Recently a friend of Yumblog arrived breathless on our doorstep brandishing a bag of chickpea flour and gabbling lavish tales of a crepe-like dish prepared for her by a Frenchman with an impressive moustache. With some reluctance we let her in and once calmed with a Lager & Campari, set about making sense of her crazed wordage. It turned out she was talking about ‘Socca’ – a pancake/blini hybrid type thing from southern France.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 – 45 minutes
Skill level: Medium
Recipe: Yotam Ottolenghi
For the batter:
- chickpea flour (aka gram flour) – 200g
- water – 450ml
- olive oil – 1½ tbsp
- salt – ½ tsp
For the topping:
- cherry tomatoes – halved – 300g
- thyme leaves – 2 tbsp
- onions cut into rings – 800g
- white wine vinegar – ½ tsp
- olive oil
- s & p
- Crème fraîche
Preheat the oven to 130C/250F/gas mark ½.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place cut-side up on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, season generously and place in the oven for 25 minutes. The object is to dehydrate the tomatoes rather than to actually cook them.
Meanwhile heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion and thyme. Season and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, by which time the onions should be gold and tender. Add the vinegar, adjust the seasoning and set aside.
Once the tomatoes are done, set to one side and turn up the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
To make the batter, place the flour, water and oil in a bowl, season with s&p and whisk until smooth and lump-free.
Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper brushed with a little oil and put in the oven to warm through.
Brush a small (roughly 14cm in diameter) frying pan with a little oil and place over a high heat for a minute or two. Ladle in a quarter of the mixture, turn down the heat and cook for a few minutes – small bubbles should appear as the mixture heats and sets.
When the underside is golden brown carefully turn over and cook the other side.
Turn out onto one of the baking trays and return to the oven to keep warm.
Repeat three more times with the remaining batter mix.
To construct your meal, spread the onion mixture over the Soccas and top with the tomatoes. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes until everything is thoroughly heated through.
Serve with a side dollop of crème fraîche.
Verdict: Very interesting and pretty damn tasty. More flavour than a pancake, less stodge than a blini. Socca are often sold as a street food and are eaten plain with plenty of black pepper, however this tomato, onion and crème fraîche topping makes the whole socca experience an extra bit treaty.
Drink: Co-Op own-brand Polish lager.
Entertainment: Season Five of ‘The Shield’ had arrived … so we binged.
“Have you ever been to a Harvester before?”