Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' February Challenge: 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. 

Mezze is kind of like a Middle Eastern version of Spanish tapas.  The required part of the challenge was to make hummus and pita bread from scratch, and to build your table from there. Here is my spread:

My spread, moving clockwise: At 9'oclock, you see a veggie plate with cucumbers, carrots, and roasted almonds.  Followed by grilled Haloumi cheese, couscous with chicken and parsley, pita bread in the black & white checkered cloth, hummus just below that, assorted olives, steamed artichokes with lemon garlic butter, and roasted cauliflower in the middle. 

Brandon, his brother Justin, and I all had a lot of fun eating this dinner.  None of the components were too difficult to make, but I did kind of get a little overzealous with the number of dishes I chose to make.  I stayed busy with all the prep, but I like keeping busy with that kind of thing so it didn't bother me.

First, the pita.  The recipe Michele chose was adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  I'm glad we've been working with yeast in baking class, because I've never really had the guts to play around with it at home.  I think my class helped me not be too intimidated to try a yeast based dough at home.

 Kneading the dough.  I look pretty.

While the dough was proofing, I worked on all the other stuff.

  Hummus sprinkled with paprika, EVOO, and parsley.
This was not the first Daring Cooks challenge to remind me of how much I need a food processor.
 Cucumbers and carrots for dipping in the hummus, roasted almonds.

The veggies were nice, sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt. 

After the bread was finished proofing, it had to be rolled out and baked.  This was when I got the hot stuff going. 

Steamed artichoke. 

I absolutely loved this recipe for Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Butter.  I've got it bookmarked, and I will absolutely make it again.

 Grilled Haloumi cheese.

The cheese wasn't the prettiest thing you've ever seen, but it sure did taste good. It had a nice saltiness to it.

  Roasted cauliflower.

I definitely wouldn't consider myself picky, but believe it or not, until this year, I never thought I liked cauliflower.  Finally, I tried some at work, and I can't believe how awesome it is!  I mean, I've been craving it.  So, I simply roasted this with some EVOO, salt & pepper, and it was delicious. 


Finally, my pitas.  Mine didn't balloon up like so many other people's did (like they were supposed to), but they still tasted good.  They definitely brought the meal together. 

  Close-up view of the spread.

I didn't have a separate picture of the couscous (seen above in the middle, to the left of the hummus).  It was more of an afterthought, really.  I had some boxed couscous, and folded in some diced leftover chicken, lemon juice, and parsley.  I also set out a little olive plate. 

This challenge was really fun.  Brandon and Justin both devoured it, forgetting their largely carnivorous palates.  I was tickled to tell them the entire spread, with the exception of the bit of chicken in the couscous, was vegetarian.

I will definitely make this kind of spread again, but next time I will probably just buy pita bread.  It was nice to try making it, but the convenience stuff tastes fine, and would definitely cut down on messes and timing issues.   

To see everyone elses' posts, check out The Daring Cooks's Mezze page. 


Linda said...

What a beautiful spread! I'll definitely try use your components for a meal someday - with purchased pita of course. How did you grill the cheese?

Anula said...

I would love to try that artichoke!!! Your whole mezze looks very interesting and yummy!!! :) Great job.
Cheers. Anula

Junglefrog said...

I love that roasted cauliflower you did! Sounds delicious. Well done on the challenge, looks like you had a lot of fun preparing all those dishes. I do agree on the pita bread; while I loved it; the stuff we buy in the store is just as good really..

Wic said...

great work on this challenge it looks divine.
oh and you are not only pretty you are cute.

Anonymous said...

The roasted cauliflower looks great. I love cauliflower, but have never had the idea to roast it. Will try that soon. Thanks for this idea!

Candice said...

Roasted cauliflower is so freakin addictive, huh? I love the stuff! And great spread, everything looks yummy. :)

Lisa Michelle said...

What a kick booty mezze spread! You really went all out, and it looks amazing! LOVE the steamed artichokes and cauliflower! WTG on a challenge beautifully done!

Michele said...

Your did such a fabulous job with the mezze! Thank you so much for cooking along with me. Everything looks really delicious and so pretty and colorful. Yum!