Socca

While flipping through my most recent edition of National Geographic Traveler I came across this 1-page article on Socca (chickpea flour crepes).  Seeing as the picture indicated that this Socca (which I had never heard of before) was a food, I decided to read on.  The ingredient list was simple: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt.  The intent seemed ideal: to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers.  How could I go wrong?  So I tried it.

The batter is fairly thin- much like crepe.

Socca batter

Socca batter

There are several options for cooking these- under a broiler (in a fry pan), on a very hot baking stone, stove top.  I opted to make my first three on a baking stone, preheated in a 500 degree oven, and the last in a cast iron pan so that I could see the difference.

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

I served these as a gluten-free flatbread type of side to lemon-pepper chicken and green salads topped with crispy-fried mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cheddar cheese.

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Ingredients:

2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or more if you really want to taste it)

Directions:

  • Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and salt. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours
  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone in it
  • Give the batter a quick whisk and ladle a quarter of it into the skillet
  • Switch the oven to Broil and let it go for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and the socca is cooked in the middle (yet still tender) and crispy around the edges. Use a spatula to remove it from the stone
  • Repeat to make the additional flatbreads
Socca- ready for cutting

Socca- ready for cutting

Polenta cakes with goat cheese & black raspberry preserves

Ok, I know, this week has been a little heavy on the goat cheese.  But it’s so good!

This particular recipe was developed as an appetizer for a party where hand-held foods are a must.  Since I typically do something very sweet and dessert-y I decided to make something savory with just a tiny bit of sweet this time.  The overall process takes a while, but could be cut down if you were to use a “log” of polenta  instead (as the cooking is done for you).

Ingredients

9 cups water

Salt

3 cups uncooked polenta

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

12 oz. soft goat cheese at room temperature

1 jar black raspberry (or your personal preference) preserves

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Bring the water, salted, to a boil in a large, nonstick fry pan
  • Add the polenta, reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Remove from heat, stir in the fresh thyme, and let rest while you line a jelly roll pan with foil
  • Transfer the cooked polenta to the jelly roll pan and smooth to the edges of the pan with a rubber or offset spatula
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes
  • Transfer the baked polenta to a large cutting board and cut circles with a biscuit cutter*
  • In a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, mix the goat cheese for 5 minutes to incorporate some air, and make sure that there are no lumps
  • Using a pastry bag pipe the goat cheese on top of each of the polenta rounds
  • Using a teaspoon, dollop the preserves on top of the goat cheese

*I tried both plastic and metal cutters and found plastic to be rather troublesome and metal to work grandly

This recipe was very good as it is, but it could also be changed up in so many ways: add lemon juice and/or zest to the goat cheese; add honey to the goat cheese for a sweeter take; change up the preserves and use a) a different flavor or b) a fresh fruit; add a fresh mint leaf to the top; use orange zest in the polenta instead of thyme.  The list could go on and on.

J

Goat Cheese Spread with Lavender and Honey

I recently threw a party and I wanted to put out a dip made with goat cheese, but my stand-by recipe called for walnuts and I already had a lot of dishes with nuts in them and didn’t want to over-do it.  To remove the walnuts from the other recipe would have been a crime, so I found something else to make and I’m glad that I did.  This dip was a big hit.  I think that it’s perfect for summer entertaining (flavor-wise), and can be served alongside so many other dishes since it’s so mild.  I served it with a couple of kinds of simple crackers, but it would be great smeared on crostini or even a fresh baguette.

goat cheese

Ingredients

12 ounces soft goat cheese

2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender

3 tablespoons honey

honey

Directions

  • In a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, mix together goat cheese, lavender, and honey until smooth. Taste and adjust as necessary*

lavendar

*Note: I left the goat cheese out on the counter overnight to let it get very soft so that it was easy to work with

J

Recipe adapted from a post on Whole Foods Market