Shakshuka, for every college kid's hot plate





I was debating what should be my inaugural recipe and post for this blog of mine. Should it be my Arugula salad with baked stuffed figs and a homemade vinaigrette?!, should I share one of my mom's traditional Indian recipes?!, or my all time favorite recipes from two of my favorite cookbooks?! There will be plenty of time to share all of that, but this post will be dedicated to a discussion we had at home, with my son, about his college culinary life. Some of his friends from his high school varsity soccer team, who graduated, try to lure him to come to their college, by saying, you know when you are in college, the one thing you can't wait for is to come back home to your mom's home cooked meal, but here, the food is so good, that thought won't cross your mind. Another friend who graduated Facebooked him that the down side of his campus is the lack of Chipotle, but rumor has it it's coming next year. These boys know FOOD and as odd as it sounds, do think about it when thinking about their college life. Our son, now a senior, is on a mission to collect some recipes for his hotplate in his dorm room. Something simple, something to share, extremely filling and delicious. This is the first of his collection.

This recipe is a guideline you can adjust according to taste. We, for example, like a bit of a kick in our food but not everyone can handle it.

Shakshuka

Ingredients:
2-4 garlic cloves sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno sliced
Canola oil or any vegetable oil (few tablespoons)
4-6 med./large tomatoes (diced roughly)
Tomato sauce up to 8 oz - small can (instead of tomato paste)
8 eggs
1 teaspoon plus paprika according to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt
Black pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves (chopped or whole leaves) to garnish (optional although gives the dish another layer of flavor)
Fresh baguette, or any other fresh loaf

Directions:
In a deep frying pan sweat garlic, onion and Jalapeno in a bit of oil on low to medium. Do not brown or burn garlic, it will turn bitter. Add tomatoes and cook for about ten minutes on medium, add tomato sauce, paprika, salt and fresh black pepper according to taste. Crack eggs and drop gently one by one into sauce, next to each other in the pan and cook on low/medium according to desired level of doneness. You are sort of poaching the eggs in the tomato sauce....traditionally the yellow of the eggs should be runny when serving. If more firm eggs are desired cover the pan with a lid. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves but not a must. Can break bread and eat directly from the pan as a communal meal, or can be served individually.

Variations:
Can cube  red bell pepper and sweat/fry it with garlic and sausage possibly too. We use merguez spicy Moroccan lamb sausage or turkey sausage, but any sausage will be fine.
If adding other vegetables, always, always cook with garlic,onion and oil as a first step to cook/soften them.
Improvise, be creative, use your imagination!!