Category Archives: full meals

A New Favorite (& possibly the BEST) Pancakes Recipe

A few months ago, NYT Cooking started making interactive “how to cook” features on its website. The first one was on pancakes, which as you know hold a special place in my heart. Although I consider myself quite an experienced pancakemaker, it was useful and interesting to read the NYT Cooking feature and delve into the details. I shared the feature with F, who suggested I try my hand at Alison Roman’s base recipe for “perfect buttermilk pancakes.” So I did.

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Then I made them again the next weekend.

And the next weekend.

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That’s right — we have discovered possibly the best pancake recipe ever. And I am not exaggerating. These buttermilk beauties are the perfect blend of crispy edges (don’t shy away from a bit of sugar in the batter, Roman suggests) and fluffy, creamy interior. I usually sub in some cornmeal and have used various combinations of buttermilk, yogurt, and/or whole milk for the liquid — they turn out great every time.

Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes (slightly adapted from Alison Roman at NYT Cooking; makes enough for 3-4 people)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups plain/all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 tsp salt (a bit less if not using kosher salt)
  • 2.5 cups buttermilk OR 1.25 cups plain yogurt + 1.25 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Neutral oil for cooking (I use sunflower oil)

Procedure

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the buttermilk and eggs to the dry ingredients, then pour in the melted butter. Gently whisk everything together until all ingredients are combined. Don’t over-mix — it’s okay if there are a few lumps.
  4. Add some oil to the skillet. Ladle 1/3-1/2 cup of batter into the skillet and repeat if your skillet/griddle is large enough for more than one pancake (but don’t overcrowd them).
  5. Cook the pancake(s) on one side until bubbles start rising to the surface (2-4 minutes). Flip the pancake(s) and cook for another minute or 2.
  6. Serve the pancakes hot from the skillet or keep them warm in the oven (300F/150C) until ready to serve.

Enjoy!


A Moroccan Feast

Thank you, Easter, for providing us with a long weekend (Friday and Monday are Bank Holidays here in the UK). F and I wanted to enjoy some lamb as an ode to spring, so we invited friends to join us for a pre-Easter dinner on Friday. We could’ve done a traditional roast with the usual carrots and new potatoes, but in a fit of experimentation (and knowing we’d have the whole day to prepare — thank you again, Bank Holiday), F suggested we make Moroccan-style lamb. I suggested that we might as well go all-out and make Moroccan sides, too.

Needless to say, Googling commenced. I went straight to NYT Cooking, the New York Times‘ great hub for all the recipes they publish in their Food and other sections. I searched “Moroccan” and loads of vibrant, delicious looking dishes appeared. I was drawn to the Moroccan Cooked Carrot Salad; Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style; and this couscous. Meanwhile, F found a recipe for Moroccan Lamp with Apricots, Almonds & Mint from BBC Good Food; it is a stew rather than a roast, which made it more attractive as it required less cooking time.

Here is how the meal turned out:

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Perhaps it is a bit monochrome, but boy was it delicious. The stew had such depth of flavor, thanks to cinnamon, apricots, and orange, and the ground almonds gave it a deceptively “creamy” texture. The carrot salad — dressed with lemon juice, spiced with cumin and garlic, and balanced with olives — turned out beautifully. We really liked the pearl couscous laced with cumin, golden raisins, and sautéed onions. The orange salad packed a bit of heat from cayenne, although I left out the garlic, parsley, and olives, as those were already present in the carrot salad.

All in all, a great and delicious success. Will we make these recipes again? Definitely. I’m already looking forward to enjoying the leftovers for lunch.

Do you like Moroccan food? Ever cooked any of it? Post your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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Recipe: Zucchini & Millet Salad with Lemon-Coriander Dressing

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As the holiday season descends and the sweet treats mount up, I sometimes find myself craving a colorful, wholesome salad. This zucchini and millet salad ought to do the trick. Succulent, olive oil-sautéed zucchini complements earthy toasted pumpkin seeds and fluffy millet. The lemon-coriander dressing zings it all together, and pan-fried halloumi adds extra protein and a salty punch.

