Monday, April 13, 2009


I am so proud of myself!
Probably inordinately so, given the ease of this recipe.
Pita bread is filling, low-calorie, and ridiculously easy to make. It's a fun project for kids, too, since it can be done quickly and you get cute little pockety breads.

Mine didn't turn out perfectly - I think my whole wheat flour's gone off a bit (ew). I also think I'd roll out the dough a bit thinner, and cook a little bit longer. But toasting saved even the mushy ones, so it's all good.

Pita only calls for 6 ingredients, and the recipe is quite forgiving. You can use sugar or honey, 100% whole wheat flour or 100% white flour, or any combination thereof; I used active dry yeast, but if you don't want to bother with dissolving and proofing, you can use rapid rise just as easily. You can use whatever oil you have in your house, but if you want to be all authentic, use olive oil.

Makes 8 pitas.

3 cups flour (I used 2 cups white and 1 cup wheat, and that seemed just about right)
1.5 t. salt
1 T. sugar or honey
1 packet yeast (or if you're using rapid rise, 2 t.)
1.25 - 1.5 cups room temperature water
2 T. olive oil, vegetable oil, butter or shortening
If you're using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to get it going, then add it to your dry ingredients. Otherwise, mix the yeast in with the flour, salt and sugary-substance. Add the olive oil and water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour won't stick, add a tablespoon more water until you get the right consistency.

Once it's all in a big ballish glop, dump it out on a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until your arms fall off. If you're using an electric mixer, mix at low speed for 10 minutes (I personally don't think it takes this long - I kneaded for exactly 7 minutes). You want the dough to become stretchy and elastic and smooth (so where it bounces back when you press it with your widdle finger).

Once the dough's been pummeled, form it into a ball and put it in a big ol' bowl that's been lightly coated with oil. Roll it around a little (or cheat and use a spray oil like I did) so that it's lightly coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set it aside to rise until it's doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

Once you've done the laundry, picked your nose, called your Aunt Millicent, run to the store to pick up tampons, taken a 20 minute nap, and yelled at the cat, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 mini-balls (heh). Cover the ballspawns with a damp towel and let them rest for 20 more minutes.

Meanwhile (back at the ranch), preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone (I don't), put it in the oven to preheat, too. If you're a mere mortal and don't have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you're preheating it.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes (charge it spa fees), spread a light coating of flour on a work surface, take your balls (heheh), sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough, and use a rolling pin, a big glass, or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. Roll those suckers out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick (I think on the thinner side produces better results). If the dough doesn't want to stretch sufficiently, slap it upside the head and let it rest another 5-10 minutes, then try it again.

If you have a spray bottle in the kitchen, spray a light mist of water onto your baking surface (i.e., the cookie sheet in the oven) and close the oven for 30 seconds. I have a "cat blaster" spray mister bottle that works really well for this. Getting the oven moist (heh heh again. I know - I'm terrible) reduces blistering on the outside of your pitas. You can skip this step if you don't have a spray bottle handy. No biggie.

Open the oven and toss as many pitas as will fit onto the baking surface. Bake 'em for 3-5 minutes. They should puff up some. Watch them carefully - my first batch was underdone, but you don't want them to be too browned, either. I did mine in batches because I couldn't fit all 8 in the oven at once. Given that they're done so quickly, it wasn't a big deal to do them in stages.

That's it! You're done! Don't burn your fingers when you pull them apart to put butter & honey, homemade hummus, or tuna salad in 'em.
This recipe is modified from this (very cool and informative) site:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

So here's a thought: Savory pancakes

The Bald Guy and I enjoyed a delicious Indian meal at Rajput Restaurant ( on Friday night. The food was very tasty and reasonably priced, and the service, while a bit disorganized at times, definitely had a "we live here" feel; Perveen, the proprietor and Chef Emerita, conversed with our table for a good five minutes. So far, it's the only Indian restaurant in Harrogate that doesn't seem to be afraid to use spices. The mango pickle especially was delicious (though not to the Bald Guy's liking).

Anyhoodle. That's not the point.

We ended up with two containers of doggie-bag slop (which is also VERY unusual for English restaurants - the waiter even offered the take-away boxes to us! We were impressed). Last night, the Bald Guy had made a delicious Chinese-style stir-fry with the rest of our London Broil, but he made a LOT of it. So tonight was leftover night at the Love Shack. What to do with all this sloppy yummy Indian goodness, though? Rice = takes too long for hungry Loves. Noodles didn't seem quite right. So we decided to make savory pancakes. And lemme tell ya, they were great.

Now, confession time: we used Bisquick. Yes, I said it. Bisquick. Worse: it was generic Bisquick. I know, I know. Anathema. Whatevs.

