Monday, December 22, 2014

Magical Mystery Tour: Day 11 (Yiayia X's pitta is all about the Crisco!)

Yiayia X . w/me and
cousin Michael Pappas
I remember the good feeling when my father would come home with aluminum foil packages of Yiayia Xanttopulos' Banana Squash Pitta. Sometimes we were lucky enough to get a whole pan full!  Yiayia X. was from Naousa and her pitta was different from and better than everyone else's, as far I was concerned...It was a special treat, now perpetuated by my cousin Helen Bertron, daughter of My Aunt Mary Hlebakos -- and occasionally my brothers George and Bill. Me, not yet, I'm ashamed to say.

Helen and Bob Bertron generously hosted a family dinner the night after Thanksgiving so I could see my Bay Area relatives, including Thea Mary and Helen's 2 daughters, Erica and Jennifer. Bonus guests included Ruby (née Hlebakos) and Dee Corids + their daughter Alexia, who I had not seen for way too many years. Thank you Helen and Bob!

Naousa 1980
The next day, Helen suggested we do what we had talked about for years: MakeYiayia's pitta together from scratch so I could learn. I had a similar lesson about 35 years ago in Naousa from my Aunt (of blessed memory) Alkinoy Lalas. This is no ordinary pitta with commercial filo, and I had truthfully never tried to make it before. It requires a dowel for rolling and lots of time among other things. The secret ingredient is generous gobs of Crisco, along w/butter, of course!

To make this horiatiki"  village) pitta, the dough is mixed and divided in 2. One-half is rolled out w/the dowel, cut into 10 wedges which are then stretched w/Crisco, stacked, and rolled out again -- that's for the bottom of the pan. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough for the top crust. Add the filling (w/melted butter on top), cover, crimp the edges, and drop some more Crisco on top w/some more butter (to be on the safe side). When horiatiki pitta is baked, you can see layers in the crust just like pitta with filo dough - thicker of course, as this is rustic-style pitta created entirely by hand. 
I am going to make one soon, seriously -- stay tuned!

San Mateo 2014
NOTE: In Naousa, we used oil and butter. The stacked segment piles for each crust were chilled for a few hours or overnight before rolling (same advice from Aunt Soula, also from Naousa). And, of course, you can change up the fillings. Yiayia X did also make it w/spinach and feta, occasionally...OPA!

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