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Zucchini & Millet Salad with Lemon-Coriander Dressing (adapted from my darling lemon thyme; serves 3-4 generously)

Ingredients

  • Salad:
    • 1.5 cups cooked millet
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
    • 2 medium-large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • Lemon-Coriander Dressing:
    • 1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 1/4 cup (60mL) olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • to taste: salt
  • optional: 1-2 blocks halloumi cheese, sliced medium-thick

Procedure

  • If you haven’t already done it, cook the millet (see link above).
  • While the millet is cooking, prepare the zucchini by sautéing rounds in olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring often. When the zucchini rounds are golden-brown and soft, remove them from the heat and put into a large bowl.
  • While you’re cooking the zucchini, you can toast the pumpkin seeds over medium heat in a small skillet.
  • Fry the halloumi in a little bit of oil over medium-high heat until nicely browned on each side.
  • Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender), processing until smooth. Add a little cold water if the dressing is too thick.
  • Combine the millet, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, and dressing in the large bowl and toss. Serve the halloumi on the side.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Homemade Muesli with no added sugar

First of all, apologies for my long absence. The last three and a half months have been crazy busy with a new full-time job and a part-time super-intensive DELTA course. Less than three weeks to go in the course, and then I can take a breath and start cooking again. In the meantime, I’ve taken some quiet on Sunday evening to present you with a recipe I’ve wanted to post for a while.

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I eat muesli 3-4 times a week for breakfast: cold, with almond milk, extra nuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and sliced banana or apple. My struggle with shopping for muesli in the supermarket is finding one that does have tons of added sugar. I have found Jordan’s Natural Muesli here in the UK, which doesn’t add sugar, but I also kept thinking about how easy — and cheap — it would be to make my own muesli, exactly how I want it. So that I did — and the results were just what I wanted. That’s the great thing about making your own muesli: you can put in it exactly what you want, no more and no less. This is my take — feel free to use it as a base for your own experimentation.

Homemade Muesli with no added sugar

Ingredients

  • 2 cups barley flakes
  • 2 cups oats (I used 1/2 porridge/quick oats & 1/2 whole oats)
  • 1 cup nuts (I used 1/2 walnuts & 1/2 almonds)
  • 1 cup seeds (I used a mix of pumpkin & sunflower seeds)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins)

Procedure

  • Put the barley flakes in a large (preferably non-stick) skillet and toast them, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until fragrant. Remove the barley flakes from the pan, put in the oats and toast them.
  • While the oats & barley are toasting, you can toast the nuts and seeds in a smaller skillet over medium heat.
  • When all the toasting is finished, toss all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon. Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

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Foreseeing a free weekend at home and a busy week ahead, I wanted to make something for Sunday dinner that would carry F and me at least through Monday with leftovers. I didn’t feel like cooking meat so browsed through my bookmarked vegetarian recipes and came across this one from Simply Recipes. I’d never actually made eggplant parmesan but was eager to try my hand at it — plus, eggplants are abundant at the moment, so those two factors decided me.

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Eggplant parm does take some time — hence the Sunday evening project — but it’s worth it in the end. The procedure seems complicated, but bear with me, take it step by step, and you will be rewarded with cheesy deliciousness. F gave the it a rave review and it was just as good reheated the next day. I think traditionally the eggplant is fried, but this recipe “healthifys” a little bit by baking the eggplant rounds, saving quite a bit of oil.

Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from Simply Recipes; serves 4-6)

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
  • to taste: salt
  • Simple tomato sauce:
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 cans  (~800g ) whole peeled tomatoes
    • 1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped roughly
    • to taste: salt & pepper
  • Eggplant coating:
    • 1.5 cups breadcrumbs
    • 1.25 cups parmesan cheese, divided into 1/4 cup + 1 cup
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat (or plain) flour
    • 4 eggs, beaten
  • to taste: olive oil
  • 600-700g fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

