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Saturday, March 12, 2011


One of the things I first noticed in my new Bob's Red Mill Baking Book was a recipe for pita bread.  I never thought about making pita bread - I don't know why.  I love pita but I don't buy it often because now that my older son is away from home, and the hubby is here would just be me eating it!

When I saw how easy the recipe appeared to be, I thought maybe the teen would try it if we were baking it at home together.  I also know he likes maybe I could inch him towards trying something else new with a familiar ingredient involved.  So, here's the day's progression...I'm blogging as I go...we'll see how it ends!

First thing...thawed a thick boneless rib-eye I had in the freezer.  Preparing a marinade and will let it soak for about 4 hours.  Here's the marinade I'm using.  Looked at several "Greek style" marinades online - picked the ingredients that sounded good to me.  Fingers crossed!


2 Tbsp Red Wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic - pressed with my Martha Stewart press :-)
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek Oregano leaves
Pinch Kosher Salt
Big Pinch of freshly cracked Pepper

Mix in Ziploc bag and insert steak, seal tightly, and place in refrigerator.  It is easy to place a gallon Ziploc "standing up" with the edges over a small mixing bowl.  You don't dirty a bowl mixing your marinade that way.  All the mixing is done inside the bag.  Insert the steak..squish out the excess it up.  Viola!  Now, just to insure against bag leakage in the fridge...which I have experienced in the past... I always put the bag with the steak inside a bowl in the fridge...better safe than sorry!

Ziploc draped over small bowl with marinade ingredients...just add steak!

OK, that's done.  Next, I'm making the Tzatziki Sauce and I know I am going to be the only one eating it.  The teen won't touch anything with yogurt or cucumber (except frozen yogurt which really doesn't count).  I am using the recipe found in the Bob's Red Mill Baking Book....but I'm cutting everything in half - because I don't need that much Tzatziki.  First the original recipe - and then I'll provide the halved version.

Tzatziki sauce

Adapted from Bob's Red Mill Baking Book
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced (it is easy to seed a cuke by cutting it in half and running a spoon down the inside - scooping out and discarding the seeds)
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for 1/2 Recipe Tzatziki

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least 1 hour.  Use as a dip or spread for breads.

Prepared Ingredients for Tzatziki in Bowl - ready to combine

So, all I did differently was - used 1/2 cucumber, 1 cup yogurt, 1 garlic clove (and I used a press instead of mincing), 2 1/4 teaspoons red wine vinegar, and 1/2 tablespoon of fresh mint.  Not a big deal to halve this recipe.


Next up will be the pita bread.  I'm gonna make about half as much as the Bob's book says and I'm being brave and combining this recipe with another recipe I found...I think I've gotten the hang of baking with yeast to the point I can step outside of my comfort zone and "play" with the recipe.  I guess we'll see!

Adapted from information in Bob's Red Mill Baking Book


2 teaspoons active dry yeast (used bulk packaging)
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees F)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups soft white while wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for bowl


Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (I've found it is best to "warm" my mixer bowl by filling with hot water and dumping it out before starting on yeast bowl is stainless and is cold and rapidly cools the water for the yeast).  Allow to stand until the yeast begins to foam...about 5 minutes.

Add the honey and the olive oil to the yeast and turn on mixer.

Combine the salt and the two flours in a separate bowl (I use a whisk to combine) and begin adding the flour mixture to the yeast mixture until the dough is stiff.  Add additional flour if needed - much depends on the humidity and the the day and the way the wind blows.  Allow mixer to run on low for about 10 minutes. 

Used the dough hook and stand mixer
If you prefer to hand knead...use the flour well method and pour the yeast mixture into the center of the well and stir it, moving the flour into the liquid, until a dough ball forms, then knead for 10 minutes to form a nice elastic dough.

Oiled dough ball ready to rise

Oil a bowl large enough to accommodate the dough doubling.  Place the kneaded dough ball into the bowl, flip it around so it is coated in oil, cover with plastic (or a kitchen towel) and place in a warm draft-free location for about 1 1/2 hours until it is doubled in volume.

Dough after 90 minutes
When the dough has risen, place an ungreased baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and remove all other racks.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Punch down the dough, divide it in half, and return the other half to the bowl and re-cover.  Divide the one half into 5 pieces.  Use some bench flour, if needed, for the rolling pin and roll one piece out into a 6 or 7 inch circle and place on a baking sheet and cover with a towel.  Roll out a second piece, to the same size and place both of these two onto the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake for just 2 or 3 minutes, watching the bread carefully until it balloons**.  Remove from the oven and wrap in a towel to keep warm.  Repeat process with remaining dough.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
The first four pitas...they improved as
we went along...but none poofed!

So, this takes a little time...because you are only cooking two at a time.  However it only takes a couple of minutes...supposedly.  Mine took more like 4-5 minutes...and **they did not "balloon".  I don't know why.  My first ones were too thin...they were more like a crispy cracker.  The thicker they were, the easier they were to split manually...but the concept of the steam making them "poof" simply didn't happen for me.  Since none of them had the "pocket" I expected, I was unable to pull them apart.  I had to split each one with a steak knife...some (the thinner ones) refused to be split.  The teen and I laughed at each other's attempts.  I will say, despite the difficulty and failure to split evenly...they tasted fabulous. This is NOT the dry 3-day-to-a-week-old pita you get at the grocery store.  This is awesome fresh goodness!  It just didn't make a freaking pocket!  I'm thinking it was my attempts to adjust the flours to all whole grain.  I think I should have mixed some all-purpose flour into the mix.  It also might have been that I needed more yeast...although the dough rose beautifully as you can see from the photographs above. 

Grill pan worked perfectly
For our dinner, I pan grilled the steak (discarding the marinade), sliced it very thinly on the diagonal,

This is just one steak!
sliced a pita in half, manually created a pocket, placed some steak, some lettuce, a little feta cheese and some avocado inside... and drizzled tzatziki over mine (the teen just had a pita, steak, and some A-1 sauce drizzled over his...we do things in baby steps around least he tried the pita!).  I also melted the last of our homemade butter so the teen could dip.  We talked about how these were used in the Middle East to scoop things like hummus, to stuff with meats and vegetables, and how the Greeks used them for dipping as well - and I dipped one into my extra Tzatziki to show didn't entice him to follow suit, except with butter.  I looked at Wiki to see if it could explain why my pita didn't poof as well as reading several Google results.  It appears this is quite a common event...this non poofing of the pita.  Apparently my dough leaned toward the Turkish style...more soft and chewy.  Whatever nationality we ended up tasted good, the teen tried it, and it was a family night in the kitchen.  I sincerely doubt I will do this again.  While the teen tried it, he admitted he didn't love it...but he did love the steak :-)  No surprises there!

What an excellent meal this was...and fun...and the teen helped make his own bread (he rolls better than I do!).  That in itself, is a very good thing!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


  1. You are an inspiration, Debbi! I'm not quite there yet (cooking outside of comfort zone), but I'm close. :)

  2. Wow! Looks yummy to me. What a fun experience to share with "the teen".


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