Thursday, March 6, 2014

Socca and Stew

It’s good to know that I still have much to learn about international cuisine. Just when I think I’ve learned everything there is to know about vegetarian cooking, something new pops out at me. Today’s lesson: socca. Socca is a vegan, gluten-free (for thems that cares) flatbread made of chickpea flour, olive oil, water, and salt. It can be seasoned with rosemary, pepper, or a variety of other spices. Socca originated in Genoa, Italy, as farinata. Other versions of the flatbread popped up in Tuscany (cecina), Nice (socca), Algeria (karanita), and a number of other cities.

And I’ve never heard of this before. Ever. It kind of boggles the mind and makes me wonder what else I am missing.

Tonight I made socca to go along with brown rice and a Moroccan-style chickpea stew. I am not printing the recipe for socca because you can all go find a good recipe out there with a pretty simple Google search. However, I promised my youngest son that I would print the recipe for my stew, especially since I pretty much came up with it on the fly. ‘Cause I’m pretty darn amazing…even if I’ve never heard of socca before.

Moroccan-Style Chickpea Stew

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp finely chopped ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 medium sized red potatoes, cut into ½- inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup raw baby spinach leaves
  • 2 x 15 oz. cans of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. allspice

In a large frying pan, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and ginger root in the oil until the onions are just translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and potatoes and sauté a couple minutes more. Stir in the tomato sauce, chick peas, and spices. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork tender. Serve over rice or cous cous.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Huevos Burritos Jardin

Here's another recipe I invented while thinking about everything I had in the refrigerator. One of my sons will not each raw spinach...or at least not without vociferous protest. So, what to do with the spinach leaves...what to do with the spinach leaves...
I asked my sons to help me come up with a name for the dish, and after negotiating and rejecting some of their ideas, I came up with huevos burritos. The 'jardin' is because of the chunky vegetables. One could even increase the spinach or add more greens and call it huevos burritos verde. And, I suppose if someone was of the omniverous ilk, one could create a huevos burritos carne. But the Wolfsong Diner does not support such an abomination. So there.
  • 2 cups chopped vegetables
    • Onion
    • Bell pepper
    • Carrot
    • Celery
    • Raw spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 2 x 15 oz. cans of black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup prepared picante
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 6 eggs, beaten separately
  • 3/4 cup of shredded cojack cheese
Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil in a large pan until the onions are translucent and just browned. Remove from heat and add in the tomato sauce, beans, picante, and chili powder. Add back to the heat and stir to mix. Mash about 1/3 of the beans in the pan and stir back in to thicken the mixture. Cook on the stovetop for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
Spray a small sauté pan with cooking spray, and cook each egg separately so they spread over the pan in a single layer and just set. Remove each egg and stack on a plate.
To make each huevos burrito, scoop about ¾ cup of bean filling into the center of each egg and roll up into a log. Place each rolled egg next to each other in a glass cooking dish. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Place under a broiler for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is completely melted.
Note: this recipe makes plenty of bean filling, so the recipe can be expanded for more eggs.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Team Delpy

I still have the hots for Ms. Julie Delpy. At 44, she is as beautiful as ever.

Forgive me. I suppose some context is definitely in order here.

I decided that this year, since we are now in the Oscar playoffs, I would actually make a concerted effort to watch the major contenders so I would have a team to root for come the Oscar Bowl…I mean the Academy Awards. I always talk a big game about being a movie buff, but last year…and the year before…I entered the playoffs (nominations) with no stakes in the game. This year, I plan to be part of the loyal fan base.

It isn’t easy. I missed many of the nominated pictures during their first run, partly because my wife and I save the expense of seeing movies in the theater for the big blockbusters, those movies that truly require Surround Sound for the full artistic effect. I also missed a lot of these movies because my wife tends to favor “things go boom” movies over character-driven dramas. Although I did persuade her to see “American Hustle” with me, she only acquiesced because it starred Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper, and I can only play the eye candy card so many times. Whereas, I personally loved the film (and not just for Amy Adams eye-popping dresses), my wife informed me that she was picking our next date night movie.

So, now I’m on my own to plan out my viewing strategy for the playoffs. Some I will see with my oldest son (e.g., “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”), some I will see on my own (e.g., “The Wolf of Wall Street”), and some I will see late at night on DVD after everyone else has gone to bed (e.g., “Before Midnight”)

Tonight I finished “Before Midnight” which has been nominated for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. I truly hope it wins.

To be fair, I was already a fan of Richard Linklater’s previous films in the trilogy, “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”. All the films are basically an extended conversation between an American man (Ethan Hawke) and a French woman (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in the first movie, find each other nine years later in the second movie, and face the trials and tribulations of real live parenting, cross-continent custody battles, and mid-life romance nine years later in the third. All three movies are fascinating, endearing, and way more engrossing than you would expect from movies about people talking. But the writing is so fantastic, the timing is so flawless, the chemistry between the characters so natural, that you are immediately pulled into their stories.

And, of course, the movies star the luminous Julie Delpy, with whom I have a slight infatuation.

I am continuing my way down the list of Academy Award contenders. Sure, I won’t have seen all of the Best Picture nominees by March 2, but my goal is to have seen enough of them to talk turkey at the water cooler the week before. “Sure, Captain Phillips, has Hanks, who has had a pretty good season, but it’s no match for Gravity’s long pass. Or is this the year that American Hustle throws the Hail Mary in hopes that the Academy goes for a comic drama?”

Oh yeah. I positively ooze street cred.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ginger Lemon Islands

Last month, my wife had a dream in which she invented a dessert. I took the basic idea of the dessert from her dream, tweaked it here and there (eg, replaced the clotted cream with whipped cream, changed the blueberry cream to lemon cream, made the whole thing egg and gluten free), and I came up with the following recipe.

I submitted the dessert to a recipe contest but didn't win. That's all right. It's still a good dessert, and I recommend you all try it, particularly if you are looking for something new, different, and gluten free.

Note: I'm not actually going completely gluten free, but I'm working up to the anti-inflammatory diet, and I needed some new recipes. So, here's another. Also, although this recipe is not sugar-free, I have cut the sugar dramatically by using dates. It works. It works well.



  • ¾ cup dates
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground fresh ginger
  • 1½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • Extra granulated sugar
Lemon whipped cream:
  • 2 cup pasteurized heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

Soak dates in hot water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and soak again in hot water for another 15 minutes. Remove liquid and puree dates in a food processor, adding back just enough soaking water to make a thick puree. Add shortening, sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to the dates in the food processor and pulse to cream ingredients together.

Mix together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse to mix together. To make each cookie, roll a ball of dough one inch in diameter in granulated sugar to coat completely. Press the ball between two pieces of waxed paper in a tortilla press or with a rolling pin so that the dough is flattened to about three times the original diameter. Carefully remove the cookie from the waxed paper and place on a baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment. Bake cookies for five to six minutes until barely golden brown, flip cookies, and bake another two to three minutes, making sure not to overbake. Once the cookies are baked, let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

To make the lemon whipped cream, mix the cream, lemon juice, zest, and two tablespoons of sugar together and beat until the cream makes stiff peaks.

When ready to serve, spread two tablespoons of whipped cream on each cookie and add blueberries and a sprig of mint.

Makes about 32 cookies.