S is out of town tonight, but we wanted to cook in. In the past, we’ve tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to institute a “kids cook” night. I want to teach L & J to cook. I figure that the earlier they learn, the earlier they can help me AND appreciate the effort that I make on a nightly basis.
So, tonight we are having one of our teaching and eating nights. L was definitely more into the cooking tonight than J. But, both girls (actually all 3 of us) relished the meal.
Here’s the menu:
Grilled Chicken (marinated in lemon, garlic and herbs)
Red peppers, cucumber, celery, carrot sticks
Pita (Home made and they were “like heaven”, according to J)
Fruit Salad and Cookies (leftovers)
This is one of our favorite dinners. A version of the old “I like making it, I like eating it” taco night. A little healthier, with lots of vegetables. Everyone is happy.
We’re also going to be making some chocolate chip cookies to bring with us tomorrow when we go to help low-income seniors with gardening and home clean-up, as a part of the Obama inspired day of service on MLK day.
Here are the recipes.
(adapted from multiple recipes)
Makes 8 pitas
¾ tsp active dry yeast
1 ¼ cups lukewarm (90°F or so) water
3 cups all-purpose flour (more for sprinkling surfaces, etc.)
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp olive oil (plus a little more to oil bowl)
Mix yeast with lukewarm water until dissolved. Add 1 ¼ cups of the flour and stir, in one direction, until well incorporated and smooth. Cover and let rest a minimum of 30 minutes, but longer is better (I let it rest for 3 hours). Stir in the salt and olive oil, and then the rest of the flour, until you can no longer stir the dough. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough should not be too stiff – it needs to be somewhat soft (more moisture makes the bread puff).
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and let it rise, covered, until almost doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before the dough has fully risen, preheat oven, with a baking stone on the lowest shelf, to 450°F. You will cook the breads directly on the stone.
Punch the dough down and cut into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small circle and let rest 10 minutes. Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3/8 inch thick (thinner than shortbread, thicker than Neapolitan pizza….). The thickness is important, too thin and it won’t balloon evenly, too thick and it will think it is a roll and puff like a roll.
Put 2 or 3 rounds on the stone in the oven for 4-5 minutes. Watch and see them puff like little balloons. Take out of the oven when they are getting colored on the edges and place on a wooden board, and cover with a dish towel. After a couple of minutes, when the air inside is not scorching, press down on the bread so that it flattens to the traditional pita bread shape. Repeat with remaining rounds of dough.
Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Herb Marinade
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic crushed in a garlic press
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
Pound chicken breasts until they are an even thickness (about ½ inch thick).
Mix lemon juice, mustard, garlic, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly with the marinade. Let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes (or longer, refrigerated, up to about 3 hours).
Heat a grill pan (or outdoor grill) until very hot. Cook chicken, turning when it starts to get opaque at the edges. The total cooking time will be about 3-4 minutes per side (but it depends on the thickness and the temperature of the grill).
Let the chicken rest a few minutes before slicing/eating.
Suzanne’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 cups flour
¾ cup toasted wheat germ
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F, convection (if you have it). Prepare 2 or more cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats…or ungreased, if you have neither on hand (do NOT butter pans).
Cream the butter and sugars just past the stage where they are fully incorporated, but not until fluffy (about 1-1.5 minutes at medium speed on a KitchenAid mixer, using the paddle attachment). Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined and slightly fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix in. Scrape down the bowl and then do a final mix so that there are no big clumps of butter/sugar.
Sift baking soda, salt and flour onto a piece of waxed paper. Add to the butter mixture, along with the wheat germ, and mix until almost combined. Add the chocolate chips at this point and mix until well distributed and there is no more flour visible.
Drop dough by tablespoon onto the prepared pans, 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, more or less depending on your definition of tablespoon, until the cookies are browned on the edges, starting to brown toward the center, and just set in the middle (or however you like them!).
Remove from the oven and let rest at least 2 minutes before removing them from the cookie sheets onto a rack to cool.