Castelvetrano pistachio and white bean pizza with a chickpea flour crust

White bean, olive and pistachio pizza

White bean, olive and pistachio pizza

“I am the Light of This World,” is the name of a song by The Reverend Gary Davis that I am currently completely obsessed with. It’s got a surpassingly sweet tune, seemingly simple, but actually a beautiful collection of voices woven around each other. The song rises and falls and goes round and round like water, and it feels good to let yourself get carried along with it. And the lyrics kill me. He doesn’t see the light, he doesn’t have the light, HE IS THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD! He sings, “I’ve got fiery fingers, I’ve got fiery hands, And when I get up in heaven, Gonna join that fiery band.” I love the hopeful honest triumph of this whole idea. He’s not boasting, he’s stating the truth. I think of him as glowing, he sounds as though he’s glowing, and it must come out his finger tips and all along his hands as he plays his guitar, with so much skill and soul. He spreads the light with his music. I love to think about people having a light inside them, even being that light. I believe that this is something that every creature has, and as we grow and become jaded and mature, we learn to hide our light, we become closed and dark and careful. You can see it in dogs and children, though, everything they feel comes beaming out of them, unfiltered, unshaded, so bright and powerful you can warm yourself in their glow. I found a remarkable excerpt from an interview Gary Davis did with Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold, the wife of Alan Lomax. He’s so wise and funny and poetical. He speaks often of light, of his light, “It takes bitter medicine to do you good. But it’s a fact – I have had greater light on this experience about things, that’s why nothing don’t go hard with me. That’s the light that substantiate me to tell anybody what to weep and cry over and what to laugh over.” The light is knowledge, the light is faith, and the light is kindness and warmth. Again and again, Davis’ spirituality shines through as the strength to overcome sadness and trouble, and as the warmth of kindness, so that “You can know how to treat everybody, you know.” He describes death as a deep dark shower of rain, and lord knows that he’s experienced plenty of loss in his life, but he says, “I want to live as long as I possibly can.” He’s still got a lot of work to do, and as long as he’s in this world, he is the light. “The weakness of man’s strength and the brightness of his knowledge is what makes a man the finest of God’s creatures to walk the earth. I’m all the time studying what I can do for my people. You can’t do nothing for yourself unless you do it for somebody else first. You can’t bake a corncake for yourself unless you bake it for somebody else. It ain’t worth the effort.

In this world we have to talk a little and hush a heap.

Love is just like a vein in a spring:
Keeps you with supplements to cherish up what you have.”

Amen.

White bean, olive and pistachio pizza

White bean, olive and pistachio pizza

I’ve been wanting to put white beans on a pizza for a long time. Why? I DON”‘T KNOW! I just thought it would be good, and it was good! I’ve put chickpeas on pizzas, and that turned out well. I wanted this to be a simple pizza, mostly white and green, with some flashes of red from the tomatoes. So it’s got pretty castelvetrano olives, tasty toasted pistachio kernels, white beans, and just a smattering of cheese. It’s a light and tasty affair. I added some chickpea flour to the dough, making it almost like a socca (except that it also has yeast and white flour in it!) I think this gave the crust a kind of earthy substantiality and crispiness that worked well as a base for all of these bright flavorful toppings.

Here’s I Am The Light of this World.

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Peppery chickpea flour flatbread

Yeasted chickpea flour flatbread

Yeasted chickpea flour flatbread

I have to be at work early, so we’ll keep it mercifully short today. This week’s Sunday interactive playlist will take the form of a short and completely inane quiz. If, like me, you’re really too indecisive to choose your favorite anything, or if you think the concept of picking a favorite anything is childish and futile, just go with the first thing you think of. If you find any of the questions particularly stupid, feel free to skip them (I could skip the whole damn quiz if I liked! I can hear you saying.) Anyway, here goes. You can add the songs to the list yourself (it’s interactive!). Or you can leave a note in the comments, and I’ll add them myself.

Let’s have…

A song about your favorite animal
A song about your favorite color
A song about your favorite number
A song about your favorite food
A song about or from your favorite era in history
A song about your favorite abstract concept.

And….GO!

Peppery chickpea flour flatbread

Peppery chickpea flour flatbread

I’ve made yeasted chickpea flour flatbread before, I realize that, and I’ve already told you all about it. But this version is different. It has an egg in it, and some baking powder. This makes it more like a pancake, and makes it both lighter and richer. It has a nice lacy soft texture. I made it to go with some collards and roasted sweet potatoes, but sadly I burnt them, so we ate it with pasta and red sauce, which Malcolm made for us.

Here’s a link to the interactive playlist.

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Yeasted chickpea flour and sage flatbreads

Yeasted chickpea flour flatbread

Yeasted chickpea flour flatbread

On Saturday evening a restaurant gets cacophonous. The people at the bar get louder with each drink. Children who have missed their naps are crying for their dinner. Conversations cover conversations till all you hear is a sea of noise. At one point last night we stood in the wait station craving a pocket of quiet, and a waiter said, “Do you ever just stand here and get lost in the noise?” Letting it wash over you is your best defense, trying to make sense of it only gives you headache. There’s a festival in town this weekend, and it’s noisy from morning to night. Caravans of cars and trucks, bringing in booths, engines idling as they set up. Hordes of chattering tourists. Yard parties that stretch into the night. It leaves you wanting some peace and quiet. It makes you yearn for Sunday morning. Waking slowly, speaking quietly or not at all. Whether you go to church or not, maybe remembering times you did, remembering times you had to be calm and good. Maybe nursing a headache lingering from the raucous night before. So this morning we’re looking for Sunday songs. Songs about Sunday, songs that make you feel like Sunday morning, or songs that you like to listen to on a Sunday morning. As ever, the playlist is interactive. So add what you like, or leave a song in the comments and I’ll add it for you as soon as I get a chance.

