Saturday, May 30, 2009

Really Simple Pita Breads

Last weekend I had my neighbor over for dinner and decided to try out my culinary skills. I found a recipe for mini garlic bread pizzas and spent ages trying to get it out work out correctly. After 3 batches of hard little cracker-like lumps, I decided to just throw some of the dough in the oven without any sauce on it. I was completely amazed to find that without the sauce, the dough rose wonderfully into pita breads. This weekend I decided to try it again and the result was far better than the first set of pizzas!

Really Simple Pita Breads
2 cups of white flour (250 grams)
2 cups of wholewheat flour (250 grams)
1 sachet of fast acting yeast (2.25 teaspoons)
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.25 cups warm water (300 ml)

Combine all the dry ingredients then pour olive oil and water over them. Mix well. Kneed dough for about 5 minutes until all flour has been absorbed by the dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for between 30 minutes and 2 hours (the dough doesn't need to double just rise a bit) after it rises, punch the dough down and separate into 30 small balls. On a floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out each ball the the size desired.

Bake the pitas in a fan oven at 220 (475) degrees for about 5 minutes or until they turn golden

Yield: 30 6inch diameter pitas
Prep time: 20 minutes plus rising time
Cook time: 5 minutes a batch

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beetroot and Barley Risotto

My parents were over visiting last week, which meant that I stocked my fridge and made a few meals. Now that they are gone I found that I have quite a few left overs which have to be taken care of. I spent yesterday making chicken stock with leftover roast chicken and then figured I would make a risotto out of it. Originally the plan was to make a mushroom risotto but then I found 1 cooked beetroot in the fridge and decided I'd see if I could make a risotto with that. I found a couple recipes online and added my own touch and here is the result---3 servings of pink risotto! This risotto has a very earthy flavor because of the beetroot and barley. It is also very hearty and packed full of good nutrients and fiber from the beetroot.

Beetroot and Barley Risotto
1/2 onion diced
2 tsp of butter
1 cup of pearl barley
approximately 4 cups of chicken stock (vegetable or cubed stock could be used also)
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cooked beetroot cut into small cubes
Parmesan cheese to top

In a large pot saute the onion in the butter about 2 minutes. Add the pearl barley and saute a minute longer. Pour in the white wine and half of the chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the beetroot and about 1 cup of chicken stock. Stir occasionally over low heat until the liquid is absorbed (another 10 minutes or so). At this point the barley should be cooked or almost cooked. If it needs to cook longer add extra stock until the barley has cooked. Top with Parmesan cheese to taste.

Cook time: 45 minutes
Active time: 15 minutes
Serves: 3-4