I woke up last week with a hankering of the worst kind for eggs baked in marinara. Since then, I’ve made it such an obscene amount times I’m almost embarrassed to say. What’s that saying about moderation? Something about eating everything in excess? Or something? The fact that I wrote about another type of baked eggs a mere 4 posts ago should tell you that I’m no longer writing recipes for you to enjoy and I’ve gone rogue. The Gouda Life is now a baked egg recipe blog only. (Just kidding. But truthfully, I can’t stop eating eggs for every meal. I’m sorry you have to put up with this and we’ll return to your regular scheduled variety of food groups as soon as possible).
Shakshouka is a Tunisian dish of eggs baked in a chili-spiced tomato sauce that’s warmed with aromatic cumin and paprika, sometimes a handful of chickpeas tossed in, sometimes not. It’s the perfect one-pot-dish that’s as basic as it is delicious and comes together with many pantry staples you’ll already have handy. It’s as spot-on for a lazy Sunday brunch with good friends as it is for a Tuesday evening dinner alone. Easily adaptable to whatever number of eaters that happen to be hanging around. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread or warm pita and you’ve got yourself a meal….and a party. I adapted the recipe to what I had on hand which sent it in a bit of a Mexican direction, but I do so love Mexican cuisine so was pretty pleased with the outcome. Some might say this is a take on huevos rancheros so I’ll happily let you call it whatever you’d like!
Southern Style Shakshouka
Feel free to change up the type of bean, chili, or spices as you see fit. Cumin and paprika really do compliment the tomatoes and eggs so well.
1 28oz can diced plum tomatoes
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, veins and seeds removed, diced
1 tsp paprika (sweet or hot)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp honey or sugar
warm pita bread or loaf crusty bread
fresh chives, sliced thin
feta or manchego cheese
good olive oil
Pour a few glugs of oil into a large saucepan (with fitted lid) over medium heat and let it get hot. Add the diced onion and jalapeno and let sweat for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, black beans, paprika, cumin and a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until sauce has reduced slightly and thickened up, 15 minutes. Add the honey or sugar and stir to combine.
Crack the eggs gently into a small ramekin or bowl (it’s easier to pour them into the marinara this way). Using the back of a large serving spoon, make a small indentation in the sauce. Pour in one egg. Repeat with the other 3 eggs. Put the lid on and cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny, about 6-7 minutes.
Serve each person a slice of bread or pita and spoon one egg onto the bread. Sprinkle with chives, cheese, pepper and olive oil.
I’m a season pusher. The crazy person wearing a wool sweater and heavy boots the second the mercury drops below 20 degrees. If it could be between +5 and +15 all year round, I’d be pleased as flaky apple pie (you know, because it would be apple season year round!)
I’m ready for fall and tired of summer. Tired of being a sweaty mess wherever I show up. Totally over wearing shorts and tank tops. Exhausted from one too many nights spent awake misting ourselves to cool down. Ready for a change - boots, sweaters, mittens and cold noses. Wrapping fingers around hot mugs of tea, pulling out the quilt we regretfully tuck into the wooden trunk each spring, longer, tighter hugs and the unmistakable sound of leaves crunching beneath feet.
It’s not all bad, though. I swear I’m not a total curmudgeon and I definitely will miss certain aspects of summer. Sitting on the balcony late into the night under the cover of winding bean vines, spending my lunch hour reading on the patio at work, dangling my toes in the water while I sip sangria at Mr. GL’s parents, sheets drying in the sun, but mostly I’ll miss the food. Terribly so. Fresh produce from the market, eating salsa that’s still warm from the just-picked tomatoes, the way a cucumber tastes when it’s plucked right from the plant, bright flavours and citrus-heavy crudo. Those are the things I find myself nostalgic for during the dark winter months.
As I perused the Farmers Feast basket this month, packed with vibrant yellow beans, lamb shanks and a metric tonne of fragrant shisito peppers (among other things), my mind started moving in the direction of a curry. Something comforting and heavy. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stretch the days of summer and cook the way I have been the last three months. So I made myself a compromise. I could do a heavy braise so long as the flavours were balanced out with something light and citrusy. And you know my penchance for anything taco/burrito/tostada related, right? I’d pretty much trample my own mother for a bite of a taco. Don’t tell her! (Sorry Deb!). It wasn’t long before I was braising the lamb in a savoury mix of extra special bitter beer and Chipotle while zipping up a sweet and spicy salsa.
As usual, I was blown away by the incredible ingredients that came in the basket. Many, many thanks to the Farmers who provided this month’s feast & the Ottawa Farmers Market;
Yellow beans – Just Farms
Ground Cherries – Needhams
Lamb – Stevenson Farm
Amber Mustard – Somerford & Hall
Peppers & Eggplants – Roots Down Organic Farm
Propeller ESB & Chipotle Braised Lamb Shank Tostadas with Roasted Shisito, Tomatillo & Ground Cherry Salsa
makes 4 tostadas
I used Propeller ESB because it’s Canadian and because I love it. You can use whatever ESB is available to you, but if you can find Propeller in your city, I highly recommend it!
