Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Week 2: Falafel and Pita

So, not the greatest picture, you really can't see the deliciousness here. This is a homemade pita bread filled with 'falafel' (sort of) and topped with tzatziki (which I cannot spell, ever) and fresh tomatoes. Really, really good.

I don't know what possessed me to try making pita. On the one hand, dear god, if you've never had a fresh home made pita, you are SO missing out. Those cardboard rounds they sell at the grocery store are basically an entirely different food. So, yay for home made pita!

On the other hand, I can't stop eating them. This is the same problem I have with all bread, actually - home made is just so much better you find yourself polishing off a half a loaf in one sitting. You don't do that with store bread!

Still, I'm not sure I can go back to store pita. Now that I know what I'd be missing...

Pita bread is essentially made like most other breads, just baked a little differently. After some experimentation and reading a ton of different variations on pita recipes, I've settled on what seems to work pretty well for me:

1 cup white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup hot water

Mix together.

Add, a half cup at a time, 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour and mix until it hangs together as a dough, then knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

I use my kitchenaid. I love my KA. I wouldn't make bread if I didn't have it to do the kneading for me.

The finished, kneaded dough. It will be a bit sticky, which is good - for pita you want a slightly sticky dough.

Dump the dough into an oiled boil, flip it over to oil the whole thing, then cover with a clean tea towel and put somewhere warm to rise for about 90 minutes (if using all white flour, I only rise an hour, but I find the whole wheat needs a little longer). I like to proof my dough in the oven, since you are pretty much guaranteed no drafts. I just turn it on for about 3 minutes to warm up the interior a bit, stick the dough in, and go on with my day.

Although that does mean you have to NOT plan to use your oven! There have been incidents in the past...

The dough after rising. I could probably even have left it longer. Bread is really very forgiving, so I don't get too hung up on exact times.

Punch down, shape into a rough circle, and cut into 8 pieces. If you want to be SUPER picky, you can weigh the dough and figure out how much each piece should weight so they'll all be identical, but I just don't care that much.

Shape each piece into a rough ball (I could have done a better job of this part) and let rise a half hour or so.

Lookit those! The dough becomes delightfully soft and workable after this rise.

Roll each piece out into a nice circle, 6-8" wide. Or so. I didn't measure. I'm guessing. Fairly thin, anyway. After rolling them out, start preheating your oven (this way the rolled out rounds get a little rest before baking) to very very very very hot. Around 500 or so. On the lowest rack, stick a pizza stone or piece of stoneware or something so it gets nice and hot too.

Once the oven is hot, take out the stone, slap a couple of the rounds on top, slide in, and bake for 3 minutes. They should within a minute or so start getting all puffy, forming the pita pocket:

(I am so not competent with a rolling pin, in case that's not obvious already. Those are some weirdly mishapen pitas. Fortunately, they still taste awesome!).

After three minutes remove the pitas, and wrap them up in a tea towel (the steam will help keep the pitas nice and soft and pliable), then repeat with the remaining rounds.

Try not to eat them all at once, OK? You do want to get them into a storage bag fairly quickly so they stay nice and soft.

OK, so having figured out the pita thing, what to put in them? My lunch today involved stuffing a pita with a mixture of crumbled bacon, diced tomato, sliced avacado, and mayonaise, and hot damn, that was tasty. I wish I'd made two, I'd eat another one RIGHT NOW. Ahem.

But for this post, I wanted to try something involving chickpeas, and since I really like falafel, I decided to make falafel-esque patties, only in a nod towards not having a heart attack any time soon, I grilled them instead of deep frying them.

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed:

Mashed up:

Add in:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp red pepper (didn't have any, just used regular ground pepper)

Process until smooth:
Taste, adjust seasonings (ie you might want to add salt - i didn't because the canned chickpeas were plenty salty enough to start with).

Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour:

Form into patties, fairly thin, let stand for 15 minutes.

Here is where you would deep fry them, but I don't really do the deep frying thing (good lord, the mess!), so I pan fried them on my griddle. I did butter the griddle up a bit, but basically I just cooked them about 4-5 minutes a side until they were nice and brown and hot:

Not to bad! Not the same as a real falafel, of course, but good enough for an easy and cheap lunch or dinner.

mmmmmmmm. Home made pita, topped with tzatziki and falafel and tomato. A little hummus on this wouldn't have been amiss, either.

the tzatziki recipe was a total disaster, since it left out two key steps, and also I forgot to photograph it. Still tasted pretty good, though. Recipe (with the missing steps included!) is below.

I'm thinking I might be experimenting a lot with different things to stuff in pitas over the next few weeks...

Pita Bread

Mix together:

1 cup white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup hot water

Gradually add in 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. Knead dough 10 minutes until smooth and elastic (will probably be slightly sticky). Let rise 90 minutes. Punch down, divide into 8 pieces, form into balls, let rise 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a disc. Heat oven to 500 degrees with a stone on the bottom rack. Bake each round for 3 minutes, and wrap the finished pitas in a tea towel until ready to use or store.


1 can chick peas, drained, rinshed, and mashed.

Mix in:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp red pepper

Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Mix in 2 tbsp flour, form into patties, and fry until brown and hot.


1 cup plain yogurt, drained
1 cucumber, peeled, chopped, seeded and drained (put chopped cucumber in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for 20 minutes to drain)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic, peeled

Put everything except the yogurt into a food processor and process until smooth (or, put into a large bowl and use a hand/stick blender to process). Mix in yogurt. Cover and refrigerate one hour for best flavour.

1 comment:

Peek-A-Box said...

ohhh yummy! I definitely have to try this!

Post a Comment