Food, life

I Love a Good Cookbook

I would choose Nora Ephron to write my biography.  I’ve said it before on this blog, but when she weaved recipes into Heartburn it gave me a literary thrill.

I made a killer chili when I was a kid.  So if Nora were to tell you about the year my parents divorced and how I used to run home after school, make dinner for my younger sisters, and then run back to school in time for track practice, I am positive she would include my chili recipe.

And because it was such a big, special event, I am sure she would tell you about the retreat I planned for a group of college kids.  I wore a lot of hats at that retreat: planner, organizer, speaker, and head chef.  For Saturday’s lunch I served my version of a fatoush.  As we ate one of my guests – a young woman from Tennessee – excitedly exclaimed, “I have never had food like this before!”  She grew up on biscuits and gravy and other Southern specialties.  After she returned home she e-mailed me for the recipe.

I’m thinking Nora would include that one, too.

And so will I:

Grilled Chicken Fatoush

dressing/marinade:
⅓ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried greek oregano (or 2 Tbsp. minced fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I buy cutlets because they grill faster).

salad:
English cucumber, sliced into thin half moons
Campari tomatoes – cut however you like them
big bunch of fresh parsley, rough chopped
pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
red onion sliced super thin
romaine lettuce, chopped
fresh dill, chopped (optional – if it’s summer and your garden is producing)
fresh mint, chopped (optional – if it’s summer and your garden is producing)
LOTS of feta cheese, crumbled
a pinch of ground sumac berries (optional – the kind you buy at the spice store, not the poisonous sumac berries that grow in your yard)

garnish:
pita chips (recipe follows)

Whisk together the dressing ingredients until they are emulsified. It should make about ⅔ cup. Reserve ⅓ cup of it to dress the salad, and pour the rest into a ziplock bag with the chicken. Put the chicken in the fridge and let it marinate for 30 minutes (longer is better but not too long or the texture of the chicken will get a bit mealy).

Combine the salad ingredients – use whatever quantities you like.

Preheat your grill to high. Grill the chicken until thoroughly cooked – about 3-4 minutes per side if you use cutlets. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

To serve:

Toss the salad with the dressing. Toss in the pita chips (right before serving so they don’t get soggy.) Pile salad on each plate, lay slices of grilled chicken on top.

pita chips:
2 or 3 of the large, thin pitas
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut or tear the pita bread into small pieces.

Throw it in a large salad bowl. Toss in the minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly with clean hands.

Spread in single layer on a large cookie sheet.

Bake on second rung of oven until toasted, 7 -10 minutes in my oven.

Use the same large bowl to make the salad so the little bits of garlic that cling to the bowl don’t go to waste.

Note: If it’s too stinkin’ cold to grill, sear the chicken on the stove in a cast iron pan (grill pan if possible) and then finish it in the oven as soon as you pull the pita chips out.

Bon Apetit!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ghostwriter.”

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