What? Another flatbread recipe? That’s right! This time of year my favorite way to eat is lots of little dishes that you eat with your hands, so I’m constantly concocting some sort of flatbread to use as a utensil and a sopper-upper. This is a sort of version of socca, the french chickpea flour flatbread. I love socca, but I find it very difficult to make, so in an attempt to limit the amount of cursing I do in front of the boys, I like to develop less frustrating methods. I’ve added eggs, and that helped. But in this case, I added yeast and some regular flour. It’s still vegan, but it’s not gluten free any more. It was simple to work with, though! It all came together like a charm–easy to roll out and bake. And tasty, too!

Here’s the Sunday Songs playlist. Have a peaceful Sunday, everyone!

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Chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts AND spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts

chickpea flour cake baked with tarragon and artichoke hearts

Malcolm wore flannel pajamas under his trousers all winter long. Why did he do it? He has his reasons! Was it for warmth? for comfort? for a sense of extra security? Out of laziness? Was it a nouveau-grunge look? (Grunge is more than a stylistic choice for Malcolm, it’s a way of life, and if you doubt his devotion to the cause, look at his fingernails.) These last few days, the unseasonably cool weather has given way with complete submission to the unseasonably warm weather. No peaceful transition of balmy spring-like days. Cold to hot, just like that. We took a walk after dinner one evening, and we were all a little overdressed and a little warm, and none more so than malcolm, with flannel pjs inside of his flannel-lined trousers. We said, “Are you really still…?” He said, in a sweetly funny, sighing voice, “I regret it.” And, of course, this got me thinking about Malcolm and regrets. It really seems as if children have no regrets – my children anyway! Perhaps they’re prodigiously lacking in compunction, but it seems as if their friends are just the same. And this is yet one more way that I wish I was more like them. I feel as though I live my life under the weight of a vast network of regrets. They cling to me like spider webs as I pass through my days. They seem silly, but they add up, and they slow me down. Why did I have that last cup of coffee when my heart already feels like it’s going to explode? Why did I have that last glass of wine when my head feels as if it’s going to explode? Why did I say what was on my mind when I knew nobody wanted to hear it? Why was I so snappish with Isaac when he hadn’t really done anything bad? Why did I curse angrily in front of Malcolm when I know it makes him sad? And on and on it goes. Sometimes, I’ll have a faint hint of uneasiness, a nagging feeling that I’d done or said something regrettable, and in trying to unravel that one string, I’ll pull on a million others, so I can feel my heart sinking over something foolish I said decades ago. But my boys aren’t like that. They move right on with their lives. They’re never angry for long, they’re not resentful. They don’t store up bitter feelings about something somebody else has done, and they do themselves the same favor. This makes them light of heart despite the fact that their hearts are endearingly full at all times. Sometimes they’re irritatingly on-with-the-next-thing. Sometimes I have to stop myself from shouting, “You just spilled a pint of juice on your homework! Show some remorse you little psychopath!!” I think I’ll try to be more like them. I think I’ll imagine myself throwing away my regrets the way the boys throw rocks into the water–joyously and wildly, never worrying about the splashes, never regretting the loss of the stones.

Chickpea flour tart

Chickpea flour tart

I thought this dinner turned out so pretty! I’m not even sure what to call it. I made a batter such as I might make for puffy socca or chickpea flour crepes. I cheat and add eggs and a bit of white flour, as you may recall, and this makes the batter lighter and easier to work with, whilst retaining the singular taste and texture of chickpea flour. So I did this, and then I arranged artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, tarragon leaves and mozzarella cheese in a pretty pattern on the surface of the batter, and then I baked it! I thought it tasted very good! I love tarragon, but my boys were disconcerted by whole leaves of it, so you might want to chop it up. Or use rosemary or basil instead. Chickpea flour tends to result in a slightly dry texture, so we ate this with sauteed spinach, white beans, and black truffle butter. The combination was absolutely delicious!! You could eat it with any kind of soft sauteed vegetable or even a simple tomato sauce, though.
spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

spinach sauteed with white beans and black truffle butter

Of course it’s going to be Edith Piaf, with Non, Je ne regrette rien, isn’t it?
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Cheater’s chickpea-flour crepes

chick pea crepe

Nice has their socca, India has their own version of chickpea-flour pancakes. Decidedly delicious, but something of a challenge to make. I have made them, and they turned out tasty, but I had to chase the boys out of the kitchen so they wouldn’t hear me curse at the mother-flippin pancakes that would not flip! That stuck to the pan! Or fell to pieces!! It’s the equipment, I tell you! I don’t have the right equipment!!

So now, when I make my own version of chickpea-flour pancakes, I cheat slightly, by adding some regular wheat flour and one egg. That’s it! Not so terrible! They’re still chewy, crispy, and they still have that distinctive chickpea-flour-taste. If they fall apart a bit, never fear! They’re still delicious, even in pieces. They’re lovely used to scoop up tapinade or humus, or sauteed greens. Or you can go more elaborate, and fill them and make them a sauce, as I will soon show you.

Here’s the Clash with The Cheat. Don’t listen if you’re offended by sweary language!!

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