At 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, Avalanche Pizza had a line out the door, as the people of this community showed their support for a great cause. When I looked at these just-awakened bread buyers standing in the drizzle, I said, “Crap! I forgot the coffee!” Regardless, we baked breads through sunrise and into the afternoon until we ran out at noon.
This is Avalanche Pizza’s third year of baking for Thanksgiving to benefit United Appeal of Athens County. All the proceeds of the 500-plus loaves of bread and rolls will go to support this non profit. Athens County is poor, the food pantries are barren and the charitable organizations are stretched to the limit. Funds are so low in our area that even the Athens Library is now closed on Mondays because of State mandated cuts. Luckily, some awesome neighbors stepped up to donate over $2000 to a good cause.
Pam and United Appeal board member Aaron Thomas (shout out to his awesome business, Class A Sounds) helped us bake the night away the night before. Robin Barnes from Power 105 reminded people all morning of the bread sale, which increased traffic tremendously.
My General Manager Joel Fair was, as usual, the bread baking afficionado who cranked the ovens up and didn’t miss a beat. Patty Nally came in extra early to add her expertise to all the breads and was there for the point of sale.
I am proud to be a member of a community that showed so much support, especially in these trying finacial times. Thank you to all who contributed.
The pide (pee-DAY) is like pizza: a great platform to showcase any flavor combination. Of course pizza purists will cringe at the sight of anything not looking like a “real” pizza. I say let ‘em cringe, it keeps them out of my hair and gives me time to make more epicurian Frankensteins. Or as Gene Wilder once said, “It’s Franken-shhteen.”
Although the pide is Turkish in origin, as the pita is from Greece, I’ve decided to meld the countries and give this pizza-like object a mixture of both culinary cultures. Both breads represent “bread to put meat, vegetables, or cheeses on or in.” In my recipe, the boat shape is a nod to Turkey and the feta, spinach and olive filling a nod to Greece. The seeds are a nod to the pizza goon. I’ve used 2 different seeds, poppy and black sesame, (I like the poppy best but I ran out…oops.)
My Greek-Turkish Pide. (Ignore the incroachment of the aggressive French Pissalidiere, right)
This past weekend I made these pides with local goat feta from Integration Acres and spinach from Rich Organic Gardens. They sold out in 30 minutes because the presentation is so compelling, and that’s why I want to share this recipe with you.
4 cups of fresh spinach (if using baby spinach, you will need more; if adult spinach, de-stem the leaves)
1 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives (for added kick I mix these with a few diced Morrocan oil-cured olives)
8-10 ounces feta cheese
10-13 small cherry tomatoes cut in two (Top Secret way to cut cherry tomatoes is below)
Cut the ends off of the onion and halve lengthwise. Cut across the onion in strips the size of fettucine. Heat a saute pan with one tablespoon of the olive oil until just smoking. Add the onion in. Turn the heat down to low and sweat the onion until transparent. Remove from heat and cool.
To roast the red pepper, place it on the open flame of your stove (hey, only gas ovens please, and do not leave the room while you are doing this!) or crank your grill up to high and put the pepper in the hottest spot. Brushing the pepper in a tablespoon of olive oil helps to cook the skin more quickly (for the grill only). Turn the pepper as soon as one side gets black. Try to blacken the whole pepper. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or place in a paper bag for 10 minutes. This way it will steam and the skin will come off more easily. Using a knife or your fingertips, take the burnt skin off the pepper. Do not rinse, as it will wash away alot of flavor. Open the pepper with your fingers and flick the seeds out of the middle by flipping the pepper against your other hand over a trash can or sink.
Place the pepper on the cutting board and slice into long strips. Turn the strips horizontally and cut again against the strips, creating a dice.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a heavy cookie sheet bottom up on the middle rack.
Take each dough ball and form into a 10 to 12 inch (long) by 4 inch (wide) football shape, using a rolling pin. You may want to check out my video called “Pairing Pide,” which has a fast-speed tutorial of forming a pide (if you can handle the sight of a goon in a flock of ravenous goats).
Place the spinach, onion, olive and feta cheese on the pide. Top with the tomato and the roasted red pepper.
Starting in the middle, fold over the edge of the dough. When reaching the end of the football shape, pull a little to attain a raised edge all along the side. Repeat on the other side. You may need to pull more dough from the center to keep the sides from falling back down. While holding the ends, pull the very end until you feel the gluten strands stiffen to almost breaking. Twist the end and wrap around your inserted finger and make a knot. (If it breaks, you can make do by pinching together the dough as you say, “I meant to do that.”)
Place the pide on parchment paper on a pizza peel or upturned cookie sheet and let proof (sit at room temperature to rise before egg-washing and baking) for 15 to 30 minutes.
Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add one teaspoon of water and brush on the sides of the pide. Remember, anyplace you do not get the egg wash, the seeds will not stick. Sprinkle the seeds on the edges and place on the preheated cookie sheet in the oven, keeping the parchment under the dough.
Cook for 10 to 14 minutes, depending upon your oven. Please remember that this particular pide is faily dry (devoid of sauce and will cook faster than if it did have sauce.) The pide will be done when the bottom is dark golden brown.