Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Mezze

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.

Serves 6

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.

2. Hummus
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.

3. Falafels
Recipe from Joan Nathan and

- 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.

4. Tabouli

- 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.


  1. WOW your photographs are wondrous and so professional like out of a cookbook!!! Your foods look so delicious well done. Bravo bravo bravo> Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. I am absolutely blown away by that top photo - and I love all of the dishes that you made - Looking back now I wish that I had made more dishes to go along with my mezze - I am curious what you changed from the original recipe for the pita bread?

  3. I also made tabbouleh and falafels for the first time and now I am totally addicted. Loved reading your post. Your pictures are stunning!!!!

  4. Wow, that is some of my favorite food! Everything looks extremely appetizing. Nice shots and presentation!



  5. The most beautiful mezze I've seen so far!

  6. wooooow..!!! amazing menu, perfect for party with small group.. *shame on me, still not register for Daring Cooks ^__^ *

    Happy Valentine's for you Kris..

  7. Your mezze looks beautiful! Love the photos (why mine doesn't turn out soooo good...?!?) I could eat the lot :) I also wanted to make flavoured couscous, but just for the 2 of us it would be too much...
    Cheers from... SUNNY, but cold Ireland. Anula.

  8. OMG Kris, you have outdone yourself again this month. What a fantastic mezze spread you have - wish I had been invited for dinner.

  9. Wow! Absolutely gorgeous photos! Love the vibrant colors :) Makes me want to go make some more of this stuff!

  10. ooooo, aaaaahh... That's sort of the only thing I can udder by seeing the beauty of all your dishes and well, the beauty of the photos too ofcourse...! It looks absolutely stunning! Beautiful styling of everything too.

  11. Wow. All of your dishes look amazing, and the presentation is truly great. You did a fantastic job with this challenge. Your photos are stunning, as well.

  12. Happy Valentines Day! (I hope T is better). You set up these photos beautifully! Well done on the challenge!

  13. amazing presentation, it looks stunning.

  14. What a nice mezze platter! Any mention of falafels and hummus gets me jumping up and down...looks delicious!

  15. Oh dear!!! What a gorgeous, gorgeous platter... stunning presentation!!!

  16. Once again your food is just too gorgeous to eat!

  17. OMG! You had to make heaps for this challenge!
    I would have loved to have my "arm twisted" to make this, but I'm not a daring cook... yet... maybe someone at home will have to convince me to try all these :)

  18. Wow as usual!! Your photos are so gorgeous and your pita bread looks perfect! I love your blog!!

  19. Your table is one of the prettiest I've seen! Adding taboulé was a great idea, it's a perfect fit with the rest of the meal!

  20. It's like a dinner of tasty appetizers! How fun!

  21. Gorgeous presentation. Looking at all that food is making me seriously hungry (and I just had some of the leftovers for lunch!!)

  22. Every time I come to your blog, I am stunned at how beautiful your photos are...everything is so bright and lovely and I'm sure, very delicious!
    Wonderful job, as always...I am so impressed!

  23. Hi, Kris! Wow!!! Gorgeous, stunning, beautiful i can go on and on. Your photos are beautiful. Looking at your photos is like looking at a coffee table book of wonderful foods.

    This make me want to make more mezze even though my husband just asked me if i'm "mezzed out" yet! ha!ha!ha!

    I like that you incorporated the previous challenge, nice idea. Your pita looks great too!

  24. What a delicious feast! Your pictures are breathtaking! I love falafel too, the most out of all of this.

  25. wow, just when your page finishe loading, my boyfriend peeked over my shoulder and went, "Wow, her's is definitely 10x better than yours". LOLL, and i totally agree with him! as always, your presentation is perfecT! and the food looks wonderful, especially the tabouli!

  26. I love mezze! Falafels and tabouli are my weakness! And again, I really realy love your photos, it just lifts my spirits and makes me see food in it's purest form. :)

  27. HI, I love Middle Eastern Food. I just went to Lebanese restaurant for Valentine's celebration and had mezza. It was awesome. This year, I would like to try making some Middle Eastern food at home! Yours look wonderful!

  28. Beautiful! Absolutely. Perfection. In food, in presentation, in colors, in dishes.
    I love the way you handled this challenge! Wish I could partake!

  29. I want to taste every single thing on this menu--you did a FANTASTIC job on each dish!! Your pita bread is puffed perfectly! :) I love it!!

  30. What a feast! I love the way your falafel came out - they look so crunchy and tasty!!

  31. Oh my gosh! Your photos (AGAIN!) are stunning! Each dish looks fabulous. I'm starving now ;)

  32. As always your photos are stunning. I can't figure out if I am jealous of your studio or the amazing amount of sunlight you get to shoot with.

