Today’s post is some kind of double feature about the summer – French comfort food and Berlin comfort farming. Let’s start with the latter- indeed, there’s so much talking about urban farming these days, isn’t it: community, backyard, garden plot, and balcony farming, you name it. I love a lot this trend for it’s many cultural, social and ecological implications. But for some reason it never came to my mind to take part in it myself and to do – as a first start with it, maybe – a little garden work on a sixth floor balcony (with a truly urban view).
Until recently. Much to late in season, I suddenly decided to become an at-home farmer, and ever since, I find myself talking about highly important things at any given occasion. About proper seed-times (I missed them all), about the beauty of bean seeds (didn’t want to shoot) and the question if an organic potato can be put into some soil and will multiply just like this (there’s something tall and green growing, indeed…).
There’s also a lot adventures to experience: I struggle with the wind, with aphids, and with the change of cloudbursts and heat. Most of all, I struggle with my complete lack of gardener’s knowledge. I lost a whole balcony box with wood strawberry offshoots and two pots with chervil and sage for whatever reason and buried them in the organic waste bin. In the kitchen, I installed a plant’s quarantine facility which temporarily suffered from overcrowding. I marveled at the sorrel becoming an inedible stringy bonsai and currently witness the transformation of the once weakish but delicious cilantro into a strong, proud and beautifully blossoming something that tastes horribly bitter. Let’s put in one sentence: I am an incredibly successful balcony farmer ;-). And right on my way to become a crazy plant lady talking to her greens about this and that.
But there is some progress as well: The mung beans show their third pair of leaves already, the tiny tomato fruits get a bit bigger and darker green each day, the self-grown tigerella will be a beautiful teenager at the end of the season, I saved a lavender plant from an unknown harm, the baby salad is tiny but delicious, and after many attempts and changes, most of the herbs seem to be in the right place now regarding light and wind. The watercress has decided to shoot after nearly three weeks of total agony, and even the lovage luckily recovered from a beetle’s plague after a lot of trial and error (mainly error) with nettle tea and a kill-or-cure remedy of completely dis-rooting and re-planting.
So it’s finally all peace and tranquility. There’s a nice smell of herbs and lavender in the air. And since many weeks, we had no dinner without fresh herbs. Here’s some insight into the home-grown Food with a View happiness.
Today’s little recipe special is closely connected to my Berlin Mitte green’s lot as it’s all about herbs and tomatoes. I have to admit that, regarding the latter, I have not used self-grown – it will take still some time until harvest. But at least, I picked all herbs besides one myself. Here we go!
French classics revisited for summer – here are my recipes
With temperatures outside rising, it’s my time of the year: tomatoes! Among all vegetables, I like those red, shiny, and full fruits best, and there’s always new sorts to discover. Indeed, I like them even better than fresh truffles (I didn’t really say this, did I). Anyway: I had the idea to change three major soul food treats from France into a summer tomatoes & herb’s edition – all vegetarian and two of them even vegan – with different kinds of tomatoes. Hope you like the little journey from Côte d’Azur to Alsace and Bretagne.
I discovered that Uwe of HighFoodality, together with Staatlich Fachingen water, has organized a wonderful blog event which features light summer dishes. The name of the event is “Wir kochen alle nur mit Wasser. Für Wasser.” which would translate to “Cooking with Water. For Water.” There’s a most important deeper sense to it, and the event also comes along with a wonderful opportunity for all bloggers who would love to see their recipe published in a cookbook. If you like to find out about the former and the latter, click on the batch:
We would very much like to support this event and contribute this post to it.
Socca de Nice with mini tomatoes, Mediterranean herbs and an oriental twist
In Nizza, Socca is served on the streets as a companion to wine – crispy on the outside with a very small stripe of delicious softness on the inside. It’s made on wood-fire and served just with some sea salt on top, but you can do it in your oven at home as well. I had two recipes at hand to give it a try, one in my cookbook Meine Sonnenküche by Virginie Besançon and one on David Lebovitz beautiful blog of the same name. David is the author of The Sweet Life in Paris, and his wonderful Socca recipe looked and sounded like sweet life in Nizza to me – so I had to try it „the tomato way“ with a little oriental twist as well. Thanks a lot for the fine inspiration, David!
For four servings that make a fine appetizer, you will need the following ingredients.
