Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Caprese Socca...and Bouteville

An easy, delicious, and refreshing summer delight, Caprese salad is a cool, light way to enjoy the unbeatable trio of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. A slight autumnal chill is enough reason for harvesting the last of our potager's annual herbs and ripe tomatoes, so let's adapt this lovely dish into a warmly filling one.

Socca is a savoury pancake made from chickpea flour
feeds two for a light lunch/supper or a satisfying meal for one
  • 8 T of chickpea flour
  • 8 T of water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • mozzarella, 4 thin slices
  • tomatoes, 5 thin slices
  • Basil, fresh, a small bunch
  • Olive oil, 1 to 2 T
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • fleur de sel, olive oil, chiffonade of basil, sherry/balsamic vinegar for garnishing
Whisk flour, water, and salt together. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (23 cm/9 inch diameter), preferably well-seasoned iron or non-stick till hot enough to make water drops dance. Pour in the batter and quickly swirl the pan to even out the socca. Lower the flame. With a narrow spatula, work around edges to loosen as it cooks. More oil can be added to ensure a crusty browning and easy removal.

When it is mostly dry on top which takes a  few minutes, place the tomatoes, then cheese, and finally the basil. Cook till cheese melts and tomatoes are warm or another five minutes or so. Salt and pepper. Fold over, cut into two, and serve. Sprinkle fleur de sel/olive oil/sherry or balsamic vinegar and arrange chiffonade of basil on top.

Crunchy, creamy, saucy!

For last week's jaunt in our electric car, a Renault Zoe, we headed west once again, this time in the direction of Cognac. We explored a bit at Bouteville which is halfway to our destination. A ruined and pillaged chateau is undergoing partial restoration.

Presently the renovation is focused on a part of the upper story.

As we had the place to ourselves, the peace and quiet was most welcome. Ivy softened the edges of grey stone. I was happy to see the green abundance setting many seeds, but probably not as happy as the birds who will eat them throughout the winter.

Though we found strolling around the Chateau grounds and driving through the small village pleasant, the surrounding vineyards which could be seen from just about anywhere—neatly framed through arches, shimmering at the end of narrow streets lined with stone-housesare stupendous.

Having seen quite a lot of vineyards, both here and in Napa Valley, I was amazed at how these, whose grapes make Cognac, are kept in the most pristine condition. No weeds or overgrown grass paths to be seen.

l'Ugni Blanc grape is an important varietal for making Cognac

The Calm One and I would love to hike on the trails. Maybe when les vendanges (harvesting of grapes destined for wine making) is in full swing...

Sentier/path, Chaumes/stalks remaining after grain harvest & coteaux/hilly vineyards

Cognac which we have visited previously is an engaging town, but this time we just wanted to test the Zoe's mileage limits and the availability of no-cost, rapid charging. So we repaired to the supermarket hosting the service, and after thirty minutes returned to find the Zoe close to being fully charged. And we got the grocery shopping done too!

The supermarket places the charge point close to the entrance facilitating shopping, etc.

Back in Angouleme, Dirac's desire to scrunch his furry self into small boxes continues.

If it contains anything, he tries to remove the offending objectswith a little help from usso he can settle down comfortably.

The box is labeled CAT after all...

À la prochaine!

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