Feb 14, 2010

Challenging myself : Daring Cooks' February Challenge Mezze with Pita Bread and Hummus

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. 

I think this months challenge was amazing I loved it. Thank you Michele for this delicious and fun way to have a lovely valentine party without having to do to much dishes.

On the bottom you will find the recipes for this challenge but if you want to take a closer look and the get the recipe from the things I came up with click the links below  the pictures.

Do it have your own Mezze, and use lots and lots of garlic.

baked Olives with Pesto 

Greek Dolmades - Filled Grape Leaves

Chickpea Salad with Red and Yellow Peppers, Spring Onions, Cucumber and Parsley

Börek Style Casserole with Sheep Cheese and Spinach

Giant White Beans with Aubergine and Onions

Loukanika - Greek sausage with yogurt sauce

Apple Pie Baklava with Walnuts

Falafels - Recipe from Joan Nathan and Epicurious.com
Prep Time: Overnight for dry beans and 1 hour to make Falafels

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight OR use well canned drained chickpeas (7 ounces/100 grams)
1/2 large onion (roughly chopped, about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped OR use a couple pinches of dried parsley (.2 ounces/5 grams)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped OR use a couple pinches of dried cilantro (.2 ounces/5 grams)
1 teaspoon table salt (.1 ounce/5 grams)
1 teaspoon dried hot red peppers (cayenne) (.1 ounce/2 grams)
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon cumin (.1 ounce/2 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder (.13 ounces/4 grams)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (1 ounce/24 grams) (you may need a bit extra)
tasteless oil for frying (vegetable, canola, peanut, soybean, etc.), you will need enough so that the oil is three inches deep in whatever pan you are using for frying

1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, and then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the 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. If you don’t have a food processor, then feel free to mash this up as smooth as possible by hand.
3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or 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.
4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.
5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees (190C) in a deep pot or wok 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.
6. Drain on paper towels.

Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste

1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)

1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 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.
2. 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.
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. 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 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake 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.


Anna said...

Would love to try apple filled baclava and stuffed grape leaves (had them when I've been in Crete and they were delicious!). Great job and nice choice of your mezze dishes!
Cheers. Anula.

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Your meze look so good! Those giant white beans are one of my favorite things to eat - I'll have to try you version with teh aubergines - they look fantastic!

Sue said...

What a great table! I am loving those giant white beans. I may have to figure out that recipe. It would be delicious with the pita bread.

Amy Lucille said...

I love your story, and your food looks delicious. Happy Valentines Day!

Anonymous said...

I would love to try the börek-style casserole with feta cheese and spinach. Yum! Good job on the challenge!

Lauren said...

How lovely =D. Your mezze looks delicious! Such a wonderful spread!

Anonymous said...

I love your mezze choices, I should've thought about some sort of dessert to follow it too!!!

Winnie said...

Oh my, everything looks amazing! You did a fabulous job with all of your mezze dishes!

NKP said...

Absolutely amazing! Wonderful job on the challenge, and I am loving that sectioned plate too.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, you really went all out for this challenge. Dolmades -- yes!

Esther said...

fantastic selection !

Simones Kitchen said...

Well lots and lots of garlic sounds like the right description...lol... I feel like I am still eating the garlic right now. I love all your dishes. It looks absoluteky wonderful!

Heather Mulholland said...

Awww thanks so much for the comment on my own mezze platter.

I wish I was adventorous as you, I knew though that two people couldn't eat a whole lot except having a bunch of leftovers.

Your Giant White Beans with Auburgine and Onions sound delicious! I think I will have to try it :)

Asha @ FSK said...

OMG! What a spread!!!!!! Can I be invited for dinner pleaaaasseeee???! :))

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and every single dish looks so yummy. Wish I could have a taste.

Candice said...

Great pictures - everything looks delicious!

Kris Ngoei said...

You have outdone yourself over this challenge. Look at your variety of side dishes... Simply delicious. Love Börek Style Casserole so much!

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Kel said...

Your baklava looks amazing (as does the rest of your mezze spread)! I love apple pie, I will have to try that! You did an amazing job. Thanks for the comments. :)

cuppy said...

This spread is amazing! Wow! Sounds like a wonderful feast!

chef_d said...

Really yummy looking mezze platter! And I love your plate!

Rosemary & Garlic said...

The Greek sausage looks delicious.

Sarah said...

No wonder you had leftovers! You made so many great looking things. I bet the Börek Style Casserole with Sheep Cheese and Spinach was delicious. I had Borek for the first time in December and it was amazing.

Valérie said...

You really went all out on this challenge! Wonderful table, I'm especially tempted by the sausages and the bean dish! Your dolmas look perfect, so much better than mine! Thank you for your tips and advice on my blog - I really don't feel like trying to make dolmas again right now, but when I do, I'll look at your recipe!

Simona Carini said...

What a banquet! The giant white beans are particularly appetizing, and so is the casserole with sheep cheese and spinach.

Margie said...

What a feast! Well done. Thanks for sharing all the fabulous recipes. Those falafels looks amazing, but so does that baklava and the beans and the sausages... Yum!

Halfandhalfs said...

The Greek sausage sounds amazing! You made quite a spread for this challenge!

Lisa said...

Wic, totally mind blowing mezze, especially the Borek spinach and cheese casserole and the (OMG!) apple pie bakalava! I'm literally drooling, seriously! It;s so close but unattainable and I want to stick a big spoon in it and just gorge untul my sugar levels send me rocketing to the moon! lol You kicked major mezze butt..MAJORLY!

Angelica said...

This looks delicious! the borek style casserole specifically caught my eye. All your dishes look amazing, good job on the challenge!

Miriam said...

Wow, wonderful array! You don't need to be jealous of my bread... ;-)

Anonymous said...

APPLE PIE BAKLAVA, BRILLIANT! Everything looks and sounds delicious. That sausage has my stomach rumbling.

Michele said...

Thank you so much for cooking along with me this month! I am just so impressed with your effort. Wow! Everything you made looks just amazing. Apple pie baklava is just brilliant!

Eat4Fun said...

Your Mezze table look delicious! I enjoy the wide assortment you made. Your advice is terrific, "use lots and lots of garlic!" Hurray! Wonderful!