Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The empty nest

I'm trying to plan menus two weeks out, because of buying groceries online--order on Tuesday for delivery Friday. Instead of planning this week, or the next few days, and then walking through the garden, or dropping in to the market, I have to jump ahead 5 to 10 days and think of what I will need.

Next week my daughter will be here for about 10 days, and I can't remember what she eats. Cheese, and bread. Cold cuts? She's a carnivore, but I don't really want to add much meat to the diet. I need to make bread. Rice pilaf, and all the family favorites I suppose, since she eats almost exclusively packaged pre-made foods and restaurant fare on the road.

Perhaps she'll like the homemade pita.

My own pita recipe
• 2 cups white flour
• 1 cup wheat flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 packet yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
• 1 teaspoon mahlepe
• 2 Tablespoons honey
• ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
• 1 to 1 ¼ cups water, roughly at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to activate it. Otherwise, mix the yeast in with the flour, mahlepe, and salt. Add the olive oil, sour cream, honey, and water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. Adjust flour or water to get a very slightly sticky ball (should knead easily)

Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, place a cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas (probably 2 or 3) as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes.


  1. Yum!! I miss good, honest greek food. Thanks for giving me my fix!!!

  2. Jen, in a couple of months I'll make some Greek pickled beets with the Chioggas and Goldens that I just planted, thanks to your largesse!

  3. So glad to hear that! What's different between traditional pickled beets and greek pickled beets? I'm intrigued (and the only person I know that loves pickled beets).

  4. I think the Greeks invented pickled beets, actually, so probably the same. All I know is whenever I ate beets at other peoples' houses, they were never pickled, which always seemed weird to me!

  5. I finally got to try these, but without the mahlepe - marvelous!

  6. Glad to hear it! You can get mahlepe, should you feel the need to, from spicehouse.com. Or just grind your own cherry pits! Not sure how you get rid of the cyanide...