BROKE?

Need to make dinner for two with the $5 in your pocket?

HAVE I GOT A DEAL FOR YOU!

This is food in the same vein as polenta: cheap food that you eat when you're down on your luck. I wouldn't be surprised if an Italian-American who remembers the Depression will REFUSE to eat this stuff. That's what happens when you serve polenta to my extended family. However, my mom and dad have gone through rough times and this is one of those things that makes it easier to get through.

This tasty meal requires very little.

And now for the so-easy-even-YOU-can't-screw-it-up instructions

  1. Heat up the oil in the frying pan. You don't need much at all, just enough to make everything slippery. (sounds kinky!)
  2. Once the oil is hot, pour in the can of tomatoes. It helps to open it up first.
  3. While the tomatoes start to cook, scramble the four eggs. You needn't add any cheese or milk to them, like you apparently should when you're fixing up the stand-alone version.
  4. Eventually the tomatoes will start to bubble. Turn the stove down enough so that they aren't splattering all over the place. Hopefully, you will smell the lovely aroma of slowly cooking tomatoes with the crisp bubbly olive oil. If not, blow your nose and sniff again. Now is the time to add the eggs.
  5. Keep stirring until it looks edible. For the uninitiated, you should see that the egg bits have become a little bit dry.
  6. Consume. With bread, you have a tasty sandwich and only TWO dishes to clean! (and the floor if you're sloppy)

Note: adding garlic, black pepper, and basil might be good to you. This dish also gets along well with cheese of the grated or provolone sort.

In my family tomatoes sauteed with eggs (imagine that spoken in American accented Mandarin) is one of our staple comfort foods. Served with plenty of rice, or sometimes plain rice porridge, it sooths our restless spirits and comforts our empty stomachs.

This is not really that different from mkb's recipe, and yet it is. Something about the technique and the focus of the dish is different. Perhaps because it is a Chinese American instead of Italian American take on a classic combination. Whatever it is, here is what we do.

You will need for each person: Note that these are all ballpark figures, I made this last night with 1 large tomato and 6 large eggs. I wouldn't recommend stretching it to that degree unless your tomato is enormous, as it turned out a bit dry.
3 extra large eggs
1 medium tomato
salt to taste
oil I use olive oil just 'cause
Optional ingredients: garlic a very small clove crushed or chopped
Potential condiments: freshly ground black pepper, Tabasco brand pepper sauce.
You will need for the cooking part:
A frying pan I use a cast iron dutch oven/chicken fryer 'cause, well I use it for just about everything.
A paddle, spatula or whatever it is you use to stir scrambled eggs. I use a bamboo rice paddle 'cause, well if you've seen any of my other recipes, I use that for just about everything too.
A bowl in which to beat the eggs and fork or whatever it is you choose with which to beat said eggs
A knife and cutting surface with which to cut up the tomato.

Cut the tomato up into largish pieces. Basically, if you cut a tomato into wedges and wouldn't consider putting a whole wedge in your mouth in polite society, cut said wedges in half.

Beat the eggs with a bit of salt while you heat the pan good and hot over medium high heat. Add some oil to the pan, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Between 2 teaspoons and 1 tablespoon. When the oil is well and truly sizzling hot, scramble your eggs however you like, but don't overcook 'em. Stir them around until they are just cooked through, and perhaps a tad runny in spots. Immediately put the eggs back into the dish in which you had beaten them.

Now, add about a teaspoon of oil into the pan and get it good and hot again. If you are adding garlic, now is the time. Add a bit of salt to the pan and throw in the tomatoes. Stir them around a bit and cook them until they are just half soft. The edges will be wilting and the juices will be simmering. Throw the eggs back in and stir 'em around to break 'em up and coat the eggs with the tomato juices. Cook for just another minute or so until the eggs are completely cooked and thoroughly wedded to the tomatoes. Note that the tomatoes should still be coherently tomatoes, and not stewed. They are not intended to be a sauce, but rather a vegetable in this dish. They will exude juice which helps keep the eggs moist and fluffy, but don't look for a thick, spaghetti sauce texture.

Serve, if you are like me, with lots of fluffy, hot white rice and lashings of Tabasco sauce.

This is a recipe that my great grandfather came up with. He prepared it for his son, who grew up and prepared it for his son who grew up and prepared it for me. There are other recipes that go by the name of "Greek Eggs" but this is our own. It is the way of my people.

It may not be for everyone, but I want you to try it. My great grandfather came to America straight from Greece, so this is the real deal. It has a very strong flavor, which tastes great, but I can't compare it to any American dish. While it is a breakfast food, it may be stronger than anything you're used to eating in morning. It also contains no sugar, so that alone sets it apart from about 80% of the crap on American breakfast tables. It also has garlic, so that pushes the percentage into the "insignificant yet non-zero" breakfast food category.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the ingredients as above (chopped, diced or minced).
    This is supposed to be a breakfast food, so using canned tomatoes is a matter of convenience--go with dice fresh tomatoes for the full effect
  2. Spread olive oil on a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Mix the tomatoes, onions, oregano, garlic and garlic powder.
  4. Add the mixture to the skillet and cook for ten minutes.
  5. Make four depressions in the mixture, each large enough to hold an egg white and egg yolk. Crack an egg into each depression.
  6. Cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until the eggs are as desired. It is recommended to cook them until they are firm through and through. Do not cook the dish so long that the liquid is cooked out of the tomatoes.

