Add half the mint leaves and using a wooden spoon muddle the leaves. Serve at once or refrigerate until needed. Do NOT add ice to the pitcher.

TO SERVE: When ready to serve, squeeze a lime wedge over the ice in a rocks glass. Drop the lime wedge into the glass along with a few fresh mint leaves. Fill the glass two-thirds full of the mojito mixture and top off with club soda.