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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gyros with Homemade Pita bread

I was asking for menu input this week from my dear husband.  He added things like stuffed cabbage, ham, and gyros, of all things.  We love gyros.  Growing up in Pittsburgh, you could usually find a good gyro place somewhere.  (The same could be said of places that made pizza and hoagies, too!)  So, you can imagine I was a little leary of making them at home.  I am not sure there is a way to duplicate that carved off the bone lamb. 

I had recently downloaded the Betty Crocker cookbook app for my phone and looked up Gyros.  Sure enough, there was a recipe there and so we decided to give it a try.  In looking for Pitas at the store, I found that they were mostly hard, not soft like the Gyro joints' pita shells, so I decided that I would have to make those, too.  Out came the Joy of Cooking cookbook - - one of my favorite go-to cookbooks. 

Dave found lamb at the Whole Foods that is located on the ground floor of his office building.  Granted lamb isn't the cheapest meat around, but at $6.99 a pound, it's less expensive than the gyro joint.  Dave and I found the recipe to be delicious and a good substitute for the local gyro place.  The pitas were soft and warm, coming straight from the oven.  The recipe calls for ground lamb, which makes it easy to work with and to infuse the flavors of the various spices that were added.  We would definitely make this again, which is a good thing since there are 6 more "patties" in the freezer!

Here is the recipe as printed from the Betty Crocker app.  I did not change anything.


Ingredients -
4 pita breads (6" in diameter)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 T chopped fresh mint or 1 t dried
1 t sugar
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped (3/4 c)
1 lb ground lamb or beef
2 T water
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried oregano leaves
1/4 t pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 c)
2 T vegetable oil
2 c shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato chopped (3/4 c)

Split each pita bread halfway around the edge with a knife; separate to form a pocket.
Mix yogurt, mint and sugar in a bowl.  Stir in cucumber.
Mix lamb, water, lemon juice, salt, cumin, oregano, pepper, garlic and onion.  Shape mixture into 4 thin patties. 
Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook patties in oil 10 - 12 minutes, turning frequently, until no longer pink in the center.  Place cooked patty in each pita pocket.  Top with yogurt mixture, lettuce and tomato. 

Okay - - I will admit that we grilled the patties instead of cooking on oil.  We also used non-stick foil on the grill. 

For the pitas - - do ahead since they will have to rise for 1 to 1 - 1/2 hours.

Ingredients -
Combine in mixing bowl:

3 c bread flour (I used King Arthur's Sir Galahad flour, or you could also substitute whole wheat for some or all)
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 t salt
4 t active dry yeast

2 T butter, melted
1 1/4 c water (room temp)

Mix by hand or with mixer with dough hook attachment.  Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic.  The dough will be tacky but not sticky.  Transfer to an oil bowl, turning dough to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled - 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down, separate into 8 balls.  Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  Preheat oven and baking stone to 450 degrees (F).  If you don't have a baking stone, you can use an upside down baking sheet. 

Roll out dough on a very lightly floured surface into a thin round.  Spray stone with a mist of water (I just put a pan under the stone and put some water in it.)  Wait 30 seconds and place as many pitas as you can on the stone without the pitas touching.  Bake for 3 minutes (until puffed up) and then wait 30 seconds before removing from the oven.  If you leave them in for too long they will not deflate.

Note:  I baked my pitas one at a time, so touching wasn't an issue.  I place the hot ones coming out on top of the ones that were cooling which allowed the others to stay warm.  They were yummy and reminded me of the ones at the gyro shop.

So, there you have it  - - gyros made at home!

Happy eating and God Bless!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Redwall Tea

I don't often post about something the boys are doing - - let's face it, they are not much into crafts.  But today, Alex (13) got up and asked if he could search out recipes for many of the dishes that are in the Redwall Books.  He spent much of the morning copying, pasting and printing out recipes for such delights as "Hot Root Soup," Mossflower Wedge," "Honey Scones," and "Meadow Cream."  Many recipes (reader created) can be found here.  He collected the recipes and put them into a binder with page protectors.  He is looking forward to making many messes in the kitchen!

Alex is a big fan of the Redwall Series.  He has consumed (I would say read, but Alex doesn't read, he consumes books) many of the series and has purchased them on his own so that he can enjoy them again and again.  He even listens to them on his MP3 player.  I haven't asked him why he reads and rereads, but he must find them enjoyable over and over!  

Of course, we had to try out some of the recipes, so we decided to make a "tea."  For the "tea" (we had no tea to speak of), we made Scones, Meadow Cream and Strawberry Fizz.

What a fun way to spend time with Alex!  I think that this may end up as a Christmas present under the tree - - SSSHHH! Don't tell!