miércoles, abril 30, 2008

WTSIM…Breakfast – The thinnest home made pittas with cretan goat cheese (xynomizithra) and honey

Everyone who has ever tasted these pittas…just dies for them. It’s my special occasion / holidays breakfast (and even dinner sometimes). The ingredients are very simple, the whole “mystery” lies on the technique they are made. The secret consists in achieving the finest pitta possible, but taking care not to “tear” and make holes in the dough. Lots of patience is required but the result really worthes the while. The specialist in preparing them is my grandmother, the specialists in eating them…all the others: family, friends, neighbours, friends of our friends etc.
They can be prepared 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated carefully set in a flat plastic or other recipient. Make sure to avoid any contact between them using clean kitchen towels, as they can stick together and you don’t want this to happen. They can be also kept in the freezer for months but, again, try to keep them well separated with film, at least until they are completely frozen.
The cheese (xynomizithra)
normally used is typical of Crete and can only be bought in the island and some selected gourmet stores of Athens. I never leave Athens without, at least, a kilo of this cheese and no-one is welcome in Madrid if his/her luggage does not smell of it. Do not make experiments with feta cheese or anything similar because the humidity they contain will provoke holes to the dough and the result will be disappointing. Try a creamy but not at all moist cheese, such as Spanish Afuega l’ pitu, any classic French creamy goat cheese or even Roquefort or Cabrales.
These pittas are traditionally served in Crete as dessert.

Ingredients for 13 – 15 pittas (serves normally 7 as breakfast or 13-15 as dessert)

500 gr cretan goat cheese or any other creamy but not moist cheese (see notes above)
500 gr all purpose wheat flour (For those who live in Spain: try the Harimsa harina ecológica)
300 ml (more or less – depends on the flour mainly) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A good pinch of salt
Natural honey

Mix with your hand the flour, olive oil and salt and start adding water gradually until the dough is soft but easy to work with. Let the dough stand in a covered recipient for at least half an hour. In the meantime form 15 small “cheeseballs” with the cheese you have selected.

Once the dough is ready form 15 small “doughballs” almost at the size of those made by cheese or slightly bigger.
Take one doughball in your hands and open it at the center.

Introduce the cheeseball inside and pull the dough around the cheese until it is completely hidden inside.

Seal well each stuffed doughball to avoid that cheese comes out. Spread some flour on your table and flatten with your fingertips the ball as thin as possible.

Fry in hot olive oil or in a non-sticking pan greased with a tablespoon of olive oil at low temperature. The second method tales longer but is, certainly, healthier. They are traditionally prepared on a hot stone – the next present I want for my birthday!!! Serve immediately with natural honey – preferably from Crete.