Pita bread

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Like many other things in life, pita turned out to be easier than originally thought.

2 cups flour (I used 1 c bread and 1 c plain), plus plenty for kneading
1 cup warm water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbs good olive oil

1) Mix all the dry ingredients together, then drizzle the olive oil in. Mix again and add the warm water.

2) Mix first with a wooden spoon and then dump onto an incredibly clean counter and knead with your hands (and plenty of flour) until the dough is soft and not sticky. About 5 min or so.

3) Put a little oil in a bowl and put in the kneaded dough, then cover it tightly with a kitchen towel.

4) Warm the oven a little–for a minute or two. It shouldn’t be hot or able to cook anything. Turn the oven off and put the pita dough (covered) in the oven to rise for an hour or two.

5) After the dough has about doubled in size, gently punch down to release the air, knead a couple times and then divide into 8 pieces. Use plenty of flour throughout this process as the dough will still stick.

6) Roll out each piece about the size of pita you would like (not as thin as a tortilla) and then set aside, with a good sprinkling of flour and stack as you roll.

7) Heat the oven up pretty hot–about 430-450 degrees. Place the pitas (not touching) onto a baking sheet and place on the top shelf of the oven. When they puff up (after a few minutes), flip over to quickly brown the other side.

The pitas will cook quickly–in under 5 minutes. Once you take them out of the oven they will gradually lose air and settle down, but you will have some great pita pockets for falafel or other fillings.

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Soba sushi

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My new cheat way to eat wasabi! Sushi with soba. Because I love wasabi but you can’t really just spoon it in, can you? It needs a home. So when you are in the mood for sushi and wasabi and don’t want to go through the whole sushi rice thing (soaking, rinsing the rice, cooling, sugar, vinegar, etc), try the soba noodle version. These hearty, nutritious noodles cook in 4 minutes. The only drawback is the arranging on the nori sheets as these are noodles, not rice that you can simply mush into place. I have read that a good technique to keep the bunches of soba tied with a string while cooking. Then the noodles are perfectly aligned for placing elegantly on nori sheets for rolling. I didn’t have any string to hand in my kitchen and I wasn’t about to go trudging upstairs to look for string so I just cooked them. And I ended up testing for how easy it is to make soba noodle sushi with clumps of noodles instead of perfectly arranged uniform rows of noodles. Turns out it’s fine. Just cut the ends off carefully.

Ingredients for three sushi rolls

2 bundles dried buckwheat soba noodles
1 small cucumber or persian cucumber
1/2 to 3/4 red pepper
1 carrot
sushi nori sheets

Dipping sauce*
1 small piece of dried kelp (about the size of your palm or smaller)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup good soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
3 tsp mirin

wasabi

* simply use soy sauce and wasabi if you like

1) Boil water and cook the soba noodles according to instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
2) Prep the veggies by grating the carrot or using a carrot peeler to slice finely. Slice and julienne the red pepper and cucumber the same way.
3) Place the sheet of nori on a bamboo rolling mat. When the noodles are cooked and rinsed, lay out a good portion on a sheet of nori. A bit more than half of the bundle.
4) Layer the thinly sliced vegetables on top.
5) Using the bamboo rolling mat and your fingers to hold everything in place, roll the bottom bit of the nori sheet over all the noodles and vegetables and tuck in tightly. Then continue rolling the sushi roll until it is completely packaged all together. Set aside, seam side down and let rest for a few minutes. Repeat with the remaining nori sheets and noodles.

To make the dipping sauce

1) Boil the water and dried kelp and then let simmer for about 15 minutes.
2) Let cool, remove kelp and add in the rest of the ingredients and mix together.

Wet a good, sharp knife and cleanly slice the sushi roll as uniformly as you can. Carefully cut the ends of the noodles poking out of the sushi roll. Serve with the dipping sauce in a small bowl with wasabi on the side.

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