02 January 2009

Pita Bread and Tzatziki




I went to a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant for lunch the other day and had a Gyro sandwich (unidentifiable meat in a pita bread with vegetables and a tzatziki sauce on the side). I'm happy to have located such a restaurant considering I love that sort of food and I didn't think I'd be able to locate something that tastes so authentically Greek in Austin. Since we decided to throw a New Year's Eve party and needed snacks, I figured I might as well make some tzatziki and pita bread from scratch. Here's a quick and simple recipe for pita bread and tzatziki. I use the stand mixer, of course, but it works well to knead by hand as well.

Pita bread

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) quick-rising yeast
  • 3 - 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water (but not too hot)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for coating
Put the yeast, 2 cups of the flour, the salt, the water and 1 tbsp of oil in a large bowl. Mix until fully incorporated, then add flour until you have a soft and relatively sticky dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Lightly coat a bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl, turning it to cover. Next, cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Turn your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius).

Once the dough is done rising, turn it out onto a floured board again and punch the air out. Divide into 8 equally sized pieces and form little balls. Roll each ball out into a circle, about 1/4 inch thick (be careful not to handle it too much at this point!), then place on a cookie sheet (lightly greased, or covered with baking paper). Place cookie sheet close to the bottom of the oven for 4 minutes, then turn and leave for another 4 minutes or until lightly brown.

Remove from oven and immediately cover in a kitchen towel for 4-5 minutes. Once this is done, gently press each pita bread to release the air from it, but be careful and do not do this once the bread has cooled completely. Store in zip lock bag - it will last 2-3 days in room temperature or a couple of months in the freezer. Makes for a great sandwich, just cut open and stuff with vegetables, beef, chicken or anything else you can think of.

Tzatziki

  • 16 oz Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt)
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 - 10 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
If you were unable to find Greek yogurt, the first step is to place a coffee filter in a funnel, put the normal plain yogurt in the coffee filter and let drip (into a bowl!) for at least 12 hours in the fridge. This will remove most of the moisture from the yogurt, which is imperative. I did my latest batch with Bulgarian yogurt, which was a little too "wet" and I should have let it drip for 4-5 hours but I didn't have the time.

Once your yogurt is prepared (or if you're using Greek), start by carefully washing the cucumbers and then cutting them in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Once removed, grab a grater and coarsly grate the cucumber into a bowl. Next, you need to remove as much moisture as possible from the cucumbers. One way is to place them in a (clean!) dish towel and squeeze it, but remember that it will be completely green when you're done and you may not be able to clean it completely. Don't use grandma's favorite towel, mkay? I generally just grab a handful of cucumber, squeeze it in the palm of my (clean!) hand and then place on paper towels. Once all the cucumber is done, place another paper towel on top and get rid of even more moisture.

Finally, the garlic. Peel and chop very finely (use a press if you have to, but...no, don't use a damned garlic press) is all you have to do.

Now, combine the oil and juice in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt and mix very well. Add the cucumber, garlic and salt. Stir well and taste - you may need to add some more salt. I generally add black pepper as well.

Garnish with a little parsley if you want to, or just eat it because that's what it's there for. Lasts a week in the fridge if well sealed. Does not freeze well.

Enjoy :)

19 comments:

  1. Hi Andreas! Nice blog. I made some tzakiki sauce a couple of months ago. I used dill in addition to the garlic and cucumber (but no lemon). I wasn't using a recipe, but just trying to approximate the flavor of the tzakiki I had in Greece. It turned out pretty well. Have you ever tried dill?

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  2. I have tried dill and I do like it, but for some reason I prefer my Tzatziki without it and I do like the extra zing the lemon adds.

    Thanks for reading, hope I don't disappoint :)

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  3. Vad fint att du också startat en blogg, eller ja - en matblogg precis som vår fina kusin gjort också. Ni får väl utbyta kulinariska tips att skriva om för den svenska respektive amerikanska läsarskaran. Jag får väl se till att tillaga något du skriver om i framtiden, pitabröd känns inte som ett projekt jag vill ge mig in på nu ;) Kram!

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  4. Jo tack, det var lite genom henne jag fick inspiration. Pitabröd är enkelt, men här ska postas mer! :)

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  5. "Andreas' fine-foods deliveries, how may I help you?"

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  6. "Catering by Andreas" has been stuck in my head since you brought up the idea, Luke, and that kind of works since it parallels the title of this blog. ;)

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  7. And I didn't even know about that until I after I named the blog. Maybe "by Andreas" works well, since it's not the most common name, at least not in the US of A.

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  8. Right, that's what I was saying before - I'm sure a lot of people would tend to think foreign and unfamiliar = better.

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  9. Or, here in America, people often think foreign & unfamiliar = scary and we should shoot it.

    (joke. kind of.)

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  10. Haha, well, I'll do my best not to get shot while cooking wonderful food then ;)

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  11. Why do you dislike using a garlic press?

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  12. Well, it's mostly the fact that the garlic is disintegrated by it. Whatever comes out on the other side of the press is nowhere near as good as finely chopped garlic. I suppose in a big hot dish like a stew or something it won't matter as much but if you're eating something that needs the taste, I prefer chopping.

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  13. Garlic snobbery in the kitchen is a must. Oui, oui.

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  14. Snobbery! It's not snobbery...it's simply using larger chunks and using it all - there's always a bunch of garlic left in the press once you're done pressing, so I really prefer chopping it finely :)

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  15. besides which, cleaning the garlic press afterwards is a total pain :)

    Hey Andreas! It's Kate, from Paris :)

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  16. Dag Øystein JohansenFebruary 11, 2009 at 1:41 AM

    "Maybe 'by Andreas' works well, since it's not the most common name, at least not in the US of A."

    The US of Andreas? Now you're overdoing it.

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  17. Not a bad idea. I'll start my own country!

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  18. THANK you for the recipe,i love it!

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