Wednesday, January 31, 2018

(They say I'm too young to) Socca

I feel like you don't see a lot of *empty plates* on food blogs, and now I can really understand why. Also, what happened to the tip of that knife? (I actually know.)
The recipes! They are so hard to post in the winter, because I make food at dinnertime, when it’s already dark, and then the photographs come out so bad, like this, all yellowy and glare-glossed, like a 1970’s Bonne Belle Piece-of-Cake Lip Smacker ad. I’m sorry.

This is not exactly the right place to mention this fact, but I have a piece in the current issue of O magazine! The one with Oprah in a gold outfit on it. Edited to add: It's actually online here now.
I’ve been wanting to post this one for ages, though: socca (if you’re French), or farinata (if you’re Italian). I myself call it socca, because I like to sing this song while I’m making it, which my friend Ali put on a mix-tape for me in 1987.

But whatever you call it, it’s a crisp-topped and tender, super-savory pancake, fragrant with rosemary and onions—but even fragrant without, if you make it plain. It’s mostly just water, olive oil, and chickpea flour, which is an ingredient that I love (try these crackers if you haven’t yet), and that I use all the time, especially now with my family’s strict gluten-free situation.

Gratuitous kitten-in-a-nightie-hammock shot.
Love to you, my people. xo


This is Mark Bittman’s recipe, more or less. I make this all the time—to go with soups and salads, or to eat on its own or with a glass of beer. It’s perfect for gluten-free folks, of course, but everybody likes it, and it even offers a hit of protein thanks to the chickpea flour. Also, to be honest, I sometimes make it without the onions and rosemary, which is even easier (I just heat the oil in the preheated pan before adding the batter). If you like, you can use it as the basis for a quick little pizza. Top it with cheese and sauce before broiling, instead of, or in addition to, the olive oil, and voila! Really good and easy.

1 cup chickpea flour
1 ½  to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup lukewarm water
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)
½ large onion (or 1 small onion), thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Heat the oven to 450. Put a well-seasoned 12-inch cast-iron skillet in oven. (You can use a glass pie plate in a pinch.)

Put the chickpea flour in a bowl with the salt and pepper. Whisk in the water and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover and let sit at room temperature while the oven heats, or for as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream; thin it with a little water if it seems too thick.

Remove the pan from the oven, pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into it and swirl. Add the onions return the pan to the oven and cook, stirring once or twice, until they’re well browned, 6-8 minutes. Stir in the rosemary. Stir the onions and rosemary into the batter, then immediately pour the batter into the pan (or pour the batter on top of the onions, like you’re making an upside-down cake). Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pancake is firm and the edges are set. It might look cracked on top, and this is fine!

Heat the broiler and drizzle the top of the pancake with another tablespoon or 2 of oil. Set the pancake a few inches away from the broiler, and cook just long enough to brown it in spots. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot or warm.

Unless you, also, buy it at the Scratch and Dent, your chickpea flour will likely cost more than this.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A New Year

An Instagram app summed up my 2017 pretty accurately. Cats, kids, rainbows, rage.
Why am I not here, enjoying your company? Because I can't tell you what else I'm doing, but I know that it's the strangest mix of franticness and inertia. 

Even now. I wrote those two sentences, and then sat here for a full three minutes. Ben is playing piano in the blue twilight that's bouncing off the snow, and there is a cat sleeping on the library's cookbook that I was reading (Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, which is stunning), and Birdy is making herself a snack downstairs, probably something involving rice cakes and almond butter. Peaceful.

Not shown: Ben applying to college.
But also I am drowning in desperately frantic, dull busywork (hello, college secretary job!), and I'm nine days into my January thing, and I wouldn't mind looking forward to a big, frosty glass of beer or a nice full jelly glass of dark wine. More closely forward than the end of the month, that is.

Fulfilling bookplate requests was one of the loveliest parts of my holiday! Thank you for asking for them. And for not complaining that they were just cheesily-printed labels with my crap signature on them.
And I'm terrible with the holidays being over (as my psychiatrist friend-running partner Lydia likes to say, "This is not new information.") Oh, but it was a magical time, full of puzzles and games and music and cheese and movies (Coco! Three Billboards!) and favorite houseguests and the kind of bonebiting cold that I love for some reason, that reason mostly being staying indoors all cozy with the leftover ham, binge-watching Stranger Things.

My handsome dad, exuberantly kicking someone's ass at Don't Tip the Waiter. We have totally hacked that game, partially by changing the rules, and mostly by combining it with Animal Stackers. Just email me for more on that. I will try not presume that everybody needs this information.
Big Blitz with the perfect nephews. 
Every Christmas, my parents give us a decadent, stunning puzzle from Liberty Puzzles, and I can hardly describe the multi-sensory beauty of them. If you like puzzles, just check out the website, but imagine that each puzzle piece smells deeply of wood and smoke and also that you will need to refinance your house. When I lend them, they're the only puzzles I ask to get back.
I don't have a new recipe today, and that's partly because the clean stuff I'm doing feels so weird and unapproachable. Cultured cheese made from cashews? A rice cake with almond butter and miso? (Run, don't walk!) But I will see if something shakes out soon that I can share. Something that the kids don't look at smirkingly before saying, "Wow, decadent snack, Mom! Two whole green olives in a little bowl!" Speaking of the kids, have I mentioned my Umpteen column at Motherwell? Please check it out. There's a new one up today.

What else I can offer, on the off-chance you're Whole 30ing or Cleansing or otherwise heinousing up your January, is this list of recipes from years past.
Clean and Delicious Soup for One
Clean Clean Blueberry Pie Smoothie
Clean Green Soup (with bonus ideas)
Crazy (Good) "Latte"
Raspberry-Cardamom Smoothie (with bonus thoughts on curry and sashimi)

It's weird that there's no salad in there, because I'm pretty much a rhinoceros at this point, or some other zoo herbivore, inhaling giant troughs of leaves every second. Here's a fantastic one: greens, shredded raw beets, a tin of Trader Joe's Smoked Trout, and then a hot topping made from slivered almonds fried with capers (blot them on paper towels first) and garlic in lots of olive oil. Then a big squeeze of lemon juice. It's the best.

Sending love out to you! Stay safe and warm and well and angry. xo