Monday, August 3, 2009

Allison's Birthday Dinner!

This was such a fun & delicious meal to create! We decided to go with a middle eastern theme.

Homemade Pita Bread (recipe compliments of John Dials):

3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 package of dry active yeast


1. Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl.

2 Combine yeast, sugar and 1/3 cup very warm water-give a quick stir and set aside for 5 minutes to activate yeast.

3. Make a well in the flour/salt mixture and add the yeast, 1 cup warm water and the olive oil.

4. Gently stir to gather dough into a ball-you may need a touch more water-depending on where you live, altitude.

5. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes.

6. Put into a LIGHTLY greased large bowl, cover and place in a warm spot for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Punch down and knead to smooth.

8. Cut dough into 12 pieces, form into rounds, roll out and place on a dusted baking sheet, cover and let rest for 45 minutes.

9. Preheat oven to 500F degrees or turn grill on to high.

10. Once placed on the grill, cover quickly and check after about 90 seconds. Brush with a little bit of olive oil and turn with tongs and cover for another minute or so. Cooking times and temps will vary depending on grill. Let cool about 5-10 minutes at least before you try serving (the bread will still be cooking after you pull it out).

11. Some like to wrap the cooked pitas in a slightly damp tea towel for a minute or two-then cool and place in plastic bags. We opted to place cooked pitas onto parchment paper, on cooking sheets, and cover with a dry tea towel.

Greek Salad

3 Large cucumbers (spoon out seeds)
1 large tomato
1 block of feta cubed
2/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil

If you let this salad rest overnight the flavors are much more pronounced. It is easy, delicious, and very seasonal for summer in the pacific NW.


C'mon now... we didn't make our own dolmas....we have a 2 1/2 year old! Instead we went to our local middle eastern specialty store and found a canned brand recommended by the store attendant.

Attached to one of our favorite restaurants Ya Hala is a middle eastern specialty market. The restaurant is located at:

8005 SE Stark
Portland, OR 97215
(503) 256-4484

Dawali is the brand and the dolmas incorporated tomato in addition to the garlic & olive oil - very tasty! The brand was Lebanese rather than Greek. Like Ya Hala restaurant, the market incorporates Greek & Lebanese favorites.


1 large container of plain yogurt (whole fat, not pre-stirred)
1/2 lemon juiced, pinch of lemon zest if desired
4-5 cloves crushed garlic
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated (with a cheese grater)
2 TBSP mint finely minced (or you can use parsley)
Salt to taste


1. Place yogurt in a sieve (some recipes advise using a tea towel) over a bowl in the fridge for 2 hours to drain off any extra fluid.

2. Once yogurt is drained prepare remaining ingredients and add.

3. You can serve at this point, however, if you have time to refrigerate for an hour all the way up to over night you should do so. Flavors tend to mix and intensify the longer you let this dish set.

Serve with pita or with meat. We served along side our grilled leg of lamb. Delicious!

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