Homemade pita bread for sandwiches or chips

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo Pita is good for pocket bread, but it also makes a great dipping chip for hummus.

Pitas can be easy to make, though the first time you look at the recipe, you’d wonder if this would really work. I had my doubts the first time I made them.

The key to making pitas is make sure your oven has fully preheated. Five hundred degrees is needed to make the water in the dough turn to steam, puffing up the pita.

I’ve noted that megamarts also have “pita flatbread.” These don’t have a pocket. You’ll have to look carefully to find an actual pita.

PITA BREAD

2 cups warm water

1 package active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

4 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Pour 1/4 cup water into a small bowl, add yeast and sugar and stir just to blend. Let stand until dissolved. Place flour, salt and oil in a mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture and remaining water. Beat until flour is completely moistened. Turn dough out on a floured board and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and oil top of dough lightly. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/4 hours. Turn dough on a floured board and knead lightly to remove air bubbles. Roll into a log 12 inches long. Cut into 12 equal pieces. Pat each piece of dough into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball of dough on a floured board into a 6 1/2 inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Place on lightly greased baking sheets and let rise in a warm place, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness. Move oven rack to lowest slot and preheat to 500 degrees. Bake one pan at a time about 5 minutes, or until bread is puffed and just starting to brown. Remove from oven and place on wire racks. Serve while warm or let cool slightly and slip into plastic bags to stay moist and pliable.

CRUNCHY PITA BITES

Pita bread, cut in half

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon dried Italian-style seasoning

2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open pita bread into halves and roughly cut into approximately 2 inch pieces. Arrange on a medium baking sheet. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and mix in garlic and dried Italian-style seasoning. Pour the mixture over pita bread pieces. Sprinkle bread with Parmesan cheese, adjusting the amount as desired. Bake in the preheated oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

PITA CHIPS

12 whole wheat pita bread pockets

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried chervil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place triangles on lined cookie sheet. In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, basil and chervil. Brush each triangle with oil mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.

HUMMUS

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir the garlic in olive oil for approximately 3 minutes, until tender. Place garbanzo beans in a blender or food processor with approximately 1 teaspoon reserved liquid. Process until smooth. Mix in the garlic, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Blend to desired consistency, increasing the amount of reserved garbanzo bean liquid as desired. Chill in the refrigerator until serving.

CRAB FILLING

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 pound cooked crabmeat

2 green onions, chopped

Place cream cheese, crab meat, and green onions into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Spoon mixture into pita. Serve immediately.

TURKEY SALAD

1 cup cooked, cubed turkey meat

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tart apples, cored and cubed

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon prepared Dijon-style mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, celery, apples and walnuts. Prepare the dressing in a small bowl by whisking together the sour cream, mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over turkey mixture and toss to evenly coat. Refrigerate until chilled.

STEAK GYROS

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup cucumber, chopped

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon oregano, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 steaks (10-ounce), cut crosswise into 2x1/4 inch strips

2 teaspoon olive oil

2 pitas, split

Sliced cucumber

Combine in a blender the yogurt, chopped cucumber, onion, mint, and salt. Blend until smooth. Combine garlic, oregano, coriander, salt and allspice in small bowl. Pat steak dry on paper towel. Add to spice mixture. Cook steak in oil in skillet over medium heat. Spoon into pita. Garnish with cucumber. Serve with sauce.

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