I mentioned that we had a Meditteranean coca with our controversial tuna and cinnamon meatballs. It turned out so wonderfully and was such a pleasant surprise that I have decided to share the recipe here.
The recipe is from another of our many (and favorite) cookbooks, Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark, the husband and wife team behind the acclaimed Moro Restaurant in London, known for its award-winning Moorish cuisine. Traveling and books play a vital role in their menus and I love that they often read about a dish in a book, and then travel to that particular country to find someone to show them how to make it. I want to do that.
Moro East follows a year that the couple spent on their first allotment at Manor Garden. I wasn’t exactly sure what an allotment was so I did a little research and here’s what I found out about the Manor Garden Allotments.
They were established in 1900 by philanthropist Arthur Villiers to provide small parcels of land for deprived locals to grow vegetables and occupied 4.5 acres between the River Lea and the Channelsea River in Hackney Wick, East London. In keeping with conditions of Villiers’ bequeath that the allotments be maintained in perpetuity, the 80 individual plots have been tended for over a century by a tight-knit and diverse multicultural community of Londoners.
Here is a video I found on youtube in which the Clarks talk about their allotment experience.
The saddest part? The Manor Garden Allotments were demolished in October 2007 to make way for landscaping for the 2012 London Olympics Park. The good news? The allotments will be reinstated on the original site once the Olympics are over.
Now, on to the coca.
Coca is pizza from the Catalonia region of Spain. It is thin, crisp, chewy and amazing. There are many variations of coca – I made the onion, red pepper and eggplant version. Flatbread dough is used as the base. Although I have included the Clarks’ recipe, I made a few small changes.
1) I substituted all-purpose flour for bread flour. This seemed to work just fine.
2) I did not knead the flatbread dough by hand. I used the dough hook and our awesome Kitchen-Aid stand mixer.
3) I changed the word aubergine to eggplant. OK, not such a big change. I just brought that aubergine across the pond.
4) I used less olive oil than what the recipe calls for.
Flatbread Dough Recipe (enough for 4 coca or 8 flatbreads)
225 g unbleached strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting (I used my kitchen scale on the metric setting but 225 g of all-purpose flour is 1 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
150 ml tepid water (my measuring cup has ml on it but, if yours does not, 150 ml is .63 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
To make the flatbread dough, place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the oil. Now make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture a little at a time, mixing constantly. When all the yeast mixture has been incorporated, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead well for at least 5 minutes. If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour; if it is stiff, a little more water. It is ready when no longer tacky but soft, elastic and smooth. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk – approximately 1 – 2 hours.
Onion, red pepper and eggplant coca (enough topping for 2 coca)
1 medium eggplant, cut into approximately 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons of olive oil (I used about 7)
1 1/2 large Spanish onions, roughly chopped
2 red peppers, cut in half lengthways, seeded and thinly sliced
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Toss the eggplant with salt and set aside. Heat oil in a large frying pan, add a pinch of salt and the chopped onions and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peppers, cook 15-20 minutes until onions are golden and peppers are soft. Stir often. Drain and blot the eggplant, add to the pan with rosemary and cook 15 minutes, stirring often until eggplant is soft all the way through. Remove from heat, drain excess oil and set aside to cool.
Divide the dough into 4 balls. Roll two of the balls out very thin, to around 8 x 12 inches. Place on large baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread filling out to edge of dough. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees until browned and crispy underneath. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Note: The flatbread recipe yields enough dough to make 4 coca. I made two coca and used the remaining dough to make flatbreads.
To make the flatbreads, take the remaining 2 balls of dough and divide in half, yielding 4 balls. Roll each ball out to into a 5 inch circle and top with sea salt and herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil , etc. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 450 until bread has bubbled up slightly and is puffy but not crisp.