Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pita Bread 101

Every home should have a pizza stone.

I don’t make pizza that often and I use this thing all the time.

Not for the obvious reasons, either.

For this one.

It makes great bread. You see, my first foray into successful bread making happened because of a pizza stone.

And since then I’ve become a bread making nut.

My latest success?


I know you’re thinking, why would I want to make this when I can pop down to the nearest Whole Paycheck and buy a bag and have it ready when I want.

Because it tastes great, it can be made in five minutes, it goes with lots of things, and it’s a member of each of the Official Feeding Groom Food Groups:


So….why not? The brilliant Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois from the fantastic Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have mastered the art of fast, tasty bread and this pita bread is TO DIE FOR.

Go on, get a pizza stone, watch this video, buy this book and make some bread….

Pita Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois

Make this basic dough a day ahead.

3 cups lukewarm water
1-½ tbsp granulated yeast (1-½ packets …but get the yeast for bread machines and you can measure it out yourself…much easier)
1-½ tbsp coarse salt
6-½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose white flour

Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl. Don‘t worry about it not dissolving. Mix in the flour, all at once, and mix with your hands until combined. Don’t knead the bread dough, it’s not necessary.

Cover with a lid that fits well to the container you are using. I use a plastic cake carrier and leave one side open when I put the top on. If you seal this tightly, you will have a minor explosion in your kitchen which will knock a fresh tomato on the floor and take 2 years off your life…simultaneously, so be careful.
Let this sit on the counter in the kitchen for at least two hours and then refrigerate it overnight. It’s much easier to deal with cold dough instead of wet. Believe me.
You will have four pounds of bread dough that will last, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 14 days.

Now, when you are ready to make the pita bread, twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone in the oven. I put my stone on the top shelf, which I usually keep one notch up from the middle of the oven. Just before baking, dust the surface of the dough (still in the container you keep in the refrigerator) with a bit of flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. If you are making individual pitas, separate the round into four equal pieces. Dust the pieces with more flour and quickly shape them into balls, pulling it into shape by stretching the surface of dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go . Place dough on flour dusted cutting board.

Roll the dough balls out into a round with a uniform thickness of about 1/8 inch. Keep it nicely dusted with flour as you go. You can flip the dough over and roll it on the other side if you like. Place the rounds on a flour dusted pizza peel and slide them on to the pizza stone. Bake 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned.

Take them out of the oven and place on clean dishtowel on a baking rack. Place another towel across the top. This keeps the breads from drying out.
Once they are cool, store in plastic bags. (You can make great quick pizzas with this pita bread, by the way.)

Makes 4 individual pitas.

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nectarines with Fresh Thyme and Cream Sherry

I am not sure that many people start out writing about salad and end up writing about dessert, but that’s exactly what has happened to me.

I was so inspired by Marie's Nectarine and Fresh Basil Salad last week, I decided to do a version of same and take to a dinner party which I knew was leaning towards the fried chicken, devilled egg arena. And there is nothing wrong with that arena at all…I just didn’t want to do the normal potato salad or coleslaw and these eaters were sophisticated enough to get what I was doing with the Nectarine Salad.

I decided to use fresh thyme instead of basil . I didn’t have decent sherry vinegar so I substituted Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. A little extra virgin olive oil, a little vanilla sugar, a squeeze of fresh lime, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste…this was spectacular.

Of course I didn’t take a picture.

C'est la vie.

It was a hit. The Harvey’s brought out the sweetness of the nectarines, the lime balanced that out.

It was just superb.
I woke up the next morning thinking about the leftovers.

I couldn’t wait to have them for breakfast. But then I started thinking about ice cream.

At six in the morning.

Nectarine ice cream.

With thyme in it.

And a bit more Harvey’s.

It really doesn‘t matter what time you make ice cream, does it?

The left over nectarine salad was smushed with vanilla sugar and another splash of Harvey’s and a splash of vanilla extract, thrown into the ice cream maker.

I took a picture this time.

Nectarines with Fresh Thyme and Cream Sherry

This is your eyeball recipe.

