Friday, 22 May 2015

Socca Two Ways

No, this is not a football article. It is my first attempt at using the Chickpea flour.

Socca is a chickpea based unleavened flatbread from the South of France. It features in many different cusines (Farinata in Italy; karantita in Algeria; fainĂ¡ in Argentina and Urguray) and can be grilled, fried or baked.

The basis of this flatbread is chickpea flour. It is also known as Gram Flout or Besan. It's gluten free and higher in protein than other flours (22% against typically 13-16%).

I have always wanted to use chickpea flour but the online prices put me off. I am not gluten intorrelent so I had no great drivers pushing me down that route.  However, the increased popularity of gluten free flours and UK immigration over the last 10 years has improved the availability of specialist produce. In fact my local Asda stock it. At £1.97 for 2kg (April 2015) it seems a fabulous price compared to £4 to £5 for 1kg on Amazon.

For my first attempt at using chickpea flout I decided Socca would be simple enough. There are many variations of this popular dish. Most Socca recipes I have seen seem to have ratios of 1:2 for chickpea flour to water although there are variations upto 1:4 although these tend to be baked.

Basic Socca recipe:

  • 130g chickpea flour, sifted (reduces lumps forming in batter)
  • 260g water
  • 2 tb olive oil
  • half tsp salt
  • Optional: Any spices or herbs (dried or fresh) you have at hand. I used dried cumin.

Sift the chickpea flour into a bowl and add the water, oil and salt. Whisk and leave for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, too allow the mixture to start fermenting. This gives a light, airy texture to the dish.

Preheat a frying pan under the grill (about 4 to 6 inches). Add a coating of olive oil and pour in the mixture.

Grill for 6-8 minutes until golden crust on top (It is just as easy to bake (220C for 10-12mins) or cook on the stove although you will have to flip the socca in this case).

Remove from pan and slice. It is best eaten warm.

This is really great with rosemary and olives. I finely chopped the rosemary and added to the chickpea mixture. I sliced olives and added to the frying pan before pouring the mixture on top and grilling.

Some recipes for Socca can be found at thekitchn and nourisedkitchen.

Yotam Ottolanghi has one with yeast published by the Guardian.

Mark Hix has a great Farinta recipe published by the Telegraph.

There's a good Algerian Karantita recipe at Halalhomecooking.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Roasted Tomato Quinoa Pilau

Quinoa is very fashionable at the moment with increased availability meaning cheaper prices in the shops.  Bloggers such as DelicouslyElla have long encouraged its use but it is no longer any problem finding great recipes.

Supermarkets are still tentative in its supply and do not seem ready to stock in the same way as rice or pasta. Typically, my local Waitrose provide it as a ready meal in a mix.

I currently buy my Quiona from Costco (£11.49 for 1.81kg) or Unicorn (£7.49 for 1kg).

This is my favourite recipe for quinoa at the moment.

  • 250g cherry tomatoes; roasted
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 white onion; thinly sliced
  • 3 sticks of celery; sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds; ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds; ground
  • 100f basmati rice
  • 140g quinoa
  • 500g veg stock; or water
  • 50g pine nuts; toasted

First roast the tomatoes. Slice in half, place on parchment, sprinkle with olive oil and season. Roast at 160C for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts on a dry frying pan until they turn a gentle brown colour. Set aside.

You should rinse the quinoa and rice prior to use although the Costco quinoa is pre-washed. 

In a saucepan with a lid add the quinoa and rice with the stock.  Cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Switch off heat and leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid as this will stop the pilau being soft and fluffy. The combination of quinoa and basmati is fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough.

In a large plan, heat the olive oil and add onion, celery, and garlic. Soften for 5 minutes and add cumin and coriander. Cook for a further few minutes.

Combine all of the ingredients and stir through. This dish works well with steamed white fish or marinated chicken such as souvalki.

This tastes fantastic cold.