Apparently it’s difficult to keep up food blogging while lawyering. The good news is lawyering has not limited my eating – whether cooking or dining. If anything, additional stress and funds make for more indulgent eating. This dish, braised eggs with lamb, is on the cover of one of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem. It’s also a dish that includes some of my favorite things: eggs, lamb, sumac, cumin, tahini, and greek yogurt. I made this meal for our very first dinner guests at our new home in Bernal Heights. As you’ll see below, I’ve been happily breaking in my beautiful new kitchen. And, lamb is lonely without some homemade harissa.
braised eggs with lamb, tahini, & sumac
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
- 10 ounces ground lamb
- 2 teaspoon sumac plus extra to finish
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Scant ½ cup toasted unsalted pistachios
- 7 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons harissa
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon peel
- 1⅓ cups cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 4 large free-range eggs
- ¼ cup picked cilantro leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Scant ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1½ tablespoons tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water (as needed)
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy-bottomed frying pan for which you have a tight fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 6 minutes to soften and color a bit. Raise the heat to high, add the lamb, and brown well, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with sumac, cumin, ¾ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat, stir in the nuts, harissa, and preserved lemon and set aside.
- While the onion is cooking, heat a separate small caste-iron pan over high heat. Once piping hot, add the cherry tomatoes and char for about 4-6 minutes, tossing them in the pan occasionally, until slightly blackened on the outside. Set aside.
- Prepare the yogurt sauce by whisking together all the ingredients with a pinch of salt. In needs to be thick and rich but you may need to add a slash of water if it is stiff.
- Add the chicken stock to the meat and bring to a boil. Make 4 small wells in the mix and break an egg into each well. Cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat for 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and dot with dollops of the yogurt sauce, sprinkle with sumac, and finish with cilantro.
Though winter in SF is not real winter (especially this winter), I will not let that keep me from having some hearty, comforting soup. I’m not going to lie, this burnt eggplant soup (again, from Jerusalem) was a lot of work – there was simultaneous broiling, boiling, and sauteeing going on. This is the soup that finally convinced me I needed an immersion blender.
burnt eggplant soup (from Jerusalem)
- 2 large eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound tomatoes, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/3 cup Israeli (giant) couscous
- Fresh dill, oregano or cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 500F. Slice one of the eggplants in half lengthwise and set aside one of the halves. Pierce the whole and remaining half eggplant a few times and place in the oven. Let cook for about 20-25 minutes. When blackened or soft remove from oven and let cool. If the eggplant hasn’t begun to char, the put it directly on a burner with a flame and rotate until evenly charred.
- Dice the raw half of eggplant into a small dice. In a large sauce pan or soup pot, drizzle a little olive oil and fry the eggplant over medium heat. Stir a couple of times, so most of the sides brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add another drizzle of olive oil and the onions and cook over medium heat the onions are soft. Add the cumin, tomato paste, tomatoes and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the water and lemon juice, bring to a simmer and then lower heat. Let cook for about 15 minutes.
- In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the couscous. Stir and toast it until it browns. Watch closely, as it will turn dark and burn quickly. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch, a sprinkle of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook until just softened, about 8 minutes (depending upon your brand). Drain and set aside.
- Remove the cooked eggplant flesh and add to the tomato base. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until mostly smooth. Reheat gently and add salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with the fried eggplant and herbs. Serve the couscous in a bowl alongside, allowing everyone to scoop out what they’d like.
To make a complete and filling vegetarian meal, I served it with one of my favorite salads: lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini.
I no longer have the luxury of dedicating hours to prepare a meal on any given day. So, I try and make large batches of dishes that can last a few days and taste even better as leftovers. This kale and white bean soup was better than expected because I used turkey stock and sweet italian sausage from my favorite neighborhood butcher, Avedano’s Holly Park Market. The broth tasted like turkey gravy.
Speaking of Avedano’s, I pretty much exclusively get all my meat and meat-related products from there now. It’s definitely pricier, but it’s worth the quality and the assurance that the animals were raised and slaughtered humanely. I figured it forces me to consider meat a luxury food item, not an absolute given. I also think it’s pretty cool that the main butcher is a lady. When I made Korean tacos (without proper photographic evidence), I marinated large slabs of pork belly and short ribs as seen above.
I made lamb shank for the very first time. It was good, but next time I’ll braise it for far longer than the two hours the recipe calls for.Avedano’s also has delicious handmade pastas, including this truffle ravioli. I served it with deeply caramelized onions, freshly grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, and truffle salt.Pure decadence. I was inspired to make these heirloom pea pancakes with smoked salmon and crème fraîche after eating this exact dish at the Mission District German restaurant Schmidt’s. After sharing the appetizer-sized dish with friends, I wanted to eat at least 5 more all for myself. I immediately went home to find the right recipe. And, surprisingly, the homemade version is pretty darn close to Schmidt’s version.
Lately, I’ve been trying to bake more. And, I’ve been doing what I’ve always told myself was too much of a hassle to do: make homemade dough. Pizza is the perfect food, but it also rarely turns out better at home than out or even delivered. However, I keep trying because I love pizza so much. And, being able to perfectly control my toppings (ingredients and ratio) is irresistible. Recently, SK updated her recipe for pizza dough, and she made some lofty claims. I had to try it. And, I tried it on three separate occasions, each time better than before. I made my own tomato sauce, used my preferred cheeses (dry mozzarella, manchego, and parmesan), and didn’t skimp on the caramelized onions, fresh basil, and prosciutto. Though it was a hassle, it was a solid pizza with chewy crispy crust. But, now that this amazing pizza place opened up in Bernal Heights, I’m not sure there if there will be much need for making pizza at home.
Savory tarts are great as leftovers and are acceptable to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I made this french onion and crimini mushroom tart using whole wheat pastry flour. It was delicious. With a side salad and sliced avocado, I didn’t miss the meat. I’ve since made my own variations with different cheeses and different vegetables.
And, every once in a while, I try and make something sweet. This tart was nowhere near as beautiful as the photo in the cookbook; this bothered me quite a bit. But, it still tasted pretty good.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman
- 4 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 16 cookies), coarsely broken 3 ounces graham crackers (five and a half 2 1/2-by-4 7/8-inch graham-crackersheets)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 4 ounces cream cheese, well softened
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- few fresh gratings of nutmeg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Finely grind the gingersnaps and graham crackers in a food processor (yielding 1 1/2 cups).
- Add the melted butter, and process until the cookie-crumb mixture is moistened.
- Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.
- Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.
Make cheesecake batter: Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
Make pumpkin batter:
- Beat the egg and the egg white lightly in a large bowl.
- Whisk in the pumpkin, sugars, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
- Gradually whisk in the cream.
- Pour the pumpkin batter into gingersnap-graham crust.
- Dollop the cheesecake batter over pumpkin batter, then marble the two together decoratively with a knife.
- Try not to pierce the bottom crust as you do.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the tart completely on a rack, or in the fridge if you like it cold. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.