socca!

socca with roasted tomatoes and onions

Well! Waaaay back a couple of weeks ago I was going to tell you about our first attempt making socca, and then my blog vanished out from under me. Better late than never, so here it is: chickpea flour pancakes (socca) with caramelised onions and roasted tomatoes, adapted from the book Plenty. I have no idea why we’ve never made socca before, it’s simple and tasty and makes a great vehicle for vegetables or pizza toppings. I’ve seen recipes that have you pour the batter into a hot skillet, then put it under the broiler to give it a bit of char. I was using the oven to roast tomatoes, so I just flipped the pancakes and finished them on the stove, which worked fine.

socca batter

The batter was just chickpea flour, water and an egg. The recipe in Plenty wants you to whip the egg white, but I didn’t see any other recipe call for that and it sounded unnecessary, so I skipped it.

socca

The pancakes, being made of legumes rather than grain, are very tender and brittle, but I found that by making them fairly small (6-8 inches) they were easy to flip.

ready to roast

The tomatoes were sweet, small greenhouse tomatoes from Hedlin Farms. They were very good roasted until just a bit concentrated and scattered over the onions. We’re looking forward to putting all kinds of things on socca this summer.

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almost injera

injera

Every year or two we try making injera bread, and are usually crushed by disappointment when it sticks to the pan, tastes weird and is just generally unsuccessful. This time it actually sort of worked.

Ethiopian lunch

Injera is a traditional Ethiopian flatbread made by souring a batter made of teff flour for several days, then cooking it like a large pancake to produce a stretchy, spongy sour bread which is perfect for mopping up spicy stews and is also used as a plate. Many cookbooks assume that you can’t get teff flour in the United States, and so suggest a blend of wheat flours. However, that adds gluten, and doesn’t really have the right flavor – teff is easier to find now that gluten-free baking is more popular, so I strongly suggest seeking it out. I also don’t recommend “quick” injera recipes that use baking soda instead of a slow yeast rise or sourdough starter. It’s not just supposed to be bubbly, you want it sour. Plan ahead!

injera batter

After trying various recipes over the years, I decided to go back to the one really traditional version that I’ve found, from Flatbreads & Flavors. When I first made it years ago, we had so much trouble cooking it there was barely any worth eating. But I had no complaints about the batter this time, it behaved perfectly and tasted just right. The cooking…was a learning experience.

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blini!

blini with caviar

A sudden craving last weekend had me searching my cookbook shelf for a recipe for buckwheat pancakes. I don’t know where the urge came from, but I wanted that earthy, rich flavor, preferably smothered in applesauce, for Valentine’s Day breakfast.

It was harder than I thought finding a recipe, but I ran one down in a true American cookery resource, Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook from 1961. This is a book that reads like something from another dimension, including this marvelous bit of advice in the “Hints for the Homemaker” section:

Every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply makeup and a dash of cologne. Does wonders for your morale and your family’s, too!

My family’s morale is going to have to wait until after breakfast, sorry, Betty. But in any case, the recipes are pretty sound. I halved the recipe for buckwheat pancakes, starting it  the night before as advised, and it turned out beautifully.

Valentine's Day breakfast

I thawed a container of Jonagold applesauce from last fall, and fried up a couple of homemade sausage patties that were left over from the previous week. The pancakes were wonderful, springy and chewy and with plenty of deep buckwheat flavor. They were also great with butter and syrup.

Even after halving the recipe, we couldn’t eat them all by a long shot. Eventually it dawned on us that we had made blini, and blini are made to be eaten with caviar. It was Valentine’s Day, after all…

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blintz

blintzes

When it comes to festive breakfasts, it’s hard to beat a blintz. A soft white crepe wrapped around a cheesy filling, fried golden and drizzled with syrup…I’m making myself hungry just writing about it. Blintzes were one of the foods my husband wooed me with (along with breakfast burritos, chocolate pudding and curry (no, not all at once)) and I’d say they worked quite well.

making blintzes

making blintzes

making blintzes

There are a lot of directions you can go with blintzes. Sometimes we put fruit in, or you could make a different flavor of crepe to wrap around (buckwheat, perhaps?), but they’re really great made plain, so everyone can put whatever topping on they want. You could even do them savory: mushrooms seem like an obvious thing to try.

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cottage cheese pancakes

cottage cheese pancakes

I’m not normally a huge pancake eater. They fill me up too fast and give me a sugar rush, and they take my focus away from important things like eggs and bacon. Jon likes pancakes – he can eat the always-amazing banana coconut cakes at the breakfast place down the hill, and live to tell the tale. I still feel a little faint when I remember the pancake plate at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea – twice the size of the head of the person eating it! I can’t compete with that kind of pancake devotion. But there is a pancake that I will eat at any time: the cottage cheese (or ricotta) pancake.

cottage cheese pancakes

Like many cheesy items in our family’s repertoire, this comes from the original Vegetarian Epicure, published in 1972. It has many virtues: the recipe is simple to expand or reduce (we usually make a 1/3 or 1/2 recipe for the two of us), it’s very high protein and low-carb, unless you smother it in jam or syrup, and if you use cottage cheese, the curds melt and form little gooey pockets that are truly delightful. Continue reading

Korean pancake

Korean pancake

We make new recipes all the time around here (it’s sort of an illness, really), and they’re usually very successful. However, quite often we never make a particular recipe a second time – it’s not that we didn’t like it, it just didn’t trigger our “must add this to the repertoire” buttons. There’s a special something to a recipe that you make once, then immediately want to try again with variations – it just inserts itself into your brain and tastebuds as if it always belonged there.

Korean pancakes (or pa jun, or some variation thereof) have turned out to be just such a recipe. I discovered these on David’s blog a few weeks ago, tried making one as soon as possible, and was so smitten I’ve made them at least once a week since then – for some reason always for breakfast (I don’t know why, it just feels right – especially with a pot of smoky black tea). They really remind us of traditional Chinese pan-fried scallion breads, but much much easier to make. Continue reading

German apple pancake

German apple pancake

The box of Jonagold apples in our basement finally gave up the ghost (i.e. was dumped unceremoniously into the compost bin) but I did manage to pull out two survivors to make a German apple pancake. This is one of those recipes my family’s been making forever, out of the original Vegetarian Epicure – the one with all the butter and cream and marijuana references. It’s the same thing as “Dutch babies” – basically a big  popover, cooked in butter and served with hot cinnamony apple slices.

The batter is very quick to prepare: just 3/4 cup of milk, 3/4 cup white flour, 3 eggs and a bit of salt all whisked together, then poured into a hot cast iron skillet in which you’ve melted a tablespoon of butter. Pop the pan into a 450° oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and leave it for another 10 minutes or so. It always comes out a little different, but it usually poofs up high along the edges while the center stays thin and custardy with a crisp edge. This one poofed very nicely:

fresh out of the oven Continue reading