Friday, August 28, 2015

Gyro Flies Pepsi! Pt. II - Pita Bread

At long last, you can finally make your own Gyros at home!  And not the lame-ass kind that come in a kit...I mean honest to goodness, crowded, loud shop full of Greek immigrants and pungent smell of gyro meat on the rotisserie, stink like gyros for days Greek Gyros!!!

A couple years ago, I helped you get about 75% there when I published this blog post on how to make the meat and tarziki sauce at home from scratch.   Thanks to an anonymous reader of this blog, here is 'the rest of the story' -- making the Pita Bread.

You will NEVER buy Pita Bread in the store again!  You'll find yourself making this for lots of other things besides Gyros.   It's easy, fairly forgiving, and insanely delicious.

1 c. warm water, about 95 degrees
2 tsp. active dry or instant yeast
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp salt
1 T olive oil


Make a yeast starter by mixing the water and yeast and a pinch of sugar for the yeast to feed upon and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved and foaming up a bit.  In a mixing bowl, add flour, salt and olive oil, add yeast mixture.   If using a stand mixer attach the dough and need the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, til you have a smooth dough. If using your hands sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It's better to use too little flour than too much. If you get tired, stop and let the dough rest for a few minutes before finishing kneading.

Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp for about 1 hour til the dough doubles in size.  For all practical purposes, you're done at this point until you're ready to make the gyros, because although these pitas are good anytime and keep well, they're best fresh.   You can refrigerate the dough for up to a week.

When ready to make pitas, heat up a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil in it, on medium-high.  Divide the dough into 6 balls.   Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the balls on a floured surface into a circle about the size of your skillet.   It will want to spring back at first, but keep rolling, re-flouring the rolling pin if necessary.  Suddenly it will behave and roll out with ease.

Lay a rolled-out pita in the skillet and watch until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for about 30-45 seconds on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 30-45 seconds to cook the other side.  Remove from heat, keep covered on a plate with paper towel until all the pitas are done, serve!  Enjoy gyros that will make you swear you're on State St. in Madison, WI!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A-2 Sauce

I'm a freak for A-1 sauce.  I'd sit down on the porch with a gallon of it and a glass and drink it all if I could.  I put it on steaks, burgers, hash browns, toast, rice, potatoes, just about anything.  I even tried it on ice cream once.  It wasn't too bad!   Well, for someone who's an A-1 sauce freak, that is.

But the stuff has gotten really spendy.  The price started climbing about the time Kraft took it over and ruined the label and took all the medals from the 1890 Exposition off, and dropped "Steak" to leave just "Sauce".  They haven't ruined the recipe...yet...

And so, like with so many other things, I set off to learn how to make my own A-1 Sauce clone.  Something close to this recipe can be found elsewhere on the net, but I think my tweaks and revisions end up with a better sauce overall.  It's very close to A-1 sauce, it's clearly tastier to me than any other brand of steak sauce, and the price is right, much cheaper overall than buying the equivalent amount at the store.  Plus, if you're a foodie, you probably have most of the ingredients lying around.

A-2 Sauce:

1/2 c. cold water
1/4 c. raisins
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar (don't substitute)
1/4 c. good Worcestershire sauce (I used Lea and Perrins)
1/4 c. Ketchup
1/4 c. Dijon mustard (I used French's Chardonnay Dijon, Poupon would work fine)
1/4 t. black pepper
1 garlic clove, diced up
1 stalk celery, cut up
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. celery seed
1 t. bottled Lemon Juice
1 tsp onion powder
1 orange

Put all but the orange in a saucepan on the stove.   Cut the orange in half, squeeze the juice into the saucepan.  Scoop out the innards from the orange half.   Squeeze the juice from the other half of the orange into the saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Do not attempt to adjust seasonings until cool, the taste changes from hot to cold.

Strain through a strainer and bottle.  Serve at your next steak fry, or try on hamburgers, brats, meat loaf, pudding, ice cream, cake, brownies, macaroni, kiwi fruit, bananas...