Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Daring Cooks #7 Mezze...

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.

The challenge is to prepare a Mezze (pronounced “mez-ay", although many people seem to pronounce it as "mezz”) Table including, but not limited to, homemade Pita bread and Hummus. If you’re not familiar with mezze, it’s more of a style of eating than a specific recipe or recipes. Mezze 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.

I have to admit it was my first time doing 'mezze'. I had Hummus or pita bread before, even so other Eastern dishes but never combined together, on one big table.
It was fun preparing something different, maybe more of a different way of serving rather than anything else. Didn't make Hummus though (I'm posting the recipe anyway for those who may want to make it) I completely forgot about Hummus in this challenge! And it was already late at night (yesterday, by the way...) and I didn't have a chance to get the ingredients.
Pita bread was fantastic - it puffed beautifully and was very tasty. This recipe is definitely a keeper for me! (I won't buy ready made pita anymore!)

How to make it...

Pita Bread
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
- 2 teaspoons regular dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 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)
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil

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.
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.
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). 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. 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.

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 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
- 2 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)

Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
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.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Anula's changes / additions:
- instead of hummus I had yogurt dip (yogurt with onion powder, garlic powder and dry mint)

- lamb koftas (minced lamb meat seasoned with paprika, cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, ground coriander and dry ginger)

- falafel (made from the mix given to me by my 'foodie friend' Inbal - The cookie fairy, from Israel)

- and for the dessert... cinnamon and almond cake :)



  1. WOW it looks so lovely and the yohurt dip is simple yet so delicious well done and your pita breads are perfection. Superb work on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Ciao ! I love your mezze table setting !!

  3. Your pitas look just perfect and everything else is just beautiful and delicious looking as well. Nice job!

  4. Looks amazing, Anna! If you haven't yet, you should post this in the private forums to get in on the contest. :)

    I've been reading your blog a lot lately and have been enjoying it quite a bit! I am going to surprise my husband with some of your Polish recipes.. can't wait!


  5. your bread looks amazing. maybe next time I do the rolling.
    lovely mezze it looks delicious.

  6. Wonderful job! Your mezze looks just amazing!

  7. The pita looks really good!

  8. A great take of this challenge! Everybody seems to come up with something unique and special like you and your lamb koftas! Looks so delicious!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  9. Great job! Everything looks delicious! I love that you made kofta, it's a perfect addition to a mezze table!

  10. Beautifully done. When you get a chance, try out the hummus recipe because it really is delicious. Especially while still warm.

  11. Your Pita bread looks fantastic, as do all your dishes. Great job on this challenge!

  12. Beautiful Mezze Spread! Your yogurt dip looks delicious. As i'm checking more blogs, my to do list is growing...i'm adding your lamb koftas!

  13. Wasn't it fun? I loved this challenge!

  14. Thank you so much for cooking with me!

    Your food looks just beautiful and I'm so happy that you're pleased with the pita. I won't buy store-bought pita anymore either as it has no taste and is so dry.

    Your blog is lovely!

  15. Well done! I like your table setting, beautiful!


Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment. It means a lot!
Pozdrawiam, Anula.