Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mezze-ing Around

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.

pita_web c

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:

greek_mezze_0007 salad_web salad_skewers

Dolmas stuffed with lamb**

Fresh chickpea and fennel salad

Greek Salad Skewers*

tzatziki chicken1 zukes

Tzatziki Dip

Chicken, olive and lemon skewers

zucchini boreki**

* Cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, persian cucumber and kalamata olives; simple but very tasty!

** These items link directly to and deserve a quick mention as they were both excellent. The boreki resembled spanakopita, but were much less greasy. Yum!

Middle-Eastern mezze platter:

harissa kofta tabbouleh

Preserved lemon Harissa

Lamb Kofte


Quail_done muhammara triangles_web1

Grilled Quail


Spiced potato Briouats

Baba Ghanooj


Last, but certainly not least, we made a Meyer lemon and goat cheese cheesecake from a recipe posted recently on Tartlette. Our only changes were to:

  • 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.



  1. Wow, two mezze platters. And both of them were so large! I'm impressed. I really loved this challenge, too, and am now hooked to some new dishes!!!

  2. You did a fabulous job with this challenge. Gorgeous puffy pitas and everything looks just great!

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  4. That 2nd platter looks superb (so much food) not that the 1st isn't impressive also. Well done and the Muhammara is extra tasty and a wonderful find of this challenge. And yes all the recipes that the DCs showed on the forums was amazing. Love your quail they look perfect. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. So many gorgeous foods! Its all mouthwatering - and the cheesecake is the perfect finale!

  6. That all looks soooo impressive! I love your greek theme throughout it and I should have made dolmades too since my boyfriend loves them and I have never made those before, but will for sure make them soon.

  7. I just adore both versions. amazing work with this challenge everything looks absolutely delicious.
    I am so jealous.

  8. Wow - both of your spreads look fantastic! Very, very creative with each theme you chose!

  9. Everything on your meze platter looks fabulous!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Wow, fantastic! And now you've got me wanting to make the preserved lemons. :)

  11. I love how you did this post; it's going to make it so easy to come back and try some of these recipes.

    You guys are astounding... I've definitely got some mezze-envy. :)

  12. Oh wow I'm so impressed!! Both of your mezzes look so good, I can't decide which one I like best! Congratulations!

  13. I love your title, so catchy yet so true. This challenge surely got us mezze-ing around. Okay, i said i'm mezzed out after 2 rounds of mezze spread, but i guess i'm wrong coz there are more dishes that i've got to try. I'd like to try your quail, dolmas and preserved lemon harissa.
    Thank you for using my recipe for the preserved lemons and glad that you liked it as well. I've had mine for a year now, coz i kept adding/refill everytime i take out some.

    And that dessert..i'm so checking that out.

  14. Thank you both so much for cooking along with me this month! Your food is all just so beautiful and I just love how creative you were with the recipes you made. You've given me lots of ideas on things I want to make, especially cooking pita on the grill. I don't even have a grill but I'm going to buy one if for no other reason than to make bread.

  15. Wow! I'm so impressed! So many dishes, I don't know where to start! I love zataar, but have never thought to make it myself - another thing on my to-do list! Boreki, too! Kudos to you!

  16. What a feast! Everything looks amazing!

  17. Love the bbq pitas...with za'atar (like dukkah!)

  18. So cool to make two mezze platters in different styles. It all looks amazing! I thought it couldn't get any better, and then there was the cheesecake. Great idea with the sesame-studded pita!

  19. Your mezze are perfect! I wish I could make them all! I even bought grape leaves when I saw your dolma - it was one of few things I could eat when I lived in Greece, so I cook it rather often. You definitely made a great job! I'll try some of your Turkish recipes!

  20. BEAUTIFUL and delicious mezze, just wow. You made so much..I don't even know where to start! I'm in lust with the zucchini boreki and potato briouats! I'm even more madly in lust with the lemon goat cheese cheesecake. I wish I could have been there!

  21. love how you made TWO mezze tables! And great job on all the side dishes, i'm in love with your dolmas, they look perfect!

  22. Outstanding work on both your mezze. You actually cooked most of the dishes I only wanted to.

    After seeing them, I will be cooking those boreki. Again what beautiful meals you made.

  23. OMG, I got to try these all...... You have done such an extensive challenge! I can't wait to try your Spiced potato Briouats and Dolmas. Simply delicious and tempting!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  24. Oh my, what a feast! Everything looks amazing!

  25. Great job! A double feast! A wonderful job!

  26. OMG, what a spread! I just wouldn't know where to start. On second thought, I'd definitely start with the grilled, za'atar-topped pita... but after that I'd just want everything at once!