Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bread - Pita

Pita Bread

A wonderful puffy round pillow of warm steamy tastiness.  There's not much better than fresh made pita bread right out of the hot hot oven.

That's the secret I've found - a hot HOT oven.  450 or 475 degrees.  Rolling to a not too thin thickness is also a good help.  Baking on a hot pizza stone probably doesn't hurt either ;-)  I use the basic boule bread recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  It's often already in my fridge just waiting for me to make pitas (or bread).

First, begin to heat your oven and pizza stone (or inverted cookie sheet) to 450 degrees.  Place a shallow metal pan in the bottom of the oven to heat as well.  Flour a cutting board or counter surface very well.  Take out a golf ball-sized piece of dough and fold the sides under and in to the bottom of the ball until the ball is smooth on top.  Flatten slightly with your hand on the well floured board and roll with a rolling pin until about 1/4-1/3 inch thick.  I've found about 1/4 inch thick works the best.

Once your oven is hot and you have at least 2 pitas rolled out, pour 1 cup warm-hot water in the extra metal pan to create steam.  Put your pitas on the stone and let them cook for about 7 minutes.  They should begin puffing about 3-4 minutes into the bake.

While those are cooking, start rolling the next couple.  2 fit well on my pizza stone.

Remove the baked pitas from the oven with tongs or spatula and put on a cooling rack.  Leave them puffy if you are eating right now, or let cool and gently press the poof to help squish out the hot air/steam and pack in plastic baggies to stay pliable for later.

Home made pitas don't store well - they're much better fresh.

Make up a batch of wonderful pita breads for your family - as a snack, lunch addition or just because they're fun.  Try them with kefir yogurt-cheese, jam, honey, butter and cinnamon, cheddar and swiss, chicken salad... possibilites are endless!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kefir - Yogurt Cheese

After you've gotten the hang of making straight kefir and kefir yogurt (kef-gurt??) you can go one step further and make yogurt cheese.  All you do is let the kefir drain for 12-24 hours longer than you need to to make spoonable yogurt.  It makes a wonderfully tangy thick cream cheese-like spread.  We've not flavored ours yet, but it is great with blueberry jam or honey on fresh home made pita bread ;-)

Have you tried making kefir?  What else have you done with your kefir/grains?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kefir - Spoonable Yogurt

So, if you've been reading, and you've gotten the hang of plain kefir, you can easily make kefir that's spoonable just like regular yogurt.

After you drain the kefir off the grains the only other step you have to do is to strain the kefir through a coffee filter for 12-24 hours in the fridge to thicken it.  What happens when the kefir is strained through the coffee filter is that the whey seeps out and the kefir thickens into a nice yogurt consistency.  If too much of the whey drips out while it sits over night, just stir a little at a time back in until it's the consistency you wish.

The yogurt will be tart and tangy and may have a good bit of pucker power.  Add in some honey, some vanilla and sugar, some jam - whatever flavors you like and make yourself a great refreshing treat.

Don't discard the whey!  You can use it to soak grains, beans, oatmeal (makes a pleasantly sweet and tangy oatmeal), and even use it to make gjetost or mytost - but I haven't done it yet.  That's one of the next things up on my list.