I haven’t blogged in ages but thought I should put all my instagram recipes to the blog for ease of searching. I use the blog, at least in the past, as my own little cookbook reminding me of recipes I made and I my kids use it now and then to make things they remember from home.
I believe that I have disconnected the mailing list at least temporarily now that I am doing an update so you will not be inundated with too many blog posts from me while I am updating the site. If you do get this post in your mailbox would you kindly let me know?
For this post I am sharing an idea for a mezze party. Mezze is a selection of small plates, intended to be a pre-dinner fare, much like the more recognizable tapas of Spain. On a visit to Israel one year we had dinner on the seafront in Jaffa at a restaurant aptly named The Old Man and The Sea. As soon as we sat down a waiter appeared with a tray laden with small plates and placed at least a dozen on our table for two, no exaggeration. They consisted of little salads, spicy, tangy, salty, all delicious. It was a sign of the special warmth and hospitality that are a hallmark of the culture in that part of the world.
I can’t imagine offering all this fare for pre-dinner but why not make it THE dinner with some great bread. I think mezze is a good way to have friends over for food that can be all prepared in advance. You can serve this with a cheese and charcute board or without.
For this little gathering for two (Covid, still), I had caponata that I made the other day, baba ganoush that I love to make (a roasted eggplant dip with tahini), roasted red peppers in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and aa splash of balsamic, a bowl with warm olives marinated in olive oil, herbs and lemons and for something fresh, grated cabbage and carrots in tangy vinegar dressing and moroccan carrot salad that unfortunately didn’t make it into the photo shoot but it was there. To go with all of it I made a quick pita bread that is so good and so easy to make, nothing like the dry hard pita you get at the grocery store. I made it with commercial instant yeast instead of sourdough, so no pre planning necessary.
Here are the simple instruction for making these mezze:
Roast the eggplant whole in 425F oven or on a grill until it is charred and collapsed. Let cool then scrape the flesh into a colander and let the bitter juices drain. Chop the flesh and mix it with tahini sauce made by mixing 1/3 cup tahini with enough water and lemon juice to create a consistency like thick cream. Add salt to taste, chopped parsley and a dusting of paprika on top. You can garnish with sesame seeds or pine nuts etc.
Cube one eggplant, one or two red peppers and a small onion. Sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil until it begins to turn golden. Add a clove or two of garlic as well but don’t burn the garlic. Remove to a plate. Add the pepper and sauté until softened. Return everything to the pan and mix gently, adding salt, pepper, 1/4 cup vinegar mixed with 1 tablespoons sugar and a handful of parsley and mint if you have it. Sometimes I add cherry tomatoes to the skillet with the eggplant as well. You can serve this warm or at room temperature with bread or on top of grilled bread.
Roasted Red Peppers
I prefer red peppers for this because they have thicker flesh and a sweet taste. Preferably char the peppers whole over a flame or a grill until blackened on all sides. Place in a bowl, cover and allow to steam for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle rub off most of the charred skin, it’s okay to leave a few bit of charred skin, and then cut into segments and remove pith and seeds. Place in a clean bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, a little pepper and a couple of garlic cloves, sliced. Let marinate for a while so flavours infuse. Serve at room temperature.
Cabbage and Carrot Salad
Shred cabbage and carrots, as much as you need and combine in a bowl. Mix 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 3 tablespoon sherry vinegar in a small jar and shake to emulsify. Pot as much as you need over the salad and toss. Add chopped parsley for colour.
Moroccan carrots (not pictured)
Slice as much carrots as you need into 1/4′ rounds and steam in a double boiler until they just loose their raw state. You can cook longer if you prefer. Make a dressing by mixing 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, a teaspoon each of cumin and paprika (or less if you want), salt, hot pepper flakes, a teaspoon of sugar. and a grated garlic clove or more. Shake to emulsify and taste to adjust the seasoning. Pour some of the dressing over the still warm carrots. Serve at room temperature.
In a food processor combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 envelop yeast (7g), 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until a dough begins to form, adding just a little flour if needed. Avoid adding too much flour. Scrape onto a lightly floured counter and finish kneading by hand a minute or two, addign just enough flour so the dough is not sticky. More flour make heavy bread. Round the dough in to a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rest until it doubles in size, 1-2 h. When the dough is ready turn it over onto the counter, don’t punch it through, save that for the gym. Gently roll into a long and cut into 8-9 pieces of roughly equal size.Roll each piece into a small disk and leave to rest on a lightly floured parchment sheet, covered to relax the gluten. Your oven should be preheating to 475F (I use convection) and place a pizza stone in the oven. When the oven is at temperature roll each of the pieces of dough into a larger circle, about 6″ or so. Place them on the pizza stone, i do 3 at a time, and cook until they puff up nicely. turn them over once and cook the other side. They will remain puffy and mine stay rather white. Remove and cool on a rack. they are best fresh but you can store and use later.
These are some ideas for a mezze party, of course there are many more. Make it your own and let me know how it went.