Kitchen disasters and how to improvise

I often travel during the weekend: I’m in a long-distance relationship, love visiting friends and live a mere hour from London, so it isn’t surprising to see me heading to the train station on a Friday night, only to come back late on Sunday afternoon.

On the weeks I stay organised, I plan my weekly shop well enough to either have ingredients left over to cook a full meal on Sunday, or cook too much and leave some leftovers. This week, I wasn’t so lucky.

So on Sunday morning, on the train ride back, I was quietly thinking to myself what I could cook for dinner, scrolling through my WordPress Reader as I did (multitasking or procrastinating, I’m not sure which). That’s when I came across the most delicious looking dish on one of my current favourite blogs on WordPress right now, Cookin’ 5m2: a tomato and egg breakfast dish called Shakshouka, or Bayd bi Banadoura.

Cookin’ five square meters’ beautiful Shakshouka

Now, to tell you the truth, I’ve had the intention to cook a dish like this for a while now: Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, two of my greatest cooking inspirations, have a recipe similar to this in their cookbook, The Art of Eating Well, called Anytime Eggs, which I’ve been meaning to try…as soon as I could work up the motivation to 😉

So, when I saw this post, I knew I had to make it. I looked at the ingredients: tomatoes, onions, cumin, eggs…and I knew I miraculously had everything I needed to make this dish in my kitchen. Pretty handy, too, as shops would have been closed by the time I made it back home.

Very happy with myself, I got home, sure I would have a meal for the night. I start making a loaf of bread in the bread maker to pair with the eggy tomatoes. Dinner time rolls around, the smell of freshly baked bread drifts up to my room and my stomach grumbles: time to get cooking! I get my onion and garlic, slice, dice, chop ’em up, throw ’em in a pan with some coconut oil, sweat them, add the spices, add the tomatoes, the tomatoes, the…Wait…Where are the chopped tomatoes?

Halfway through the preparation of my meal, I realise I don’t have the key ingredient to finish making the Shakshouka. And after a little snooping, I also had to come to the conclusion that my flatmates didn’t either. My onions are cooking, but my mind is blank: what am I supposed to eat now?

If this has ever happened to you, I’m pretty sure you can imagine how I felt: half-empty fridge, no inspiration whatsoever, hunger setting in… I imagined every pairing I could: everything from celery to clotted cream (that last one wouldn’t have been very good, I’m sure).

IMG_3229I finally settle on adding some chopped yellow pepper to the mix, the one vegetable I had which I could imagine going well with onions and cumin, as well as a dash of tomato concentrate. I scrambled an egg in the vegetables, took out some leftover wraps, and made myself some vegetable burritos with a side of cheese and crème fraiche.


Not the dinner I was expecting, but it wasn’t bad! A little  slapdash and not my most well-perfected dish ever but a good example of the fact that you can still eat healthy, yummy food  when you’ve got no recipe!

And I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty happy with myself: I used to be terrible at kitchen impro! If I didn’t have the exact ingredient I wanted, I wouldn’t make the dish. And now, I can come up with meal ideas and improvise really easily. Which is not only handy when it comes to finishing leftover ingredients, but also a good way of discovering some delicious new food combinations!


Anyway, I made my own eggs in tomatoes tonight: I still had to see what it was like, and I’m glad I tried it! It was just as hearty and delicious as I imagined, and I recommend you check out the recipe linked above on Cookin 5 square meters’ website. A lovely, warming meal on a cold night – and probably a delicious breakfast as well!

And if you don’t have everything, all is not lost! 🙂 Improvisation is easier than you think.

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