Socca - Chickpea Flatbread

Socca is a traditional food from Nice, France and had its start as a street vendor specialty.  Now it is available all over the city in restaurants, bistros and cafes.  Since chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are naturally gluten-free, so is this recipe.

Chickpeas are legumes with a delicious nutty flavor and a buttery texture.  They are also quite starchy and rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.  Chickpeas are a good source of protein and an excellent source of manganese, folate and iron.

There are many different ways of making socca.  But basically, it requires equal parts chickpea flour and water, mixed with some olive oil, salt, pepper and optional herbs/spices. It can be cooked on the stove, in the oven or under a broiler.  I prefer the stove top method and occasionally run it under the broiler to blister the top once it’s cooked through. 

Socca is best served warm with butter, goat cheese, or your favorite pates and spreads.  I enjoy it most with eggplant caviar.  It can also be used as a pizza crust. The possibilities are endless!  This recipe is adapted from the Paris to Provence book.

Instead of using prepared chickpea flour I used dry chickpeas, soaked them overnight and then blended with water to make a batter.

1 cup soaked chickpea
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash or two of ground cumin
Coconut oil or butter for frying

Place soaked chickpeas, water, and sea salt into blender.  If you have a high power blender, this is the time to use it.  You might have to run a couple of cycles to get it nice and smooth.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Before cooking, bring batter to room temperature and whisk in the oil, black pepper and cumin.  Melt about 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a frying pan over medium high heat (a well-seasoned cast iron pan works really well). Stir the batter well. 

When the oil is hot, pour a thin layer of the batter into the pan and cook until the edges brown and curl slightly, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side, another 2 minutes. Repeat until the batter is gone, adding more oil to the pan as needed. This recipe makes about 5 crepes.

Cultured Vegetables & GI Health

“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates

The health of the gut is very important to the overall health of the body and an unhealthy gut contributes to many diseases.  One of the variables that determines gut health is the intestinal flora or the trillions of microorganisms (i.e. good bacteria) that live there. These microorganisms, among other things, promote GI function, protect from infections, regulate metabolism and contribute to immune system health.

Antibiotics, diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, food toxins, chronic stress and infections are some of the factors that contribute to an unhealthy gut.  One of the ways we can restore and/or maintain a healthy gut is by consuming foods that contain probiotics (various types of healthy bacteria). 

Fermented or cultured foods have very high levels of probiotics.  These healing foods, which include cultured vegetables, ought to be consumed daily.  During the fermentation process the microorganisms and enzymes that are naturally present on the vegetables proliferate, creating an enzyme-rich, mineral-rich super-food.

At first, fermenting foods may seem time-consuming, but it is a simple process and well worth the effort.  As an added benefit, fermented foods are far less expensive than probiotic supplements available in health food stores.

Below is a basic and super easy recipe from The Body Ecology Diet that I would like to share with you.  I personally prefer to culture green cabbage all on its own and then use it in various salads and cooked dishes, which I will be sure to share in the future. However, you can be creative and try combining cabbage with different vegetables (carrots, radish, dark leafy greens, etc.), dill, ginger, and/or garlic.  You can also add some sea salt even though it’s not required in this recipe. 

Ingredients

1 head of cabbage

1 cup filtered water

  1. Rinse all tools and glass jars with boiling water.
  2. Rinse the cabbage well and remove the large outer leaves (save for later use).
  3. Shred the cabbage, place in large bowl. 
  4. Remove about ½ cup of cabbage and place into a blender.
  5. Blend the cabbage with enough water (about 1 cup) to make a “brine” the consistency of a thick juice.  Add brine back into the bowl of cabbage.  Stir well.
  6. Pack the mixture tightly into air-tight, glass jars leaving no gaps.
  7. Add more water until the cabbage is completely covered leaving room at the top (about 2 inches) to allow cabbage to expand. 
  8. Roll up several cabbage leaves into tight logs and place on top to help keep the cabbage submerged and close the jar.
  9. Let sit at room temperature (about 70 degrees) for at least three days. I prefer to let mine sit for at least a week or longer.

You can taste it at different stages and decide for yourself. 

To slow down the fermentation process, store the cabbage in the refrigerator where it will keep for months without spoiling. Instead it will become even more delicious with time. 

