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Daring Cooks - Mezze

Sunday, 14 February 2010

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 idea of mezze is like the Middle Eastern version of Spanish Tapas - it is made up of a variety of small dishes. This challenge requires the making of pita bread and hummus from scratch. Everything is pretty straightforward to make especially the dips. Simple ingredients and just dump everything in the processor, that's it. The bread on the other hand was a little tricky, they didn't balloon up but only puffed up a little. I also made some delicious aubergine with caramelised onions dip and cucumber dip (not a big fan of this). Served it with some olives and also ham (I need my meat).

mezze 5

Pita Bread

mezze 4
Ingredients: makes about 4-5 pieces
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3-4 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 1 cup flour, 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 230°C.
  • 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 2 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle of 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.

mezze 1
  • 1 can (260g drained weight) cooked chickpeas
  • 1 large onion - caramelised
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbs tahini
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper, extra virgin olive oil, parsley as garnish (optional)
  • Puree the beans in a food processor, adding water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste. 
Baba Ganoush with Caramelised Onions (Roasted Aubergine & Tahini Dip)

mezze 2
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 large onion - caramelised
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs tahini
  • Salt
  • Pre-heat oven to 250°C.
  • Prick the aubergine with a fork to allow steam to escape while cooking.
  • Rub aubergine with some olive oil and roast for about 30 mins or until the skin is wrinkled.
  • Cut aubergine in half, scrape out the meat and place in a processor together with the other ingredients.
  • Add salt to taste.
Cucumber Raita
mezze 3
  • 1 small cucumber - peeled and most of the seeds removed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds — to taste
  • 1 cup plain whole milk or Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove - peeled and minced
  • Fresh coriander or mint - chopped
  • Cayenne pepper or paprika, just a pinch to use as a garnish (optional)
  • Peel cucumber, de-seed, and dice. Blot off moisture with paper towels.
  • Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat.
  • In a bowl, stir yogurt until it is smooth.
  • Mix it with the cumin, garlic and coriander or mint leaves.
  • Stir in the cucumber and sprinkle with cayenne or paprika, and chill before serving.

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