Pita Bread

Pita Bread

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I know what you are saying… why would I make it when I can just buy a bag in the store? But then you would never know the delicious, habit forming, and really pretty easy, joy of making it and eating it fresh and warm from the oven. These are warm, doughy bits of deliciousness. Please try!!! From the New York Times recipe. My brother and sister-in-law introduced me to this recipe and it is very easy. I have used a pizza stone and a cookie sheet and the pizza stone does work best.

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INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purposed flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

PREPARATION

Step 1
Make sponge: Put 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl.
Add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and whisk together. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Step 2
Add salt, olive oil and nearly all remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 cup) ]. With a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.

Step 3
Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Try not to add too much reserved flour; the dough should be soft and a bit moist. (At this point, dough may refrigerated in a large zippered plastic bag for several hours or overnight. Bring dough back to room temperature, knead into a ball and proceed with recipe.)

Step 4
Clean the mixing bowl and put dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then cover with a towel. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place. Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Step 5
Heat oven to 475 degrees. On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy-duty baking sheet, large cast-iron pan or ceramic baking  tile. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces of equal size. Form each piece into a little ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.

Step 6
Remove 1 ball (keeping others covered) and press into a flat disc with rolling pin. Roll to a 6-inch circle, then to an 8-inch diameter, about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour if necessary. (The dough will shrink a bit while baking.)

Step 7
Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot baking sheet. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Turn over with tongs or spatula and bake 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a napkin-lined basket and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

8 six-inch diameter breads

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Triple Lemon Cake

Triple Lemon Cake

Here is the little bit of art I never get around to posting. I created this poster and invitation for a wedding party for two friends of mine who got married in Italy. This party was for friends and family that could not attend the Italian wedding.

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I love lemons. This has homemade lemon curd, fresh lemon juice in the cake and lemon buttercream icing. I am not especially crazy about cake, but this is a  lemony moist cake that even I loved. I hosted a wedding party for dear friends and decided to see if I could make a tiered wedding cake. This was easy enough for even someone like me who had never done it before. I just doubled the recipe to make the extra layers. The key to this is to freeze the cake until you need it which freed up time I needed to do all the cooking for the party. I found this recipe on the blog “Life, Love and Sugar”. Using a product called “cake release” which I found at Michael’s worked great on the cake pans. I did manage to take a couple of photos… Double the lemon curd so you have enough to use on something else.

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Ingredients

Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sour cream
Lemon Curd
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks

3 tbsp butter (I used unsalted)

 

Lemon Buttercream
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups shortening
12 cups (3 lbs) powdered sugar
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp water – plus more to the consistency you want

Directions

Cake
1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
2.Add eggs, oil and lemon juice. Beat until smooth.
3. Add sour cream and beat until smooth.
4. Bake at 350 degrees in two 8-inch pans for about 25 minutes or until done.
Lemon Curd
1. Combine all ingredients in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, like I did).
2. Heat while stirring constantly with a whisk.
3. It is done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You will be able to tell it has thickened, but I wouldn’t say that it’s “thick.”
4. Refrigerate until cool and thick.
Lemon Buttercream
1. Beat butter and shortening together until smooth.
2. Add 6 cups of powdered sugar, one at a time, beating to combine.
3. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and combine.
4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat to combine.
5. Add water to get the consistency you want, starting with 1/2 tsp, beat to combine.
To assemble the cake:
1. Divide the cake into four layers by slicing each cake in half.
2. Fill two layers with lemon buttercream and the other two with lemon curd.
3. Frost the outside of the cake.

Freezing a cake

  1. Bake the cake and cool each layer on a wire cake rack.
  2. Wrap each layer in plastic wrap. I usually wrap it with two pieces to make sure it is covered well.
  3. Wrap each layer with aluminum foil.
  4. Take the frozen cakes out of the freezer and let them thaw a little while still wrapped.
  5. Unwrap the layers and level them. Leveling means you cut off the dome with a serrated knife to make the cake even for decorating.
  6. Don’t level when the cake is completely frozen or it might cause it to crack or pieces may break off.
  7. Then, fill the layers of the cake with frosting and fillings and stack the cake making sure each layer is level.
  8. Next, dirty icing or crumb coating and place it back in the freezer for about 20 minutes before adding the decorative layer of frosting. This will help the dirty iced layer set up so you can add the decorative layer of frosting without pulling crumbs into the top layer of frosting.

