Well, maybe not food, but I am bringing a recipe.
As some of you may know, I did not actually float into this life on an oyster shell, but rather I came in the usual undignified and sticky way as everyone else.
However, lucky for me my Mom is from the South of France, which means I was weaned on olive oil, garlic, roasted red peppers, table wine, stinky-delicious cheeses, and chickpeas. With the added bonus that every summer my French grandparents (Meme et Pepe!) would come for three months, bringing us lovely ivory colored almond nougat that I still crave, and Meme would churn out delicious homemade French meals three times a day. What a waste on a kid!
Let me tell you that when I was growing up, that kind of food was a novelty among my
classmates. Kind of like astronaut ice cream.
So here is an old family recipe from Nice for you. It is called “panisse” – it is made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. Serve them hot from the pan with a little table wine. You will want to wear a beret, a neckerchief, and carry a baguette for no reason.
I made myself a batch tonight and they were every bit as delicious as I remember.
How to Make Panisse (with links to pictures included)
1. Line a baking tray with foil and oil it.
2. Bring the water and a splash of olive oil to a rapid boil.
2. Pour in the chickpea flour while whisking – this is the part I am bad at.
3. Whisk (or stir with a heavy wooden spoon) over medium heat.
4. Cook for about 5 minutes, whisking and cussing in French the entire time.
5. When it is as lump free as it can be, remove from heat.
6. Dump the entire mess onto the foil-lined sheet tray.
7. Spread out evenly, about a quarter inch thick
8. Let it cool.
At this stage you can wait until it is just cool enough to cut, and then you can store it in the fridge for a couple of days. I cut mine into squares, but in restaurants I’ve seen them cut like french fries.
When you are ready to cook them, be ready to serve them too! They are only good when they are warm. So you should be hungry, or have hungry people nearby.
9. Have the cut panisse ready.
10. In a skillet, heat some olive oil. Perhaps about a tablespoon and a splash. You need less in a non-stick pan, more in a cast iron skillet.
11. Heat the oil until it is REALLY hot.
12. Slip the pieces of panisse into the hot oil and cook for about five minutes.
13. Check to see if the first side is browned, and if it is, flip it over and cook the other side until it too is nicely browned.
14. Remove to a plate lined with paper to absorb the excess oil. I never have paper towels handy, and it’s ok if you don’t either, you won’t likely die from a little extra olive oil.
15. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat.
A little note on the cooking: I find that I don’t burn the second batch if I wipe out the pan a little and then put in some fresh oil. I also find this is true when I make crepes.
Panisse really is a summer day treat. Served with a nice white wine from the Jura, sitting outdoors, it really is delicious. Now if I can just figure out how to get some vrai Nicoise nougat, I would be perfectly happy!