Growing up, I never gave bialys much thought. The bagel shop where I briefly worked in high school had us front-end people take bagels off the machine rollers, pinch together the centers, schmear them with the onion filling and leave them on a tray for the professionals to bake, and that was about far as I’d considered them — a bagel variant. Oh, and that they were excellent toasted with salted butter.
Let me just get the obvious out of the way: this is no proper Southern cornbread. Please, do not bring it to a North Carolina or Texas barbecue dinner, they’ll be horrified by the presence of sugar and honestly, at that point, it may be in your best interest to not even bring up the goat cheese within.
Oh, am I so happy to finally have a great pita recipe. You see, pitas themselves aren’t hard to make. Most recipes very closely, or even exactly, resemble a standard pizza dough and they’re not much more difficult to assemble. No, the trouble comes when you pop them in the oven and pray for the kind of puffiness you can pop some falafel into and end up with flatbread. Delicious, warm, toasty flatbread, but definitely not a pita.
Nearly two years ago, when I was a sprightly young thing who planned elaborate birthday weekends for myself, Alex and I went to The Little Owl to celebrate, an infinitesimally small and adorable restaurant in the West Village that has an Italian/New American thing going on. Never ones to study up on a restaurant before going, we simply ordered whatever sounded good (in fact, I tried unsuccessfully to replicate my fideos appetizer at home) which went really well until we told people what we’d eaten the next day and they near-universally gasped “You didn’t have the meatball sliders?”
Now, I know it has been barely two years since I told you about making miniature soft pretzels at home but according to my calculations, at least three-quarters of you weren’t around back then and that means you might be missing out. And that would be terrible.
I don’t think it is a big deal if other people buy sandwich bread pre-sliced in a soft plastic bag from some factory bakery that specializes in long shelf lives. But I do think it’s a shame that someone like me who: a) enjoys, nay, loves baking bread, b) always remarks that if something has no flavor, it’s probably not worth the calories, c) works from home, meaning that the 15 minutes of labor and four hours of idle time that goes into making a delicious loaf of light whole wheat bread is more than doable, and d) owns two of the best bread-baking books out there still buys that pre-sliced stuff all of the time.