Soccas South American Style

April 7th, 2007 yum Posted in Cooking Light, French, Low Carb, South American, Vegetarian 13 Comments »

soccayum.jpg Some time back on the Celiac Bay Area yahoo group , there was a buzz around a new restaurant called “Socca Oven” that opened in Berkeley, California. A chef in the area had opened a sister restaurant to his flagship restaurant Gregoire- but the best part was that everything at this new restaurant was gluten free! The concept was based on the French Socca, “a local speciality of southeastern French cuisine, particularly in and around the city of Nice. It is very similar to the northern Italian farinata, as its primary ingredients are chickpea flour and olive oil.” (Source: Wikipedia) This crepe type flatbread is naturally gluten free, healthy, and friendly to the low carb diet. The restaurant also catered to dairy free dining, with no dairy toppings. We were all excited to try the restaurant, which turned out to be located in a small gourmet food court with outdoor dining. Reports came back- most of us loved the socca crepe itself, although some of the toppings left a little something to be desired. Personally, I tried the rather bland bay scallop topping and the vegetable topping, which was topped with Aioli, a mayonnaise type of sauce. Despite my ambivalence towards the toppings, I loved the chance to eat a gluten free pizza hot out of the brick oven at a real, live restaurant. I was greatly anticipating trying other toppings, such as the favorably reviewed salt cod topping, when the restaurant abruptly closed. Luckily in the meantime, members of the Celiac Bay group had been experimenting with making their own soccas, with delicious results. GlutenFreebytheBay came up with an especially delicious version of the socca, and blogged about it. After making my own, I found that I loved the easy to make chickpea crepe topped with delicious hummus, roasted vegetables, and kalamata olives. This layering of chickpea on chickpea creates a high energy, high protein powerhouse dish that is extremely tasty and satisfying. Ever since the socca has been part of my cooking repertoire. The other day I was reading though a recent issue of Cooking light magazine, and came across a recipe for a wheat flatbread topped with a black bean spread. Of course, their flatbread recipe was out- but it occurred to me that a chickpea socca just might work with a tasty black bean topping. So, I got busy with my cast iron pan. These (modified) recipes are the delicious results. The best part is that this recipe is very flexible and easily dairy and egg free. For a dairy free socca, I recommend adding avocados and pine nuts for a truly luxurious dish. Enjoy!

wholesocca.jpg vegansocca.jpgyumsocca2.jpg

Black Bean Parsley Topping
Ingredients
Black Bean Sauce:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 15 oz can low sodium black beans (OR 2 cups homemade black beans, well rinsed)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (with or without green chilies)
1 or 2 chipotle chilies, deseeded, in GF adobe sauce (read label!)

Good with the following “pizza” toppings:
1 red bell pepper (or 1/2 jar roasted red peppers)
kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp cheese (optional)
1/2 cup canned fiesta style corn(optional)
1/2 chopped avocado (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

Cilantro Parsley drizzle:
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (you can change proportions of herbs to taste- I used way less soap, I mean cilantro, than parsley)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp minced garlic

Directions
Blend black bean sauce ingredients in food processor or blender.

To prepare Red Bell Pepper for toppings: broil red peppers (or roast over open flame until charred on all sides), then place in thick plastic bag (freezer quality) for about 10 minutes. Remove skin, then slice or chop (depending on your taste) and reserve.

To make “pizza”, select pizza crust of your choice. I used a chickpea socca because it is so thin and crispy. I seasoned it with cumin seeds and marjoram. I removed it from the oven after 10 minutes rather than the usual 12 minutes, and topped it with a layer of black bean sauce. I then placed any toppings which taste good hot- the optional cheese, red pepper, kalamata olives, pine nuts, and put it back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Put under broiler for a minute or so if desired. (Watch that the socca doesn’t burn!) After you take it out of the oven, drizzle some of the Cilantro Parsley vinagrette on it, any other cold toppings such as avocado, cut, and serve. Enjoy!

