Monday, February 15, 2010

Daring Cooks: Mezze

After a rather stressful few days, I managed to totally space this months Daring Cooks. I never do that. I am so sorry.

I did do the challenge. Actually I did it twice. One where my pictures were just bleh and the other one where I had a chance to work on my pictures with more natural light. I do so much better with natural light.

We have what we call "rainbow" nights here on our family. It's really leftover cleanup night with a jazzy name to make it more appealing. Everything that needs to be used up gets put on the table. This could be a lone pickle in a jar even. It's kind of fun for the kids because they can pick and choose.

I have been making hummus for years so I wasnt exactly challenged to make hummus but certainly welcomed the opportunity. I am glad I followed this recipe to a T. It suprised me with a nice lemony flavor that I really enjoyed. It had considerably more lemon than my usual recipe. I encourage you to give it a go.

And the pita I have made on several occassions. Different recipe but similar technique. We love pita so no complaints here.

The thing that was challenging for me is having enough food leftover to take pics the next day when the light is good. I really have to work on getting some lights so I can take some pics when it is dark.

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.

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.

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.


Maria said...

What a feast! Nice work!

Barbara Bakes said...

Love your idea of having rainbow nights! Your mezze looks delicious!

Ingrid said...

Just Saturday while we were driving home one of the twins was asking me if I liked hummus and if he did. He said he couldn't remember trying it. (I think that's his way of saying I'd like you to make it mom.:)) This must be a sign.

I like your rainbow night but don't think my kids would go for it. The twins aren't into rainbow and all of them are old enough to realize it just means leftovers! :)

Anncoo said...

WOW! This is awesome!!

Vanillastrawberryspringfields said...

A real spread Lori the rainbow feast....

dawn said...

ha! I do a rainbow theme with my cupboards and make a 'everything must go muffin or bread loaf' you know?
but I do love this feast. hummus is eaten EOD in my house, I love a good veggie hummus.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about having to keep enough food so you can shoot in the daytime. Sunlight is hard to come by in Alaska this time of year.

grace said...

the fact that you make and eat this stuff a lot makes me want to come and live with you. :)

kat said...

Didn't we do this for recipes to rival? Reminds me I need to make pita bread again

Anonymous said...

Lori, what a delicious looking spread. I love your 'rainbow' night. If my parents had thought of something clever like that..I may have helped around the house a bit more lol BTW..Lowel Ego Lights are pretty good, but I have no choice in the matter :(

Katy ~ said...

Lori, a wonderful feast indeed. Terrific idea about rainbow nights. Think I'll try that idea on Ole Sweetie-Pi, grins.

Thank you for sharing this. The pita bread really catches my eye.

The Blonde Duck said...

We have scrounge dinners--basically same thing. I'm really craving hummus now.

LittleRed said...

It all looks very I am curious as to what the other dips were:)

Madam Chow said...

Wow - yours turned out beautifully!

Lucy..♥ said...

Great feast, looking mighty delicious!!

Anonymous said...

I love how you've taken the photo! It looks like it came directly from the middle east!!!