Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday's Lunchbox

My boys love these Greek-inspired pita sandwiches - and they were a nice change from all the turkey we’ve been eating for the past four days! The recipe looks lengthy and involved, but it’s actually pretty quick and easy to put together if you have a game plan. And the end result is definitely worth the little extra effort! All the components can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator overnight, so assembly for school lunches is a snap. If the sandwiches are not going to be eaten immediately, I don’t grill the pita bread as they get hard and tough once they’ve been sitting for a few hours. 
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Grilled Chicken Pita Sandwiches
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Grilled Chicken and Red Onions:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs)
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs soy sauce (I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
Olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry. Combine the lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and oregano in a glass dish. Add the chicken, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the chicken breasts to marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or at least 3 hours, and up to overnight, in the refrigerator.
Preheat a grill to medium heat.
Brush the onion slices with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken and and onion slices over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. The onions will blacken, but watch them carefully so they don’t burn. 
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice into very thin pieces.
Feta Tomato Mixture:
2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (1/4 lb)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
Combine the tomatoes and feta cheese in a small glass dish. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Sandwich Assembly:
Grilled chicken slices
Grilled red onion slices
Feta tomato mixture
Yogurt sauce
6 whole grain pita pockets
1/2 head romaine lettuce, finely chopped
Alfalfa sprouts
At serving time, grill the pita bread on the grill. Alternately, grill them over the flame of a gas range or heat in the toaster. Slice each pita in half to make two pockets. Place several slices of grilled chicken and grilled onions, a tablespoon of tomato-feta and chopped lettuce into a pocket. Top with yogurt sauce and a wad of alfalfa sprouts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Favorites - Part 3

These sweet potatoes flavored with citrus were a big hit again at yesterday’s Thanksgiving table. I substituted olive oil and honey for the butter and sugar the original recipe called for. The roasting gives the potatoes a nice rich flavor, and the honey-lime syrup provides a bright counterpoint.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime Syrup and Chives

Yield: Makes 8 servings

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 cups)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp finely grated fresh lime zest
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil until coated well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread in 1 layer in 2 shallow baking pans (15 by 10 by 1 inch) and roast, uncovered, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until potatoes are tender and undersides are browned, 15 to 20 minutes total.

While potatoes are roasting, bring water, honey and lime juice to a boil in a very small saucepan, stirring until honey is dissolved, then simmer until reduced to about 6 tablespoons, 6 to 7 minutes. Toss potatoes with syrup and zest in a large bowl, then sprinkle with chives.

DO AHEAD: Potatoes can be roasted and syrup made 1 day ahead (without tossing together). Chill separately in airtight containers. Reheat potatoes in a single roasting pan in oven, and heat syrup in a small saucepan until hot. Toss together, then toss with zest and sprinkle with chives.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Favorites - Part 2

I first had these light and fluffy rolls at my good friend Ingrid’s house at Thanksgiving several years ago and they have been on the menu every year since. This year I tried making the dough in my bread machine to save time and they turned out exactly the same as mixing the dough by hand. The only difference I noted in the finished rolls is that the flavor of the cardamom was less pronounced than I remember - but they were still delicious. I think next time I will add a bit more cardamom as I really like the flavor. Just add all ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine manual and process on the dough/first rise cycle. I still made the dough a day ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator overnight according to the recipe. Next time I make these I want to try substituting some of the flour for whole wheat. I’ll keep you posted!

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Feather Buns

Yield: Makes 32 rolls

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast
1 cup water
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour
1 tsp ground cardamom

Combine yeast and water and let stand until bubbly. Beat the eggs slightly and add to the yeast. Cut butter into the sugar, salt and cardamom. Blend in 3 cups of the flour. Add egg mixture. Work in last cup of flour. The dough will be quite sticky. Cover dough in bowl and let stand overnight in refrigerator.

Divide dough into fourths and roll each into a 1/8th inch thick round. Cut into eight pie-shaped pieces and roll each triangle from large end to small into a crescent. Place on greased cookie sheets at least 3 inches apart (they really spread out.) Let rise 3 hours. Bake 12 minutes at 375 degrees, being careful not to burn.

Thanksgiving Favorites - Part 1

I love how the fresh herbs combine with the sweet-tart flavor of the pomegranate molasses in this cranberry sauce. It's so simple to make and gets rave reviews every time.

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Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine, Pomegranate Molasses, and Mediterranean Herbs

Yield: Makes about 2 1/4 cups

1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
1/4 teaspoon (scant) dried basil
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint

Stir sugar and wine in heavy deep medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Boil over medium-high heat until syrup is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Add cranberries; boil until berries begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Stir in pomegranate molasses and basil. Cool completely. do ahead Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Stir in chopped cilantro and sliced mint.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

* A thick pomegranate syrup; available at some supermarkets, at Middle Eastern markets, and from