Sobremesa Over Shakshuka

sobremesa (n) the time spent around the table after lunch or dinner, talking to the people you shared the meal with; time to digest and savour both food and friendship.

I used to make a lot of brunches.  A lot of big brunches like the One Kilo Brunch, or the Blueberry Brunch with a gathering of 10-15 people who sort-of knew each other, assembled for the purpose of letting me feed them.  As my weekends filled up with skiing and surfing, I let brunch fall by the wayside.

Recently though, I really started to miss cooking for and connecting with my friends. I’ve been somewhat anti-social for the last few months, which is a bit difficult for an extreme extrovert like myself.  This time around though, rather than invite everyone in a 5 km radius, I was joined by just four lovely ladies.

Avocado-Toast

As we hugged mugs of coffee, sipped mimosas, nibbled on avocado toast (mashed avocado with lemon juice and salt on toast, topped with cherry tomatoes and basil), and wiped our shakshuka plates clean with challah, conversation rolled over all manner of topics including mental health practices, grief and counselling, the practicality of romance, knitting, hiking, and surfing… The list goes on.

I was struck (not for the first time, and certainly not the last) by how impressive, intelligent, and hilarious the people I am surrounded by are. While I always enjoyed cooking for large groups, I think brunch will be saved for smaller settings from now on – if only so that I have more time to participate in the conversation!

Nothing – not a conversation, not a handshake, or even a hug – establishes friendship so forcefully as eating together Jonathan Safran Foer

It’s not a new or exciting revelation, that food connects us, but Jonathan Safran Foer really nails it for me with this. Every weekend I’m not surfing or skiing, I want to be sharing my table and feeding my friendships.

shakshukaShakshuka

What You Need

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 6 large eggs
  • Chopped cilantro, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving

What to Do

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in crumbled feta.
  3. Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce.
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