ffwd: socca from vieux nice
I’ve never been to Nice, or the South of France, for that matter, so I had no point of comparison for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe: Socca, which is a chickpea pancake. In France, this street food made by vendors stationed on the sidewalk. At my house, we had it as a starter to dinner.
This recipe introduced me to a new ingredient, chickpea (also called garbanzo) flour which is ground up chickpeas. It has a vegetal aroma quite different from wheat flour. The batter is simple to mix up: garbanzo flour, water, olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. This is done in advance so the batter can rest. Dorie says that improves the end result.
The preparation was interesting. The pancake bakes in a very hot oven. The pan preheats at the same time. Once everything is hot, you pour oil into the pan and return it to the oven to heat up before pouring in the batter. It’s essentially oven-fried, though finished under the broiler to blacken the surface slightly.
To eat, we tore the piping hot pancake into pieces and smeared them with tapenade and goat cheese. It was tasty, though unusual. I cooked half the batter to make one medium pancake to try tonight and plan to cook the other half with tomorrow’s lunch.
I still have the rest of the bag of chickpea flour leftover, so I will probably try this again. I’m less sure about it plain, but I have lots of Mediterranean condiments to experiment with for toppings.
I was also intrigued by the falafel recipe that came on the bag. I love falafel but I’ve always been put off making them at home because I am uncomfortable deep-frying. The recipe on the bag of flour only calls for a few tablespoons of oil to cook them, so I might be trying that out. Any other suggestions?