Monday, February 13, 2012
Panisse and Peace Offerings
I made Panisse a few nights back, and then walked three doors down to my girlfriend's house for her food opinion. Thumbs up she said. M was with her dad, so my foodie-in-training was unavailable to taste test. I find it simultaneously crazy and beautiful that a 7 year old is my go-to girl for tasting my food experiments. When I recently made a vegan chocolate cake for a dinner party (with Grand Marnier butter cream frosting), M pronounced "Mom, this is the best cake I have ever had. Ever!" Honesty and critiques come in spades from the little people in the world. Often when she does not like what I have made, she says "Mom, that tastes like compost." So, as much as she says yum, there is a honest yuck lurking in the shadows. I like knowing the truth is afoot however, no sugar coating in sight. I will share the vegan chocolate cake recipe with you soon. There are so many sweet recipes out in the world right now for Valentines Day, I thought to share a savory one. I was inspired to make these after seeing them on the menu at Commonwealth in San Francisco. If there could be a restaurant that is the most like me, this is it. Sometimes criticized for leaning too heavily on molecular gastronomy, I think they are nailing it. They are my restaurant doppelganger. Modern, efficient, young, local, simple. Commonwealth serves wines from the Natural Process Alliance. While eating during my visit there, I was intrigued watching servers serving wine out of Kleen Kanteens. Turns out NPA has taken wine sustainability to a new level by a bottle exchange program, responsible farming and labor practices and chemical free wine. Getting back to the Panisse however, this is a northern Italian and south eastern French recipe made of chickpea flour that is fried or baked. I am always interested in simple recipes that are way out of the norm, and this fits the bill. Easy, interesting and uncommon. I have Valentine's Day in mind for you, and thought this to be an easy surprise recipe for you if your making any special dinners this week. What I really like is the prepare ahead part. You can mix up the chickpea flour and keep in the fridge ready to go. I bought Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour at the co-op. I will also say that Panisse do not taste at all like hummus or falafel; also made with garbanzo bean flour or chickpeas. Panisse tasted almost like fried custard, or very tender steak fries. Crispy on the outside and tender and silky on the inside. I added saffron and spicy smoked paprika for character and was glad I did. Panisse is a special occasion recipe. Anything fried in oil is a special occasion dish in my kitchen! The first step is cooking the garbanzo bean flour and spices for about 5 minutes in a saucepan. I used an immersion blender (put it right into the saucepan while cooking) to smooth out the batter. It is very thick and lumpy on the stove and the immersion blender worked wonders. Then I poured the mixture into a square glass baking dish and chilled it. Before frying in olive oil, I cut into long pieces. I topped with Parmesan cheese which was great with the heat from spice and custard texture. These have to be served right away. The hotter, the better, just like french fries. I did not try baking them. If you do, let me know if they turn out.
In other news, I want to express how much I have appreciated how many of you have reached out to introduce yourselves. Sharing with me your stories and reassurances about life's bigness. Sitting in a cafe as I write this, I am reflecting upon life being so much more than just writing a blog; it is sharing this with you and hearing your words of wisdom to me about vulnerability and love. Last year's Valentines Day was a dark, dark day. I was digging in the deep as Adele says. My suffering was so painful. Grasping, fighting against what was happening. Last night I was able to give my ex-husband a to-go package of chocolate cake for him and his girlfriend. A token of thanks, a peace offering. It was still sad though. I cooked for him for 10 years. The first dish I ever made for him was chicken soup with black rice at the little house in the middle of nowhere. My first visit to the little japanese house that would later become my home. Oh lordy my cooking has come a long way since then. But I do know that a year ago I was a different person. My pain has lessened, my heart has accepted, healed, but still occasionally sad. As we sat talking about M's new love of softball in my kitchen during dropoff, it was obvious neither of us were sure of how to be in a room together. Awkwardness was abound as we tried to come together for the sake of a magical seven year old. And I, ever the food optimist, gave my peace offering of vegan chocolate cake. Hoping the world to heal, us to heal, clunky as it is.
makes about 10 medium sized
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 cups water
1 heaping tsp. smoked paprika (I used spicy smoked paprika)
pinch saffron threads
1 Tbls. powdered Parmesean
1 cup olive oil
Bring 2 cups of water to a simmer. Add salt, spices and garbanzo bean flour. Stir constantly for about minute. Use an immersion blender until silky smooth. Simmer for about 4 more minutes constantly stirring. Pour into a square glass baking dish, cover and chill.
Cut chilled garbanzo bean flour into fat strips. Mine were a bit wider than an inch and about 3 inches long. In a well seasoned pan (I used my cast iron skillet) add olive oil and heat until spitting hot but not yet smoking. Add pieces of panisse and cook for about 2 minutes each side. You are looking for them to be crispy and brown on each side. Drain cooked strips on a paper towel. Serve immediately.