Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pita House

Every 6 weeks for the past 5 years I've driven my children to Medford to see their orthodontist. And every time we go we pass this sign for the Pita House on Rt. 112. Well, my incredible sense of adventure finally kicked in, and on Thursday right after our appointment, we decided to check out "The Top Middle Eastern Restaurant on Long Island." I don't know why I was surprised, since the place is called "Pita House," but the house-made pita breads, served with some yummy hummus, were a revelation, moist and pillowy and completely unlike the stale, thin pitas sold commercially. So last night I made my own pita breads, to serve with my own hummus. The children said they were "as good as the ones from Medford," which is in fact a big compliment. Here's the recipe:

Pita Bread

Makes Eight 6-inch Pita Breads

1 ¼ cups water, warm room temperature

2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine the water, yeast, flour, salt, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms.

2. With a dough hook, or by hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and soft, about 10 minutes on medium-low in the mixer or 12 to 15 minutes by hand.

3. Spray the inside of a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has more than doubled in size and when poked with a fingertip doesn’t spring back, 2 to 3 hours.

4. One hour before baking place a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, flatten into a disk, sprinkle lightly with flour, drape with plastic wrap, and let stand 20 minutes.

5. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into ¼-inch-thick circle. Let the pieces rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

6. Bake the pitas, 3 at a time, until they inflate and are just barely golden on their undersides, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and serve within 4 hours.

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