Procedure

  • 1.5 hours before prep/assembly time, slice the eggplants and salt both sides of each slice, then lay them on top of paper towels to drain.
  • After 1.5 hours, preheat the oven to 215C (425F) and rub some olive oil over two baking sheets.
  • Bread & bake the eggplant: Pat the eggplant rounds dry. Grate the parmesan and place it in a shallow bowl; add the breadcrumbs and mix together. Put the flour in a second shallow bowl, and in a third bowl whisk the eggs together. One at a time, dredge the eggplant rounds in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place the breaded rounds on the baking sheets, drizzle a little olive oil over them, then bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping the rounds at the halfway point.
  • While the eggplant is baking, make the tomato sauce (if you’re using your own sauce, feel free to ignore this step): combine olive oil, tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes until it begins to thicken and become fragrant. Set aside.
  • Slice the mozzarella.
  • Once the eggplant has finished baking, take it out and lower the oven temperature to 175C (350F).
  • Assemble eggplant parmesan: Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a medium-sized glass baking dish. Place about 1/3 of the eggplant rounds over the sauce in a single layer. Place half the mozzarella on top of the eggplant and sprinkle 1/3 of the parmesan over the mozzarella. Place another 1/3 of the eggplant over the cheese, then spread 1 cup of tomato sauce over those. Add the rest of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the parmesan. Layer the rest of the eggplant rounds over the top, smother with the rest of the tomato sauce, and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over everything.
  • Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Pesto & Zucchini Galette

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Galettes have been on my mind for a while — they keep popping up on the cooking blogs I read, filled at this time of year with stone fruit or late summer vegetables. I finally decided to try my hand at one when in the same week Melissa Clark posted a couple galette recipes with a great-looking rye-flecked crust, and The Kitchn came out with a summer vegetable galette. Both recipes looked great, so I adapted my crust from Clark, and my filling was inspired by The Kitchn.

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A galette comes together easily, in large part because you don’t have to shape the dough into a pie dish or anything — you can just go free-form and pile on your fillings of choice. F and I had made some pesto that we’d frozen, so I thawed it and spread it liberally over the crust; it worked as a lovely base for the tomatoes and zucchini. And this crust is very nice. Despite the excess oil/butter that appeared on the baking sheet at the end, the bottom of the crust didn’t get soggy and had a lovely bit of flaky crunch. I highly recommend this summery galette and am looking forward to trying my hand at a sweet version!

Pesto & Zucchini Galette (dough adapted from Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking; recipe inspired by The Kitchn; makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients

  • Crust:
    • 80g (~2/3 cup) plain/AP flour
    • 90g (~2/3 cup) rye or whole wheat flour
    • 5g (1 tsp) sugar
    • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
    • 1 egg
    • Heave cream or milk, as needed
    • 113g unsalted butter, cut into big chunks
    • juice + zest of 1 lemon
  • Filling:
    • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Basil Pesto
    • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
    • 1-2 zucchini, sliced thinly
    • for garnish: grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

  • Make crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and then whisk in enough cream or milk to make 1/3 cup; set aside. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work in with a pastry cutter or your hands, until the butter chunks are chickpea-sized. Drizzle up to 1/4 cup of the egg mixture (reserve the rest for later) into the flour-butter and stir until the mixture just comes together (it will still be crumbly — that’s okay). Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  • Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few times, until it comes together into one piece. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  • While the dough is chilling, slice your tomatoes and zucchini.
  • After the dough has chilledassemble the galette: Preheat the oven to 200C (400F — don’t use the fan/convection setting!) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch (30cm) round and slip it onto the baking sheet. Spread 1/2 – 3/4 cup pesto on the dough, leaving a 1.5-2-inch (3-4cm) border around the edges. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the pesto, then top with the zucchini slices. Fold the pastry edges towards the center, overlapping as necessary (see photo above). Brush the exposed pastry edges with the rest of the egg-cream mixture.
  • Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden-brown. When you take it out of the oven, soak up any excess liquid with a paper towel or two. Cool the galette for at least 10 minutes, then garnish with grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Stuffed Grilled Flatbreads with Basil Oil

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You know those recipes you see and immediately go, “I have to make this”? This, from Melissa Clark over at NYT Cooking, was one of them. I don’t know exactly what got me so excited, but who doesn’t love cheesy-doughy goodness? A free long weekend coming up meant I had time to make the dough on Saturday morning, let it rise, and prepare the flatbreads for dinner. Great cycling fuel, too, as F anticipated a long ride — and I a slightly shorter one — for Sunday morning.

