Friday, January 17, 2014

Alu Gobhi and Caprese

One of my more recent dishes was raspberry filled crepes, which I absolutely loved.  The recipe I used was by Giada De Laurentiis, and this one, too, is one I picked from her.  This crepe, however, is a thicker, savory and spiced crepe called "Soccas".  Socca, singular. Giada had filled her soccas with a vegetable saute, which is great, but I have been hooked on Jason Wrobel's Cooking Channel show, "How to Live to 100" (via cooking vegan/vegetarian meals).  Incredibly funny, intelligent and informational show.  I think Jason Wrobel is hysterically funny.  The man gets several actual "LOLs" from me each episode. Now, Jason devoted an entire episode to cauliflower, and I fell in love with an Indian recipe, Alu Gobhi, featuring cauliflower, of course, along with potato, spices, and a little bit more.  Being a lover of uncomplicated recipes, yet, wanting to incorporate some of Giada's ingredients, and some of my own, I put together a conglomerate of vegetables, putting my own twist on Alu Gobhi.  I hope you like it, and I fully expect anyone who makes this dish will fill it with whatever vegetables they themselves enjoy.  Enough of my ramblings, here we go!

Socca batter ingredients:
3/4 cup chickpea flour
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed coriander seed (or powder)  I used seeds
3 teaspoons grape seed oil

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk together, making sure there are few to no lumps.  Keep in mind, when you use the batter, whisk it again before using as the bulk of the chickpea flour settles and begins to separate from the water.  

I have a very small kitchen, I am sure you can tell.

To make the socca crepe, pour batter into a one-third measuring cup.  Add a teaspoon of grape seed or extra virgin olive oil to your small skillet or crepe skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to ripple, swirl it around the lip of the skillet. Add the batter in a swirling motion.  The socca crepe will be quite thin.  When it begins to bubble and the sides begin to solidify, use a soft spatula to separate the edges from the skillet.  When the entire socca begins to solidify, time to flip, very carefully! You may remember my epic crepe flip failure.  I have memory scars. Try not to let the crepe cook too long, only about two-three minutes per side, because, when it dries out - particularly in the center - it can easily fall apart. Experience, yes.  Take my word for it.  

Trust me, though, these crepes are quite savory.  Amazing aroma, great taste.  Now, let's get to one the fillings:  Alu Gobhi  (or, my quite tweaked version of it).  

Alu Gobhi is a flavorful, spicy Indian dish featuring cauliflower and potatoes.  It does take a bit of time, although the prep time is minimal.  Your kitchen will smell insanely aromatic.  Traditionally, Alu Gohbi features 3-4 tablespoons coconut or grape seed oil (because it has a high heat/smoke point), 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, two medium peeled potatoes that are chopped into two-inch cubes, 3 teaspoons salt, 1 medium head cauliflower cut into two-inch piece florets, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 - 4 pinches cayenne pepper, 1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro.  You begin by adding oil to a high sided skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, adding the cumin seeds and coriander to flavor the oil.  When the cumin seeds begin to pop, stir in the tomato paste.  After several seconds, add the potatoes and 1.5 teaspoons of the salt, stirring and reducing the heat, allowing the potatoes to cook for eight to ten minutes partly covered.  Afterward, add all the rest of the ingredients, trying to not damage the cauliflower florets when stirring the mixture.  The mixture will need to cook at medium-low heat for about minutes.  Add half a cup of the cilantro during the last few minutes of cooking.  You would garnish your final product with the other half cup of fresh chopped cilantro.  (This recipe is found on the Cooking Channel website).

I followed all of the same directions, but I added a can of white beans, kale, onion and garlic.  One of the things I should not have added was a half cup of white wine.  It made the mixture a little mushy, and the potatoes and cauliflower should be crisp, as if roasted.  Oh, and yes, I roasted my cauliflower with onion and garlic before adding it to the mixture.  That is just how I like cauliflower. Important lesson learned!  No unnecessary liquids!

Your kitchen will smell absolutely amazing! Here I am adding kale to the mixture, wilting it in. Don't forget! Keep an eye on those soccas!  Don't let them dry out!

 This is a completed Socca, filled with cauliflower, potato, onion, garlic and kale.  I garnished with roasted tomatoes and scallion and topped with a yogurt sauce which included cumin powder, ground coriander, lemon zest and a little lemon juice. Delicious! 

Make the Soccas.  Take one Socca, place filling in the center of it.  Fold the sides up and over so it looks like a package. Top with the yogurt spiced sauce and garnish with some roasted tomatoes (see the next Socca recipe) and scallion.  This is a Perfect Meatless Monday Meal!  It takes a good hour or so from beginning to end.  It took me longer, as I am often off task when I have help, which brings me to this:  my culinary partner in crime, Miss Maria, took all of the amazing photos for this and the next Socca recipe!  Wonderful job, Maria!  Thank You!!! 

Caprese Socca

My Caprese Socca is filled with traditional Caprese ingredients...sort of.  You know me, I change things up a bit based on my own preferences.  Here is my extremely simple line-up for my Caprese Soccas. 

3/4 cup chickpea flour
3/4 cup water
3 teaspoons grape seed oil
pinch salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Oaxaca cheese (Delicious Mexican white cheese, known as the Mexican Mozzarella.  My FAVORITE cheese, ever!)
1/2 cup fresh basil,torn and, 1/4 cup fresh basil finely slivered
Balsamic vinegar (to drizzle)
*Yogurt sauce, if you wish, to top
3 scallions, cut for garnish at an angle (for pretty)

Halve the cherry tomatoes and arrange them on a baking sheet or in a baking pan.  Drizzle grape seed or extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes, and top with dried basil or fresh finely chopped basil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Roast for ten minutes in the oven at 400 degrees.  Remove and set aside. 

Meanwhile, chop or pull the ropes of Oaxaca (or, mozzarella, if you decide to use that)into one inch bits.  Tear fresh basil leaves, about half a cup, for the filling. Chop the rest into slivers; I stack and roll the leaves, then slice tip to stem.  

Make the Soccas.  Take one Socca, place some filling right in the middle, drizzle lightly with Balsamic vinegar, fold the sides up and over so the Socca looks like a package.  Top with sauce, if you wish, garnish with basil slivers, scallions and drizzle the top with Balsamic vinegar.  


 I have to tell you that this Socca is one of the Best things I have ever eaten.  It is one of those dishes that will be a favorite - not only due to its simplicity, but also its health values - for years to come. Maybe Forever!  

Thank You, gentle readers, for your time and consideration!
Enjoy cooking!