Chipotle in Adobo can be found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores. They’re usually tucked in with the pickled jalapenos/refried beans. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own at home.
Braised Lamb Shanks
2 lamb shanks (about 2-3lbs together)
1/2 bottle Extra Special Bitter beer
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp amber-ale mustard (something on the milder side)
1 canned Chipotle (in adobo) + 2 tbsp adobo sauce
salt and pepper
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in a tsp or two of oil oil (enough to coat the pan). Pat the shanks dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place the shanks in the pan and brown on all sides (2 minutes per side). Take your time here, getting good colour on the shanks ensures the best flavour.
Preheat oven to 325.
In small bowl, mix the beer, adobo, orange juice and a pinch or two of salt. Place the browned shanks in a roasting pan and cover with the braising liquid. Cover in foil and secure it tightly around the edges so no steam escapes.
Place in the oven and braise for 2 hours or until meat pulls away from the bone really easily.
Remove shanks and meat and set aside. Skin fat from the braising liquid and poor into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and let reduce, stirring frequently, until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
Use aa fork to shred the meat from the shank and place in a big bowl. Poor the reduced sauce, a little at a time, over the shredded meat and toss to coat. You might have left over sauce - feel free to serve that on the side.
Roasted Shisito, Tomatillo & Ground Cherry Salsa
Makes 1 1/2 cups
If you’re unable to find shisitos, a sweet Japanese pepper, feel free to simply add another jalapeno or milder pepper of your choice. Perhaps a cubanelle.
3 shisito peppers, cut in half, seeded/deveined
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half, seeded/deveined
1 1/2 cups tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed well
3/4 cup ground cherries, husks removed and rinse well
1/2 small red onion, rough chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar
Turn oven on to broil.
Cut tomatillos in half . Place Shisito, Jalapeno and Tomatillos on a baking sheet (skin side up) and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until skins blister and start to get charred. Remove from the oven and dump into the food processor along with the cherries, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime, sugar and a pinch or two of salt. Process in quick pulses so it still has some texture to it. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
4 corn tortillas
Sour cream/Mexican Crema
Manchego or Feta
pickled pepper rounds
In a dry pan over high heat, place one tortilla at a time and let it bubble and brown on each side (about 30 seconds per side).
Place a crispy tortilla on each plate and top with lamb, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, cheese and a squeeze of lime. Take a quick second to say a thanks to the hard working farmers who made this food possible, and then dive in!
Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
You’ve got to hand it to the Mexicans; they can do food like nobody else. Better than the French (Désolé mes amis), better than the Spanish (Lo siento mis amigos) and better than the Italians (Spiacente miei amici)… at least as far as my gut is concerned. Their colourful plates are amass with vibrant produce, umpteen varieties of tongue tingling chilies, slow braised, barely holding themselves together cuts of meat, cobs of corn slathered in butter and rich mayonnaise infused with a Cajun mix of spices, lusciously creamy posoles and mole, cemitas filled with potatoes, tender cactus & stuffed with Oaxacan cheese, crispy chiles rellenos loaded with smooth Mexican-style ricotta……have I lost you yet? Because I’m suddenly filled with the urge to hop a plane to Oaxaca. Truly, my love of Mexican cuisine knows no bounds. Even something as simple as a plate of rice and beans serves as one of my most sensuous meals in recent memory.
There is something truly magical about the textural varieties of Mexican food that makes me coo with delight upon seeing a giant plate of toothsome corn tortillas charred lightly and stuffed with tender carnita meat, creamy avocado, tart Tomatillo Salsa and pickled jalapenos.… there lies the perfect bite of crunchy, smooth, creamy, hot, spicy, cool… nothing is missed, nothing is without balance. This seems to be a constant in most of Mexico’s historic cuisine. Though sussing out a spot that respects the traditions and authentic flavours of Mexico isn’t always a task easily completed. We’ve only recently started to see a movement in truly authentic Mexican cuisine in Ottawa, but it’s still a far cry from the hole-in-the-wall joints you might find in bigger cities. Making dishes at home seems to be the only way to experience all the flavours and colours of Mexico without being bombarded with the sometimes tacky, overly Americanized Tex-Mex cuisine.
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I decided to make something that hadn’t made it’s way into my kitchen before. Sopa Aztec; a chili-spiked tomato broth, acidic and ever-so-lightly spiced, topped with cubed avocado, melty cheese (usually queso fresco, Chihuahua, or Asadero), fried tortilla strips and more crumbled chilies if desired. It’s one of the most comforting soups I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. And of course, since it was a recipe I adapted from the KING of Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless, it’s no surprise that it came out as tummy-pleasingly as it did. He truly is a master of his craft.
