Baked Pita Chips! And how the video got going (cousin-love).
I love baked pita chips — simple to make and a great way to use up the last couple of loaves of pita that seem to hang on! Bake them for a healthier-than-fried version and still just as crunchy, salty, and addictive.
There are the Blood Cousins: I have somewhere in the family of 60. There are the Friend Cousins: I have many many more, thanks God. There are the Sister Cousins (when you like your sister so much you call her cousin instead of sister…): I have one, and she is gold.
Certainly for many, the world of the cousins is peripheral. It’s a convenient way of naming that person over there, across the room at a wedding or a funeral or holiday dinner, whose parent and my parent are family.
Where I come from, the world of the cousins is something quite different. The weddings and the funerals—yes, the cousins pile in and we do love ourselves for that. Perhaps it’s our sheer quantity that’s so exciting, though one could argue the numbers should actually make us less close, not more. Instead, we have enough laughter/tragedy/trust/food/bread among us to keep us clannishly, tribally close. And proud of one another.
Take my cousin Celine, case in point. Blood cousin, with our fathers brothers. She’s someone who defined the word my father used to describe people he particularly enjoyed: dynamic.
She took me by the hand way back, way way back when I was first thinking on who in the world I was going to be. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know. Was it advertising? She showed me around her big world producing ads at the time at Leo Burnett in Chicago. Her level of cool seemed out of reach, even though the whole experience was meant to teach me otherwise.
Also back in the day, she and I tried to capture the secret of Lebanese flatbreads together in Sitto’s little kitchen. We took notes and practiced our hands until we could really, truly throw that dough, even if only for a moment. Afterwards, Celine sent me a photo of Sitto next to her big stack of breads holding the glass coke bottle she used to sprinkle them with water. “Master of the Syrian Bread,” she wrote underneath. Sitto’s level of mastery seemed out of reach, but the photo of that day reminds me otherwise.
It wasn’t long after a day like this that Celine and her sissie came a-visiting me and my sissie in Chicago, circa 2010–pre-book, pre-blog, pre-so very very much. We would bake. We would eat. We would laugh. We would talk, about the food and the family. There is video to prove it, and to remember the beginnings (or middle-of-things) on my mission in life today:
That weekend we talked about life’s funny way of turning in unexpected and sometimes painful directions. We had just lost Ruth, and I had my own wounds to lick. It was that weekend that I first uttered a public and strong “leave my job for culinary school.” That level of change had for a good long time seemed out of reach, but the cheering little sister-cousin-crowd encouraged me otherwise. Note my t-shirt, too, which reads: HOPE.
Not all that long ago, a similar little cousin crowd got together to make and perfect grape leaves. The talk turned to videos, the demonstrations of all of this food that would make it so much easier for us to know it and learn it and cook it and share it and eat it. I said that I’d tried, and tried, and have circled the big wide world of You Tube like there might be a sink hole in the middle. Or worse, a dog who bites.
Celine looked up from her grape leaves and the (many, addictive) homemade pita chips we ate for sustenance to hold us over while the rolls cooked. Maureen. Video is a must-have. A MUST-HAVE, she said.
Then she said, perhaps accidentally, that she’d be happy to help get the video off the ground if I wanted. God knows I jumped, literally up and down, at the chance. Poor cousin. She must have regretted the offer on the spot. Thankfully she didn’t have all of the other kind, talented people who’ve tried to help me make videos in the past there to tell her to run, fast and far away.
Next thing you know, dynamic cousin has pulled together our own version of a dream team and she’s in the kitchen making it happen, and doing things like bringing Dan into the picture so I stop going all Cindy Brady the minute the camera light turns on (Remember? Here).
Making the videos just seemed like it wouldn’t, couldn’t and maybe really just shouldn’t happen over here. But now we’ve got a whole bunch, including the new how-to pita chips (which will go in a how-to fattoush video, coming up soon). And I can’t wait to see what happens next with a cousin who keeps showing me otherwise.
Baked Pita Chips
- 2 10-inch thin pitas or three smaller, thicker pitas
- 3 tablespons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
- fine sea salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Open the pitas and pull the halves apart along the seams. Using kitchen shears, cut the pita into 1-inch strips. Cut the strips into 2-inch pieces.
- Toss the bread in a large bowl with the oil and about a teaspoon of fine sea salt. Taste and add more if you like.
- Spread the pieces of bread out on the prepared sheet pan and bake them until they are light golden brown, stirring a few times and rotating the pan, about 10 minutes for thin pita and up to 15 minutes for thicker pita.
I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!