Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Irresponsible Picnic: Lemon-Fennel Chicken Sandwiches and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday, with some help, I escaped the library by going on an impromptu, irresponsible picnic--the best kind! We went up to a nearby park that was really beautiful, sat next to a lovely lake, watched ducks swim, and froze our bottoms while filling our bellies with Not-Turkey Sandwiches. It was very awesome.

Next time I am packing a thermos of laced hot cocoa. First I have to buy a thermos. And whatever you lace hot cocoa with.

Lemon-Fennel Chicken Sandwiches With Sauteed Peppers, Onions, Arugula, and Basil Pesto

See the recipe for basil pesto.

Ingredients for Two Sandwiches:

3 chicken thigh cutlets (or 2 chicken breasts, if you must use dry, bland, healthy white meat)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. fennel
1/4 cup of flour to dredge
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned into small strips
1/2 onion, cut into thin half-rings
2 slices of swiss cheese
1 tbs. basil pesto (or more)
Handful of arugula
1/4 cup olive oil
Two ciabatta sandwich buns, split in half (or just cut up a ciabatta however you want)

Salt, pepper, and fennel up the chicken pieces on both sides. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken pieces, and allow to marinate. At least 10 minutes for light flavor, a few hours or overnight for total juiceyness and strong lemon flavor

Heat the oil in a skillet until ver hot. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, tap excess off. Fry in pan, 3-4 minutes each side (or more) until crisp and browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate. After cool, cut into thin slices.

Add the peppers and onions to the skillet, and sautee until soft and slightly charred.

Spread the homemade pesto on the toasted ciabatta. Arrange everything in the bread to your liking, and "sandwich" together.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Underbake for soft, chewy cookies, bake a little longer for crispier ones. I do both.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup* at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

* 1/4 cup cannot be right, as it made a cookie approximately 8″ across, an egregious excess by any standard. For a typically oversized cookie, use 1/8 cup.

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