Whip up a batch of this sopa, don your most colourful sombrero, shake your mariachis and sip on a citrusy Margarita (on the rocks or bust!) this May 5th, Cinco de Mayo! It’s time to throw down!
Sopa Azteca with Cilantro Pesto
adapted from Rick Bayless
I wasn’t able to find epazote or Pasilla chilies on such short notice, so I left out the former and opted for a dried ancho chili instead. I also couldn’t find any authentic cheese, but I usually use a simple goat mozzarella in my Mexican dishes. I love the flavour.
1 large dried pasilla or ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice ( fire-roasted if you can find them)
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 medium white onion, rough chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 quart chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups queso fresco, oaxaca or goat mozzarella cheese
1 corn tortilla per person, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup Mexican crema, sour cream or creme fraîche for garnish
*cilantro pesto (recipe to come)
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges, for serving
Start by placing the dried chile in a dry pan over med-high heat and press down with a heavy pan or a fork until lightly toasted. Flip and repeat.
Place the chile and tomatoes in the blender and puree until smooth.
In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil, onions and garlic and saute until golden, about 6-7 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic in a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible. Toss the onions and garlic into the blender with the tomatoes and puree for another 10 seconds or until smooth.
Bring the pan back to medium-high heat and add the tomato mixture. Let the liquid evaporate while stirring almost constantly, until the mixture is almost as thick as tomato paste, about 10-12 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and let it cook, about 10 minutes.
Taste for salt and add if needed.
While the soup is simmering, toss the tortilla strips with a small amount of oil, just enough to coat them. Place on a foil/parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 325, checking halfway through.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with avocado cubes, cheese, cilantro pesto and tortilla strips.
2 healthy handfuls of fresh cilantro
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
Place in food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
It’s infrequent that I wax poetic about meat. Save for Mr. GL’s dad’s BBQ Teriyaki t-bones and every so often, a good braised piece of meat, I eat a mostly vegetarian diet. It’s not by choice, but more out of convenience, I find.
Today, however, I come here with one thing on my mind. Carnitas. Meltingly tender, slightly tangy, stuff-into-your-face-until-your-pants-don’t-fit Carnitas. I can, with every ounce of certainty, tell you that I love them more than anything. At least as far as edibles go. Maybe even more than some people. But I won’t mention who - no feelings will be hurt in the making of these delectable “little meats”, as carnitas translates to. I’ve had my share of tacos, and pulled pork, and low-and-slow braised meats, but none compare to the perfection of these Michoacan-style Carnitas.
They are simple. Very, very simple. So much so that I was skeptical of them, but as this is my second time making them and they are just as good as the 1st time around, I’ve concluded that I have found my taco-soul mate. Something magical happens to that lowly pork-shoulder while it simmers away in a modest combination of orange juice, lime juice and water (that’s it! Can you believe it?!). Because the pieces of meat aren’t trimmed of their fat, once the simmering liquid evaporates, they are left to bubble in the rendered pork-fat which gives them a luxurious crispy crunch on the outside. Once nestled into a corn tortilla with a little queso fresco or Manchego, pickled red onion and tomatillo salsa, you have the perfectly balanced bite of crispy, chewy, tangy, sweet, and sour. Have I sold you yet? I sure hope so. Your life won’t be complete without these Carnitas - I know that sounds super dramatic, guys, but I’m not kidding. Your life will suffer without them!
They beg to be made in advance, making them the perfect dinner party companion when you’re not really sure how much everyone will eat (they make incredible leftovers) and you want to be able to be, at least in appearance, calm and collected once your guests arrive. In addition to being convenient, they are just so freaking fun to eat. You know me, I love eating with my hands, and these are at the top of my 'eat with your hands' list.
Michoacan-style Carnitas with Pickled Red Onions & Tomatillo Salsa
adapted from Homesick Texan
3 pounds of pork butt (shoulder), nice and fatty (untrimmed)
1 cup of orange juice
juice from 2 limes
2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
Slice the pork butt into strips or cubes, whichever you prefer in your carnitas, about 3 inches by 1 inch. Place them in a large dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Pour the juices, salt and cumin, if using, into the pot with the meat and give it a good stir. Add just enough water to barely cover the meat.
Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a steady simmer and cook, uncovered, for 2.5 hours, no stirring or bothering the meat! After the 2 1/2 hours has passed, turn the heat to medium-high and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered. This is where things get delicious. Turn meat carefully every so often until it’s browned on all sides. There will be liquid fat in the bottom of the pot. Remove and serve immediately on warmed corn or flour tortillas or set cool completely, refrigerate and re-crisp (350 degrees - 20 minutes) in the oven before you serve.
