Life is too short not to eat well.

let's eat!

Life is too short not to eat well is written on the wall of the checkout area of Eataly in Chicago.  Founded by Oscar Farinetti and partnered with B&B Hospitality Group, which includes Mario Batali, Eataly is an awesome “store” (meaning much more than a store, you can shop for groceries, eat at any of the many mini restaurants within Eataly, take a cooking class or get inspired!).  Eataly has several location in Italy, a few spread out the world including Japan and Dubai, and currently 2 locations in the states (New York and Chicago) but Eataly has plans to expand to several more US locations soon.

told you it was on the wall at checkout!
told you it was on the wall at checkout!

So why am I talking about Eataly Chicago?  Because, it is where I bought the ingredients for my next cookbook project recipe!  Matt, the kids and I were in Chicago for the weekend.  Not only was it Father’s Day weekend but it was also the first birthday party for our adorable nephew!!  My sister-in-law, Amy, had a super cute farm theme for the party.  The day before she asked if my mom and I could make the hay barrels, aka rice krispy treats.  Gladly my mom and I managed to make 4 batches of rice krispies in a little over the time it took Amy to put my nephew down for his nap…which is pretty speedly fastly!

1 batch out of 4
1 batch out of 4

And if you are wondering how the rice krispies turned out, my Aunt Gayle and cousin Pam reviewed them for me and said they were good!  (FYI Aunt Gayle wanted a shout out on my blog after my Aunt Lorrie had one 🙂

Anyway, back to the recipe!  It is from the one and only vegetarian cookbook I have, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  For those of who know me know I am a huge meat eater so it’s kind of strange I actually have a vegetarian cookbook.  The book was a Christmas gift from the kids…if it had been from someone else I may have exchanged it for the most carnivoric (not a word but should be) cookbook I could find…but since it was from the kids I kept it.

no meat recipes in this book!
no meat recipes in this book!

The recipe I had chosen was called Shakshuka, which is an egg dish named after a small restaurant in old Jaffa which is called Dr. Shakshuka.  Shakshuka is it’s signature dish.

As I already stated I had shopped for ingredients at Eataly.  Here are some pictures from that shopping adventure.

produce section
produce section
This is how I shop, I put my grocery list on my phone so if you see me in a store with my phone in my hand it doesn't mean I am texting, though I do text a lot so I might be.
This is how I shop, I put my grocery list on my phone so if you see me in a store with my phone in my hand it doesn’t mean I am texting, though I do text a lot so I might be texting.
produce gorgeous but also decently priced
produce gorgeous but also decently priced
I don't eat cheese but I imagine this may be heaven for cheese lovers
I don’t eat cheese but I imagine this may be heaven for cheese lovers
this is Rosemary heaven
this is Rosemary heaven
this is Rosemary in Rosemary heaven
this is Rosemary in Rosemary heaven

I guess at this point I should get to the actual cooking part!  So for Shakshuka I first toasted cumin seeds in a skillet over high heat.  The recipe instructed me to use a large skillet but since I was halfing the original recipe I decided to use just a medium skillet…this was a mistake…if you do make this recipe use a large skillet!  Anyway to that skillet I added oil and onions and sautéed.

IMG_7644

After 5 minutes I added red and yellow peppers, brown sugar, a bay leaf, thyme, parsley and cilantro.  Soon it became clear I was wrong in selecting my skillet size.

pretty crowded in this skillet!
pretty crowded in this skillet!
there, that's better! much more room!
there, that’s better! much more room!

After I swapped out skillets and that cooked for about 8 minutes I added 3 chopped tomatoes, saffron (FYI Al I did actually use saffron and FYI for everyone else don’t tell Al he’s getting saffron when you actually give him turmeric – a mistake made by a local restaurant), a pinch of cayenne pepper and some salt and pepper.  The heat was reduced to low and it cooked for 15 minutes.  In that time the tomatoes transformed to a sauce which the recipe told me they would do but I was still skeptical until this actually occurred.

getting saucy
getting saucy

Next the bay leaf was removed and I made 4 indents to crack 1 egg into each, and sprinkled with salt.

IMG_7648

The skillet was covered and it cooked for 12 minutes.  Then I sprinkled with cilantro (for those dedicated blog readers I actually remembered to add the herb at the end!) and served with white bread.

let's eat!
let’s eat!

The original recipe was for 4 generous servings, which I halved, but I was once again skeptical, no way this could feed both Matt and I, so I also made a side plate with meats bought at Eataly.  Would you believe Matt and I didn’t even touch the meat plate because were actually FULL!!

side plate of meats - untouched...I won't be skeptical anymore Plenty
side plate of meats – untouched…I won’t be skeptical anymore Plenty

Verdict:  This dish was flavorful and filling!  I am not one for tomatoes so I am probably not the best one to review it, but I did eat it and was full the rest of the night.  Matt, who likes tomatoes, said it was good.  I most likely will not make it again (because of the whole not liking tomatoes thing) but please don’t let that stop you from trying it out…you can grab the recipe here.  If you do make it know it’s more a brunch recipe but I can attest it makes a filling dinner as well!  And if you are in or go to Chicago – go to Eataly!