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.
Did you know that you can make crackers at home? Crackers that are completely natural, have no funky or suspicious ingredients and also don’t cost more than pennies? And addressing my pet peeve: crackers that are actually firm enough for you to spread cheese and other deliciousness over?
I only know one Yiddish phrase (well, two, if you can count farshikkert, which is a pretty awesome way to say someone is three sheets to the wind), but conveniently, it is my favorite. A shonda for the goyim means, roughly, that someone of the Jewish faith is not only doing something shameful (shonda), but doing it in front of non-Jews, which of course is an entirely worse offense. Like, it would be bad enough to, say, eat ham and cheese on matzo on Passover (or, I suspect, ever and boy, do I have a great story about that but first let me see if I can get my mother to pay me not to share it) but it would be doubly more awful to do it in front of a person outside your faith. You would, in fact, bring shame upon your entire people, mostly because when given the choice between the most or least dramatic interpretation of an event, I think can safely say that my people will generally opt for the former.
It has been way too long since I baked a loaf of bread. You see, I went on a bit of a bread-baking bender after taking a class a couple years ago. There was White Batter Bread and Chocolate Orange Bread, a Fougasse, a Pumpernickel (later updated to my now-favorite Russian Black Bread), darling Bretzel Rolls, ever-so-popular No-Knead Bread, homemade English Muffins, a Potato Rosemary Bread (nom), an Italian Bread that felt like it took 100 years to make, oh and then some miniature Soft Pretzels, and this doesn’t even include the insane homemade pizza bender that followed. Is it any surprise I took a little break from bread-making for a while shortly after I started by yeast by the jar?