Friday, April 27, 2012

What's Baking? April: Baking with Yeast

Lindsay of Peace, Love and French Fries chose the theme for this month, and she chose yeast! Her intent was to try to get people who haven't done much/anything with yeast before to give it a try. Obviously I'm not one of those yeast-fearers, but I did try to make some I've never done before. Originally I planned to make soft pretzels, but things were way too hectic to plan for that. Fortunately, I had another recipe in the back of my mind that was a little easier.

I'd wanted to make pitas ever since someone mentioned how she never bothers buying them anymore because her homemade ones are so much tastier and are easy to make. I can't really compare these to storebought pitas because I have never found any in my area. Because of that, pitas aren't really on my radar, I never think of them as an option for anything. After my first attempt at making them, that's totally changed!
Homemade Pitas
recipe adapted from Tide and Thyme
I only use active dry yeast, since I buy it in bulk (2 cup deli containers) at the store, and that's all there is in bulk. The original recipe used instant.
3-4 cups flour
1.5t salt
1T sugar
1T yeast
1 and 1/4 cups warm water
2T olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water, let sit for a few minutes to let the yeast wake up. In a medium bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), combine 3 cups of flour and the salt, and then add the yeast mixture and oil and stir together with a wooden spoon, until the mixture forms a ball. If it seems dry, add a little more water.

Knead for about 10 minutes- either by hand or with your stand mixer. While kneading, gradually add more flour until the dough is tacky but not sticky (I added an extra 3/4 cup or so).

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, roll the dough around so it's oiled all over, and cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1.5-2 hours in a warm spot.

After the dough has approximately doubled in size, punch it down and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball, and place on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp dish towel. Let rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.

On a well-floured surface, roll out each dough ball to a round with about 1/4in thickness, about 6-8 inches in diameter. If you're having trouble getting the dough to stretch, let it rest and come back to it after working on the others. Place all the rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, cover with the damp towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Now preheat the oven to 450F, and preheat the baking surface- either a baking stone or a cookie sheet. My baking stone is small so I used a cookie sheet. When the pitas are done rising, open the oven and place each round directly on the preheated baking surface- using my biggest cookie sheet I could fit 4 pitas at a time. Bake for 3 minutes (or up to 6-8 if you want them a little crispy). They'll puff up impressively.

Now fill them and enjoy!

The reason I made these pitas the day I did is that I had some ground lamb in the freezer and a recipe from the Sandwich King I wanted to try. Greek tacos! Ground lamb cooked with chopped onions, tomato paste and oregano, made into a pita sandwich with some tzatziki and a cucumber-tomato-red onion relish

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I won!

Last week I entered a giveaway. Well, ok, this is a regular occurrence. There are a lot of giveaways in facebook groups I frequent, and I enter many of them. Some I really want to win (ahem, In The Pink's $500 shopping spree), some would be nice to win, and some I really don't care about the prize but it would make a nice gift for someone.

Last week Purse Lady Too had a giveaway. I don't think there was a specific reason for it, she just had one. All you had to do was share the giveaway information on your fb page and comment that you had done so, and you'd be entered. The prize was one of Lemon and Line's rope bracelets.

So I entered. Why not? The bracelets are cute, they're not exactly anything I'd go out and buy, but again, nice possible gift for someone.

Now, Purse Lady Too is really cool. I think Bird told me about her. She sells lovely little stationary goods, including Lilly, Kiel James Patrick, Fornash, etc. Lots of great things. And she likes to offer special deals often! I made my first purchase last fall, I bought a bunch of things on sale that I used as gifts. And included in the box (mind you, I didn't buy all that much, maybe $40 worth), I got a free lobster notepad! too cute. I gave it to my mom as a stocking stuffer. But that little free gift got me hooked.

My most recent purchase was on Leap Day, when there was a free Lilly tech case/wristlet with a purchase of $65 or more. I stocked up on birthday gifts for 2012 and planned to give the wristlet as a gift, but when I actually saw it I decided I can't part with it.

Too cute! Perfect for the beach.

So I want to spread the PLT love. Go sign up for emails and like her on facebook, and be the first to hear about her upcoming specials!

But back to the giveaway.

Well, wouldn't you know, I actually won! I never win. I used to be good at guessing the number of jelly beans in the jar because I can do some quick math, and I have a secret trick for tea cup auctions, but I never win random giveaways! I was excited about the novelty of winning, not so much about the actual prize. Again, great birthday gift for someone. But then PLT contacted me to ask what color and what size bracelet I'd like. Um, size? Get this- these Lemon and Line rope bracelets come in different sizes. Whoa! I love bracelets but they're just so hard to fit right. Either they're huge and fall off, or they're tiny and more like a large ring. I checked out L&L's size chart (which, btw, isn't the most user-friendly thing, actually go as if you're about to purchase a bracelet, then there's a drop-down menu where you select the size and it tells you the measurement of each size in inches).

I selected my color and size, and PLT shipped it off to me immediately. I received it a couple days ago, when I got home between choir rehearsal and going out to dinner, opened it up, put it on, and kept it on for the rest of the day. I'm quite fond of this bracelet! I predict I'll be using it quite a bit this summer it's a great, colorful, casual accessory. Perfect for the CT shore. There's some give to the length because of the rope and the knot, and it has a neat-looking clasp (although L&L would have you believe it's the best clasp since sliced bread, super easy to put on, etc. It's not all that easy. It could be worse, but I have to fuss with it a bit to get it to close). The size of this is perfect, I like my bracelets a little loose, and it is. I just hope it doesn't get all weird if I get it wet!

I'm wearing it today, since the pink in it is the same shade as my pink Elsa.

And speaking of giveaways, I won another one a few days later! I won a Fornash fishy necklace. Another perfect-for-summer accessory! I'm a roll! I need more giveaways to enter before my luck runs out!