Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday before the 4th of July

The morning started out chilly and drizzly, but by lunchtime it had warmed and we had sunshine. I stopped alongside the road this morning and picked 70 wild grape leaves. I left the very small top and bottom ones and picked most of them from the largest middle leaves. I blanched them for a minute in boiling water. Later Maureen Suezler(spelling?) came and stuffed them. She appeared at just the right moment! Ella was helping the salad crew. They went from 40 to 50 pounds to 120 pounds of salad mix this week!

For the grape leaf stuffing I cooked brown basmati--3 1/2 cups water to 2 cups rice and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Let sit for another 15, adding a bit of water if necessary. In olive oil, I sautéed sliced shallots, white of scallions until tender and added pine nuts and currants and cooked until pine nuts started to color a bit. This I mixed with rice so there is a lot of the good stuff-see photo. Lots of chopped green of scallion, dill and a little parsley and lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Maureen wedged the dolmas into a baking dish and I covered them with broth or tomato water. Baked for 45 minutes in 350 to 375 degree oven, covered. We served them with hommous sauce:
5 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 to 3/4 cup tahini
juice of 3 to 4 lemons
1 tablespoon ground cumin
salt to taste
chickpea cooking water or water

Purée everything together and taste taste taste--should be very lemony. Serve this as a sauce with grape leaves.

I also made quinoa tabouli with lots of parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, diced and cooked garlic scapes, last year's frozen diced tomatoes and a cucumber.

Made za'atar bread too. Fun.
Pita bread with za’atar
Makes 8 to 10

1 package of yeast or a scant tablespoon
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour (half wholewheat and half white)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons XVO

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy. Combine flour and salt in large bowl.

Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression. Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.

PLace dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer stick and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded. Coat large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated. Allow to sit in a warm place for about 1 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once doubled, with oiled hands, roll out in a rope, and slice off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on oiled surface and coat them with oil. Let sit 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Set a heavy baking sheet on it to preheat.

Press each ball of dough into a round or oval. Each should be around 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle salt and za'atar mix on top. Transfer them to pre-heated baking sheet and place back on bottom of oven.

Bake pitas until bottom browns and they cook through, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove each pita with a spatula or tongs from baking sheet and place on remaining pitas and finish baking them. Serve immediately.

Storing Pita Bread

Pita bread can be stored for up to a week in pantry or bread box, and up to a month in freezer. Use freezer bags when storing in freezer.

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