For the dough:
80 g chickpea flower
160 ml water
1 tbsp. olive oil for the dough and some more for the form and to serve
2 pinches baharat (Arab mixture of spices – David uses just cumin which is surely great as well)
22 cm tarte baking pan
I added as a topping:
two handful mini tomatoes of different colors
1 tsp. raw sugar
1 handful of fresh herbs (I took cilantro, mint, basil and some young shoots of olive herb)
Mix well flour, water, salt, olive oil and the spices. Cover, put aside and let rest at room temperature for at least two hours. Preheat the oven to 250 °C. Clean the tomatoes and the herbs. Once the oven is hot, put some olive oil in the tarte pan, put in the oven and let get hot the dish and the oil. Mix up the dough again, take the very hot pan off the oven, pour in the dough (it should sizzle) and quickly spread the tomatoes and the sugar. Put back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Take off, let rest 1 minute, sprinkle with little olive oil, the herbs (you can cut them before but it looks more beautiful if you use whole leaves), coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. By the way: capers among the tomatoes are great as well, also some cecil peyniri cheese to put on top in the end together with the herbs. Cecil peyniri is a dry oriental cheese that comes in a braid (you can see the cheese on the post’s opening photo). You can pick off fine strands of it which looks nice.
Breton Galette with dried tomatoes, goat’s milk cream cheese and lemon thyme
To me, galette means much more than just pancakes. I love its rustic shape which keeps the filling in place so nicely, and I even like the word itself a lot. It’s been a few month ago only that I got to know this treat from Northern France – I had been in the middle of my seasonal truffle rush, and my first attempt had been some vegetarian Galette complète with, well, truffles. Here’s a lighter version with a touch from the South.
For 4 galettes, you will need the following ingredients.
For the dough:
50 g buckwheat flour
50 g whole spelt flour, sifted
2 g dry yeast
175 ml full-fat milk
25 ml sunflower oil
1 tsp. honey
For the filling:
1 handful dried tomatoes (the plain ones without oil and herbs)
100 g goat’s milk cream-cheese
the leaves of a few twigs of lemon thyme
1tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper
a few basil leaves
Mix well the ingredients for the dough, cover and put into the fridge. Let rest for about 12 hours. This is the time the yeast will need to do its work in the cold (the latter is necessary because of the egg). Slice the dried tomatoes into small stripes. Mix with the olive oil and the lemon thyme, salt and pepper to taste. With a fork, divide the cheese into not too small pieces.
Heat some sunflower oil on medium heat in two big iron pans. Give a ladle of dough in each pan and spread it carefully to get a thin galette. Turn, put a quarter of the filling and the cheese on both galettes. Fold the sides in so that you get squares with a bit of the filling still showing in the middle. Close the lid, reduce the heat and bake for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese melts a little. Spread with freshly ground pepper and some basil leaves on top.
Do the same with the rest of the dough and the filling.
Alsatian tarte flambée with vine tomatoes, young garlic, dill blossoms, rosemary, and thyme
Tarte flambée normally comes with a wonderful sour-cream topping, but in summer I prefer to prepare it like Spanish tostadas or Italian crostini: I just brush the dough with a cut tomato and olive oil. The result is a wonderfully crispy crust.
This one is especially crispy thanks to a wonderful whole grain dough that I had spotted in Antjes lovely Flammkuchen recipe (German language) on her blog lifestyle in grün that is dedicated to exciting whole grain treats and green living in general. Thanks a lot for the great dough inspiration, Antje!
There’s another highlight int this recipe: dill blossoms. You might know the huge bundles of dill herbs and blossoms that are sold on markets and that are normally used to make cucumber pickles. I’m not much a fan of this treat (which is indeed a delicacy), so I always ignored the big bundles. But you know what: these blossoms add a fantastic to flavor to anything that comes out of an oven – pizza, tartes, cassoulet, you name it. Hard to describe how they taste – of dill, of course, and also a bit sour and sweet. Looks lovely as well – dill with blossoms will definitely be on my balcony soon.
For 6 small tartes flambée of about 10 x 20 cm each (I just love tiny versions of big classics), you will need the following ingredients.
For the dough:
290 g spelt flour, sifted (Antje uses kamut flour)
160 ml water
½ tsp. salt
For the topping:
2 big vine tomatoes (cœur de bœuf will be fine as well or any other sort with firm flesh)
1 young garlic bulb
2 handful of herbs (besides dill blossoms, I used rosemary and thyme)
salt and pepper
Mix the ingredients for the dough and knead for 5 minutes. Wrap in foil and give a rest for 1 hour. Knead again for a short moment and give a rest for another hour. You can shorten the rests to 30 minutes each, but the longer it is, the more aromatic and less floury the dough will get.
