Daring Cooks: Middle-Eastern Mezze

Ah, the Winter Olympics are here and I must admit, this is the first year that I’ve been hooked to the t.v. watching it every possible night. Having never been a competitive athlete myself, let alone someone who would be considered an athlete, I must admire the Olympic athletes drive and nerves of steel.

Which brings me to my post, although not up to Olympic caliber, it was my February’s challenge from the Daring Kitchen. The 2010 February Daring Cook 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. The required recipes were pita and hummus. I have made hummus several times already in the past month, recipe here, so I chose to up the ante (you know, go for the gold?) and make her recipe for falafels.

I have been putting off writing this post for a couple weeks. Part of it was due to procrastination, but the other part was that I was not happy with this recipe and I didn’t want to write about something that didn’t turn out for me. Confused? Well the challenge was to make Mezze: a bunch of small dishes served all at once—sort of like the Middle Eastern version of Spanish Tapas. This was totally up my alley, and I was very excited to do this. Iranians do this all the time with fresh herbs, eggplant, cutlets and yogurt, to name a few. I’ve been wanting to make homemade pita bread, but wasn’t motivated to do so until now. Unfortunately, the whole meal was a flop.


I found the recipe a bit confusing, leaving too much to chance and subjectivity. My pita didn’t puff, nor did they brown. My kids ate the fresh bread up that night, but the bread turned into hard cardboard the next day. I threw them out. My falafel also didn’t turn out. I puréed everything in the food processor BEFORE reading that I shouldn’t purée everything.

Sigh, again.

The falafels were very mushy and sticking to my hands. Adding flour helped, but then I was started to add too much flour…

My husband noted, “Laura, falafels are supposed to be round, not flat disks.”

“Yes, dear, thank you. I’m already aggravated enough tonight.”

Luckily, they still tasted good and even my kids ate some of it. Now, that was a pleasant surprise.

I always prided myself as being a good cook and baker. This challenge really frustrated me and took a blow to my cooking ego, the cooking Olympian I prided myself to being. But that being said, I will admit to my defeat and I’m up for next month’s challenge. I am sure to try baking pita bread again, although I can get a bag of 10 pitas for $1.50 at my local middle-eastern market and it doesn’t take all day to make…. Sorry about that! I will also promise to make falafels again. I love falafels. And next time, I will be sure to succeed!

Good luck to you and your own kitchen challenges, even if it is warming up macaroni and cheese in 2 minutes or less!

For great successful recipes, check out Family Spice!


, , , ,

5 Responses to Daring Cooks: Middle-Eastern Mezze

  1. I just learned of Daring Cooks today! How ironic! I am awaiting my status until March 15th. Nonetheless, your Mezze looks fabulous, and reminds me that Spring is on the way. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sugar + Spice,
    I'm glad you are joining Daring Cooks! It really does help you branch out and try new things. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

    You are very thoughtful! Your mezze turned out so beautifully! I was really upset that I couldn't get this challenge right. And I will use this 'failure' as a lesson to help me with the next challenge. Bring on March's challenge!

  3. Audax at #

    Well not every challenge can be a gold medal – but sometimes you get more from the silver and bronze medal efforts. As a cook and baker sometimes I get more rewards from a 'failure' since it makes you learn more. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. Rose Belle at #

    I LOVE hummus, especially the Mediterranean ones at Trader Joe's. Only my little girls and I love them in my family, my husband and son prefer spinach dip.

  5. Xiao Yen Recipes at #

    What a great recipe! Hummus is very healthy and I found out about it while shopping at Trader Joe's. They were giving out free samples. This is definitely a keeper recipe for me!

Leave a Reply