Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Daring Mezze Plate

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.
For this month's Challenge I decided to serve the compulsory homemade pita and hummus with Pastitsio, dolmathes, black olives, and boiled shrimp. I made a smaller batch of Pastitisio than the recipe shown and it all worked out perfectly fine. The Pastitsio recipe is a dish that my boyfriend's mom used to make many years ago, and is good served warm or at room temperature. I almost forgot how much I liked this recipe as I had not made it in many years. The pita recipe and hummus recipe provided were very similar as ones I have made before (only my usual pita recipe has the addition of honey and my hummus recipe has about 1/3rd the amount of lemon juice). I must confess on the hummus, I only added 1/2 the amount of lemon juice called for and stopped adding right there as think it needed no more. This time I did use part whole wheat flour since I usually do not. They were good although I think I prefer all white flour, and we always reheat the pitas in a pan of hot olive oil before serving. It all ended up being a nice and easy preparation for a relaxing Valentine's Day meal with my two favourite boys:)
To make your own Mezze spread feel free to try these recipes....and make sure to see some other Daring Cooks for some other ideas.

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.

Pastitsio Macaronia Me Feta

1 lb macaroni or spaghetti boiled in salted water and drained

7-9 tbsp butter

3 eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup grated cheese, parmesan or asiago

1 1/2 cup crumbled feta

salt and white pepper to taste

1 tsp nutmeg, ground

12 sheets of filo

In a pot used to boil the pasta, combine the pasta, butter eggs, grated cheese, and feta. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg and mix with a wooden spoon. In a buttered 9X12X3 inch pan, spread 6 sheets of filo, brushing butter between each layer with a pastry brush. Spread pasta mixture over the filo layers and press lightly down. Cover with remaining sheets of filo also brushing each layer with melted butter. Brush last sheet with butter and score the top with a sharp knife though 3-4 sheets of filo to indicate 9 to 12 servings as preferred. bake in moderate oven (350F) for 30 minutes, or until the surface is crisp. Remove to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then cut and serve on a warm plate.


オテモヤン said...
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Madam Chow said...

That Pastitisio looks amazing - I'm drooling!

Olga said...

ooh it all looks fery delicious and impressive! And your pitas ballooned: congrats :)

Lori said...

Looks delicious. I was so close to putting out my stuffed grape leaves. They are in a can and thought I need to put out homemade stuff.

LittleRed said...

Thanks, I enjoyed this challenge! The dolmathes I had out were also from a can.....but don't tell anyone:)