Chard & chickpea flour cake
I’m not very good at sitting still. I’ve tried doing yoga or meditating once or twice, but as soon as I try to clear my head, it fills with silly thoughts and petty anxieties. When I try to sit and write, I find myself jumping up every few minutes to do something that doesn’t actually need to be done. Yesterday, I attempted to master the art of being still. I’ve written the underdog’s theme song, and absolved lack of competitive instinct and lack of ambition everywhere. At the moment I’d like to champion a brief spell of staring into space. It’s been a spate of immaculate weather. We were trying to think of the perfect thing to do after dinner – homework all done, but still a school night. We weren’t organized enough for a walk of any kind. Maybe we’d sit around a fire in the backyard. But I found myself sitting in a chair by the front door. The sky was bright as day, but the room was filling with darkening blue light at an autumn pace – always surprising and even slightly worrying. The boys were playing kickball in the backyard. They were giggling maniacally – beautiful, but I’m sure they were hitting the window and the recycling bins on purpose. David was in the kitchen sneezing, and covering Malcolm’s text book with a brown paper bag, the way humans have covered textbooks for all eternity. The boys ran in and out of their showers, cool, pale and giggling. They disappeared into the backyard, as the sky finally deepened outside the window, and in the room it became too dark to write. The smell of smoke and the sound of loved voices pulled me into the backyard, where the sky was still palely glowing.
Chard and chickpea flour frittata
And before all of this activity? I made the best meal! I’m really proud of it! I think I may have invented it! I’m not even sure what to call it! It’s like a frittata, but it has chickpea flour in it, which gives it a lovely substantiality and flavor. It’s also got sauteed chard, mozzarella, some garlic, some rosemary, and some basil. We cut it into thick wedges, and ate it with sofrito (spanish style). I’d made a big batch with all of the paste tomatoes I picked last week. I froze some of it for winter, and I set some aside, and added olives and a roasted red pepper (also from the farm!) You could make a simple tomato sauce instead, though. (Both recipes below) And we had a nice, simple heirloom tomato salad as well.
Olive & red pepper sofrito
The cool, blue sounds of Jackie Mittoo’s Evening Time.
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup flour
1 t salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 t baking powder
2 t rosemary
1 cup milk
2 cups packed chard – washed and finely chopped
1 plump clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1/2 t (or to taste) red pepper flakes
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil, washed and chopped
1 cup grated mozzarella
2 T butter, for cooking
Combine the chickpea flour, flour, salt, pepper, baking powder and rosemary in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk. You should have a thickish batter. Leave that to sit while you cook the chard.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper. When the garlic starts to brown, add the chard, with water still clinging to its leaves (or with a few tablespoons of water). Stir and cook about ten minutes, till the chard is wilted but still bright, and the pan is quite dry. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Whisk the eggs into the chickpea flour mixture, one at a time. Whisk till the batter is fairly smooth. Stir in the cheese, basil and chard, and mix well.
Melt the butter in a 9 inch (or so) frying pan with a metal handle. You want to keep the heat fairly moderate, so you don’t burn the bottom. When the butter starts to brown, pour in the batter. Cook for about 7 minutes. The edges will start to look brown, and the top will start to bubble and lose its shininess.
Put the whole pan into the oven, and cook for about ten more minutes, until the top is just golden, dry and firm, and bounces back lightly when pressed. It will be covered with tiny bubbles.
Take the pan carefully out of the oven. Let it cool a few minutes, and then slip a spatula carefully around the sides to loosen it from the pan. I used a pie server at first, to lift it, and then slipped a larger spatula under. Transfer to a plate. Cut in wedges and serve.
FOR THE SAUCE
I made sofrito, and stirred in some pitted chopped kalamata olives and a chopped roasted red pepper.
You could also make a simple tomato sauce, and add the olives and chopped pepper while it was cooking. The sauce would be thinner, but still delicious.