Tag Archives: tomatoes

Shakshuka: Meal of my heart.

24 Dec

shakshuka title

So last night we had a heavy metal vomit party. What’s a heavy metal vomit party, you ask? A heavy metal vomit party is a party in which people drink a lot, listen to heavy metal, maybe they punch each other just for fun, etc. It’s what I picture an Anthrax after-party would look like. Only, we didn’t have any heavy metal and there were no dudes in leather and chains punching each other just for funsies,. We did, however, have lots of vomit as the kiddo had a bout of food poisoning. Why oh why are you talking about this on a food blog, you might find yourself asking? Because I’m in a weird place that can only be described as halfway between delirium and the twilight zone. Last night, I slept from 8:30 – 9:30pm, and then again from 12:30 – 1:30am. The rest of the time was spent snuggling with the kiddo and feeding her sips of water, of which she only calls ‘agua’, thank you Miami life and our Spanish-speaking daycare providers. I finally called in the big guns, a.k.a. Dada, at about 5:15 so that I could sleep for a few hours. It was such a shame because yesterday was the first day of my winter break and we had such a wonderful day with my husband’s parents. We drove the 45 minutes to the Bubbe-capitol of the world, also known as Boca Raton, Florida. We went to a science museum, rode a beautiful carousel and had overall joy and merriment. And then, in a classic parenting moment, things switched to disaster on a dime. We were not 5 minutes in the car for our 45 minute drive home when the kiddo let us have it (“it”being everything she had eaten for the past 3 hours). And then, because I’m the world’s greatest mom, when I finally calmed her down and was putting her back into her carseat, I pinched her tiny thigh skin with the seat buckle. That only escalated the crying and general discomfort of our poor kid. This discomfort and vomit continued for roughly 6 more hours from that point. Good times.

And so, at 2:30am, when I was begging for sleep that couldn’t come because I was sharing a bed with a sweaty, uncomfortable toddler, I started thinking about the things you don’t realize you’re going to need when you agree to marry someone. Now bear with me, this has a connection. While I was snuggling with the above-mentioned sweaty toddler, my husband was in our room sleeping. We had agreed that he would sleep during the night and then he would cover me during the day so that I could sleep. When things went to hell earlier in the day, we went back and forth between cracking each other up over the ridiculousness of cleaning vomit off a carseat on the side of a highway off-ramp to biting at each other when she vomited for the 4th time in 3 hours and we had reached our new-parent point of ‘WHAT THE @#$* DO WE DO NOW!?”. But, we never once felt alone in our worried-parent ineptitude because we had each other. When my husband proposed to me in 2009 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, I immediately said ‘yes’. I had known I wanted to marry him from the moment we met. But a person has no idea what they’re going to need when they’re down in the fox-hole of food poisoning h*ll because you can’t possibly understand what that foxhole will be like. Heck, you don’t even know that foxhole exists. You just know you’re in love and you’ve really enjoyed life together so far so let’s keep this thing going. Therefore, at 2:30 in the morning, when I was feeding the little one her sips of water, I was thinking about my husband in the other room and how there would be no way in h*ll I would be able to get through any of it without him. Food poisoning comes and goes and it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. However, the way we work together in these situations is a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I’m not sure of anyone else who could have me laughing like he did at 11pm last night when we knew we had a looooooong sleepless night ahead of us. What I am sure of is that, thank Gd, the food poisoning seems to have come and gone from our home at this point while we remain, lovingly, whole (copious amounts of coffee helps too).


Watch out, she’ll get ya.

Oh, I finally had another post up on The Times of Israel. You can find it here. It’s about growing up and experiencing Christmas with my dad and his family, who just happen to not be Jewish (that should seem obvious, I hope). The following recipe, which was enjoyed yesterday before Food Poisoning 2013, is my interpretation of shakshuka, eggs poached in a delicious, spicy tomato sauce. I first had shakshuka in 2001 when I was studying abroad at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. I went over to a friend’s place for lunch and there she was, cracking eggs directly into what I thought was spaghetti sauce but what I later realized was so much more. Shakshuka can be intimidating if you’ve never had it before but truly, it does not require a lot of skill in the kitchen (this is according to me, at least). It does require patience though as the tomatoes and the peppers need time to get all sugary and flavorful as they sit on a low heat.

Not quite tall enough, but almost there.

Not quite tall enough, but almost there.

You can add anything you want to liven up your shakshuka but for me, I just can’t seem to depart from the addition of feta and cilantro. The flavors compliment each other so nicely. If you are looking for a healthy and flavorful dish for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, this is it. Heck, some might think it’s even a nice dish for Christmas morning? Maybe?

One might say this would be a perfect Christmas morning breakfast, might one?

