Mar 16, 2013

PITA BREAD

Whole-Wheat Pita Bread
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Whether you live in Hawaii or in the Middle East, pita bread (Syrian bread), is great for a quick meal any time of the day. Because pita breads form a large pocket of air in the center when baked, you can stuff them with leftover steak and onions with sour cream, fill them with tuna salad, or use them as a soft taco shell, the combinations are endless. They are also great to just serve warm with a stew or soup, or to sop up gravy from the plate. You can also cut them into small wedges, coat with olive oil and spices, then roast them until they are crisp. Use them to scoop up your favorite dip. "They are a good thing" as Martha Stewart would say, because they are so versatile. 

Easy To Make Whole-Wheat Pita Bread
Whether you buy them from the grocery store all ready made or make them yourself, you can't go wrong with this simple pita bread recipe.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups warm water (110˚F)
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups wheat flour
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Procedure:
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy. Combine white flour, wheat flour, and salt in large bowl. Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression. Slowly add warm yeast water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until dough becomes elastic. Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.

Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated with oil. Allow to sit, covered, in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500˚F, and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet. Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick. Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes. Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking. Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags. Makes 10-12 pita bread rounds.

Note: To make a cinnamon/sugar pita bread, add a little cinnamon/sugar mixture on top of your rounds prior to baking. When you are ready to eat your pita bread, you can eat them as they are, or stuff them with stewed apples and raisins with some butter for added flavor.

Storing Pita Bread:
Pita bread can be stored for up to a week in a pantry or bread box, and up to a month in the freezer. Be sure to use freezer bags when storing in the freezer. Pita bread dough can also be refrigerated for up to one week in the refrigerator.

There are three easy ways to cut pita bread:
• a sharp serrated knife with pita flat against cutting board (my personal favorite)
• a pizza knife
• kitchen shears

On-The-Go-Loco-Moco
The classic Hawaiian soulfood is Loco Moco. This is my take on making this classic mobile with Pita Pockets.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef (hamburger)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
dash of soy sauce
dash of Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs (cooked sunny-side-up or over easy)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain white rice, mixed with a slice of chopped spam and green onions

2 whole-wheat pita pockets, heated for a few seconds in the microwave, and then cut in half with a serrated knife.

Procedure:
Season the ground beef with salt, pepper and onion powder. Add canola oil to a large frying pan, cook beef until it is cooked to your liking, breaking it up into chunks, then remove and keep warm. Combine the flour and softened butter and put in the same frying pan over medium heat until the mixture turns pale brown, stirring all the time, then gradually add the beef stock. Stir until the gravy thickens and turns brown in about three minutes. add mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Taste and season with a dash of soy sauce and Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper if needed. Put a strainer over a pot and pour the gravy into the strainer. Set gravy aside. Fry eggs (sunny-side up or over easy) in butter. Divide hot rice mixture onto four pita pocket halves, top with the fried hamburger chunks and hot gravy, top that off with the fried eggs. Makes 4 servings. Serve with a lot of napkins.

Optional condiments:
Shoyu, ketchup, tabasco


Spicy Salmon Pita Pockets
Salmon is actually delicious cooked in a microwave oven. Here is a recipe that is fast and easy and it is delicious.

Ingredients:
3/4 pound fresh salmon filet
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
2-3 fresh cut lime slices
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups of shredded Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage), leafy part only
fresh lime juice
1 pita bread
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, roasted

Procedure:
Rinse salmon filet with cold water and pat dry. Place the salmon skin side down in a microwave save container. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and Sriracha hot chili sauce. Generously spread the mayonnaise mixture on top of the fillet. Add lime slices and parsley. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave the fish for about 3 minutes on high. Check the center of the filet for doneness with a fork. If there is any uncooked fish, microwave for another 30-45 seconds. Heat pita bread in the microwave for about a 15 to 30 seconds on high until hot. Cut it in half and open each half. Fill each half with cabbage until it is about half full. Squeeze fresh lime juice on cabbage. Divide the salmon into two equal pieces and crumble each half into a pita pocket. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and Sriracha/mayonnaise chili sauce if desired. Sprinkle with chopped macadamia nuts and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Pita Bread Pizza
Everyone loves pizza, but have you tried making pizza with pita bread? It's easy and you can make them with your favorite toppings. Serve as a main course or cut up for appetizers.