So, modified from the Bisquick (or generic thereof) back-of-box recipe:
2 c. baking mix
1 1/3 c. milk (actually, I added a little more milk to make the pancakes thinner - probably more like 1.5 c. milk)
1 egg
1/3 c. cheddar or parmesan cheese
1 T. thyme
1 T. garlic salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Heat griddle (or large skillet) to 375 degrees F (or medium-high). Stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. I used a hand mixer, but I'm sure you don't have to - just make sure all the lumps are gone. Make sure you wipe off the coffee maker from all the splatters you've thrown across the kitchen using the hand mixer ill-advisedly, because you are a small-machine-impaired moron (oh wait. That only applies to me). Bake on hottish, lightly greased (I used one of those pressurized spray bottles filled with olive oil. They come in quite handy! I don't really recommend a whole lot of kitchen gadgets, but make-yer-own-oil-sprayer thingies get the Maggie Burned Thumb Up Seal of Approval) using a little less than 1/4 c. batter for each pancake. Cook until edges are dry and bubbles break towards the middle of the pancake surface. Flip, cook until golden, remove, repeat. Make a REALLY REALLY BIG ONE with the extra batter at the end (come on! You know you want to eat a gigantic-ass pancake!)

I served our leftover ethnic cuisine on little beds of savory pancake. Super delicious and relatively easy.

Or you can just make rice. How boring.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hunk O' Meat: London Broil

I loves me some cow muscle. I wish I didn't; I'm sure I'd be a much healthier and quite possibly richer person if the thought of consuming large portions of cow thighs and haunches and backs and sides didn't appeal to me so damn much. But there you have it: I'm a carnivore.

I got a London Broil (2.5 pounder) on sale at the commisary recently. Tonight the Craving took hold (Meat Meat Meat Meat Meat!!), so I marinated and broiled away. I made rice (average) and brussels sprouts (delicious! recipe to follow) on the side.

Ingredients for Marinade
1/4 c. oil (I used EVOO)
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
3 T. tamari (soy sauce. I use the reduced sodium version)
splash of red wine, if you have it
3-4 cloves garlic, minced, plus an extra, sliced, just for giggles
3 T. brown sugar
1 onion, chopped or diced - cut up into little tiny hunks, however you want to define that.
1 T. jarred minced ginger
a whole buncha black pepper
a leetle salt

Take yer hunk o' meat (this recipe is specific to London Broil, but you can use any thick-cut cow product you'd like, I'm sure) and wipe it down real well, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Let it sit a few minutes mooing at you while you prepare the marinade.

Take a big ol' plastic zipper bag. Dump all your marinade ingredients in it and squuush it around a bit, to mingle up the flavors and get it all nice and combined. Take yer meat and splot 'er in there. Close up the bag, pushing all the extra air out as best you can, and massage the meat (heh. Hehheh.) so that the marinade gets all up in its proverbial face. Now refrigerate the bag o' meat for as long as you can stand it - at least a few hours, or overnight if you can. I didn't start this project 'til mid-afternoon, so mine only marinaded about 3 hours, and it turned out fine, but I'm sure the longer you let it go, the better.

Heat your broiler to Superhot (gas 3 en anglais). When you're ready to cook, slop your Hunk onto a broiler pan-thing (mine has a little removable grill; I usually put a layer of aluminum foil underneath because I'm a lazy biatch who hates to scrub pots and pans). Make sure a portion of the garlic/onion bits are hanging out on top of the meat. Put it in the broiler for FIVE minutes (NO MORE!) Now take it out and flip it over. You may want to find some tongs for this - I made a bit of a mess trying to flip the damn thing with a spatula. Now broil the other side for FIVE minutes (NO MORE!)*

While the meat is broiling, take that leftover marinade, add an extra splash of red wine and maybe a bit of beef stock and heat it up in a skillet. I added some chopped mushrooms, because the Bald Guy thought it would be BRILLIANT to add mushrooms. As usual, he was right. Let the sauce simmer/low boil for a few minutes until it's thickened a bit.

Take your London Broil out of the broiler and let it rest for at least 5 minutes, and preferably 15. Carve into slices against the grain (IMPORTANT! If you cut with the grain, your meat will be tough and chewy. No, I don't know why. I only know it's true, having had my share of Meat Chewing Gum before). Serve the slices with the sauce.

*Okay, so maybe a little longer if your oven is not as hawt as mine gets. Food safety guidelines specify steak at medium should be no cooler than 160 degrees F, 145 degrees F for medium rare. Use a meat thermometer to get an accurate temperature.

Served with:
white rice (boring! It would have been better with roasted potatoes)
Lemony Fennelly Brussels Sprouts
(basic recipe: heat up some butter in a pan. Dump in some brussels sprouts when the butter melts. Add some fresh lemon zest, a little red pepper flakes, some salt & pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and about 1/4 t. fennel seeds. Cook over medium heat until done, stirring occasionally. I am not ashamed to say I used frozen brussels sprouts for this - a fraction of the preparation, and really, just as good)

Nomnomnom. Meatmeatmeatmeatmeat.

For a side dish, we had Cat Fricassee.Don't worry - we washed the cutting board. Stoopid cat.