October 20, 2014
haricots soufflées
(bean biscuits)
It’s been a Puccini sort of day. Giacomo Puccini has been in my head all day by way of my headphones. I’m currently on a writing binge, and I can’t write without filling my head with music being sung in a foreign language to block outside sounds. At the moment the music is Puccini’s 1880 graduation exercise Messa.
My hard‑of‑hearing next‑door neighbor who watches soap operas at full volume is one problem. There’s also the neighbor who conducts business via her speakerphone with her patio door and window open. She thinks she has to shout into the speakerphone to be heard on the other end. Then there’s the homeless lady who lives in a broken‑down van behind the church one house away. She spends her days scavenging and the church’s dumpster is a convenient target. She announces her arrival by opening the metal lids with a loud bang. I guess it’s a saving grace that she never closes the lids and thus make more noise. Then there’s the parishioners that stand in the parking lot talking at full volume after the noon mass. Their conversations can take longer than the mass. Before noon it’s the gardener in the same parking lot with the illegal, gas‑powered leaf blower who takes so much time he must be paid by the hour. Strangely, when I’m writing, I don’t really notice the single‑engine planes flying low overhead as they approach our city airport.
Luckily, my headphones are very comfortable. The over‑the‑ear cuffs provide fairly decent isolation so I don’t have to play my music very loud. I have lots of foreign‑language music to choose from so variety isn’t a problem. I use this music for writing. I use other types of music for my other activities. I’m confident that food tastes better if cooked with Hank Snow and his contemporaries singing in my kitchen.
What does this have to do with today’s recipe? Nothing. But it helped with my writer’s block.
When I found a recipe for chickpea popovers by David Lebovitz in his My Paris Kitchen, I planned to give it a try. Now, six months later, I’ve changed my mind. My version uses a silicone‑rubber mold with fifteen cavities shaped as truncated cones, the chickpea flour has morphed into flour I make by grinding dried beans of the “King of the Early” variety, and I add cheese. The finished biscuits are not hollow like popovers, but solid like…biscuits. The only consession to popovers is that the mold is preheated, but that really doesn't seem to make a difference.
1 large
1 large
egg white
125 ml (12 c)
whole milk
45 g (about 13 c)
bean flour (see note below)
23 g (about 223 T)
all‑purpose flour
1.2 g
fine salt
a couple turns
freshly ground black pepper
14 t
ground cumin
a healthy pinch
cayenne pepper
35 g (14 c)
finely grated parmesan cheese
15 g (1 T)
unsalted butter, melted
melted butter for the molds
1. Whisk the whole egg and egg white together. Add the milk and whisk to combine. Whisk in the flours and the seasonings. Whisk in the parmesan cheese. Finish by whisking in the melted butter. Set the batter aside to rest while you complete all of the next instruction.
2. Set your oven to 215 °C (420 °F). Place the silicone mold on a baking sheet. When the oven reaches temperature, place the baking sheet with the mold into it. Heat the mold for 10 minutes.
3. Remove the mold from the oven. Brush each cavity thoroughly with melted butter. Using a one‑tablespoon ladle, fill each cavity with batter. Wipe off any batter that spills onto the apron of the mold.
4. Bake the little biscuits for about 25 minutes. The cavities in the middle take longer to bake so those biscuits may need more time in the oven.
5. If not serving immediately, cool the biscuits on a rack.
Note: The biscuits can be frozen and then reheated for 10 minutes at 180 °C (355 °F) before serving.
Note: The bean flour is made by grinding the dry beans in an inexpensive coffee grinder and then sifted to remove any larger pieces.
Yield: 15 biscuits.

© 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.