One might say this would be a perfect Christmas morning breakfast, might one?

A perfect pair.

A perfect pair.

It's about to get egg-y in here.

It’s about to get egg-y in here.

The following is a completely unnecessary but completely awesome action shot of the first egg being dropped into the shakshuka. Make sure you dig a little hole out for the egg to nestle into before cracking. Mad props to my hubby, who is also my hand model, for indulging me in this one.

Step 1

Step 1

Step Two

Step Two

Step Three

Step Three

Almost There

Almost There

So Close

So Close

Nailed It.

Nailed It.

Shakshuka with Feta and Cilantro


5 tbsp Olive or Coconut Oil
1 Medium onion, diced
4 Cloves of garlic, diced
1 Red pepper, chopped
1 Green pepper, chopped
1 Can of whole tomatoes
1 Can of diced tomatoes
5 eggs
Kosher salt + pepper to taste
1 tsp, Cumin
Handful of cilantro leaves and stems, diced
Feta cheese (to your discretion)

How’s That Now?

Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begin to become a little translucent. Add a dash of salt, pepper and cumin to the onions and stir. Finally, add the garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant. Next, add the bell peppers and continue sauteeing for another 6 – 8 minutes or until peppers are starting to brown.

Add both cans of tomatoes to pan, stir till blended. Throw in a bit more of the cumin and add some Sriracha to the pan of vegetables. Stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 6 – 8 minutes (you can break apart some of the whole tomatoes at this point too — just push down with a spoon to break them apart a bit). At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences.

Before cracking each egg into the pan, make a little divot in sauce for egg to go into. Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. It’s common shakshuka practice to place 4 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.

Cover your pan and allow to cook on a simmer for an addition 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an on the eggs to make sure that the yolks remain ‘over easy’ to ‘over medium’. Add the feta, if using, halfway through your last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking. Once done, garnish with cilantro. Enjoy with a big piece of crusty bread.

Pretty, pretty shakshuka

Pretty, pretty shakshuka

Finally, we can eat.

Finally, we can eat.

Matbucha madness

12 Oct

Red peppers post roast

Several weeks ago, this Ashkenazi Jewess found herself at the shabbat dinner table of some hardcore Sephardic folk.  And seriously, I’m not talking about your garden variety Sephardic couple who can identify that slippery slope between too many hamsas on a wall and just enough while also putting paprika and hot chili peppers on everything.  I mean REAL Israeli Sephardic folk.  On top of the Sephardic-ness glory of the couple themselves, the hostess’ mother AND brother are chefs at a local kosher grocer so needless to say, I was packing Tums and my appetite when we arrived that night.  See, the benefit of being a Southern Jew is that I don’t have a fear of the spice (oh, I should clarify.  The Tums were for my hubby who is so deeply Ashkenazi I truly think male babies of his family are born craving bourbon and herring and end up settling for breast milk).  This was truly one of the yummiest meals I’d been too in a while–one of those meals where, if you close your eyes and open your nose and taste buds, you swear you’re back in Israel eating at the shuk. So, this of course made me run home to see if I could replicate any of the yummiest of the night.  I’m not about to jump into Sephardic cooking thinking I know what I’m doing.  I’m aware that there is a learning curve so it might behoove me to take it slow.  I decided to try making matbucha.  Matbucha (pronounced maht-boo-kah) is a cold tomato salad/relish dish served as an appetizer along side hummus, tahini, grape leaves, etc.  The great thing about matbucha is that it’s one of those dishes that takes hours but the majority of the time is taken up by just letting it do it’s thing on the stove.   And for all my fellow Eastern European Jews out there, feel free to serve your matbucha next to the smoked white fish at your next kiddish lunch.  I’m telling you, you’re Uncle Sol is gonna LOVE it!

Stewing and stewing


  • 2 lbstomatoes
  • 1 lb red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 3 dried chilies (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoonshot paprika
  • 1/3 cupolive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lemon


Preheat oven to 350°F and put a big pot of water on to boil.  Place bell peppers on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at  until the skins have browned.  Submerge tomatoes in boiling hot water for 10 minutes or until the skin falls off.  Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds.  Cut tomatoes in chunks and put in medium-sized pot on stove (don’t turn stove on yet). When red peppers are done,  peel the skin from the bell peppers and remove the seeds and stem.  Cut bell peppers in chunks.  Add all ingredients to pot filled with tomatoes and pour oil over top.  Bring contents to a boil, then turn down to a medium heat.  Cook covered for 2 hours.  Remove cover and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.   When liquid is done, before refrigerating, stir juice of 1/2 a lemon into the finished matbucha. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Back to Life

5 May

Well friends, it’s been several weeks since this jewhungry author wrote anything on this here blog so it’s about time I got to it.