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I was unsure how to do the folding and re-rolling (probably should’ve watched Melissa Clark’s video first — oops), so my flatbreads ended up very doughy on one side and very cheesy on the other. That also could’ve come from using cubed rather than grated mozzarella. That said, I didn’t care because the dough is delicious. Dollop on some extra basil oil, sprinkle it with some salt, and you’ll be good to go. Feel free to stuff the flatbreads with whatever you want — I’d like to try olives next time — or don’t stuff them at all and just enjoy them with that delicious basil oil. The dough would also be amazing as pizza dough — after all, these are basically calzones.

Stuffed Grilled Flatbreads with Basil Oil (adapted from Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking; makes 8 flatbreads, serving 6-8 people)

Ingredients

  • Flatbreads + Filling:
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 7g active dry yeast
    • 375g whole wheat flour
    • 13g sea salt
    • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 250-375g plain/all-purpose flour (+ more for counter dusting)
    • 200-300g mozzarella cheese, grated or cubed
  • Basil Oil:
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 50g fresh basil leaves
    • 1 garlic clove OR 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together honey and 2 cups of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir until it dissolves.
  • Gradually stir in the whole wheat flour, taking about 1 minute to stir everything together. Let the mixture rest uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the salt, yogurt, and olive oil, along with 250g (~2 cups) of the plain flour. Add more flour as needed, until the dough is too stiff to easily stir.
  • Flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it’s smooth, elastic, and only a little bit sticky.
  • Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with a dish towel and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles (~2-3 hours). If you want to make the flatbreads the next day, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.
  • Make the basil oil by pureeing the fresh basil, olive oil, and garlic in a blender or food processor.
  • After the dough has risen, turn it onto a floured surface and divide it into eight equal pieces. If the dough has warmed up too much, chill it for 30 minutes.
  • On your floured surface, roll a piece of dough into a circle about 6in (15cm) across, or about 1/4in (1/2cm) thick. Brush it with some basil oil, then evenly distribute some mozzarella over the dough round. Fold edges of dough to the middle of the circle, pinching them together  to seal in the filling. Re-roll the dough into a circle. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces.
  • Before cooking, brush each side of the dough rounds with some olive oil. Place the dough rounds either on a grill or in a skillet over medium heat, and cook for about 3 minutes per side (flip when the dough/bread starts to puff and bubble). Alternately, place the rounds on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven at 450F (230C) for 10-15 minutes.
  • Before serving, brush each flatbread with some basil oil and sprinkle some salt over the top.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Basil Pesto

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Every summer since I can remember, my dad has made an amazing basil pesto with basil from the garden. He used to make it with pine nuts — the classic combination — but those are so expensive now that he has started using a mixture of pecans, walnuts, and almonds. We always eat it on whole wheat spaghetti — the secret to extra creaminess is a dollop of buttermilk or yogurt — with frozen peas on the side.

peas are a must

peas are a must

F and I had been wanting to make pesto for a while, and when Simply Recipes published a pesto recipe — which coincided with Cookie and Kate posting this dish — I knew it was time. My dad has always used the classic Silver Palate recipe, but as I forgot to write it down during my most recent visit, I went for the Simply Recipes version. Making pesto is so simple and satisfying: combine basil, nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Toss with pasta or spread on pizza or a sandwich.

Do you have a favorite pesto recipe? How do you like to eat it?

Basil Pesto (adapted from Simply Recipes; makes 3 cups of pesto)

Ingredients

  • 4 packed cups basil leaves
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 1.5 cups grated parmesan and/or romano cheese
  • 1 cup nuts (I used 1/2 cup walnuts + 1/2 cup almonds)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Place the basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until blended (you can use an immersion blender if you don’t have a food processor). Add the cheese and nuts and continue pulsing until the mixture is uniform.
  • Slowly add the olive oil while running the food processor continuously. Keep blending until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Stir in salt and pepper.
  • Note: If you’re adding pesto to pasta, reserve/mix in 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid per 1 cup of pesto.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Kholodnyk (Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup)

