June 16, 2014
crêpe des haricots au fromage blanc de chèvre
(“King of the Early” crepe with goat cheese)
I first encountered socca walking through the vieille ville (old town) in Nice in the mid‑90s. During one twelve‑month period I saw the chickpea pancake in numerous small cafes near Cours Saleya many times, but each time I was there, my traveling companions didn’t want to try the socca. To this day, I still have not eaten it.
A couple of winters ago, the two farmers from my favorite local farm came to dinner. Each brought me a one‑pound bag of dried beans from their previous summer’s crop. The variety was one that I hadn’t heard of: King of the Early. I don’t use a lot of dried beans in my cooking, so these just sat on the shelf until the day I decided to see if I could make panisse by substituting these beans for chickpeas.
In order to make the replacement, I needed to grind the whole beans into flour. After burning out a cheap grinder, I managed to produce a sufficient amount of flour using an old Cuisinart mini‑processor with its blade mounted backwards. I made the panisse using my normal recipe. The cooking went as usual, but the cooked product lacked the firmness required to brown the squares of the paste. The remaining bean flour went back on the shelf next to the unground beans.
A few months passed before I saw a recipe in my “recipes to try” folder for socca. Maybe it was time to try the bean flour again. Of course, instead of making a large crepe that my guests would tear apart with their fingers, mine would be bite‑sized. I was able to reduce the recipe size so that the proportions given below produce about 12 individual crepes, each about 312 cm (138 in) in diameter.
for crepe batter:
50 g (134 oz)
“king of the early” bean flour
18 t
fine salt
14 t
chipotle pepper powder
100 ml (338 fl oz)
filtered water
1 t
olive oil
for garnish:
very fine strips
red pepper flesh
fromage blanc de chèvre
very finely sliced
1. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in the water until a thick batter is produced, and all the flour is dispersed. Whisk in the oil.
2. Heat a frying pan to medium‑high. Oil the surface of the pan. Using a small spoon, drop the batter for each crepe in one pour from the tip of the spoon. When the bottoms are brown and the tops appears dry, flip the crepes to finish cooking. Only the first side will look great.
3. Transfer the cooked crepes to a plate. If using right away, keep warm in a low oven. If not, cool completely and freeze until needed.
4. Preheat broiler on high.
5. Cook the pepper strips in oil until warm and slightly softened. If necessary, reheat the crepes.
6. To assemble the amuse‑bouche, place a small dab of fromage blanc on each warm crepe. Arrange some pepper strips on the cheese. Heat the assemblies under the broiler for 2 minutes.
7. Sprinkle a few pieces of chive over the tops. Serve immediately.

© 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.