Celiacbayarea Group Soccas
Ingredients
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 diced onion
freshly ground pepper
Additional olive oil

For South American flavor:
1 tsp marjoram or oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seed

For Mediterranean flavor:
minced fresh rosemary (needles from 1 stick)

Directions
Heat cast iron pan in oven set to 450 degrees.

Mix bean flour with salt, whisk in warm water and olive oil. Let the
batter sit for at least 30 minutes, then add diced
onion, freshly ground pepper to taste and seasonings (minced rosemary OR marjoram and cumin ETC). Whisk one more time.

Dribble a small amount of olive oil in hot cast iron pan and spread
around to cover using basting brush. Pour about half the batter in
pan. Swirl the pan so the “Crepe” covers the entire surface of the
pan. Make sure it’s not too thick- the thinner the better! Place cast
iron pan back in oven for 12-15 minutes and edges are crisp but not
burnt. Remove from oven, separate crepe from pan with a metal spatula (so it’s easy to remove later), baste top lightly with olive oil and place any toppings you’d like to have heated- place under broiler for about 3 minutes, watching closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter and enjoy. If toppings make it
messy, fold over the triangle to eat. Yum! I’d give it a 10/10, it was
that good. DH gave it a 7/10, saying it was good for a socca. (Soccas
aren’t totally his thing).

Example of toppings:
I basted the socca with olive oil and put some kale on top and
broiled it until the kale wilted. Then I took it out of the oven and
topped it with homemade hummus, sliced black olives, and chopped
organic tomatoes. Totally yummy. For the second one I added pine nuts
and fresh basil. Next time I’ll try it with basil or sundried tomato
pesto….

Or, you could do a traditional “pizza” with veggies, meat, and even
cheese. Basically, the sky is the limit.

Notes
On a GF board I’m on (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/celiacbayarea/) people have been experimenting with making soccas, a French “pizza” made from chickpea flour. This recipe would probably be great for diabetics or anyone doing low carb diets- and is egg, soy, and dairy free as well.
—————————————-
I was heavily influenced by GlutenFreeBytheBay’s post. Her blog entry about the socca experience can be found here:

http://glutenfreebay.blogspot.com/2006/10/joy-of-socca.html

I love her hummus topping! The woman’s a culinary genius, I tell ya.

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Brownie Bites for my Valentine

February 15th, 2007 yum Posted in Chocolate, Cooking for Karina, Dessert, Low Carb, Low Glycemic, Valentine Day 13 Comments »

Babycakes Brownie BitesIt’s that time of year again when all the cooking magazines and food shows suddenly discover their sweet tooth (again) and the color pallet turns to pink and red and deep, dark chocolate brown. Far be it from me to shake the trend! I have to admit, my taste for chocolate has always been more inclined towards its purer forms- dark chocolate truffles, chocolate mousse, fudge, hot fudge or chocolate fondue- basically, chocolate without any flour to get in the way. I want my chocolate rich, creamy, and unadulterated, thank you very much. But my DH, who told me on our first date that he loved making chocolate desserts for fun, adores the crumbly spongy chocolate in a really good brownie. Oh, he’ll eat fudge if I make it, sneaking pieces when I’m not looking and chomping it as the sweet note after a savory meal, but his eyes don’t light up. This is why when I heard that Martha Stewart had the chef and creator of Babycakes, a gourmet gluten free bakery in NY receiving national acclaim, on her show making gluten free brownies, I had to tune in. (At the time of this posting, the episode is still available on her site- search Martha’s recipes for Babycakes and you will get recipes and the links allowing you to view the episode.)

