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.


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