Clean the herbs and the tomatoes and cut one tomato in two halves. Pick some young rosemary bouquets off the twigs, cut the dill blossoms off the dill stems and choose some fine thyme twigs to use as a whole. Take off the outer layers of the young garlic bulb and cut off the top and the rooty part. Make sure that the bulb keeps its shape in this procedure. Cut into very fine slices – this is a bit tricky and works best with really fresh bulbs as the cohesion of the layers and the cloves is better.
Preheat the oven (200 °C) and a baking plate. Roll out half the dough really thinly (1-2 mm) in a long square shape. It works fine on a slightly floured baking paper (the dough is very elastic and can stand this very well). Divide it into 3 pieces of about 10 x 20 cm each. Do the same with the rest of the dough (3 to 4 of it will find place on one baking plate).
Take the tomato halves and carefully brush the dough pieces – don’t press, just a little liquid shall be added to the top of the dough. Then brush the pieces with olive oil. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and cover the dough pieces with tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with a little olive oil. Put the herbs on top and put into the oven for 6-8 minutes. You can see on the picture that my tartes have been in the oven a minute too long ;-). If you bake all tartes at once on 2 baking plates, you may have to leave in the oven a bit longer and change plates after a couple of minutes.
Take off the oven, sprinkle with a bit olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Et voilà! I just love France.
Kurz und gut
Ich bin unter die Balkon-Kräuter- und Gemüse-Gärtner gefallen! Angesichts der Tatsache, dass wir große Fans des Urban-Farming.Trends sind, stand das einfach mal an. Und angesichts meiner gänzlichen Ahnungslosigkeit in Sachen Pflanzenhege ist es ein Wunder, dass auf dem Balkon nun tatsächlich ein paar Dinge wachsen – Kartoffeln, Mung-Bohnen, Walderdbeeren und Tomaten zum Beispiel.
Letztere sind nicht sehr zahlreich vertreten, aber sie spielen die Hauptrolle bei den heutigen Rezepten. Ich liebe Tomaten über alles, und deshalb habe ich drei Klassiker der von mir hoch verehrten französischen Landküche tomatisiert und versommert – Socca aus Nizza, Flammkuchen aus dem Elsass und Galette aus der Bretagne. Viel Spaß damit!
Socca mit Cherry-Tomaten, mediterranen Kräutern und einem orientalischen Twist
Für 4 Personen als Appetizer:
80 g Kichererbsenmehl
160 ml Wasser
1 EL Olivenöl für den Teig und Öl für die Form
2 Prisen Baharat (Arabische Gwürzmischung)
Tarte-Form mit 22 cm Durchmesser
2 Handvoll verschiedenfarbige Cherry-Tomaten
1 Handvoll frische mediterrane Kräuter (z.B. Koriander, Minze, Basilikum und Olivenkraut)
Mehl, Wasser, Salz, Öl und Gewürze mischen, abdecken und mindestens zwei Stunden bei Zimmertemperatur ruhen lassen. Ofen auf 250 °C vorheizen. Tomaten und Kräuter waschen. Etwas Olivenöl in die Tarteform geben und in den Ofen stellen, heiß werden lassen. Teig noch einmal durchrühren und in die heiße Tarteform gießen – es sollte kräftig zischen beim Eingießen. Tomaten und Zucker schnell auf dem Teig verteilen, 10 Minuten backen.
Aus dem Ofen nehmen, 1 Minute ruhen lassen. Mit Meersalz und Pfeffer aus der Mühle bestreuen, mit Kräutern belegen und mit Olivenöl besprenkeln. Wer mag, fügt noch Kapern oder arabischen Zopfkäse hinzu (Cecil Peyniri).
Das Grundrezept für den Socca-Teig (ohne die arabischen Gewürze und die sommerliche Auflage) stammt von David Lebovitz’ (Autor von „The Sweet Life in Paris“) schönem gleichnamigen Blog und ist hier zu finden.
Sommerliche Galette mit getrockneten Tomaten, Ziegenfrischkäse und Zitronenthymian
Für 4 Galettes:
50 g Buchweizenmehl
50 g gesiebtes Dinkel-Vollkornmehl
2 g Trockenhefe
175 ml Vollmilch
25 ml Sonnenblumenöl und Öl für die Pfanne
1 TL Honig
1 Handvoll getrocknete Tomaten (ungewürzt)
100 g Ziegenfrischkäse
Blättchen von ein paar Zweigen Zitronenthymian
Salz und Pfeffer
ein paar Basilikum-Blätter
Zutaten für den Teig gut vermischen. Abdecken und im Kühlschrank 12 Stunden ruhen lassen. Getrocknete Tomaten in Streifen schneiden. Mit Olivenöl und Zitronenthymian mischen, salzen und pfeffern. Mit einer Gabel den Käse zerbröckeln.