I was intrigued by her recipe for brownies- not only was it gluten free, dairy free, egg free, but it was even free of refined sugars. She used agave nectar as a sweetener. Formerly I had only associated agave with Tequila, but apparently Mexican agave has recently gained acclaim as a healthful substitute for sugar, being both sweeter than sugar (so you can use less and thus decrease calories) and having a low glycemic index. I always feel like when I eat sugary things, I am temporarily giddy but always “crash” later, which isn’t fun. Web sites say you can use 25 percent less agave nectar (or syrup) than the sugar or corn syrup called for in a recipe, and it may be a good idea to lower your oven temp. by 25 degrees. I immediately went on a quest for agave nectar, finally selecting the agave pictured on the right. It was pure agave syrup, which can be hard to find, and the price was reasonable. This container of 46 oz looks like it would make about 5-6 brownie recipes, but there are larger sizes if you decide you will use it regularly. (Note: I always try to order from Amazon grocery rather than gourmet, as grocery usually has free shipping offered and gourmet ships from individual sellers and the price can really add up. Of course if you have a good source locally, that’s great too.) The Babycakes recipe was mostly based on high protein bean flour, which is both healthy and usually gives things a nice texture. The dough looked so silky smooth and light- and the resulting brownies looked so sweet and enticing. (Yes, I am enticed by such things…) I also picked up a mini muffin tin. Mini muffins look so sweet, and little portions make it easier to count calories. (I know, I know, no fun- forget I mentioned it.)

So, gradually I assembled the ingredients needed- and started my grand experiment with agave the night before Valentines Day. (And not a creature was stirring, as the cats were both unconscious on the couch, those lazy creatures.) I had a dark mini muffin tin, which I also used, but I also used my new silver muffin tin. (The silver one ended up working better and the muffins were easier to remove.) I sprayed the tins with nonstick cooking spray, mixed the batter, stirred in my (non-vegan) chocolate chips, and poured the batter in the pans. The smell of chocolate permeated the house… and when they were done, I tried some hot out of the oven and cooled the rest on a rack. When hot the brownie bites were perfectly moist, chocolatey, and melted on the tongue. Once cooled, the exterior became almost carmelized, sealing the soft brownie center in perfectly. They were probably the best brownies I’d ever had. DH’s eyes lit up when he tried them, and it became clear I would have to keep an eye on him if I wanted any brownies for myself. He said they were everything a brownie should be- chocolatey, melty, and “undistinguishable’ from the gluten variety. “Oh yes? So what would you rate them?” I asked. “A 9… or a 10, out of 10,” he said firmly. From the boy who gives out 6’s like there is a discount on them- who has so far never rated anything with a ten with the possible exception of my southern fried tofu- this is high praise indeed. But don’t take our word for it- try them yourself! You won’t be sorry- and I promise, you won’t miss anything that’s not there, including the sugar.

Babycakes Brownies
Ingredients
Nonstick GF cooking spray

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons garfava bean flour

1/4 cup potato starch

2 tablespoons arrowroot

10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons agave nectar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup store-bought unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup brewed coffee or espresso (hot water if you must)

2 cups vegan gluten-free chocolate chips, such as Tropical Source (or regular chocolate chips)

Special equipment: Mini muffin tins, 2 or 3 is ideal

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray 2 or 3 dozen mini-muffin pans with GF nonstick cooking spray. (I used 2 but had enough dough left over for one large brownie.)

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients in a large bowl, including the agave syrup. Gently fold in flour mixture,
stirring to combine. Stir in coffee (or espresso for more kick!) to make a smooth, silky batter. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Put 1 tablespoon batter into each mini muffin cup.
Transfer muffin pans to oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted into
the center comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. (In my oven, more like 17-18 minutes, but watch carefully.) You can remove the muffins from the tins when they’ve cooled slightly and place them on a metal rack, or wait for them to cool and then put them on a rack. It is very important to place warm brownie bites on a rack and not a plate or moisture will condense on bottom of cupcakes and they will get soggy.

Notes
Makes about 5 dozen mini brownies

Note: This recipe is free of wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, and eggs. (dairy free requires vegan chocolate chips)

Martha Stewart had the owner of the NY bakery Babycakes on her show, and here is one of the recipes that she demonstrated for Martha. Looked good enough that I started wanting to buy some agave syrup! (and in fact, did buy at Amazon, just for this recipe.)

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