Monday, June 18, 2018

Rosie Makes Pita Bread, Tabbouleh, And Tzatziki.

Rosie is traveling the Mediterranean route today.
With pita bread.
And tabbouleh.
And tzatziki!

Pita bread has been a staple in the Middle East and the Mediterranean
for 4000 or so years.
It is thought to have originated with nomadic tribes -
the Bedouins and/or the Amorites.
Pita's prominence spread 
as the tribes traveled across 
the Saharan and Arabian deserts,
exchanging goods and services.

It's a fairly simple bread with limitless possibilities.
Pitas can be appreciated through all the different
foods which can be wrapped by, or stuffed into, or dipped by, the pita.
The beauty here is that pita is both a bread and a utensil.

Basically, pita bread is a leavened flatbread with a pocket,
the pocket being formed by steam trapped during baking.

Now, let's make some pita bread.
For baking, you're going to need a hot oven -
500° will do.
And you'll need a baking stone 
which needs to be heated for a full hour
before you start baking the pitas.

Recipe is adapted from Milk Street Magazine.

Pita Bread
neutral oil (I used Bertolli's extra light olive oil.)
175 grams (1 1/4 cups) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
175 grams (1 1/4 cups) whole wheat flour
1 package yeast
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Coat a medium bowl with  oil.
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook,
mix flours, yeast, and sugar on low
until well combined, about 5 seconds.
Add water, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons oil.
Process until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes.
Poke the dough - it should be slightly sticky.
If not, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time
(2 TB max),
mixing after each addition, until sticky.
Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
Add salt and process at low speed about 10 minutes,
until soft and pliable.
Form dough into a ball and transfer to oiled bowl,
turning ball to coat with oil.
Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place.
About 1 1/2 hours.

Heat oven with baking stone to 500°.

Dust a baking sheet evenly with bread flour.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface.
Divide dough into 10 pieces and roll into tight balls.
Place on prepared baking sheet.
Brush each ball with oil and cover.
Let rise in warm area until almost doubled,
 about 60 minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface
and roll each ball into a round about 1/8 inch thick
with a 5 1/2-inch diameter.
Places rounds on lightly floured baking sheets.
Cover and let rest about 15 minutes.

Working quickly,
open oven door and slide 2 rounds at a time
onto the baking stone.
Bake until the pitas have puffed and are a light golden brown,
about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on rack, covering.
Repeat with remaining dough rounds.

Now for the step-by-steps:
Here's my dough, oiled, and ready to rise.

And here's my risen dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured board
and knead a bit.

Cut into 10 equal pieces.

Form into balls and lightly oil each round.

Cover and let rest a bit.

Roll out into rounds.

I used a lightly floured pizza paddle to 
slide the rounds, two at a time,
onto the hot baking stone.

Puffy pitas!

Now that you have pita bread,
I have two excellent dips for your gustatory pleasure -
tabbouleh and tzatziki.
Both are bursting with fresh summer flavors -
cucumbers and tomatoes,
and the bright accents of green herbs -
mint, parsley, and dill.

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
2 garlic cloves
juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup lemon juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and diced
2 scallions, sliced
 1 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped mint
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put bulgur wheat in medium bowl,
pour boiling water over to cover,
cover bowl,
and let sit for at least an hour.
Bulgur will soak up most of the water.
Drain off remaining liquid.
You'll end up with about 2 cups of bulgur.
Combine minced garlic and lemon juice
 and whisk oil into mixture.
Combine prepared bulgur wheat,  
 cucumber, tomato, scallions, parsley, and mint.
Pour lemon juice and oil mixture over
and toss to combine.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Rosie Note:  These amounts are not etched in stone.
If you want more tomato or cucumber, go for it.
Same with mint and parsley.
If you'd like to add in some chopped red onion,
I would not be averse to that.

And if you didn't make you own pita bread,
these dips are perfect with tortilla chips.

1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
1 inch length English cucumber, diced
1 TB fresh dill, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients to combine.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
for the flavors to meld.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cheesecake! With Caramel Sauce.

I'll just let you feast your eyes on the cheesecake.
Please, take your time.

It gets even better.
I didn't think that was possible.

As you know if you've been following me for any time,
Rosie doesn't do "leftovers."
Rosie does "moreovers."

I never liked the word "leftovers."
It's negative sounding and not very appetizing.
I needed a word that describes what I do.
I take food that may have been blessed a time or two before,
and come up with something new and different.
It's not "leftovers."
It's "moreovers."

Years ago, I wrote this:

Nothing goes to waste in the Hawthorne Household.
And I don't refer to the remnants as leftovers.
Immediately after writing the word "leftovers,"
I knew I needed another word that was more real, more definitive, and positive.
First I thought of the word re-do's.
But that implies it wasn't done right the first time around when it certainly was.
Then I considered do-overs.
But, of course, that, too, has a negative connotation.
I've put a lot of thought into this trying to come up with just the right word which describes
the process of what I do in the life chain of the produce and viande
I prepare and serve and consume.

