Every once in a while, inspiration visits on the same day as opportunity. It's rare, but it happens. I think that's why Pinterest is so popular. We see pictures of food that inspires us, but what are the chances we have the time to make it the same day? Almost never. So it gets pinned on the on-line bulletin board so we can find it when we actually have the time required to tackle whatever project it is.
Last week I had a really slow day. No appointments to attend to, no play dates, no dance classes etc... so I tackled this meal that I'd originally seen on Pinterest. I altered it, subbing pork tenderloin for the chicken (have I mentioned my husband is anti-chicken breast?), and I opted to use a ready-made tzatiki sauce because I happened to have some in my fridge and wanted to use it up.
Homemade pita bread is super easy to make, and the end result is so much better than the bought variety. Being a novice bread maker, to put it mildly, I generally avoid yeast. But in this particular case, the bread came together very easily and it was so worth the effort. The other great thing about this pita bread recipe, is that you can make some minor adjustments and make pizza crusts out them. I knew my kids would be less than thrilled with the pork souvlaki, so I deflated two of the pitas while baking in the oven, (they balloon up when baked) and voila - they each had their own individual pizza crust to "decorate" as they put it. Two separate dinners using the same recipe, and everyone was happy. This, unfortunately, is also a rarity.
For the souvlaki marinade:
(adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 pork tenderloin cut into cubes (or 1 lb of chicken breast)
Combine all the marinade ingredients. Add the meat and allow to sit in your fridge anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. Soak some skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before using, and thread your meat onto the skewers. Grill until cooked through. (In the alternative, you could broil them in your oven, but I've never tried it and have no suggestions in that regard. Sorry.)
For the pita bread:
(adapted from Annie's Eats)
Yield: 8 pitas
3 cups bread flour, plus 1/2-3/4 cup more as needed (you can also use AP flour)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tbsp. olive oil
Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the olive oil and 1 ¼ cup water and mix with a dough hook until all of the ingredients form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water.
Once all of the ingredients form a ball continue mixing it at low speed for 10 minutes. As the dough is mixing, continue to add flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not sticky.
When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the dough around so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.
When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 equal pieces. I used a scale to get even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it will be easier to shape.
While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450°. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while it is preheating. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.
After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between ¼ – 1/8” thick – 6 inches in diameter. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently, you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5-10 minutes before trying again.
Place discs on a lightly greased baking sheet or parchment paper and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30 minutes.
Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. I baked two at a time. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn’t necessary. (After the 3 minutes, I flipped them over and baked for an additional minute). Remove from oven and allow to cool. they will deflate as they cool.
Like I said, these also doubled as some great pizza crusts. If you want to go that route, prick the rolled dough a few times before baking it in the oven. Top the baked pita/pizza crust after baking it, and then put back in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. My kids were thrilled with their own personal pizzas, and had fun adding their own toppings. (They're not exactly adventurous eaters.)
In case you're wondering, my little guy's pizza above has a pepperoni spider on it. This was his idea, not mine. Some nights I'll do just about anything to make that kid eat.