Sourdough Buckwheat Crepes & Wraps

I love crepes! Their delicate, buttery taste brings me back to my childhood. Blini, as they are commonly called by the Slavic people, are quite popular in Ukraine. However, since blini are traditionally made with wheat flour and we’re trying to avoid modern day wheat (which is hybridized and highly processed) I am always looking for alternatives. Today I share a buckwheat crepe recipe I adopted from the Wheat Belly book.    

Apparently buckwheat crepes or galettes are a traditional food of Brittany, a region in the northwest of France. Galettes are typically served with savory fillings but you can image there are limitless fillings options. What makes this recipe unique is the soaking, sprouting and fermenting part which makes the buckwheat more easily digestible and nutritious. 

Buckwheat is in the same family as sorrel and rhubarb. It is the seed of the plant so not actually a grain and contains no gluten. It is a great source of protein, fiber, niacin and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper and magnesium. 

This recipe if based on traditional fermentation methods used to produce naturally leavened savory flatbreads. Fermentation takes one to two days, so plan ahead. 

Ingredients

1 cup whole buckwheat (unroasted)

2 cups spring or filtered water

Pinch sea salt (optional)

1 teaspoon whey - liquid off the top of yogurt (optional)

  1. Put the buckwheat in a bowl with 2 cups water, pinch of salt and whey.
  2. Cover with a plate or towel and leave to soak at room temperature for at least 9 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  3. Then rinse the buckwheat in a fine-mesh sieve to remove the slime and residual tannins.
  4. Put the buckwheat in a blender with enough water to get a consistency similar to pancake batter. To make a good tasting crepe add minimal water at this point since you will use milk to thin it out later. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into a clean bowl and let stand, covered for another 12-24 hours in order to form cultures. The mixture may rise a little and have an unpleasant odor. 
  6. Once fermented the mixture can be stored in a refrigerator in a glass bowl covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap until needed, but keep no longer than 1-3 days.

For a simple wrap, you can use the mixture as is or to make a crepe, add the following:

Ingredients

1 egg lightly beaten

1/2 – 3/4 cup milk (enough to make a batter consistency thin enough to pour)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil or butter

  1.  Melt a small amount of coconut oil or butter over medium heat.
  2. When the skillet is hot, pour in a ladleful of the batter, tilt to allow the batter to spread over the entire bottom of pan.
  3. When the crepe is cooked almost all the way through, flip it to brown the other side. 

Fill them with your favorite filling and enjoy!

Bone Broth - liquid gold

Bone broth is the foundation of my cooking.  It is very simple and inexpensive.  I use it for soups, stews, or drink it straight with a pinch of sea salt, of course. 

I started making bone broth several years ago.  There is a lot of different ways of doing it.  I tried a few different recipes but my all-time favorite one is from Practical Paleo.  I make it about 3-4 times a month. 

Simmering bones for several hours will create one of the most nutritious and healing food which I like to call liquid gold.  Bone broth is considered a super-food by many.  It contains minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, trace minerals), collagen, gelatin, cartilage, and amino acids (glycine, proline, arginine).  Health benefits include:

  • Heals the GI and promotes digestion

  • Fights infections caused by cold and flu viruses

  • Reduces inflammation and joint pain

  • Helps with bone growth and repair

  • Promotes sleep and is very calming.

  • Supports beautiful skin, hair and nails

More recently I read an article on how bone broth is better than Botox.  Since wrinkles are caused by breaking down of collagen and bone broth is a great source of easily absorbable collagen, it just might be the elixir of youth. 

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 lb. of bones (marrow, knuckles, oxtail as well as any saved leftover bones including chicken, turkey, lamb, etc.)

3 – 5 garlic cloves (crushed)

1 – 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered preferred)

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 quarts purified water

  1. Brown uncooked bones in a broiler on high for about 5 – 7 minutes on each side.

  2. Place all ingredients in a crockpot and set the heat to HIGH (may also add chopped vegetables such as onion, carrots, celery).

  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to LOW.  Simmer for 8 - 24 hours.

  4. You may want to add water during the cooking process as it boils off.

  5. Turn off the crockpot and allow the broth to cool prior to straining through a fine mesh strainer.

  6. Pour into jars and keep refrigerated for 3 – 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Leave the solidified fat plug that floats to the top intact until ready to use; it helps in preserving the broth.

I find that adding some of the fat into soups enhances flavor. 

Everyone should make bone broth as part of their daily routine.  To your health!