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 like a Middle Eastern version of tapas, lots of bits and pieces eaten together. You can pick and chose whatever you like. Michele challenged us to do two compulsory dishes and then add to them whatever we liked. If you check out the other Daring cooks you will see lots of different combinations of dishes. The two dishes she asked us to all do were to make homemade Pita bread and hummus.
The hummus recipe she gave us is at the bottom of this post. We very much enjoyed it and I found it very simple to make. We had it both plain and also with some caramelised onions puréed into the mix.
As I can't use a normal pitta bread recipe I tried a couple of different versions.
The first one I tried was a result of a discussion with a friend who has Turkish friends who make chickpea pitta at home. She got me the recipe or rather a rough list of ingredients so here is my recipe based on that.
it is "roughly"
3 cups chickpea flour
"a bit less than a cup of other" flour (apparently plain flour or corn flour?) - we call cornstarch cornflour here so i used that.
2 teaspoons yeast
pinch cumin seeds
2 tablespoons oil (ideally olive but not extra virgin, apparently)
"Water until it forms a soft dough"
She also said the pan it is cooked it is roasting hot as she remembers touching it by accident as a kid!!
So I mixed as directed then left it to prove for a few mins.. I find gluten free baking doesn't generally like long initial proving and there is no gluten to develop. Then I rolled out egg size lumps and put on trays, proved for 30 mins or so (actually longer as a small person woke up) and cooked on a very high heat (220 in a convection over) for about 6 mins.. I over cooked a few mostly as they were too high up the oven and to get that high a heat the oven puts on the top elements which then tend to grill anything close!
A few thought about puffing in the oven but it didn't survive coming out of the oven though they can be carefully split if wanted they don't have a pocket as such. Really quite tasty, chewier than a wheat one but my friend says she actually prefers that and she isn't gluten free so I'll take her word for it not having had wheat ones in nearly ten years. I might try rolling out a bit thinner in the next batch and a little more liquid as I think I made the dough a bit dry and see if that gets more puff.
For the full meal however I tried a sweet potato recipe from Straight to bed cake free and dried. I adjusted it a little replacing the sorghum with Dove Farm gluten free plain flour and the maize with gram flour (chickpea).
These were really fabulous and even more orangey yellow than in the photos. We will definitely be making them again. I think I will try some potato based ones as well as sweet potatoes are something we only get occasionally. These ones even puffed and developed pockets!
Sweet potato Pitta
So the full Mezze meal consisted of Sweet Potato pitta, caramelized onion hummus, plain hummus served with mince meat (which is how I often have it at our local Arabic restaurant ), more meat for those who like it without hummus, pickled beetroot, sweet and sour pickled roast peppers, tomato and cucumber.. we also ended up having some grated cheese as the small ones decided it was like tacos and they wanted cheese to add to them! They had a point. By the way I had dreadful trouble taking the photo of all the dishes as Treestump kept trying to put his place-mat on the table ready to eat!!
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.