This recipe is based on a favourite Japanese appetizer, Denkgaku eggplant. If you don’t want to use an egg yolk, just omit.
A quick, make-ahead dish that is always a huge hit. Substitute vegetables such as mushrooms, onions or spinach for the leeks, if desired. Use white bread if you want the bread to disappear or whole wheat for more flavour. Make up to one day ahead of time and refrigerate until needed. Let stand at room temperature for an hour before baking.
This is one of my favourite egg dishes because it’s simple to make and has a smooth, silky texture. If you prefer, bake the flan in four individual ramekins, reducing the baking time slightly. You can serve the flan hot or cold with the tarragon and fennel biscuits. They can be made by hand or in the food processor, making sure you don’t overprocess the dough; otherwise, they will be tough. To speed things up in the morning, you can measure the ingredients the night before but don’t mix them together. Alternatively, you can make the biscuits ahead of time and reheat in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes.
Several Middle Eastern restaurants have opened up recently in Toronto, no doubt sparked by the cult of the Ottolenghi cookbooks and a desire for spicy, flavourful food.
The latest, Byblos, the brainchild of restaurant impresario Charles Khabouth, is spectacular. Executive chef Stuart Cameron, who also oversees the kitchen at Patria, has developed a memorable menu. He graciously gave me his recipe for Shakshouka, which is essentially a spicy tomato, red pepper sauce with eggs. He brings it to greater heights by liberally garnishing it with a lip-smacking garlic sauce. Bring your breath mints.
Although the eggs are poached in the tomato sauce in this recipe, they can also be fried or poached separately and then placed on top of the sauce in a soup bowl. Small, cast-iron frying pans make a lovely presentation, if you have four. You can also divide the sauce in half and cook four eggs in two frying pans then divide for serving.
There are various components to this dish, all of which may be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to a week. The spice mixture is useful for extra flavour in all kinds of cooking. Cameron uses a Turkish red chili spice paste found at some Middle Eastern stores, but a perfectly fine substitute is equal amounts tomato paste and harissa.
Ready time: 1 hour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 red peppers seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili paste
2 tbsp Turkish paste or tomato paste plus harissa
6 cups puréed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
Chervil sprigs or coarsely chopped parsley
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan, add onions, and cook at a low heat for 5 minutes or until softened slightly. Add peppers and garlic and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until vegetables are very soft. Add cumin and chili paste, and stir until aromatic. Add Turkish paste and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tastes incorporate and the sauce is thickened.
Season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Divide sauce into four small stove-safe pans. Bring to a good simmer. Crack two eggs into each pan and cover. Cook over medium heat until the egg white has set but the yolk remains runny, 4 to 5 minutes.
Swirl toum over dish, sprinkle with grated pecorino and garnish with chervil. Serve with crunchy bread.
It’s a shame there’s no longer much wine made in Algeria. Not long ago, the former French colony was the world’s largest wine exporter, but its post-independence output has slowed to a trickle. This dish is popular not only in the Middle East but also in north Africa. To me it sounds like a great “breakfast” for dinner dish, a non-alcoholic answer to France’s oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in red-wine sauce). Chef Cameron’s preparation is rich, aromatic and tangy. I’d suggest a bright, crisp, light-bodied red, such as Beaujolais from France or a Canadian gamay (red Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape). And if you have time, chill the bottle in the fridge for 20 minutes to accentuate the zippy acids and bring it into better harmony with the tomato sauce. Beppi Crosariol
This smoky, fiery tapas is so popular in Madrid that many bars have their own version. They are usually deep-fried but I prefer to bake them for ease.
Servings: 4 as tapas
1.5 lbs (750 g) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in a rough 1-inch dice
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Spanish onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp or more hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 796 ml can tomatoes, puréed
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp minced garlic or more to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400 F
Toss potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and tender, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and sprinkle with extra salt. Reserve.
Heat oil in skillet over medium low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in paprika and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Add sugar and sherry vinegar and bring back to boil. Season well with salt to taste. Reserve.
Combine mayonnaise with garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Place potatoes on serving plate and top with tomato bravas sauce. Streak with the aioli and sprinkle with parsley.
Andy Ricker’s dish is extraordinarily tasty. I could not stop eating it. The eggs are cooked until they are puffed and crispy, the yolk still soft, and then they’re cut and mixed with vegetables. Instead of using palm sugar, I made a simple syrup of 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar and then used the amount called for in the recipe.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
5 teaspoons lime juice
5 teaspoons palm sugar syrup (equal parts palm sugar and water, dissolved)
1/2 teaspoon sliced Thai chili
1 teaspoon thinly sliced garlic
1/2 cup julienned celery
1/2 cup julienned onions
1/2 cup julienned carrot
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet until very hot. Have a plate close by to transfer cooked eggs onto. Working quickly, crack eggs, one at a time, into hot oil. Fry, ladling hot oil over the eggs until edges are crispy and the yolk cooked, about 30 seconds. Remove to a plate and repeat.
Heat fish sauce with lime juice, sugar syrup, chili and garlic in a skillet until just warm. Add all vegetables and eggs cut in quarters.
Scatter cilantro over top. Spoon on platter and serve.