The other day my daughter came to me asking for a snack, when I asked her what she wanted, she replied, "pita chips and "Thomas". I couldn't help but smile. I knew that she meant hummus, but I'd much rather call it "Thomas" and laugh. I love the way that kids think and all of the funny things they say. For example, we have a karaoke machine which the same daughter thought was called a teriyoki machine (like teriyaki sauce), hilarious! Anyway, back to the "Thomas". I am very lucky that a few of my "weird" vegetarian quirks have rubbed off onto my three kids, especially with my husband around! One of the things that all of my kids love is hummus. They will eat any flavor of it and love to dip pita, crackers and all assortments of veggies. I don't mind buying it, but it is so easy to make. I decided with the hummus that I would make some fresh pita bread too. If you have never had fresh pita bread, you must try it, it is soft and slightly chewy and just down right delicious. It is also very versatile, and can be filled with anything from hummus to salad or just microwave with some cheese inside. It is also really easy to make, it's just a basic bread dough that is rolled out and cooked on a pizza stone in a very hot oven.
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBS tahini (sesame seed paste, recipe to follow)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half of lemon
Add all ingredients except for the olive oil into a food processor, blend for a minute. With the food processor running, add the olive oil until the humus is to desired consistency. (you can replace some of the olive oil with warm water if you want to make it lower in fat).
1 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
In a dry skillet, add the sesame seeds and toast lightly over medium heat stirring frequently to ensure that the seeds don't burn Toast them only lightly, you do not want them to darken too much. Let the seeds cool slightly. Add the toasted seeds and the salt to a blender. With the blender running stream in the oil until the mixture is the consistency of peanut butter. Tahini can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Pita bread (from Tyler Florence)
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
11/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
31/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon olive oil
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir to blend. Let the yeast stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the salt. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough gathers into a ball; this should take about 4 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it's smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Place a large pizza stone on the lower oven rack, preheat the oven (and stone) to 500 degrees F.
Punch the dough down, divide it into 8 pieces, and gather each piece into a ball; keeping all of them lightly floured and covered while you work. Allow the balls of dough to rest, covered, for 15 minutes so they will be easier to roll out.
Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a circle that is about 8-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Make sure the circle is totally smooth, with no creases or seams in the dough, which can prevent the pitas from puffing up properly. Cover the disks as you roll them out, but do not stack them up. Put 2 pita rounds at a time on the hot pizza stone and bake for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread puffs up like a balloon and is pale golden. Watch closely; they bake fast. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes; they will naturally deflate, leaving a pocket in the center. Wrap the pitas in a large kitchen towel to keep them soft.