 

Greek Grilled Shrimp Orzo

Greek Grilled Shrimp Orzo

This is a wonderful dish to serve at a summer party. I am hosting a wedding party for friends in 2 weeks and plan on serving this as party of the menu. It is easy to double (or more) for a big party. I served this warm but it was really good as a cold salad the next day. It would also be a good vegetarian side dish just omit the shrimp. This recipe was inspired by prouditaliancook.com.

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INGREDIENTS

Grilled shrimp
Smoked Paprika
Olive oil
Cooked orzo pasta
English cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
Red onion, diced
Crumbled feta
Grape tomatoes, halved and roasted
Kalamata olives
Lemon zest
Mint, parsley, oregano

Marinate the shrimp in lemon peel, lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and grill.

Heat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil. Place halved grape tomatoes on the sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Roast for about 20 minutes.

Heat about 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft and getting golden, add red onion and cook until just warmed and a bit soft. Add the roasted tomatoes using all the juices left after roasting.

Make a vinaigrette by whisking 3 parts good olive oil to 1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice, add 1 crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper.

Taste it to your liking, either adding more or less. Place all ingredients in a bowl, adding all the herbs, more feta, (make sure it’s in small crumbles) pour the vinaigrette over all the ingredients, taste it and make sure you have enough of everything!

Note: I used 8 oz of cooked orzo and about 20 medium shrimp, the rest of the ingredients I just judged until I thought I had enough.

Greek Honey Cake

Greek Honey Cake

I adjusted this recipe for a little less sweetness. It was actually good even without the syrup. It is a bit like baklava without all the fuss. I brought this as a dessert to a greek themed dinner with good friends. Original recipe by CaliforniaJan.

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IMG_3072.jpgINGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts

SYRUP

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. Pour honey syrup over the cake.

For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine the honey, sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps

This is a super simple recipe. Comes together in a snap. I like Butter lettuce or Boston bibb but  iceberg will work, too. I like the crunchy texture of iceberg but it is a little harder to wrap. I let the chicken freeze slightly and it is very easy to cut up into small cubes. This can also be made vegetarian by using tofu or meat alternative.

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Ingredients

  • 16 Boston Bibb, butter or iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 4 chicken thighs, boneless,skinless and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (optional)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

Directions

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger into a small bowl and set aside.

In a frying pan or wok heat the oil and add onions. Cook about 10 minutes or until soft and getting caramelized. Add chicken cubes and cook over medium heat until brown. Add water chestnuts and stir. Add sauce and stir to mix.

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

Grilled Peach Salad with Proscuttio, Walnuts and Goat cheese

Grilled Peach Salad with Proscuttio, Walnuts and Goat cheese

Grilled fruit of any kind is just wonderful. It brings out all the sweetness. This is so good I cannot wait until I get some more peaches! I love grilled peaches with a bit of balsamic vinegar and goat cheese and this just adds the greens and a few more ingredients. It is worth the effort of grilling. Grilled peaches and balsamic vinegar are also wonderful over ice cream, too.

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Ingredients

5 peaches, peeled and cut into thick slices
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 package of mixed greens
1/2 cup of whole or chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of Goat Cheese
1/4 cup dried cherries
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

Heat grill. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray. Add peaches to the grill pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Grill, stirring occasionally until slightly caramelized and heated through- don’t over cook! Remove from gill and put in medium sized bowl and sprinkle with goat cheese. In a large bowl add the greens, walnuts, dried cherries and prosciutto. Toss with the olive oil. Add the peaches with the goat cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Toss gently and serve immediately.

Spaghetti Squash Rosti

Spaghetti Squash Rosti

This is a great side dish. Quick and easy for a weeknight dinner. Just a couple of ingredients. Top with an egg for a main dish. make individual patties or one big patty.

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Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash 2 cups spaghetti squash noodles
  • 2 tbsp flour or (almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and using a spoon remove the seeds from the center. Place each half face down in a pyrex dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through the squash. Place the spaghetti squash on a plate and allow to cool
  3. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the baked spaghetti squash, removing the flesh in strands. Place in a sieve and firmly press down to remove as much liquid as possible.
  4. in a bowl combine the spaghetti squash with the almond flour, cheese, dijon mustard and cayenne pepper. Mix to ensure the spices are blended in and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Form the mixture into small patties approximately the size of a clenched fist and flatten until they are 1/2 inch thick. Place the patties on a plate and leave to rest in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes so they will hold together better when cooking. You can also make one large patty and cut into wedges.
  6. Heat the oil in a frying pan on high heat. Quickly cook the patties on one side for approximately 3-4 minutes until golden and then gently flip over. Lower the heat to medium and cook the patties for another 4-5 minutes.
  7. Serve warm topped.