Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cold Comfort

You may remember, some weeks back, when I made a batch of dough to make pitta bread, some of which I baked in the oven (make great pittas), the remaining balls of dough were separately bagged up and frozen. Later I removed two balls and when thawed (did not take as long as expected) they were kneaded together and rolled into a pizza base which was then covered in the normal way with tomato (pizza) sauce, so odds and sods as toppings, and finally little bits of mozzarella. Worked very well. Bear this in mind with the 'topping' recipe coming up, for it is always worth making dough balls (that contain a little olive oil) and freezing them away. Some supermarkets sell frozen dough balls to use in this way - at a price.

So today am giving another recipe to make pitta bread - this time baked on the hob and not in the oven, and also a recipe topping for 'flat-bread' (which could be a pizza base, or flour tortilla, and which only uses 8oz (225g) minced lamb to serve up to FOUR. Obviously not a main course in its own right, makes a great snack, AND with a side salad a light lunch or supper dish.

There are many types of pitta bread, some are flat (flatbread), others are plumper with 'pockets'. The best pittas are always soft, tender and moist. The following recipe makes a dozen fairly flattish pittas, and best eaten freshly baked, so if you are only wishing to make one or two, form all 12 balls, then freeze away the surplus to use as many or as few as you wish to make more pittas or pizza bases. If into healthy eating, use half wholemeal (wholewheat) flour with half strong white bread flour.
The amount of salt may see a lot, and could be reduced slightly, but it is there for a purpose and after all - divided between 12 pittas, not a lot of salt gets into each. No reason why the dough could not be made in a bread machine up to the second rising, and then follow the method, which appears lengthy, but when read through can be broken down into stages and then all will appear simple.
Hob Top Pitta Bread: makes 12
1 x 7g sachet instant (easyblend) dried yeast
1.25lb (500g) strong white bread flour
1 tblsp salt
2 tsblp olive oil
8 fl oz (250ml) lukewarm water
Put the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl and mix together. Into a larger bowl put the water and oil, whisking together to mix as far as possible, and before the oil rises to the top again stir in half the flour mix, and keep stirring in the same direction until the mixture is quite thick, then - while still in the bowl - knead in the remaining flour.
Remove the dough to a clean and oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for at least half an hour - and up to two hours. Then knock back the dough and knead again for 10 minutes or until smooth. Lightly oil the bowl again (if needed) return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave again in a warm place for a further hour or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces (or balls). Flatten each and roll into a round about 8" (20cm) diameter and no more than half an inch (1cm) thick. Keep the pittas covered with a clean cloth while the remaining flatbreads are made, this prevents their surface area drying.
Place a large heavy frying pan (or girdle) over a medium-high heat. When fully heated, gently lay on pitta on the pan and cook for 15 -20 seconds, turn over and cook the other side for 1 minute.
When large bubbles begin to form, turn the pitta over again, where it should then begin to puff up. Using a clean towel, press the bubbles down. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the pan, place on a cake airer and cover with a towel to keep the surface tender. Repeat with all pittas you wish to make. Keep wrapped in a clean towel until ready to serve warm while they are still soft and moist.

This next recipe could use two-thirds of the above pitta dough (useful to know if having frozen some) or you could make an easier 'flatbread' following the recipe below this one.
Spicy Lamb and Tomato Flatbreads: serves 2 - 4
pitta dough (see above)
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
8 oz (225g) minced lamb
2 tblsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
1 red chilli pepper, desseeded and chopped
1 tsp dried mint or chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (garnish)
Put the butter and oil in a frying pan and when melted, add the onion and fry gently until softened, then stir in the garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan.
Into a mixing bowl put the lamb, the tomato puree, the sugar, red pepper and the cooled onion and garlic. Add the mint and seasoning to taste, then - using clean hands - knead the mixture together. Cover with cling-film (not touching the meat itself) and place in the fridge until ready to use (later the same day).
Make the flatbreads by punching down the risen dough, kneading lightly then divide into two or four pieces, rolling each out into a thin round, stretching the dough with the hands as you roll.
Brush two pre-heated baking sheets with oil and immediately place the flatbread on these, covering each with a thin layer of the meat mixture, spreading it evenly right to the edges.
Bake for 20 minutes at 220C, 425F, gas 7 until the meat is cooked.
Remove from oven, slide the flatbreads onto serving plates, sprinkling each paprika, and parsley. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. These can be rolled up, cut in half and eaten in the hand, or cut into wedges and eaten like a pizza.

Flatbread Dough: serves 2 - 4
1 tsp instant dried yeast
half tsp sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) warm water
12 oz (350g) strong white bread flour
few drops sunflower oil
Put the first four ingredients into a bowl and mix together to make a dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Put the oil in a bowl and roll the dough into it, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Then follow recipe above.