Sonnenblumenöl in zwei Pfannen erhitzen. Eine Kelle Teig in jede Pfanne geben und mit einem Teigholz gleichmäßig dünn verteilen. Kurz backen, wenden, ein Viertel der Füllung auf jeden Pfannkuchen geben und die Seiten hochklappen, so dass die Füllung noch zu sehen ist. Deckel auflegen und bei geringer Hitze 3-5 Minuten weiter backen, bis der Käse geschmolzen ist. Mit gemahlenem Pfeffer bestreuen und mit Basilikum-Blättern belegen. Mit dem restlichen Teig ebenso verfahren.
Flammkuchen mit Fleischtomaten, jungem Knoblauch, Dillblüten und Kräutern
Im Sommer liebe ich eine leichte und knusprige Tarte flambée mit hauchdünnen Tomaten und Olivenöl statt Schmand. Als Grundrezept für den Teig habe ich diesmal Antjes wunderbares Flammkuchen-Teigrezept ausprobiert – merci hierfür.
Für 6 kleine Flammkuchen à 10 x 20 cm
110 g gesiebtes Dinkelmehl
60 ml Wasser
¼ TL salz
2 große Fleischtomaten (z.B. Cœur de bœuf)
1 junge Knoblauchknolle
ein paar Dillblüten
1 Handvoll junger Rosmarin-Nadeln und Thymian-Blätter
Salz und Pfeffer
Die Zutaten für den Teig mischen und 5 Minuten kneten. In Folie wickeln und im Kühlschrank 1 Stunde ruhen lassen. Nochmals kneten und eine weitere Stunde ruhen lassen. Das schließt die Aromen im Mehl gut auf.
Tomaten und Kräuter waschen. Eine der Tomaten halbieren. Von der Knoblauchknolle die äußeren Schichten entfernen – aber nur so weit, dass die ganze Knolle intakt bleibt. Spitze und Wurzelbereich zurückschneiden. Die ganze Knolle in sehr feine Scheiben schneiden – das ist ein bisschen fummelig und funktioniert am besten mit wirklich ganz frischen Knollen.
Ofen und Backblech vorheizen auf 200 °C. Die Hälfte des Teiges auf leicht mehliertem Backpapier länglich und möglichst quadratisch sehr dünn ausrollen (1-2 mm). Den Streifen in drei Teile schneiden von je ca. 10 x 20 cm. Mit der anderen Teighälfte ebenso verfahren.
Mit den Tomatenhälften leicht über den Teig streichen, so dass nur etwas Flüssigkeit austritt. Danach den Teig mit Olivenöl bepinseln. Alle Tomaten in dünne Scheiben schneiden und den Teig damit und mit den Knoblauch-Scheiben belegen. Den Knoblauch ebenfalls mit etwas Öl bestreichen. Mit den Kräutern belegen und im Ofen für ca. 6-8 Minuten backen. Wenn alle Flammkuchen auf einmal auf zwei Blechen gebacken werden, etwas länger drin lassen und die Bleche nach 4 Minuten tauschen.
Aus dem Ofen nehmen, mit etwas Olivenöl besprenkeln und mi Meersalz und Pfeffer aus der Mühle bestreuen.
Et voilà! Ich liebe Frankreich.
What a fantastic balcony, it looks huge in your pictures – I wish I had one I only have two large balcony pots sitting on the kitchen window sill, outside. And so it has been herbs every meal here, too!
The socca without any egg sounds interesting, I made mine with just egg white according to sir otto. 😉
So and now that I did admire all of your (as usual :-)) pics, I have to go looking for truffel recipes!
Thank you, Eva! The balcony is not very deep, but quite long. So there’s indeed some space, but it has been a little challenge to plant it in a well-proportioned way. But balcony boxes on windowsills are of course great as well – always something green before your eyes and on your plate.
I did not know a socca version with egg white so far, but this is surely delicious as well (and I guess more fluffy).
Good luck with the truffles!
How wonderful your little urban garden looks!
And your food, too. With this post, you covered most of my sumertime french favourites 🙂
And you reminded me – I have to make socca again, it’s such a treat!
Thank you, Susanne! I’m indeed thankful to have this little green (and thankful that I finally started to use it).