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While I was visiting my parents in Rochester, T invited us over for Sunday brunch on the cozy back patio (S was away hiking). As usual, T provided a delicious spread: blueberry cake, salmon quiche (have to get that recipe!), and this incredible kholodnyk. It’s a traditional Russian/Ukrainian/Polish cold buttermilk and beet soup — it made a delicious first brunch course on a warm morning. I immediately asked T for the recipe, which she said came from epicurious and was really easy. She was right — this takes 10-15 minutes to whisk together and makes a vibrant, healthy summer soup. It works well as a brunch accompaniment, as we enjoyed it, or as an appetizer before dinner. It received full marks from F when I made it back in London. I went heavy on the beets and forgot radishes — it still tasted great. Feel free to take this recipe as a base and modify ingredients and amounts for a chunkier or thinner soup.

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Do you have a favorite cold summer soup? Share it in a comment below!

Kholodnyk (Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup) (adapted from epicurious; serves 3-4)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups (~250g) grated pickled beets
  • 1/4 cup beet liquid (if not using pickled beets, use 1/8 cup water + 1/8 cup white wine vinegar)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups English cucumber, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped radishes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Procedure

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, & salt.
  • Stir in the grated beets, beet liquid, cucumber, radishes, & dill.
  • Cover and chill for at least 15 minutes, then serve cold as an appetizer or light main course.

Enjoy!

Afternoon Tea at Tea & Tattle

Emma was in London this week and, knowing she is a tea-and-scone lover like me, I made a reservation for us to have afternoon tea at Tea & Tattle in Bloomsbury, right across from the British Museum (which a friend of mine has brilliantly re-named the “Spoils of Empire Museum”).

The experience at Tea & Tattle was delightful. The bright basement tearoom is cozy yet uncluttered, with funky paintings on the walls. We got a great deal on “Traditional Tea for Two”, which allowed each of us to choose one sandwich, one tea, a jam flavor for the scones, and one cake. They even threw in a refreshing, unsweetened lemonade for free. We both had the “smoked salmon, creme fraiche with cucumber and lemon” sandwich — you can choose from four kinds of bread and yes, they will appear crustless and cut into triangles. Cute.

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Next came the scones, halved and spread with clotted cream and jam. We each got a different jam so we could share: the raspberry and vanilla jam was lovely, and the damson (plum) jam had pleasing spiced notes. On the cake front, I had a moist and nutty carrot cake and Emma had a pretty Victoria sponge — top marks for both.

scone with raspberry & vanilla jam

scone with raspberry & vanilla jam

Funnily enough, we both thought that the tea itself was the most disappointing part of the experience: my Earl Grey was too weak and Emma’s English Breakfast was too strong. But the service and pace more than made up for it. We told them all our choices at the beginning, and then they brought each “course” as we finished the one before. We did not feel rushed and lingered chatting long after we’d finished our cake, never feeling like they wanted to get rid of us. The amount of food was also perfect — I didn’t leave feeling overstuffed or still hungry.

Victoria sponge & carrot cake

Victoria sponge & carrot cake

Overall, I’d definitely recommend popping into Tea & Tattle, whether it’s for a full afternoon tea or just for tea and a scone. It’s a great place to escape the bustle of London and catch up with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while. Complete the afternoon by strolling through the Spoils of Empire British Museum afterwards.

Recipe: Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan

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I’ve been wanting to make socca for a while but had no chickpea flour (aka gram flour) in the house until I made these spinach and potato patties a few weeks ago. Left with an open Wednesday evening and plenty of gram four, I had no more excuses and turned to Cookie and Kate for guidance on how to make it.

socca-as-pizza

socca-as-pizza

Socca is a sort of crepe/pancake/flatbread hybrid, baked and/or broiled in a skillet in the oven. It is really easy to make and, after you’ve let the batter sit for an hour, cooks quickly. Though socca is traditionally enjoyed plain or sprinkled with a few herbs, I topped my first attempt with zucchini, tomatoes, and shaved parmesan to make a light and healthy pizza-like dish — great for a quick weeknight dinner. But it was so good that I made it again the next night, this time leaving it plain enjoying some sautéed veggies on the side. Feel free to try your own topping variations (let me know what you come up with!) or just enjoy the socca plain — you won’t be disappointed.

Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan (adapted from Cookie and Kate; makes 2 generous servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120g) chickpea/gram flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • to taste: parmesan or other hard cheese, shaved

Procedure

  • One hour before you want to bake the socca, whisk together the gram flour, water, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
  • To make topped (‘pizza-style’) socca:
    • Turn your oven’s broiler on and move the oven rack up to 8 inches underneath. Put a large skillet in the oven to preheat.
    • When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 2 tbsp of olive oil in it. Pour in the socca batter and pop it in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
    • Remove the skillet from the oven. Move the rack back to the middle of the oven, switch back to normal heating, and turn the temperature down to 215C.
    • Pour the last 1 tbsp olive oil over the socca and arrange the tomatoes, zucchini, and parmesan on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • To make plain socca:
    • Put a large skillet in a rack in the middle of the oven and turn the oven on to heat to 225C (top-bottom heat, not convection).
    • When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 2 tbsp of olive oil in it.
    • Bake the socca for 10-11 minutes, then switch over to the broiler, move your oven rack up, and broil the socca for 2-3 minutes or until it begins blistering.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Pasta Salad with Tomatoes & Arugula

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A travel-related post on our lovely week in southeastern Spain is coming soon. While that’s in the works, here’s a summery pasta salad that I made for a simple late dinner on a warm Spanish night. We enjoyed this with some grilled zucchini and eggplant — and chorizo for F — on the side. It’s great slightly warm or cold for lunch the next day (with the leftover grilled veggies chopped up and mixed in). This pasta salad is a great base for experimentation — you can add or subtract ingredients as you like. Let me know what your favorite combination is!

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Arugula (serves 5-7 generously)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (~750g) bow tie pasta (or other pasta of choice)
  • to taste: olive oil, salt, pepper
  • 200g parmesan/romano/grana padano cheese, finely grated
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped OR 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 300g arugula, washed

Procedure

  • Cook the pasta as directed. While the pasta is cooking, chop the tomatoes and place them in a large bowl.
  • When the pasta is finished, drain it and add it to the bowl with tomatoes. Add the cheese, a few glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss until everything is well-combined.
  • Add the arugula and toss again.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Rosemary, Garlic & Lemon-Crusted Chicken with White Wine Mushrooms

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As you probably know by now, F and I love buying and roasting a whole chicken ourselves. It’s cheaper than buying chicken pieces and creates lots of leftovers — we also often make stock from the carcass. Our favorite time to do this is for Sunday dinner, since we’re usually home on Sunday afternoons and thus have time to keep an eye on the chicken in the oven.

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This bird is rubbed with fresh rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest before being roasted to a perfect golden-brown. (You don’t have to use a whole chicken; feel free to rub the rosemary mix on a couple of chicken breasts or thighs — you’ll have dinner on the table a lot faster.) Mushrooms are sautéed with fresh thyme and reduced in white wine — a perfect accompaniment to the chicken. Just add rice or your preferred carbohydrate. The chicken and mushroom recipes are both below; I’ll let you figure out the rice for yourself!

Rosemary, Garlic & Lemon-Crusted Chicken (inspired by Martha Rose Shulman)

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (ours was 2.6kg)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemons

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry, then place it in a large baking dish.
  • Put the rosemary, lemon zest, peppercorns, and garlic cloves in a food processor and blend until everything is chopped small and almost paste-like.
  • Rub olive oil and then the spice mix all over the chicken. Juice both the lemons over the chicken and stick the lemon halves inside the bird.
  • Roast the chicken for about 2.5 hours in the oven, basting periodically and covering if necessary.

White Wine Mushrooms (adapted from Martha Rose Shulman; serves 2-4)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2kg (1lb) button/field mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 cup dry white wine
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms to the skillet and let them sear for 30-60 seconds, then stir.
  • As the mushrooms start to soften, add the thyme, wine, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine evaporates and the mushrooms are tender.

Enjoy!