We just returned from a relaxing trip to the cabin—as relaxing as it can be with Otis along. Mostly he was greatly improved from his first trip back in May. He’s no longer whining with excitement at the top of his voice the entire five hour drive, but that’s not to say he’s quiet. Pete only needed ear plugs for part of the drive and I never needed them at all. The side trips we took had Otis whining a bit, unless it was dark, which lead to sleep, and thus, blissful silence. He continues to be great about being left in the truck while we enjoy some of the great dining, shopping, and imbibing establishments Grand Marais has to offer. We even got to see our new favorite local musicians, Pushing Chain, play at the Gunflint Tavern while Otis curled up in the back seat and slept off his exhaustion from the day’s adventures. He’s got a long way to go yet with hiking though. He just gets so excited! And loud! It’s embarrassing, but we’re hoping he’ll still gain the calm that comes with a little more maturity.
Huge waves on Lake Superior greeted us on our arrival—gale force winds produced the biggest waves I’ve ever seen. Even in the harbor, where it’s protected, Pete had never seen waves like this and he’s been coming to Grand Marais since he was a kid.
One side trip took us to the end of the Gunflint Trail, seeing two large areas affected by recent forest fires. We saw one of these areas a few years ago when we drove about ¾ of the way up the trail, but this second section was even more haunting, the landscape seeming almost mystical.
The not-so-successful hiking with Otis in Grand Portage State Park started with the drive from the cabin, which was strikingly beautiful, even though the fall colors were far past peak. The tamarack trees were stunning, their needles having turned a bright gold left them looking ethereal, and a gorgeous contrast to the many almost leafless mountain ash trees with their deep red clumps of berries. Adding to the beauty, along the ditches were shrubby plants with leaves ranging from orange to fuchsia to deep burgundy.
Once we were back home, a couple more days of vacation awaited us, so I had time to putz and come up with a special breakfast. Inspired by a pizza I made recently after discovering vegetarian kimchi at Trader Joe’s (no fish sauce—yay!) and a thought planted after seeing a link to a breakfast pizza on Facebook, I came up with this breakfast socca.
Socca, traditionally a chick pea pancake/crepe type flatbread, was the base for my take on breakfast pizza because unlike regular pizza crust, it didn’t need to rise for an hour before baking. In place of chick pea flour, I used spelt flour, which has a little a more neutral, but slightly nutty flavor. Spelt is an ancient grain, dating back more than 9,000 years and, unlike regular wheat flour, spelt hasn’t changed since ancient times – no hybridization or genetic modification, no added or modified gluten content. While not suitable for those with celiac disease, many people with gluten sensitivity can tolerate spelt without experiencing any of the symptoms they experience when they eat common wheat.
I made this twice, the first time with sliced pear scattered over the kimchi, and the second with chopped mango. Both Pete and I preferred the pear. I think pineapple would be nice too—let me know if you try it.
Kimchi Breakfast Socca
Socca adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe published in the New York Times
1 cup spelt flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 cup vegetarian kimchi, chopped
½ large pear, thinly sliced, or ½ mango, chopped, or ½ cup chopped pineapple
½ cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese (omit or substitute Daiya for a vegan version)
Sriracha sauce, to taste
1 egg, optional
Additional salt & pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. While the oven is heating, place a well-seasoned 10-12 inch cast-iron skillet in oven.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, salt and pepper. Slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and let sit while the oven heats, or for as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven, pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into it and swirl. Add the onions and return the pan to the oven and cook, stirring once or twice, until they’re well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pan from oven and stir in the dill. Pour socca batter into over onions & dill and give the pan a shake so it’s distributed evenly. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the socca is firm and the edges set.
Remove the pan from the oven and brush socca with a tablespoon of olive oil. Scatter chopped kimchi over socca, arrange pear, mango, or pineapple over kimchi. Top with cheese. Drizzle with sriracha (a little or a lot, depending on how much heat you like and how spicy your kimchi is).
Return the pan to the oven and cook for about 7 more minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and broil for a minute or two, just long enough to brown it in spots.
In a small skillet, cook one egg until white is firm and yolk still soft. Place cooked egg in the center of socca. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot. Makes 2-4 breakfast servings.