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.
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
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
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)
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
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).
9 cups water
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
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.
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.
12 ounces soft goat cheese
2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
3 tablespoons honey
In a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, mix together goat cheese, lavender, and honey until smooth. Taste and adjust as necessary*
*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
Also in this month’s Food & Wine mag was a recipe for Spicy Asian-Chicken-Salad Lettuce Cups. I wanted to bring something healthy to the party for those who don’t eat cherry ganache-stuffed chocolate chunk espresso cookies. I liked the idea for a moist chicken salad that used rotisserie chicken, rather than the standard breast meat only. The spicy aspect certainly appealed to me as well. What did not tickle my taste buds was the use and quantity of mayonnaise. So, I substituted in some plain, fat-free yogurt and that added a nice tang to the dressing. I served mine in Belgian Endive leaves rather than Bibb or iceburg lettuce. Recipe is here.