Extras to serve with Carnitas:
queso fresco or Manchego
1/2lb Tomatillo, hulled, rinsed and cut into quarters
small handful fresh cilantro
1 small clove garlic
Generous squeeze lime juice
Puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Chill until ready to eat.
Sweet Pickled Red Onions
I’ve used both brown and white sugar in this recipe. Both taste wonderful, but white sugar keeps the onions a beautiful bright pink.
1 large red onion
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 whole star anise
pinch cinnamon (optional)
Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the onions as thin as possible (either in rounds or strips). Toss them and the rest of the ingredients into a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let them cool. Place in the fridge until ready to eat.
Oh crud, is it Tuesday already? The long weekend can’t possibly be over, can it? I feel like I blinked and it went from Thursday evening to Tuesday evening. But oh, what a tremendous weekend it was.
(whatever guilt we had about eating and drinking to our hearts content during the weekend was quickly whisked away when we saw these stairs)
Mr. GL and I spent three days in Low, Quebec, paddle boating around Lac St Bernard, playing epically long games of Monopoly, barbecuing anything that wasn’t nailed down, watching movies and simply enjoying each other’s company without any distractions. Though we live together, we don’t often get to spend hours upon hours together. Life seems to get in the way more often than not. Getting away from the city and into the wilderness was just what we needed to rid ourselves of everyday stresses and reset for another few months until we’re able to escape again. A few photos of our weekend away in case, like us, you don’t get away often and need to live vicariously through us.
(in case it really needs to be said - these are Mr GL’s legs. I shave mine… sometimes)
(herb/citrus/honey chicken + teriyaki chicken kebabs)
(This was my gluttonous breakfast on Sunday morning. Sausage-Chicken-Potato Hash on cream cheese toast. Please don`t tell anyone how I live.)
As I may have mentioned once or 300 times before, Mr. GL is a meat and potatoes man. As such, when we eat dinner together, we often have something meat based with some sort of potato side. This is perfectly fine with me, but after three consecutive nights, I needed to step away from the chicken/steak/sausage/bacon and slip into something a little lighter. If said something happens to stuff nicely into a flour tortilla, even better.
I first had sweet potato and black bean burritos while visiting my wonderful friend Melody for dinner one night. She has this effortless elegance to her cooking. “Nothing fancy, something simple” she would say, almost exclusively, when I asked what we would be having for dinner. But time and time again, she impressed with perfectly cooked vegetarian dishes that satisfied right down to the soul. Always something she claimed to have just thrown together, but I suspect she’s holding back a culinary prowess only those lucky enough to eat at her table would ever see. Because Melody has left me for a life on the East Coast of Canada, I am unhappily forced to make her dishes on my own. And while always delicious, they never taste quite the same as when she makes them.
These burritos are certainly far from fancy, and could definitely be filed under ‘simple’ in preparation, but they pack a punch in flavour and texture. I made a few slight changes to the recipe she gave me based on things I had on hand and needed to use up, but the base is always the same. Mashed sweet potatoes, smooshed black beans, cheese, cilantro. Whatever you decide to add as an extra can only make them better.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos with Mexican Rice
Makes 5-6 burritos.
6 flour or corn Tortillas
2 cups cups Mexican rice (recipe follows)
2 cups lime-black beans (recipe follows)
2 cups roasted sweet potatoes (recipe follows)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos
1 cup monterey jack cheese, grated
Other optional additions:
2 avocados, diced
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 400.
Lay tortillas flat, add a few spoonfuls of black beans, sweet potatoes, and rice to each. Top with some cilantro and cheese. Roll up, tucking sides in as you go to keep the filling in.
Place burritos in a roasting pan and bake until lightly browned and crisp around the edges.
adapted from Homesick Texan
1 cup white or brown rice
1 tbsp butter
2 cups chicken stock or water
1 small onion (whatever you have), diced
2 tbsp oil
1 jalapeno (optional), diced
4 cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
In a medium pot, add the stock, butter and rice. Bring to a boil, stir once and cover. Turn heat down to medium-low to simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
While rice is cooking, add onion and oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Let onion cook for about 10 minutes or until just starting to brown. Add the garlic and jalapeno and let cook for an additional minute. Stir in tomato paste, lime juice, cilantro and cumin. Taste and season with salt. Set aside.
Lime-Spiked Black Beans
2 cans black beans, strained
juice and zest from 1 lime
salt to taste
Add beans and lime juice and zest to a pot over medium heat. Cook until warmed through. Using a fork or a potato masher, smoosh beans until they are smooth but still have some texture to them.
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 2” cubes
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400.
In a large roasting pan, add potatoes, paprika and enough oil to lightly coat everything. Roast until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 25-30 minutes. Mashed with a fork until you have a textured paste.
Since I am not, and never will be,one to waste anything that even resembles Mexican food, the leftovers are put into Tupperware and eaten, simply, like this…