I can’t believe it’s been four months since I posted here. I’ve practically deserted the blog but it hasn’t been just for the hell of it. A few big things have been happening behind the scenes here. I look forward to sharing a bit more with you in the next few weeks but here are the top three things that have taken up a lot of time/effort/mental capacity:
1. A few months back I had to reapply for my job as I was a contractor and the job was made permanent. The good news is that I was successful! Thank goodness. A massive weight off my mind.
2. I went away on holiday for three weeks to Vietnam and Bali, which was just incredible. The food, the weather, the people. I have never eaten so much incredible food in my life – big call I know, but true. I promise there will be more on this at a later post. I’m STILL working on the photos, two months later. I haven’t had a chance to get around to them…
3. ..because I’ve had some food styling/photography work that I’ve been busy working on in my spare time. I’ve been doing this work when I’d normally be photographing/writing for my posts here, so I haven’t had time to do both. :( Something’s got to give and unfortunately, it was the blog. A girl’s gotta have a little R&R time!
Anyway, onto the recipe! I’m really excited to share this one with you because it’s something I’ve grown up with but very few people have heard of. I’ve been wanting to post it here on the blog for a while. I photographed it a few months ago but it’s been sitting on the bottom of my to do list – sorry. I’ve mentioned it to a few of my chef or foodie friends but nobody ever knows what I’m talking about. So, I thought it was a bout time that I share this with everyone here…
My Grandmother, Mémé Doule is originally from Menton, which is the last town on the French Riviera before you pass the boarder into Italy. From one point in Menton, if you look one way you can see Italy, and if you look the other way you can see Monaco and Nice. It’s a pretty sweet spot to holiday too. My family would always make the train trip to the next Italian town for the amazing fresh fruit and vegetable, cheeses,cured meats, coffee – and the list goes on – at the big market. Anyway, this recipe for Socca is a traditional street food that’s served all around the region, especially Nice and Menton, all the way to Genoa.
When I was little, I’d visit my Grandparents on weekends where my Mémé Doule would cook us a delicious lunch. There are a handful of recipes she’d make for us and this was one of them – Socca. Normally if you buy Socca in Nice, it’s usually served as is. At home my Mémé Doule would always serve it with an amazing green salad – seriously, her salads are incredible – and soy sauce, which is very unconventional but weirdly really nice. I thought I’d serve it here with some delicious caramelised onions, kalamarta olives and roasted tomatoes. It’s almost a bit like a bit of a mish-mash between the French pizza called Pichade* and a Pissaladière. The good thing about Socca is it’s gluten free; it’s made from chickpea flour. It’s a great alternative to use as a pizza base – and takes half the time to prepare too.
Anyway, I’m glad I’ve broken the dry spell with a spin on one of my favourite childhood foods. I miss you all and I’m so glad I’m back from the dead!
*Also another traditional recipe from Menton)
Socca with Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelised Onion
1 cup (130g) chickpea flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) water
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
300g cherry tomatoes
800g white onions cut finely
2 tbsp thyme
½ tsp white wine vinegar
¼ cup kalamata olives, pipped and cut in half
salt & pepper
basil to serve
1. Mix together flour, water, salt, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and let rest, covered at room temperature for two hours.
2. Meanwhile to cook the topping, place tomato halves onto an oven tray and drizzle some olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place into a preheated of 130°C and roast for 25 minutes. They shouldn’t be completely dried out when you take them out.
3. In a large fry pan, heat up a good glug or two of olive oil and add the onions to the pan. Add thyme, salt, pepper and cook on high heat stirring for about a minute. Reduce the heat to low and let the onions cook for a further 20 minutes. The onions should be a light golden colour. Once onions are cooked, add vinegar and stir through. Place off to the side until the socca bases are ready.
4. In a large, heavy based oven tray, pour a good glug of olive oil and place in the oven at 180ºC. Leave the pan in the oven until it’s hot and the batter is ready. Carefully pour the batter into roughly 14cm circles and return to the oven.
5. Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and turn a golden colour on the outer edges. Cook the remaining of the batter the same way, adding a little extra olive oil each time to prevent sticking.
6. Once all socca bases are cooked, pile the caramelised onion on top of each one and pile on the olives, roasted tomatoes and a small sprig of basil. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes just before serving to ensure it’s served at the right temperature.