Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home Made Hummus and Winter Tabouleh on Home Made Pita

Yeah, I totally made pita. That's what happens when I want a specific bread and we don't have any, but we do have flour. And lemme tell you, they were the best pitas I've ever had.

Start with tap-hot water and two-thirds of a cup of steel-cup oats. This is for the Winter Tabouleh, not the pita, so if you're not making that, skip. (note: normally, this is bulgar wheat, but I didn't have any, and oats are wintery. Be sure they're 'steel cut'-- rolled oats will only get squishy.)

Make the pitas thusly:
Mix two teaspoons of yeast with a third cup of warm water and let it sit whil you prep the rest. I added a blob of brownsugar to give the yeast something to eat.

Sift three cups of flour into a big ol' bowl with a teaspoon and a half of salt. 

Add a tablespoon of honey / sugar / sweet stuff and two tablespoons of olive oil / veggie oil / melted butter. I used honey and oilve oil because I figured they'd be more historically accurate. mix in the yummy yeast-water; it should look like soy milk if the yeast has woken up-- thick and offwhite and creamy, a little frothy. Add up to another cup of water while you keep stirring-- add it in spashes, and stop when the flour is all wet and it forms a big sticky ball in the bowl. I used a rice paddle because I'm convinced they work for everything that needs hand-stirring, but, like, a wooden spoon or the like would work too. I guess a standup mixer would work; I don't have one, so I don't know, but I do know that some of them come with bread attatchments. I think they're cheating, because bread isn't that hard to make. 

Flour the counter and dump the breadball onto it. Knead it for ten minutes or so by folding the far edge toward you and squishing it in with a rolling-way-from-you sort of motion. Like making big circles: pull the edge toward you and then squoosh all the middle parts away from you. Then turn it and do it again. And again and again and again, adding more flour whenit even looks like it might get sticky-- but just a dusting. Too much makes it crap. When it feels firm and even, roll it all back into a ball and oil the scraped-out mixing bowl. There shouldn't be much to scrape if it's mixed well before hand. Drop the breadball back in, and flip it or spray it so the top is oiled, too... just not, like drenched. You want it like tanning spray, so it doesn't dry out while it's rising. Cover it with a clean towel, sprinkle some water over the top, and let it sit for one and a half to two hours.

While that' sitting, make all your yummies.

Hummus is easy: a drained can of chickpeas, a bunch of garlic, some lemon juice (a few tablespoons; i like mine lemony), salt and pepper, either some tahini, some sesame seeds, or a very very very small amount of sesame oil. Very small. Like, eighth of a teaspoon or less, or that's all you taste. Blenderize or super-mash it while adding a little olive oil at a time until it looks like hummus and has a spreadable consistency. Chickpeas can take alot of oil, so this isn't really all that difficult.

The Winter Tabouleh is easy, too, but takes more time. Take your soaked oats-- they should be eatably soft but not mushy-- and drain them as best as you can without squahing them into goo. Finely mince a cup and a half of carrot tops (organic and clean so you can eat them, of course. they taste like strong parsley, which is the more usual Tablouleh ingredient, and are a little tougher, so just be sure to mince them really small), and toss it in. Chop some tomatoes-- I used about a handful of grape tomatoes, chopped in half and then in quarters. A little salt and pepper, some olive oil and lemonjuice, a lovely good mix, and there you are.

Preheat the oven to 450ish. 400 if you have a hot oven; I don't. put a cookie sheet upside down on the middle rack if you don't have a pizza stone (most of us dont).

Now, back to the pitas. Once they've risen for two hoursish, re-flour the counter and dump the bred on it. Squish it down a little-- just a little. Working it will squish it more, and you want some of the yeasty gases to stay in. I just patted it like I was making a snowman or something. Chop it into eight sections (i used a metal flipper because I don't have a decently sharp knife or a board scraper), and ball them into little rounds. Let them sit for 20 minutes under the dampish towel. When they've rested, flatten them down a little and then pretand you're making little pizzas-- pick them up and stretch them and pull them into little rounds about 6 or 7 inches across and less then a half inch thick. When the oven is hot, toss them directly onto the hot cookie sheet and keep the oven closed for three minutes. You can take them out now, if you like really soft pitas, but I like mine slightly toastier, so I flipped them and waited another minute and a half, then pulled them. Wrap them up in a towl to keep them warm and tender while the others cook-- I could cook three at a time, so it took three goes with one batch of only two. In ten minutes, you've got pitas!

The way they puff up, they make their own little pockets. When they're cool enough to handle, stuff them with the hummus and tabouleh and nom nom nom to your heart's content!

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