Baba Ganouj and Whole Wheat Pita Bread

BabagGanouj and whole wheat pitaAs much as I LOVE homemade sandwich bread, I rarely delve into making my own. I usually stick with quick breads like strawberry, banana or blueberry lemon.

I decided to go outside my comfort zone two weeks ago and try my hand at homemade pita. I knew I wanted to use whole wheat flour so I found a recipe on Epicurious that I thought I could modify easily enough with a higher ratio of whole wheat flour. This recipe does take  time, but I assure you it’s worth the effort! Since I was working with my little chef (my 4 year old daughter) it was fun to teach her about yeast and the whole process of how to make bread. The end result was fabulous tasting pita, but it lacked the “pocket”.

I went back to the drawing board, modified the recipe again, and came up with this! It’s the perfect thickness and  puffs up beautifully as it cooks to form that pocket I was missing from the first try. The key is to roll it thin enough and don’t overcook. It literally takes 3 minutes in the oven!

To go with these lovely pita, I made up a batch of baba ganouj. This heavenly eggplant spread not only goes great with the pita, it’s can also be served with crudites, crackers or spread on some multigrain bread and layered with some grilled veggies. YUM!

Whole Wheat Pita

Makes  8 (7″ inch) pitas

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp honey

1 1/4 C warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

1 C oat flour

3 T vital wheat gluten (this really helps to make the pita rise)

1/2 C bread flour (plus more for kneading and rolling out)

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Next, stir together the flours in another bowl. Once the yeast mixture is ready, whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture in until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a  7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin.

Set oven rack in the lower third of the oven and place a large piece of aluminum foil directly across the rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Place pitas (you should be able to fit four pitas across) directly onto the aluminum foil making sure they aren’t touching. Bake for 2 minutes. Flip and bake for 1 minute more. DO NOT OVERCOOK! They really do only take 3 minutes!

Cool on a wire rack before storing. I wrap them individually in plastic wrap once they are cool, place in a large freezer bag and put them in the freezer until I am ready to eat one. You can defrost them overnight in the refrigerator or pop in the microwave for 2o seconds.

Baba Ganouj

Serves 6-8

2 medium eggplant

Juice from one lemon (you want a good 2 TBS worth)

1/2 C tahini

1/3 C finely chopped parsley (I prefer flat leaf over curly)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder (you could use 2 minced garlic cloves if you prefer fresh)

1 TBS olive oil

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cook for roughly 45 minutes or until they look deflated and are completely soft. Once they are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash well. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Chill until cold. Enjoy!

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Apple Cheddar Pizza

Apple and Cheddar PizzaI LOVE Molly Katzen. She’s probably my all time favorite vegetarian cookbook author. I was flipping through Vegetable Heaven the other day and came across this recipe. OK…I will be honest and say that technically this is categorized under desserts, but we had it for dinner with a big salad and it was a HUGE hit. I don’t think it’s overly sweet, especially with tart apples. I made a few small modifications, but overall stayed true to her recipe. I chose to use whole wheat crust instead of Boboli because I prefer a thin and crispy crust. You can make your own, but it’s also available at most grocery stores. the wheat crust works really well with the other ingredients. I only wish my picture did this tasty recipe justice (I am working on my photography skills slowly but surely!)

Serves 4 (two small pizzas)

Ingredients

Whole wheat pizza crust (I bought mine in the deli section of my grocery store)

1 C cheddar cheese, grated

3-4 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced

3 TBS apricot jam

Salt and pepper to taste

1 TBS olive oil (optional)

Flour (for dusting counter)

Cornmeal (for dusting pizza peel)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Divide dough into two pieces. Set one aside. Sprinkle some cornmeal on a pizza peel (this will keep the dough from sticking when you transfer it to the oven). If you don’t have a pizza peel, just sprinkle the cornmeal directly onto a cookie sheet instead.

Lightly dust you counter with flour and roll the dough out to roughly a 10″ round (it should be about 1/8″ thick). Transfer to a pizza peel if you will be cooking on a pizza stone (my preferred cooking method). Fold over edges to form a rustic crust. Cover bottom (except the crust) with half of the apricot preserves. Follow with the apple slices being sure to cover as much of the bottom as possible. Finish off with half of the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Brush crust with olive oil. Repeat with second pizza. Slide pizza off peel onto the pizza stone and cook for 9 minutes or until the crust is golden brown, turning halfway through cooking time. Cut each pizza into four pieces.


Curried Cauliflower with Yogurt and Tomatoes

Curried Cauliflower with Yogurt and TomatoesI have been a lover of Indian food from the time I was a little girl. While one of my all time favorite vegetarian cookbooks is Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, I have also tinkered with some other Indian inspired recipes over the years. This is a variation of something I ripped out of Cooking Light magazine years ago. What I love so much about this recipe is the juxtaposition of warming spices and cooling yogurt. With that said, I couldn’t help tinkering with the original recipe. Instead of curry powder, I use curry paste. I also added a lot more tomato and used Greek yogurt. The end result is a yummy dish that you can eat for lunch or as a side with dinner.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Large onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 Head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

2 Large tomatoes, large dice

1/2 C Greek yogurt ( My personal favorite is Fage 2%)

1 TBS Hot curry paste (Patak’s is what I use)

1 TBS Freshly grated ginger

1/4 C Water

1/4 C Cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Start by sauteing the onion in oil over medium heat, until translucent. Next, add the cauliflower through the water. Stir gently to combine. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook covered for approximately 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro before serving.