It is recommended to serve Greek Eggs with dry toast. If the tomatoes come out a little runny, that's not a bad thing. Slap some on the toast and take a bite. Then /msg me about how much you like it. I'll be sure to tell my dad.

Strapatsada: the same thing all over, the real Greek way.

Strapatsáda is a Greek dish based on eggs and tomato. It's very easy to make and should cost no more than a 2008 US dollar per person.

This is one of the traditional dishes of Corfu in particular. It is also commonly prepared in much of western Greece and is fairly popular in much of coastal and insular Greece, though it is not usually found on restaurant menus. I made my first contact with it eating with a seafaring family in Piraeus, where dishes picked up in the ports around the Mediterranean often become staples before they make it into the mainstream. Some never do.

As is often the case with Corfiot dishes, due to the island's history and proximity to Italy, strapatsada is probably Italian in origin. Indeed, some Italians still like their eggs "strappazzate" (scrambled). Strapatsada can be used as a brunch dish but is definitely a summer lunch item more than anything else.

Feeds 2-3

  • 5-6 large eggs
  • One small tin of petite diced tomatoes. Finding the right brand is a matter of trial and error. What you're looking for, ideally, is a tin in which the fluid is less watery and more like tomato sauce.
  • 1 small tin of tomato sauce (keep on hand). You may not need it but this can make the difference between it being tomato-ey and being watery
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • salt and black pepper

A note on the tomato: Some cooks think that tinned tomato is an abomination and will chop their own, fresh tomato. I find that unnecessary unless you're trying to elevate it to gourmet status, which is not really in its humble nature. Strapatsada does very well with tomato from a tin. Most home cooks in Greece would agree with me.

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a skillet or deep frying pan that's large enough to hold ten eggs or so. Sautee the onions until glassy. When the onions are ready, add the tomato and set the heat to medium-high. Let the thin tomato juice boil down. Beat the eggs separately and pour in, stirring. Add salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and keep stirring like you would for scrambled eggs. You're not looking for the other ingredients to absorb the oil; there should be a good halo of oil.

Variations:

  • More tomato, depending on whether you want the emphasis to be on the eggs or on the tomato
  • Crumble and add about 4 oz of feta cheese to the eggs
  • Add crushed red pepper, tabasco, or chili for extra zest (this makes it "strapatsada kafterí (hot)"
  • Add some diced, lean ham
  • Add about half a green pepper. This seems to be a popular option in the northern Aegean
  • Do other omelette-like things to it
  • Serve with some Italian-style or similar sausage

You can double the quantities but, if you have more than five people eating, I'd make it in batches. Serve out of the skillet with copious amounts of French, Italian, or other bread with a decent crust to soak up the oil and juice. Expect to get through a whole baguette or equivalent easily.

Kali orexi.

 

Shaqshuka - a contribution from the Middle East

In its most primitive form, shaqshuka is even easier than the easiest of the above recipes, as it not only consists of canned tomatoes and not much more, but the eggs don't even need to be scrambled - they go in whole. This version of what is, in Israel at least, a breakfast dish is usually restricted to camping trips and male-only environments such as army camps; most domestic cooks add all manner of refinements to the basic ingredients. Below is what I have come to think of as "my" shaqshuka, honed through many years of trial and success (there's no such thing as error - it's too easy).

To feed 4 mediumly hungry people at breakfast time, or 2 adults for lunch, you will need:

  • 1 250gr can peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, chopped
  • A small handful chopped coriander or parsley
  • Sweet paprika, smoked or not - about half a teaspoon
  • Hot paprika, chilli powder, or fresh chopped chilli to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

  1. First heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan with deep sides. What's called a "sauteuse" - deep, wide, double handled sauté pan - is ideal. Sweat the onion on a low heat until glassy, then add the pepper and continue to fry gently for 10 minutes or so.

  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, including the juice, and slowly bring to a simmer. Season to taste, adding the sweet and hot paprika or chilli and the chopped herbs. Give it a good stir and simmer for a couple more minutes to let the flavours develop.

  3. Make a little indentation in the simmering sauce with a large spoon. Carefully break open an egg and pour into said niche, trying not to break the yolk. Repeat with all 4 eggs, then add a little pinch of freshly ground black pepper to the top of them - it really brings out their savouriness.

  4. Cover the pan and cook for 4-8 minutes, depending on how runny or hard you like your eggs. Dish out with a ladle or large serving spoon, obviously trying to keep the yolks still intact. Serve with crusty white bread, olives and strong black coffee.

Enjoy!

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