Your last-minute guide to Mother’s Day
When you work in the food industry, it is rather difficult to ignore the holidays. The first sign of Christmas comes in April, Valentine’s Day makes us shiver, and god forbid the dulcet pastel palette of Mother’s Day. Be that as it may, we all owe our Mothers a lot. We owe them for giving us the gift of life, for destroying their bodies, for blowing our noses (among other unspeakable things they cleared up in the name of ‘love’), for being the BEST person to have a good ol’ bitch to, and most importantly, being honest about how shit we looked in most of the outfits we wore in 2008. Mum, you’re the best.
“Baked eggs in a rich spiced tomato sauce, and boy, is it diverse.”
With that in mind you will probably want to do something nice and really show her you care. But let’s face it, we’ve all been there and forgotten at least once, and if you are one of those goody-two-shoes who never ever forgets, then hush up and get back to Thorntons.
“Breathe. Creep downstairs and see what you have in the cupboard, and make something delicious by the skin of your teeth.”
Fear not, G&T is here to help. This week’s recipe will be your last-minute salvation; the ‘store cupboard’ shakshouka. It is an Israeli/North African dish typically served as breakfast, but it works just as well at lunch or dinner. It consists of baked eggs in a rich spiced tomato sauce, and boy, is it diverse. You can literally put whatever you like in it; from butternut squash, to spinach to feta cheese. You can make it carnivore with the addition of chorizo like we have, or perhaps even bacon or ham hock. Play around with the spice levels too. It’s delicious when it’s packed with dangerous amounts of chilli, and a fantastic hangover cure to boot (if you’ve been good and taken Mum out on the razz the night before). Perhaps give it a smokey taste with extra smoked paprika or a squirt of BBQ sauce, or even mint and lemon for those with more sensitive palates.
The best thing about shakshouka is that you can pretty much scrape it together from anything in your store cupboard. You can pretend that you had this planned all along, when in reality you were in an enormous flap after you sleepily checked your news feed. So, you don’t need to take the following recipe as gospel. Breathe. Creep downstairs and see what you have in the cupboard, and make something delicious by the skin of your teeth. Serve with crusty bread, Mum’s favourite morning beverage in that mug you bought her way back when, and a sheepish smile.
“After your decades of temper tantrums, and ‘borrowing’ money, it’s really the least you can do.”
We cooked & served our dish in a copper skillet from good ol’ Ebay (can you see a common denominator here?) However, we learnt the hard way that it wasn’t safe to put on the hob flame. Cook the dish in something you can put in the oven to bake the eggs. This is much easier and keeps the washing up to a minimum. Unfortunately, Shakshouka is a dish that doesn’t look very attractive when served. It sort of looks like a sloppy red mess, so we would advise to serve it in the pan or skillet. Or, just make sure Mum sees it all bubbly and sprinkled with bright green herbs before you dish it out. It might not look delicious, but trust us, IT IS.
Last minute gifts can include petrol station flowers, that necklace you bought for yourself which still has the tag on, a book which is yet to be read (spine still intact, of course). Or, if you want to get really creative, a printed photo put in an appropriated frame, or even a collage will immediately put you in the good books. Finally, if you’re going to do anything this Mother’s Day, make sure you put a reminder in your phone for next year. Don’t beat yourself up too much, we’ve all been there. But if your sibling beats you to the post, you can always do the washing up; after your decades of temper tantrums, and ‘borrowing’ money, it’s really the least you can do.
Best of luck, we’re with you in spirit young grasshopper.
See you next Thursday,
Store cupboard Shakshouka
Serves 2 (Dads don’t qualify this week)
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
70g chorizo, sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato puree
Pinch of sugar
1 tbsp. Harissa paste
1 tsp. cumin
1tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. paprika (or 1 tsp. smoked paprika)
Four large free-range eggs
Salt, pepper, olive oil
Crusty bread and chopped coriander, parsley or mint to serve.
In a skillet or heavy frying pan, heat up a dash of olive oil and add the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes over a medium heat until fragrant. Add the chorizo and cook for 3 minutes, or until it starts to crisp and release the oil. Add the onions and peppers and fennel seeds and sweat until soft. Add the chilli, cumin, thyme, salt, paprika, and pepper and stir well. Stir in the harissa paste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, puree and a can full of water and a pinch of sugar. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until it becomes rich and thick.
Preheat the grill to 200 degrees. Make a well, or a dip in the sauce with a spoon and crack an egg in to the space. Repeat four times. Season with salt, pepper and some chopped coriander and stick it under the grill for 10-15 minutes, depending on yolk preferences.
Serve in the skillet with fresh coffee & crusty bread for dippin’.