As much as I miss Chicago, and I do, there are certainly things about the east coast that are really growing on me. In fact, don’t tell JonPaul I said this, but a part of me is starting to really feel at home here on the east coast. I feel connected with our community, the kids are happy, we have some great friends, and then of course one of my favorite things about being an east coast girl….NYC.
You see, I may drive a minivan around the suburbs all day, filled with four little kids, wearing yoga pants smeared with PB&J – but deep down, waaaay down deep, there is a city girl just waiting to be freed.
Luckily, JonPaul loves being in the city as much as I do and we both make it a priority to sneak away from the kids and have our time together exploring the vibrant city as much as possible It’s one of my favorite things to do with him. We’re blessed with family who comes in from out of town and can help watch the kids (and drive my minivan around the suburbs) to make it possible.
There are so many things I love about NYC, but at the top of the list has to be the food. So much great food on every street corner. It would be impossible to pick a favorite restaurant.
However, there are a few that I keep finding myself returning to, and one of those is a a little bistro in the West Village, Jack’s Wife Freda. Have you been?? It’s so great. You really feel like you’re home when you’re there. The vibe is eclectic, casual, but more than anything welcoming and inviting. You feel like you belong.
And to boot, the food is pretty spectacular. They serve American-Mediterranean food that is real and authentic and made with love. Food your jewish Israeli grandmother would have made you (if she were Israeli and jewish), only even better. I’ve eaten there a handful of times, both solo and with our kids, and we are all crazy about it.
One of my favorite dishes, the one that I just can’t stop thinking about, is the green shakshuka. I mean, get out of town with that name. Right? Doesn’t the name alone make you want to try it?
It’s essentially eggs cooked in a zesty and spicy tomatillo sauce. There are many different variations of shakshuka, but they typically use a red tomato sauce. In this version, I love to how the bright zesty sauce works so well with the richness of the egg yolks. Add a warm buttery slice of crusty bread to the side, and you have the workings of a great Saturday morning.
Now I can’t say that the green shakshuka I made at home was just like the one I ate at Jack’s Wife Freda. It may have had something to do with the cocktail that was missing from my hand, or the screaming two year old sitting next to me. Either way, it wasn’t the exact same experience I had in the west village, but pretty darn close.
I followed the recipe from the Jack’s Wife Freda cookbook, and would absolutely do it again. I wish I could take credit for this great dish, but some things are better left to the experts (or in this case, Grandmothers).
- 1 large spanish onion
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1½ tsp of salt
- 1½ pounds of tomatillos
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 jalapeno chilli
- ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1-3 tbsp of hot sauce
- 1-2 eggs per person
- Chipped parsley, for garnish
- Toasted bread of your choice for serving
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Peel and quarter the onion and place, along with the garlic, in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, soak the tomatillos in warm water to peel off the outer husk, then cut in half. Cut the stem from the bell pepper, discard the seeds, and cut into quarters. Also cut the stem from the jalapeno, discard the sees and quarter.
- Place the peeled tomatillos, bell pepper, jalapeno, and cilantro leaves in a food processor along with the roasted onion and garlic. Process until very smooth. It will have a salsa-like consistency.
- Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the coriander, cumin and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatillo sauce is just heated through. Be careful not to overheat the sauce as it will change the color/taste. add one tbsp of hot sauce at t time to the sauce until you've reached your desired spice level.
- To assemble the shakshuka: Oil a cast-iron pan and set it over low heat. Crack the desired number of eggs into the pan and cover. Allow the eggs to cook sunny-side up until the whites are fully cooked but the yolks remain soft.
- Once the eggs are cooked, liberally spoon the shakshuka sauce on top of the eggs and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with your choice of buttered toast.
- My additional note - Once the eggs were cooked in the cast iron skillet, I carefully scooped 1-2 eggs into individual ramekins and covered with additional sauce to create easier individual servings.
So the next time you find yourself strolling along in NYC looking for some outstanding food (and even better service), you know where to go. But until then, maybe this shakshuka recipe will leave you and your family feeling right at home in your very own kitchen.