The past 2 weeks have been a blur–a messy, difficult, exhausting but still with shades of sunshine and love blur.  My Papa  (Grandpa) passed away on Tuesday, April 26th, at 5:30 am.  After a few days in the hospital followed by about 5 days in hospice, my beloved Papa passed away.  He was 87 years of age at the time of his death and to some, it wouldn’t seem shocking to have a grandfather pass at that age but for our family, his passing really was a shock.  The reality of our parents’ and grandparents’ true age is, at times rationally understood, but generally, not full comprehended.  Though logically, I understood my Papa to be an elderly man–it’s why we insisted our traditional, Orthodox Jewish wedding take place in the Southern Appalachian town they live in rather than have the ease of a kosher wedding in Teaneck, NJ.  However, it wasn’t until we arrived at my Papa’s bedside the Friday of  chol hamoed that I realize just how old my Papa was.  But I have to tell ya, even with the memories of the devastating and heartbreaking final days spent by his side, I will always remember my Papa as being larger than life in every possible way.  He loved to tell stories (most notably, one about the best corn beef sandwich he ever had (corn beef being one of his last coherent requests, which my brother and sister-in-law brought up from Atlanta, before entering hospice) and his love of music and theater was passed down into every one of us grandkids.   I don’t know the type of man my Papa was when he was my age but as a grandfather, he was loving and kind and attentive and truly enjoyed spending every second he could with us and I will always be grateful for that blessing.

Now, the stress of watching a beloved family member die is really enough for any one person but add the stress of trying to keep kosher during Pesach in a household that doesn’t necessarily keep the same type of kosher and well, you got yourself a really obnoxious pickle.  Confession time:  Until my husband and I have the space and kids, we plan to spend every Pesach with his parents in Jersey.  It’s just easier.  It is by no means a value judgement on my side of the family.  It’s just easier and I think this past Pesach proved that it’s not just easier on us but on EVERYONE.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I didn’t decide to keep kosher to alienate my family and friends but decided to keep kosher to live a more spiritually fulfilling life.  I want everyone who walks into our house to feel like they can eat at our table.  So, with that decision came tougher decisions—where to spend Pesach? It was a difficult phone call, having to tell Mom that Pesach would be a Jersey holiday for us, but to her credit, she got it and was supportive and I will always be grateful for that.  However, here we were, not 6 months after that phone call, having to figure out how to feed everyone in Mom’s kitchen during Pesach.  And to my mom’s credit, in the middle of everything else she was dealing with, the woman kashered her kitchen, brought out the plastic-ware and we did this thing.

It wasn’t all hunky dory, don’t get it twisted.  It was frustrating at times.  I mean, how much kosher for Passover bag n’ bake chicken can one person eat?  But it was my genius friend, Jackie, who made a point that completely allowed that frustration fly out the window.  The morning of my Papa’s death, as I was running errands for mom, I’m on the phone with my Jackie, just venting like we do, when she says to me, “Whit, how amazing is it that in spite of that difficult conversation about not spending Pesach in Asheville or Atlanta, here is your Grandfather, bringing your entire family together and showing all of you that you can do this.  What a gift.”  Well if that didn’t just verbally slap me in the face with glory than I don’t know what will.  My Jackie is a genius.  And she was right.  We had 5 days of Pesach, including one shabbat, with all my crazy family members in Asheville and we did it.  Hell, My sister-in-law and I even created an amazing new soup using a Vitamix and every tomato in Asheville and it was damn good.  There was a kosher for Passover mashed potato bar one night and even a quinoa pilaf (quinoa from Bolivia, thank you very much)!  I mean, I don’t mean to brag, but we nailed Passover 2011.  A fete I never would have thought possible.  Thanks Papa.

Papa and Grandma dancing at my wedding - Aug. 15, 2010

Vitamix, Vitadelicious Tomato and Kale Soup


10 whole tomatoes, stemmed

a bunch of kale

1 large onion, diced

Olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, diced

4 cups of water

1 large russet potato, peeled



Shredded mozzarella

Italian parsley


Clean tomatoes and place into Vitamix in 2 groups of 5.  Press on and watch it do its thang.  Put aside.

Meanwhile, turn stove to medium high and heat 4 table spoons of olive oil  in the bottom of a large stock pot.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent.  Next, add the kale.  Sautee kale for 2 to 3 minutes.  Next, add all those tomatoes and the four cups of water.  Bring the entire thing to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 – 40 minutes or until kale is good and soft.  During the last 10 minutes of simmer time, add your peeled potato.  The starch of the potato will help thicken the soup.  Add seasonings as needed.  Once done, serve hot (leave potato in the soup but don’t serve it) and garnish with cheese and parsley.


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