Posts Tagged ‘appetizers’

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

I very much favour sweet breakfast foods over savoury ones; it’s how I get to satisfy my incredibly sweet-tooth daily, but I also do appreciate a good savoury breakfast, I reserve meals like this socca and cilantro sauce for special mornings.

Weekend mornings where I do manage to get out of bed and go for a run or a long walk along the seawall.

Coincidentally, I got the recipe for this cilantro sauce on the seawall.

Walking the seawall is amazing like that; sometimes you meet the most interesting people, and last year a kindhearted woman gave me the recipe to this cilantro sauce – I rushed home, wrote it down and proceeded to make it straightaway.

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce Socca with Cilantro Sauce

I’d made the batter for my socca the night before and kept it in the fridge, I left it on the kitchen counter to come to room temperature while I was out for my walk.

We must have both worked up an appetite because the woman and I got talking about breakfast, specifically what we were going to eat in the next hour or so… hers were savoury pancakes, which she pairs with this tart herby cilantro sauce.

This is how I got the idea to try it with socca, and it was absolutely special, it’s got to be since almost a year later I’m still eating socca with cilantro sauce, and can’t seem to stop talking about it.

It’s a convenient way to use up excess cilantro or other herbs; I should point out that it’s not just for socca, this sauce is for just about anything… I use it like ketchup or a dip and sometimes even stir it into soups or over roasted potatoes.

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce

As for socca, I don’t think I’ve said enough to express how much I love socca!
I love that it has just so few ingredients, it’s easy to make and so very satisfying and filling.

It usually takes less than fifteen minutes to cook once I get back home and the cilantro sauce can also be made ahead of time.

A few weeks ago I piled on some caramelized onions, sometimes I top my slices with leftover roasted vegetables.

Have I mentioned that it’s naturally vegan and gluten free?

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Tea and Chickpea Cakes

Tea and Chickpea Cakes Tea and Chickpea Cakes

I think it was my dad who helped nurture my love for tea, and although it took me years to become a ‘real tea drinker’, I always had a revering fascination with tea.

My dad spoke wistfully of tea back when we couldn’t afford it, and when we could, he ordered it from the special duty-free catalogue we received each year.

He called it the tea of the Czars; it may have been Kusmi tea, not that I remember. For all his faults, my dad was never a boastful man; he was humble to a point of self-deprecation, yet he talked about his tea with such pride and passion, I knew it was something special.

We had it on special occasions only, on its own or with nuts or savoury pastries – that’s how he preferred his tea.

I have a deeper appreciation for tea now, its healing and calming properties; most of what I know about tea I learned from François-Xavier Delmas’ blog Discovering Tea, and his excellent tea shops.

Tea and Chickpea Cakes
Tea and Chickpea Cakes Tea and Chickpea Cakes

I’m not a daily tea drinker, just because I like a little ceremony to go with my tea; I do tea and chickpea cakes often, the savoury (chickpea cakes) and soothing (tea) pairing makes me a little nostalgic and comforted.

The cakes are a little spicy, they melt in your mouth and the tea is cooling, it’s a deliciously unique and complimenting combination.

These chickpea cakes are my favourite teatime snack; the thing I love most about them is their versatility; an assortment of vegetables can be baked into them – onions, carrots, peas (pictured), cauliflower, bell pepper, cabbage, potatoes… etc and it always turns out wonderful.

It’s best enjoyed right out of the oven, when it’s still hot and crispy on the outside, and it’s perfect for tea anytime.

Tea and Chickpea Cakes

Tea and Chickpea Cakes Tea and Chickpea Cakes

Savoury Chickpea Cakes

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I really wanted to call these ‘cakes’ pakoras, but they don’t really look like pakoras, do they?
They sort of are pakoras, or perhaps inspired by pakoras – except they’re baked and look nothing like traditional pakoras.

I love, love pakoras…, I could tell you all the places with the best pakoras in the city, and those to avoid; I think my nickname at my favourite Indian restaurant is “…and a dozen pakoras to go, please”.

But I came to make my own pakoras by accident; they came up a few months when we were brainstorming snacks to take for our trip, we were thinking store-bought.
At the same time I had a bag of chickpea flour nearing its use-by date, I’d been using it mostly to make socca.
That’s when the idea of trying my hands at pakora-making clicked, since I’m deadly afraid of deep frying things (a story for another post…) I looked into baking them instead.

These savoury chickpea cakes were my very first try, and they baked perfectly – light, great-tasting, filling and non-greasy, like the ones from my favourite ‘pakoras joint’ even it if they look a little different.

I tried them on my friend M’s little guy, he loved them and his little gluten-intolerant tummy thanked me.

A little side note for when making these for kids, you may want to omit the pepper, or use just a teaspoon or pinch.
And a side, side note; chickpea flour can be found at health food stores as chickpea/garbanzo flour, Indian grocery stores as gram flour or besan and Italian grocery stores as farina di ceci.

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Chickpea and Salsa Bruschetta

 
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Boy, am I glad the weekend is here.
This week almost broke my will; I had so much going on while all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and never get up.
I think I may be coming down with a cold, or worse, the flu. Not that I know what’s what.
The universe seems to be in tune with my mood, it’s been gloomy all week, I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not.

The meals I’ve made these past few days haven’t been very exciting; that was until I stumbled into putting this chickpea and salsa bruschetta together.

The recipe got its start as hors d’oeuvres; an easy and tasteful starter @adjoa and I made a couple of months back.
I’d wanted to make it again, but the timing was always off, I always seemed to be out of an essential ingredient.

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 IMG_3231 Chickpea Bruschetta

I came home from another wearying day this week, and there they were; a jar of chickpeas and a bottle of salsa, side by side.
It’s a humbling and satisfying meal, quick and tasty; very delicious, kind of like fast food but good for you.

Did I mention it was easy? It’s basically sliced bread toasted and brushed with olive oil, with a generous heaping of salsa and crushed chickpeas and finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

As sad as it might sound, these were the highlight of my week.

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Socca

 
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I heard about socca for the first time just a few years ago, I think it was back in 2010 when a friend’s mom, who’d just returned from living abroad for many years invited us to dinner.
We had roasted ratatouille and couscous, I remember the couscous had strands of saffron and the food smelled heavenly.

We drank wine from the Jura region (of France) while our host regaled us with tales of her travels; she was trying at one point to convince us that couscous was essentially ‘French food’ and some weren’t swayed, that threw the conversation into foods that didn’t’ necessarily seem French, like socca.

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The best socca, she explained, could be found on the streets of Nice from hole-in-the wall diners to fancy restaurants.
She described this humble street-food, made simply of chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt, transformed into a thin pancake-like flatbread with crispy edges – was the most exquisite thing she’d ever eaten.

I promised myself socca was the first meal I’d eat if I were ever lucky enough to go to Nice.
I didn’t’ give it much thought until a few months ago while flipping through a copy of David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris I’d borrowed from someone at work.
In there was a recipe for socca; plain, simple and very tempting.

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I made it on a Saturday morning, just before we were to set out on a hike, I’d heard it was filling, high in good protein and healthy carbs; I decided it was just what we needed. The hike, by the way, never happened – but our tummies were full.

It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever made, it’s not a fancy or pretty looking dish… it isn’t superficial but it’s ridiculously delicious – almost addictive!
We ate it plain, right out of the pan, standing and not bothering to sit.
Naturally, it’s vegan and gluten free.

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