And my word is Moreovers.

Think about it:
You've already produced and served a wonderful, satisfying, convivial repast.
So, what's next?
MORE is next.
When you say "Moreover," you're likely going to top what you previously said,
put an exclamation point there,
and/or put it in bold or italics.
So, I have no leftovers.

So, where is Rosie going with this, you ask?
Well, I'll tell you.
The other day when I made a grape salad,
I only used half of the dressing on the grapes.
So I needed something to do with the other half. 
Enter ...  the cheesecake. 
Done deal.

And by the way, Mr. Hawthorne,
pronounced this "the best cheesecake you've ever made."
And I've made a load of cheesecakes in my lifetime.
And never a "bad" one.
Even a "bad" cheesecake is good, right?

Let's start with the crust.

4 graham crackers
16 ginger snaps
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Process all ingredients until well combined
and press into bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan.

Prepare the filling and pour into the pan.

1/2 of the mixture left over from the grape salad
And half of that mixture would be:
1/4 stick cream cheese, softened
2 TB sour cream
1 TB sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Rest of the ingredients for cheese cake:
1 1/2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
2 TB cornstarch
1 TB vanilla
4 eggs, room temperature
Rosie tip:  When you want room temperature eggs
and don't want to wait,
place them in a bowl of hot tap water.

In a processor,
combine the grape salad dressing ingredients
along with the cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt,
lemon juice and zest, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.
Mix well.
Add in eggs, one at a time, 
processing well after each addition.

Pour into prepared springform pan.
Bake at 325° oven for 60 minutes.
Turn oven off.
Leave cheesecake in oven for 15 minutes, 
with door ajar.
Remove from oven and let cool on rack.


When cooled, remove from pan.

While the cheesecake was cooling,
the hamster was running,
and I decided to make a caramel sauce.
Because sometimes, more is more.
And this is one of those cases.

Do not be afraid of caramel.
That said, stand over the pot of melting sugar the entire time!
Do not go check your email.
Do not go to the bathroom.
Do not walk out to the mailbox.
Do not do anything.
Except stand over the damn pot.

Melted sugar can go from a beautiful caramel
to a burned mess in a split second,
so you need to be vigilant.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 TB unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt

In a heavy, perfectly clean sauce pan,
heat sugar and water over medium heat,
stirring until combined.
Stop stirring now!
Simply swirl the pan until the sugar melts
and turns a light amber color.
If you've gone too far, you can smell it.
Throw it away, clean the pan, and start over.
If you have a thermometer, go for 350°.
However, color and smell should work just fine.
Add in butter,a few pieces at a time,
whisking until combined and melted.
Remove pan from heat
and slowly pour in the cream.
Expect bubbling and steaming.
Whisk constantly until all cream is incorporated.
Stir in salt and set aside to cool.

For the step-by-steps:
Here's the sugar and water to begin with.

You want a gradually darkening.

Almost there.

That's the color you're aiming for.

Add in the butter, whisking to melt.

Whisk until all butter is melted and incorporated.

Slowly and carefully,
pour in cream.

Whisk away.

When cream is incorporated and mixture is smoothsmoothsmooth,
set aside to cool.

Drizzle caramel over cheesecake.

Rosie moans...

The texture is silken.

And if you insist on healthy,
throw in some fruit!

And that, my friends, is cheesecake!
And you are welcome.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Rosie Makes A Grape Salad.

I love fruit salads and this delectable grape salad really hit the spot.
It's green and red seedless grapes
coated with a cream cheese and sour cream dressing
that's both sweet and tart.
I only used half the dressing for a pound of grapes,
saving the remaining half for "the best cheesecake you've ever made,"
according to Mr. Hawthorne.
And I've made a lot of cheesecakes in my time.
That recipe will be posted soon,
but for now, enjoy the grape salad.

Rosie's Grape Salad
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 stick), softened
1/4 cup sour cream
2 TB sugar
1 TB vanilla
Combine all ingredients.
Mix well.

Using 1/2 of the above mixture,
add in 1 lb. red and green seedless grapes,
stirring to coat grapes.

Leave the grapes whole.
Slicing would make this too watery.

Sprinkle 2 TB brown sugar,
1/2 cup cup coconut,
and 1/2 cup chopped pecans
over grape mixture.

You could totally add some sliced apple in here
to give it some added crunch
and I'd be quite happy.

This is soooo gooooood.
It's one of those dishes where I keep scooping
spoonful after spoonful
because I don't want to miss out on any flavors in there.
I can't get enough tastes or textures.