I always love to cook with kids. My kid. My step-kids. Their friends. My nieces, nephews, niblings and their friends. My friend’s kids. Big kids, little kids. It doesn’t matter. Everyone can help and I love it when they do. I don’t always get cooperation but when I do it makes me really really happy. My mom taught me how to cook. She is such an excellent cook and she taught me well. So I like to carry on that tradition. This past weekend I suggested to Alex that we cook together – maybe with a friend or two of his. He readily agreed and we made a plan to make grissini (he says they’re breadsticks) on Sunday. Sunday turned into a busy day. I rode my bike to Palos Verdes with Alan and Alex went surfing (he was gone when we got home). Came home and made the yeast dough for the grissini.
We all went into Santa Monica and went clothes and shoe shopping for an hour. Alan dropped Alex off for a haircut and I met my niece Jane and my faux-niece Rachel for a pedicure and then Moon Juice. We came back to the house and made grissini with Alex. Well Jane and Rachel watched and Alex and I rolled the dough out. It really was loads of fun for me and Alex seemed like he was into it as well. Yeasty, yummy, breadsticks. Make them soft and chewy or crunchy (like they’re supposed to be), fat, skinny, funny looking, or not. Roll them in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cayenne pepper, a sprinkling of salt, herbs of any type but especially rosemary or thyme. Bake and eat. So fun and easy and good. A great kid cooking project for little kids or big kids alike.
GRISSINI aka BREADSTICKS
(-too common to attribute to any particular person)
½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup warm water
1 tsp honey
1 scant Tbsp active-dry yeast
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp good extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
oil for the bow
Optional additions: sea salt, sesame seeds, chopped herbs of any type, black pepper
In the bowl of a mixer combine the whole wheat flour, warm water, honey and yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon and let sit for about 10 minutes. The mixture will be activated, foamy, bubbly, like that. Add the remaining ingredients including white flour, olive oil and salt. Mix on low with a dough hook until combined and then on medium for 7-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.(If you don’t want to use the stand-mixer then do the above-steps in a bowl and then knead by hand for about 10 minutes until smooth and shiny and then proceed on).
Pour a little olive oil in a small bowl. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl, ball it together, and transfer to the small bowl. Roll it around in the bowl so it is covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let sit undisturbed in a warm black for an hour or until doubled in bulk. Preheat the over to 425° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough in a large rectangle or push it into a large rectangle flattened. Using a sharp knife, slice a finger width piece from the long length of the rectangle and roll out to a long snake like breadstick looking piece of dough. If you want seeds on it then roll it in the seeds. If you want salt on it then sprinkle salt on or stick a few crystals of Maldon throughout the sticks. Place the snake on the baking sheet separating them a little bit. If you want the dough to have herbs in it then before you make the flattened rectangle chop up fresh herbs (about ½ tsp to 1 Tbsp) and knead it into the dough. Then proceed as above.
You can sprinkle the sticks with cayenne pepper if you’d like. Alex did that and it was nice. Let the sticks rest on the baking sheets for about 15 minutes to puff up before baking. Bake the sticks for 10 to 15 minutes in total. Turn after 5 minutes for even baking. If you roll them thin, they will burn easily so keep a watchful eye. Eat. Good.