Monday, February 15, 2010

Daring Cooks - Mezze

People adopt smug smiles for various reasons. Maybe you know something that no-one else does. A juicy secret definitely ups the smug factor (or at least it does for me!) Smug smiles can also be caused by the knowledge that you are somewhat (in some way at least) superior to someone else.

Sometimes you are not necessarily good at something, but certainly better than the average person out there. Something a whole slew of people realised in this past week with the whole facebook login fiasco. If you don't know what I'm talking about now - Daring Fireball has a great summary of the events that ensued when ReadWriteWeb wrote an article about facebook which resulted in unintentionally hilarious comments from confused facebook users.  It's one of those things that can make even the most un-savvy computer user feel like Bill Gates . Smugness on tap!

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid. Our mezze had to include (but was not limited to): pita Bread (from scratch) and hummus. My hummus was a dismal FAIL, so I won't include a recipe for that. The pita bread though, was a HUGE success. I don't think I'll ever go back to buying ready made pita again.

And if you've never felt smug in your life, I can almost guarantee you that a bout of bread making will rectify that. Not because it's very complicated or even difficult. It's just that hardly anyone still does it anymore. And as such it has become quite awe-inspiring when someone does venture into the kitchen to exercise their kneading prowess.

Fast is not a word I'd use to describe making pita bread from scratch. But in the same breath, it's very low-maintenance. Mix, let rest, knead, let rest, roll out & bake for a few minutes. Active time is probably 30 minutes tops. The rest is just sitting back and waiting for the yeast to do the work. Producing perfectly fresh chewy, pillowy pita bread with (almost) no effort. Now that's something to feel smug about.
Pita Bread
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Makes 8

2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 cups white bread flour
1 cup brown bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

1. In a large bowl combine yeast, water and half of the flour. Stir 100 times in the same direction to activate the gluten. Cover and allow to rest for 1 1/2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well, then gradually add more flour until the dough comes together. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Roll dough into a ball, lightly coat with olive oil, place in large bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise until double in volume (45 mins to 1 hour)
3. Preheat oven to 230C. Gently punch down the dough, and divide in 8 equal pieces. Flatten each piece and roll out to a circle approx 1/2 cm thick. Lay the rolled out pita dough pieces next to each other (not on top of each other) and cover with a dish towel until ready to bake. 
4. Place two pita rounds at a time (or more if you have a large enough oven) onto a rectangle of heavy duty foil (or baking sheet or pizza stone), then place on oven rack. Bake for 2 - 3 minutes, or until bread puffs up like a balloon. Remove fom oven and wrap in a large kitchen towel to keep warm and soft while you bake the remaining breads. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Nutritional info (per pita): Calories 142.9, Total fat 2.3 g, Saturated fat 0.3 g, Polyunsaturated fat0.3 g, Monounsaturated fat 1.3 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 436.5 mg, Potassium 21.5 mg, Total carbohydrate 26.5 g, Dietary fiber 2.3 g, Sugars 0.0 g, Protein 4.6 g


nina on February 15, 2010 2:02 pm said...

Geez, you made that from scratch????? Wow, impressive!!!

Marisa on February 15, 2010 2:43 pm said...

Thanks for the compliment Nina! Although it really is one of those things that look much more complicated to achieve than it really is.

Joanne on February 15, 2010 5:50 pm said...

Your mezze look seriously delicious. And the pitas look well worth the time you put in - absolutely amazing!

Koek! on February 16, 2010 12:14 pm said...

I could definitely do with more smugness in my life ;-) That mezze looks so simple and so delicious.

Kara's "Original Greek" on February 17, 2010 10:14 am said...

Lovely Mezze Marisa! Im bound to test your recipes! you have a lovely site, will visit again. Costa

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