    I have only had coffee this morning and your final shot of satay is killing me. How good it would be with some simple rice right this second.

  33. You take such lovely photos and your food is just so delicious looking! Your pita looks amazing!

  34. Kris..when I saw your mezze table in the DK eyes bugged out..but my eyes always bug out when I see your unique and perfect your stunning photography. Your kebaba photo is making me weak in the knees and a desperate, desperate way! :D

    Also, the airbrush I use is a Badger 110 volt. You can find it at However, it didn't really halp my poor

  35. Audax: Thanks, Audax!

    Jenn: Didn't really change any ingredients from the pita bread recipe, but did it on humus :-)

    Ap269: Thanks, I will continue making tabouli and falafels, I can see you will too :-)

    Rosa: Thanks, Rosa!

    Miriam: Thanks, Miriam! I envy your pita bread. Looks so solid and tempting :-)

    Fitri: I am so glad that you have come out to bake again!

    Anula: Yes, the couscous turned out so abundant. Took me a few days to clear it out from my fridge.. but still yummy!

    Jo: I definitely would have invited you if we happened to be in the same city :-)

    Rochelle: Yes, this challenge is contagious...

    Simone: I had the same reaction when I saw your Mezze photo for the first time.... just love love love it!

    Shelley: Thanks!

    LindaMary: Thanks so much! T is fine and fit :-)

    Wic: Thanks!

    Lucie: I jumped up and down looking at your Valentine's rolled sugar cookies :-) They are just so pink, delicate and cute! And must be delicious too!!

    Asha: Thanks!

    Barbara Bakes: Thanks, Barbara! You are so kind :-)

    Anita: Take your time, Anita! Be a daring cook when you are ready :-) Well, this mezze challenge is just as challenging as making your steamed bbq pork buns, I keep thinking about the steam and how good they smell!

    Chef_d: Thanks! Just as much as I have enjoyed your blog!

    Valerie: Thanks, tabouli is one of my favorites!!

    The Blonde Duck: Yes, it is fun. You should try it sometime :-)

    Lo: Ha ha join me for this Mezze feast then??

    Winnie: Thanks, Winnie!

    TaGa_Luto: Yes, this mezze thing is truly contagious :-)

    Cinnamon Girl: I can't stop munching on falafels until I have them all gone from my fridge :-)

    Anjelikuh: Oh, you have been humble! Everytime I look into your post, I always say to myself that I should consider a more informative with step-by-step details and photos just like yours. I think I am just not that meticulous enough, need to practice more :-)

    Vickys: I am glad you like this post... And your words just made my day ;-)

    Mausi: Yes, try and you will not stop :-)

    Barbara: Thanks, Barbara!

    Jill: Thanks Jill! As much as I love your double chocolate Valentine Cake! With the raspberries and all, they are simply rich and delicious :-)

    Monkeyshines in the Kitchen: Falafels are great! Have one and you do not want to stop munching :-)

    Rose: Well, this is definitely great and fulfilling for those who are starving :-)

    Climbhighak: Definitely the sunlight :-)

    Michele: Thanks so much!

    Lisa Michelle: Lisa, it is the same reaction when I saw your extensive Mezze feast! Should I say I want to have another round of Mezze right away at your table, please...
    Thanks, Badger is a bit pricey, right?

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  36. j'adore les mezze c'est tellement savoureux et délicieux
    bravo pour la présentation
    bonne journée

  37. Wow! Your pitas look like perfection. I appreciate your calling mine light but they were nothing like yours. The falafels also looks so crispy and I'm impressed with how evenly sized they are. Mine would have been much more haphazard.

  38. Fimère: As much as I adore your petit pains brioches a l'orange curd! Simply gorgeous!

    Sarah: Thanks, Sarah!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  39. I discoverd a wonderful blog full of delicious recipes.
    I will return
    Greatings from Paris.

  40. Your photos are brilliant! You took full advantage of the scope given. Well done! I know I will be treating my family to mezze for dinner this week. Thank you for the recipes and ideas. YUM!

  41. I forgot to answer you about the pita staying soft.

    I usually put my leftover pita in a plastic bag when it's cool. If I have a lot of leftover pita then I keep them in the freezer until we're ready to eat them.

    Stale pita make really nice fattoush salad or pita chips.

  42. OMG it's not possible to do this, you're sooooooo fabulous ! Waouw, amazing pictures, very pro o_O
    The best, really ♥

  43. WOW!! Great mezze!! Your shots are amazing, and everything looks so yummy!