Ingredients:
4-6 pita rounds (white or whole wheat)
1 cup of pizza sauce (recipe below, or use your favorite store-bought pizza sauce)
2 cups mozzarella cheese
toppings of your choice (veggies, cooked meats, cheeses)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spoon pizza sauce over pita rounds. Top with mozzarella and desired toppings. Place on baking sheet and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Slice and serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: For Hawaiian pita pizza, use a combination of Canadian bacon (or slices of ham), diced, fresh pineapple, diced, and mozzarella cheese on top of your pita bread.

Pita Bread Pizza Sauce
Ingredients:
1 (14.5 oz.) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of cayenne
splash of red wine (optional)

Procedure:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it bubbles. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Makes 1 cup.

Pita Pockets with Beef Kafta
This Arabic meat mixture is usually grilled on skewers, but in this recipe we are filling pita bread pockets with the seasoned ground beef, or lamb. It is usually served with hummus and tabbouli as side dishes.

Ingredients:
8 pita breads

1 pound ground beef, or 1 pound ground lamb
½ cup finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
5 mint leaves, very finely chopped, optional
½ cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons ground allspice
3 cloves minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup bread crumbs
1 whole egg
chile flakes, optional

Toppings:
1 small head Romaine lettuce, shredded, or use small fresh spinach, stems removed
3 tomatoes, chopped, or use cherry tomatoes cut in half
Greek yogurt, plain
English cucumber, chopped
fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Procedure:
Mix ingredients together in a glass bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil to a large skillet. Heat skillet on medium high heat and add meat mixture. Cook until meat is no longer pink, but do not overcook. Meanwhile, heat pita bread in a 300˚F oven, covered in foil, until hot, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut in half with a serrated knife. Fill each half with cooked meat, leaving room for toppings. Makes 8 servings, 2 halves per serving.

"Fattoush" - Bread and Vegetable Salad
Fattoush is a popular salad, especially in Lebanon. The great thing about fattoush is that you can add and delete veggies from the recipe according to taste. Instead of pita bread, you can also use French or Italian bread. In Italy this salad is called "Panzanella", one of my favorites.

Ingredients:
5 cups toasted pita bread, torn into 1 inch pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 half head of romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure for the salad:
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, bread, cucumber, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and parsley together. Toss gently.

For the Dressing:
In a small bowl combine garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint. Mix well. Pour dressing over salad and serve.

Variations:
You can add many spices to this according to your tastes. Some people like to add chick peas for a heartier salad. Serve 4 large salads or 6 side salads.

Sweet Potato Hummus
Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet potato
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon cumin
6 ounces feta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed

Procedure:
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook garlic for 1 minute, then pour oil and garlic into the food processor. Microwave sweet potato until soft, then place in food processor with all remaining ingredients; process until well blended, adding water as needed to achieve a smooth consistency. Serve with pita chips (recipe below). Makes 8 servings.

Pita Chips
Pita chips are easy to make, and are wonderful with your favorite dip like hummus, or served with a salad, like tabbouleh salad.

Ingredients:
6 pieces pita bread (about 12 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Using a serrated knife, carefully split each pita bread by cutting along the edge, so you end up with 12 flat circles of bread. Using a pastry brush, brush the inside surface of each piece of bread lightly with oil, then cut each disk into wedges.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and place chips, olive oil side up, in an even layer. You'll probably need to bake the chips in several batches. Bake at 400˚F for 7 to 9 minutes, until chips are crisp and golden brown. Cool completely on the sheet pan, a plate or a cooling rack. You can make these chips a day ahead of time and store them in a zip-top bag at room temperature. Try the pita chips with your favorite dip (see "dip recipes" on this site). Serves 6 to 10 people as an appetizer.
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