So we share the love for French summertime comfort food :-). I would very much like to get to know your socca version, too!
Your balcony seems to be quite large – at least compared to mine. For me it’s also the first year I try to harvest some strawberries and tomatoes (and not only herbes), it’s a great feeling! And thanks a lot for the socca recipe, it seems to be very tasty!
So we are both newbies in balcony farming! You are right, it’s a wonderful feeling to grow something “at home” – I would very much like to enhance my knowledge before next season about growing vegetables and fruits (so far there’s a bit tomatoes, potatoes, salad, mung beans and wood strawberries – all together will make up probably a tiny dinner for two ;-).
The socca is quite nice with the oriental spices – and the dough is fine with many other flavors as well, dried provence herbs for example.
I don’t like tomatoes, but your galette sounds intriguing and looks delish! Your roofgarden looks gorgeous too. I really love the lavender in the sun pics. If I didnt know they’re on your balcony I’d think I’m in the provance ;). Getting hooked on urban gardening, to that I really can relate! I’ve tried alot of things on my roofgarden, but potatoes I still havent got arround to. Have you tried growing cucumbers? I’ve given up on them 😦 they always get some kind of mildew.
Thank you, Emma! Indeed, we feel a little bit like in Provence when we sit in front of the lavender. With a little fantasy (and with the help of a glass of Provence wine), the scycraper in the background looks like Mont Ventoux ;-).
So far, I have no experience with cucumbers. There are some other vegetables (and herbs) as well that suffer from mildew problems, especially when the weather is too humid like last month. Couldn’t figure out so far either how to manage properly. This is the trial and error season, next year we will all be experts;-).
Dear Claudia, don’t know where to begin with my comments. Ok, let me start with a big big THANKS for linking my “Flammkuchen” – I think I shall try it again with your kind of topping, especially with dill blossoms. The dill blossoms in my garden are already usable I suppose (just returned from my 3-days-Bavaria-turn – unfortunately too late to identify some details in the darkness of my garden 😉
I’ve never seen some nice pics of balcony gardening like yours before, I swear. Can’t believe that these photos were taken in the middle of Berlin. Fantastic.
Last but not least I marvel at your artfully arranged photographies at the beginning of your post – that’s masterpieces!
Thanks a lot, Antje! And of course it has benn my pleasure to link to your wonderful recipe.
Lucky you that you have dill blossoms in your garden! I wonder if there’s anything that you don’t grow in your little paradise :-). I will be excited to hear how you will like it as a tarte flambée/Flammkuchen topping.
Great that you like the opening photo so much. I have been searching for an arty yet rough still live style for quite some time, and maybe I get closer…
dill blossoms, a wonderful treat in your great garden…
Yes…show everybody what is possible in the city!!! ♥
What a nice comment, thank you:-)!
as I live right in the middle of nowhere, I do have a real garden. This year, though, I would prefer your balcony garden, which looks really incredible. Are you sure you didn’t sneak off to France and took the shots there? Your herbs and the tomatoes are amazing!
In the very wet Odenwald springtime, millions of greedy mini-slugs came alive. Now that they are full-grown slugs which look sometimes like little brown oder black snakes, they devastate our garden. Zucchini, salat, spinach and flowers, these greedy bastard eat about everything. Even the tomatoes! And other plants they aren´t supposed to eat (according to the guidebooks). At the moment the heat helps a bit, but with the next rain, they’ll be here again.
I remember eating Socca in Provence. What a good idea to pimp it up with tomatoes and basil! Do you know “panisses” which is another comfort food from the South of France based on chickpea flour? If the summer goes on like this, I must give it a try and post it.
Have a lovely time on your “farm”.
Thanks a lot Heike! I’m quite sure the pics were taken on my balcony and – unfortunately – not in Southern France: the big city traffic background sound makes the huge difference ;-). However, one of the big advantages of balcony gardening and farming is that you don’t have to struggle with snugs. At least when you’re situated as high as me on the sixth floor. Too far to climb for snugs ;-). I can well imagine how discouraging it is to see all your vegetables being eaten by them and not by yourself.
I have a recipe for panisse in my Provence cookbook but never tried so far. Thank’s a lot for remembering me, and I look forward a lot to your panisse post! Have a wonderful time in your surely very pretty Odenwald garden as well.
Dear Claudia, thank you very much for participating in my event with three awesome recipes! I really like them for being extraordinarily suitable for summer kitchen. Thanks a lot!
Great that you like the recipes – and thanks a lot in return for hosting the wonderful blog event!
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