Thursday, May 13, 2010

It doesn't have to be gloomy...

It's been rainy, rainy gloomy here. Grey and cold and wet. So I thought I would share these Etsy finds with you to remind you — and me — that grey doesn't have to be gloomy. It can be shimmery and sophisticated, soft and subtle…

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pitas that poof

Homemade Pita recipeHomemade Pita recipe
I hadn't really ever thought much about making my own pita bread, but somehow ran across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and the photos of all those poofed up pitas made me want to try it. (Of course, it also led to the homemade hummus I posted about yesterday, too!) Mine are all misshapen and not round, but that's half the fun of them being homemade, isn't it?!

Pita Bread
Makes 8 to 12
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and The Bread Bible

1 package active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (90 to 110ºF)
3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt

2 Tb olive oil

8 hours to 3 days before shaping, mix the dough.

Add yeast and pinch of sugar to water and stir thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand five to ten minutes until yeast is foamy.

BY MIXER: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add yeast mixture to rest of ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid) just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid), and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.

BY HAND: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. (This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.

LET DOUGH RISE: Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and turn it to coat well with oil. Cover the container with a lid or lightly oiled plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise.

Preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.

SHAPE: Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

BAKE: Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spritz each rolled-out pita with water two or three minutes before baking.

Proceed with the remaining dough, baking 3 or 4 pieces at a time if using a stone or baking sheet. Using a pancake turner, transfer the pita breads to a clean towel, to stay soft and warm. (They even stay puffed under a towel!) Allow the oven to reheat for 5 minutes between batches. The pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven before serving.

To cook the pitas on the stove top: Preheat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the surface and cook the pitas one at a time. Cook for about 20 seconds, then turn the dough and continue cooking for 1 minute or until big bubbles appear. Turn the dough again and cook until the dough balloons. If the dough begins to brown, lower the heat. The entire cooking process for each pita should be about 3 minutes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stop! Put down that container! Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus RecipeI always mean to make my own hummus. I've had a huge jar of dried chickpeas in the pantry for ages just for that purpose. But it always seemed easier to grab a container of it at the store. Well, no longer. I broke out the dried beans this weekend and it was surprisingly simple and so much tastier than store-bought. Just throw the beans into some water overnight, simmer a while the next day and then mix it all up in the food processor. A lot of time, but not very much active time. (The cooked beans also freeze well if kept in their cooking liquid according to Mark Bittman.) It made me say outloud to the boy that I was going to try to use only dried beans for everything (Overambitious, yes! Maybe most of the time would be more realistic.) This recipe makes an absolutely ginormous amount, so feel free to cut it in half. And stay tuned for tomorrow when I show you the beautiful puffy homemade pita I made to go with it!

From Smitten Kitchen
Makes 4 cups

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup tahini/sesame seed paste

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, and more to taste

Cayenne, hot Hungarian paprika or

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons olive oil

Rinse the soaked chickpeas well and drain them before putting them in a saucepan and covering them with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a boil; skim, add one-half teaspoon salt, cover and cook over medium heat, about 1 1/2 hours, until the chickpeas are very soft (you might need to add more water).

Meanwhile, crush the garlic and one-half teaspoon salt in a mortar until pureed. Transfer the puree to the work bowl of a food processor, add the sesame seed paste and lemon juice and process until white and fully blended. Add one-half cup water and process until completely smooth.

Drain the chickpeas, reserving their cooking liquid. Add the chickpeas to the sesame paste mixture and process until well-blended. Thin to desired consistency with reserved chickpea liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice. The hummus can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.) Serve, sprinkled with paprika and parsley and drizzled with oil.