Chicpea Flour Pan Bread (Farinata/Socca)

I recently did a talk at Berwick about the history, biology and nutritional value of legumes and wanted to punctuate the talk with a snack made entirely of Fabaceae. Not willing to subject the residents to a black bean slider or yet another variety of hummus I opted to buy a bag of chicpea flour (Besan) from the local Mega-Lo-Mart and set to researching a dosa or roti recipe to accompany my talk.


What I ended up on wasn’t Indian at all but a recipe from the Ligurian Coast of Italy called Farinata or alternatively Socca depending on which end of the boot you’re on. It’s incredibly simple to make and the chicpea batter adapts it’s neutral, somewhat nutty flavour to many types of seasoning from fresh rosemary to chilies to (my favourite) a bit of Lebanese Za’atar.

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Fresh Mexican Chorizo

I think just about every household has a “default sausage”. You know, the one you or your loved one buys from the store every couple of weeks. The one type everyone can agree on. It’s usually some mild Italian-job that’s just innocuous enough to sneak into both omelettes and pasta sauce. I know some people who swear by the little breakfast patties as their go-to… Weirdos.

Our default sausage has always been chorizo, and I don’t really know why. Neither my wife or I were ever spice fiends and it’s sometimes hard to get a really good fresh chorizo in Canada. Regardless, we hunted the bright red, coarsely ground and piercingly spicy/smokey tubes of meat wherever we could and stocked up whenever we hit Victoria or the little artisan markets around Coombs.

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Sumo-Style Hot Pot with Chicken Meatballs

Sumo is the most perfect of sports. It has elegance, ceremony, danger, art, speed and most importantly two fat bastards smacking the shit out of each other. It is immaculate, which is why it has remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years. It remains the only thing in the world I want to see stay static. The only thing I love that loves me back.”

Warren Ellis – Transmetropolitan

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Fresh Pasta

I’ve been making fresh pasta on and off for about two years now. It’s been a long, steep learning curve with a lot of lumpy, feathery or overly-elastic balls of dough destined for the trash bin. Many weekends I would despair that the process is too arcane to be learned from a book and that the tactile magic required to make it like some Piedmontese nona would require a bankrupting trip to the motherland, or at the very least a couple of weeks worth of classes.

But I kept at it, spurred on by the near-pornographic descriptions of fresh pasta making and eating found in audiobooks like Bill Buford’s Heat and Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding. Little by little I got better, mostly by scaling back my efforts to just the simplest recipes and easiest shapes and focusing on my technique, checking at every stage to make sure the texture of my dough matched the descriptions I would read in The Pasta Bible or the fantastic Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli.

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