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 Duguid.
The mandatory elements were homemade pita breads and hummus. Michele then left it to our own devices to decide what else to include, though she did provide some tasty-looking recipes for a raita and falafel as well as for preserved lemons. Our minds immediately were racing – we LOVE Mediterranean food and were just brimming with favorites, plus new things we wanted to try. In the end, we had to make 2 separate platters, as there were too many things we just had to have. Our first platter had a decidedly Greek theme:
…whereas the second was more firmly rooted in the Middle East:
At the same time, it was great fun watching the message boards to see what the other DC’s were conjuring up. We want to try all those recipes too!
For the pita breads, we followed Michele’s recipe for both of our platters – but with strikingly different results. First, we baked them in the oven; the following week, we grilled them on the outdoor barbecue.
The pitas were absolutely delicious and we’ll definitely make them again. For our Greek platter, we rolled the dough in sesame seeds before rolling it; then we baked the pitas as per the instructions. These we wonderfully light and puffy, though they didn’t brown as much as we’d expected.
We went a bit farther off-road for the mid-Eastern platter, topping the pitas with za’atar and cooking them on the barbecue. They were still very light and fluffy, but more like a naan bread. And delicious.
We also made the hummus, adding 4 oz. of artichoke hearts (frozen, then thawed, not the jarred, marinated kind) to the recipe. Our version lacked salt, and seemed bland on the day we made it, but then was nicely garlicky the next day. We had so much that we changed up the spices a bit, adding lemon and cilantro and served it with the Middle-Eastern mezze.
We made preserved lemons using Meyer lemons that some generous soul brought in to work. We’ve made these before, but now have a new favorite recipe, shared by a fellow daring cook. They take a couple of weeks to ‘cure’, but then keep for a few months in the refrigerator. I implore you to make some soon – they really do add a lovely tang to just about anything!
Now for the additions (click on the pictures for the recipes):
Greek mezze platter:
Dolmas stuffed with lamb**
Fresh chickpea and fennel salad
Greek Salad Skewers*
Chicken, olive and lemon skewers
* Cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, persian cucumber and kalamata olives; simple but very tasty!
** These items link directly to AlmostTurkish.blogspot.com and deserve a quick mention as they were both excellent. The boreki resembled spanakopita, but were much less greasy. Yum!
Middle-Eastern mezze platter:
Preserved lemon Harissa
|Spiced potato Briouats|
- use store-bought graham crackers (we cooked enough, thank you very much)
- use only about 2/3 of the sugar (no sugar in crust, less in the filling)
- skip the blood-orange syrup
Simply gorgeous – will make these again too.