As many nectarines for as many people as you are serving, sliced
A good splash of Harvey’s Bristol Cream
A good pinch of vanilla sugar
A good swirl of extra virgin olive oil
A big pinch of fresh thyme leaves, crushed
A good squeeze of fresh lime juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine and serve as a salad course or as an accompaniment to grilled pork chops.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Nectarine Ice Cream with Fresh Thyme and Cream Sherry

2 cups vanilla soy milk, or half and half, or 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup half and half
¼ cup vanilla sugar
a squeeze of fresh lime juice
4 nectarines, sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Good splash Harvey’s Bristol cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Smush the nectarines with the sugar, add the thyme, sherry, lime juice, vanilla extract. Stir in the vanilla soy milk and pour mixture into electric ice cream maker. Freeze according to directions on your machine.
When done, remove to a plastic container with airtight lid and freeze.

If you have made the above salad, mash the leftovers with the ¼ cup vanilla sugar and thyme and add the sherry. Continue with the above directions.

Serves 4.

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Groom's Gazpacho

Now, as you know, Groom’s idea of a good meal in the summer is a cold soup.

And he pretty much has it down, when it comes to whipping one up.

His Gazpacho is as easy as it is delicious.

There are no measurements, it’s an eyeball thing.

The sign of a born cook.

Make this sometime. It’s great to have in the fridge for a snack, for lunch with a knocked out chicken salad sandwich or get a cup or two of the Gazpacho and whirl it in a blender with a roasted tomatillo, a little fresh cumin, a handful of fresh cilantro and a dash of Tabasco for a quick fresh salsa for a divine snack with chips.

Groom’s Gazpacho

Ripe tomatoes, chopped
Cucumbers, peeled and chopped
Celery hearts, peeled and chopped
Carrots, peeled and diced
Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (you decide how hot you want this….)
Red bell pepper, seeded and diced
Yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
A couple of limes or lemons, squeezed over the veggies
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large can tomato or V-8 juice
Large dash of balsamic vinegar
Large dash of Worcestershire sauce
Large dash of Tabasco
Handful of fresh basil and fresh Italian parsley, chopped

So, get a big bowl out and chop as much of each veggie as you would like to use and put into bowl. Once you’re done, add the tomato juice or v-8 to cover, season and stick in the fridge to chill. If you like it chunky, don’t use as much juice.
Additions are always welcome. We've done marinated artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, a bit of feta on top,a bit of Greek yogurt. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Serves as many as you decide.

Click here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Santa Fe Summer Pot

It’s hot. Seriously hot.

It may be too hot to cook, but it’s never too hot to eat.

Yet again, I find myself standing in front of the fridge, thinking to myself….what the hell am I going to come up with tonight. All day long, saving the world, one loan at a time, and coming home and knowing I’ve got killer ingredients in house, but no idea what to do with them.

The last thing I want to do is heat up the kitchen. There are dogs and cats on every A/C vent they can find, while I’m enjoying the cool air from the freezer as I root around to see what might be good.

Then, the big light bulb goes off.

I remember a recipe I read by The Splendid Table chicks called Santa Fe Summer Pot.

I don’t have to turn on the oven, or thaw something out.


Santa Fe Summer Pot
Adapted from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper

The Summer Pot’s Sauce:

¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 green onions, trimmed and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
1- ½ tsp ground coriander
1-½ tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for ten minutes.

2 large tomatoes, chopped
About a 1/3 cup fresh cilantro

Put the tomatoes and cilantro in food processor and do a couple of pulses. Add onion mixture and pulse it five times. Set aside.

½ cucumber, peeled, sliced lengthwise in half and then in half moons
½ large ripe avocado, diced
1/2 pound left over roasted chicken, diced (can use cooked shrimp)
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed
Tortilla chips
Goat cheese to taste
Extra fresh cilantro as a garnish
1 lime, quartered

Divide the cukes, avocado, chicken and beans between three large bowls. Put as much Summer Pot’s Sauce as you like on top, crush tortilla chips and sprinkle on top and garnish with a sprinkle of goat cheese, cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Serves three generously.
And there’s plenty of Summer Pot’s Sauce left over to use as a dip with tortilla chips the next day.

Cilck here for a printable recipe!

One Year Ago on Feeding Groom