Saturday 17 September 2011

Chickpea pancakes - "la socca" from Provence

I've had one of those incredibly busy and satisfying Saturdays. I went to the doctor, did the laundry, worked on a grant application, went to an exhibition with some friends, caught up with them over a margarita, did some research at the British Library, bought a present for a mate and a lipstick pour moi (I still haven't mastered the art of buying a present for someone without buying one for myself at the same time), spent forever in Sainsbury's trying to decide what to cook this weekend (I must have looked like I was trying to pull, because a man actually approached me and started telling me about his cat - I had cat food in my basket), cleaned my kitchen and now I'm blogging. I also decided to visit Provence to eat some of their famous street food. "Flavours of Provence" (my newest library acquisition) tells me that I am now "tasting some of Provence's ancient history", and although I have never been there, I'm feeling it
It's spirit, if you like. Or just "la socca", if you don't
These chickpea pancakes are ridiculously easy to make. For 4 pancakes, you combine about 100g chickpea (gram or besan) flour, half a teaspoon of salt, some virgin olive oil, and some more sea salt and black pepper to serve. Ferguson ("Flavours of Provence") suggest a teaspoon of salt, but this was a touch too much for my palette, so I'd say start with a half, you can always make it more salty at the end. You combine the salt and flour in a bowl then start adding cold water, while whisking constantly. You need about a cup of water at a guess. The thing is, I'm like my grandma Ziuta in that I never measure ingredients and do everything by eye. What we are trying to achieve here is the consistency of a thin cream (single cream, for example). Allow to stand for 2 minutes, and check the consistency. Add more water and whisk again if you feel it's too thick. Heat some olive oil in a pan then add about 5 tablespoons of batter into the pan, making sure it spreads evenly. I did this on a medium heat. When the edges become crispy, it's ready. You never turn these pancakes over - they are supposed to be a tiny bit damp in the middle. Slide it off the frying pan, and serve with salt and black pepper. Or sugar if you prefer. These measurements are enough for two. Don't be greedy like yours truly and eat 3 soccas in one sitting. That's not the Provence way

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