Sunday, February 14, 2010
Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone! Many thanks to Michele of Veggie Num Nums for hosting this month’s challenge: Mezze. It is a truly amazing challenge with so many flexibilities and options.
Mezze is a style of eating, not a specific recipe or recipes. It is a bunch of small dishes served all at once—sort of like the Middle Eastern version of Spanish Tapas. It can be served as appetizers before a meal, or as the meal itself. In practice, apparently Mezze is all about eating with lots of fun - taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It’s also a fantastic way to share a meal with family and friends.
We are only being asked to make pita bread from scratch and hummus. For the the bunch of dishes we are free to pick up from any of the Middle Eastern flavors – the whole range of optional dishes that we can scoop up and eat with pita bread. With the amount of time available in hand, I decided to go with pita bread, hummus, tabouli, falafels, and satay (recipe from the previous Daring Cooks’ Challenge with adding black soy sauce and substracting turmeric in marination).
I love the taste of every single one of the dishes, especially falafels. And even though tabouli is new for me, it is still very refreshing while mixed with couscous. The combination of all totally fits my taste buds and next time I would make this again for a feast catered for a group of friends.
The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.
For my own convenience, I have make some adjustments to the challenge recipe. For the original recipe please click here.
1. Pita Bread
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Makes ten 7 inch pita breads
- Dry yeast > 1 teaspoon
- Lukewarm water > 300 grams
- All purpose flour > 300 grams
- Salt > ½ tablespoon
- Extra virgin olive oil > 1 tablespoon
- In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 1.5 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
- Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 230C.
- Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 4 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle slightly bigger than 7 inch and ¼ inch thick. Then use a 7 inch cake ring to cut into a 7 inch circle. The cut-out leftover could be rerolled to make another circle. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack. Roll the second dough. Altogether it will make ten 7 inch circles.
- Place one piece of dough into a baking sheet, and bake at 230C for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.
Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
- Canned chickpeas – strain, reserve the chickpea liquid > 150 grams
- Reserved chickpea liquid > 4 tablespoons
- Lime juice > 45 ml
- Garlic – peel and crush > 2 cloves
- Salt > 1/8 teaspoon
- Peanut butter > 2 tablespoons
- Granulated sugar > 3 teaspoons
- Puree chickpeas plus liquid in a blender until it forms a smooth paste.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Recipe from Joan Nathan and Epicurious.com
- Canned chickpeas – strain > 100 grams
- Large onion – chop > 1
- Fresh parsley – chop > 5 grams
- Fresh cilantro – chop > 5 grams
- Salt > 1 teaspoon
- Ground red pepper > 1 teaspoon dried
- Garlic – peel, chop > 4 cloves
- Ground cumin > 1 teaspoon
- Baking powder > 1 teaspoon
- All purpose flour > 4 tablespoons or more
- Vegetable oil – 3 inch deep in pan > for frying
- Place chickpeas and onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
- Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
- Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.
- Heat 3 inches of oil at 190C in a deep pot and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
Note: Instead of deep frying you can bake Falafel balls on a nonstick pad (silpat or the like) at 160C, just until they’re firm, about 20 minutes.
- Couscous > 1 cup
- Water > 1 cup
- Cucumber – chop > ½
- Big tomatoes – chop > 2
- Fresh mint – chop > ¼ cup
- Fresh parsley – chop > 1 cup
- Garlic – chop > 2 cloves
- Lime juice > 1.5 teaspoon
- Ground pepper > ¼ teaspoon
- Extra virgin olive oil > 1/8 cup
- Salt > ½ teaspoon
- Granulated sugar > 1 teaspoon
- Bring water to boil in pan. Remove from fire. Fold in couscous and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Cover pan.
- When it is done, scoop with spoon to keep grains from sticking together.
- Combine the salad ingredients, including couscous, in a big bowl.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together and stir into the salad mixture.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.