Socca and Soupe au Pistou

I've been wanting to make Socca, a chickpea crepe made in Nice, similar to the Italian Farinata, for some time. Chickpeas have long been one of my favorite foods and I'm somewhat fascinated with their varied uses in ethnic cuisines. This is a particularly fast and easy recipe using chickpea flour (Though according to some sources, the batter should rest for several hours - I usually start the batter first, then cook everything else, and finish the crepe just before serving). I paired it with soup, but feel free to enjoy it on it's own. And for a more authentic take on it, check out David Lebovitz' explanation.


Makes 2 10" rounds

2/3 cup chick pea flour, such as Bob's Redmill
2/3 cup water
1 sprig rosemary
1/8-1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for pan
salt and pepper to taste

Combine flour and water and whisk until smooth. Remove rosemary leaves from stem and roughly chop. Add rosemary, cumin, and salt to batter. This can be done well in advance, let sit at room temperature until ready to bake. Place a 10" cast iron skillet under the broiler and allow to heat until smoking (about 5-10 minutes). Remove pan and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan liberally. Add the batter and quickly tilt pan to spread the batter over the surface. Return to the broiler and heat until firm and bubbling on top. Use a large spatula to remove the socca from the pan and onto a cutting board. Brush the top with olive oil, salt, and pepper and cut into bite sized pieces. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve hot.

Soupe au Pistou

Soup seems like a strange thing to have in the middle of summer, but we've had a few cooler days lately and it's quite good served warm rather than steaming hot. Plus, it tastes like summer. Filled with fresh summery produce and cooked just long enough to make a delicious herbal broth drawing out the essence of the ingredients, it is a light cousin to winter minestrone. And a one pot meal that cooks easily with little attention.

Feel free to vary the ingredients to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. Just keep in mind you want to stick with fresh summer vegetables.


40 medium basil leaves
3-5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Finely mince and then smash together with the side of a knife the garlic and basil. When thoroughly combined, move to a small bowl and add oil, stirring to combine. Add salt to taste.

Note: You can also do this in a blender of food processor, but I find it's easier in smaller batches to use a knife.

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup fennel, chopped (about half a bulb)
1 rib celery, diced
1/4 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium red or yellow potato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
4 cups water
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup small pasta, such as macaroni, orzo, or broken capellini
1 14.5 oz can white beans
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high and add in the fennel, onion, carrot, celery, and potato. Saute for about 3 minutes until all the vegetables are well coated and slightly softened. Add the garlic bay leaf and thyme, and saute another minute. Then add the water and cover, let simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender.

Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and white beans. And simmer for another 5 minutes. Then add the pasta and cook through, about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf. Check seasoning.

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with a large spoonful of the pistou.

Remodel Complete and S'mores!

Last weekend, Jon and I hosted our first party in over six months. We started gutting the kitchen the last weekend in January and have been working consistently ever since. And what a change it has made! The layout is much more open now and great for entertaining. The counters are a beautiful white quartz which is really a joy to cook on - no worries about staining or scratching, and so easy to clean up. Plus, like nice white plates, they make everything you put on them look so much better.

To be honest, the kitchen has been more or less done for some time. We've been cooking in there for a few months now. But the finishing touches - the penny round backsplash with deep blue grout, the trim work around the cabinets, and (to my great frustration) the cabinet hardware were left til the very last minute. And Jon and I both scrambled to get everything put together before our great unveiling at our Fourth of July party.

I'm happy to say, both the kitchen, and the party were a great success, and we look forward to many more meals in our beautiful new space.

The back wall of the kitchen which originally held both the range and the fridge is now more open with ample work space (ok, ok, it's still a small urban kitchen . . . ) on either side of the range. Recessed spot lights in the ceiling and dimmable under-cabinet puck lights (Jon routed out the cabinetry trim work so that these would be flush and the wiring hidden from view) provide great working and ambient light.

We left more open area around the window - the upper cabinets used to butt up right next to it - and painted the trim a pale grey which really helps to open up the space and and make the window feel more expansive. And with the white upper cabinet doors and white counters, the natural light we do get is bounced around and makes the whole space feel bright and sunny.

We decided to open up the layout and nix the large peninsula that once separated the kitchen and dining room. Which led to some compromises, and a happy result- the pantry wall that stores a great deal of food and equipment rather stylishly, and serves as a bar and buffet area while entertaining (during the week we use it as a breakfast nook housing our coffee grinder, toaster, and bowls of fresh fruit).

And the completion of the kitchen also led to a few furniture updates in the rest of the space - our new dining set picks up on the shiny white cabinetry and modern feel of the kitchen. And we hope to decide on an area rug and curtains soon to soften up the space. But for now, we're really enjoying our revamped condo.

As for the party, we served All American food - chips and dips, delicious stuffed jalapenos, baked beans (which I nearly forgot to serve), classic potato salad with lots of fresh herbs and pickles, cucumber, radish, and red onion salad, burgers and dogs, and for dessert homemade (star-shaped) strawberry shortcakes and made-from-scratch S'mores, which were amazing!

The S'mores recipes for homemade graham crackers and marshmallows came from Smitten Kitchen, with just a few changes. I happened to see Ina Garten making s'mores from chocolate covered digestive biscuits and thought that was a wonderful idea - no more messing around with thick chunks of Hershey's not well portioned for the graham cracker sizes. But, I also wanted that classic graham cracker taste so I made the dough and cut 2" rounds for the crackers and coated them, top and bottom, in melted milk chocolate (Hershey's Reserve - staying true to my Pennsylvania roots). I cut the marshmallows in 1 1/4" rounds that melted into a gooey mess perfectly sandwiched in each set of crackers.