Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » Mezze Feast
Mezze Feast

This Saturday marks a year return from Dubai. Of course I miss the authentic food and wonderful culture and I wanted to recreate some of the Middle Eastern flavors and dishes I came to love. The Mezze (means sampling/small plates) menu really captured lots of the flavors of the Middle East. My wonderful guests (Nicole Hernandez, Jami and Richard Gordan-Smith, Jason Robertson, Amber Mackay, and Keila Merino) and I were stuffed – that’s the problem with sampler plates, its easy to load up.

I should note that every recipe from this menu is from Martha Stewart, most of the Mezze dishes are from the April 2003 Everyday Living issue. I can’t find most of those recipes, so I guess I’ll have to make some improvement, make them my own and include them in my cookbook. Here are the reviews:

Mocktail: Thyme Lemonade (5 Star)

I’ve decided that the best drinks consist of infusing the spices/herbs/flavors. This lemonade was fabulous, perfectly refreshing and not too sweet.

Mezze Dishes: Lamb Kofta (5 Star) with Yogurt Mint Sauce (4 Star)

There is probably a 5 star yogurt mint sauce out there and I have a few more in my recipe files that I can try, but the lamb kofta recipe is perfect. In fact, I went and bought more ground lamb to make it again. For anyone who doesn’t like lamb, they would like this recipe. It was absolutely the hit of the night.

Haloumi and Feta Cheeses

I fell in love with Haloumi while in Dubai. It is pretty much the only cheese you’ll find on restaurant menus, particularly grilled Haloumi as an appetizer. My favorite sampling was in Qatar. They served it grilled with a tomato salsa and it was divine. I was craving it and this recipe just didn’t measure up, but we also grilled it a little too long and it dried out a little. The presentation of the Feta is gorgeous and adds some nice flavors as well. The topping consists of dill, scallions, pink peppercorns, and red-pepper flakes. I’d definitely use this at a Holiday party.

Couscous Salad (4.5)

Perfect pairing with the Lamb Kofta! I’m not sure what else could be asked of a couscous, but it didn’t make my guests feel the same way as the kofta. I’ve quite enjoyed the leftovers. It was suggested that the almonds be chopped in half – why not a little of both?

Tomatoes A La Grecque (throw)

Some fresh vegetables are always needed with Middle Eastern food, traditionally tomato and cucumber. The recipe had the cucumber on the side but if I make again I’d mix the cucumber and tomato together and even chop a little smaller. The dressing, typical vinaigrette (olive oil, garlic, white-wine vinegar, lemon juice and coriander), didn’t add a strong enough hint of flavor for the group. I think next time I’d make this instead.

Baba Ghanoush (3.5 Star)

This was more of an eggplant spread, so I did so more recipe searches and learned that often all ingredients are pureed except the eggplant which is smashed and then folded into the tahini and lemon juice mixture. Everyone has different preferences but I think most people like their Baba Ghanoush to be a little more chunky than smooth like Hummus.

Parsley Hummus (3 star)

The first time I was served Parsley Hummus was in Fujarah, UAW and I fell in love. They garnished with maple syrup and it was to die for. I continued to order this version in a few other restaurants. None were quite as good as the 1st time, but I still loved them. I added parsley to a basic Hummus recipe (which is fabulous on its own). The parsley made the consistency a little too thick so next time I’ll puree the parsley into a bit of a pesto and then fold it in and add a little more liquid. It was also recommend that I serve it in a wide shallow dish so more syrup will be dished (my guests didn’t all get a taste of the mild sweetness that it adds).

Dessert: Rose-Water Sherbet (5 Star)

I was nervous about this as rose is not often a favorite flavor, so I was surprised when a quick “5 STAR” was shouted by all my guests. This is made with buttermilk which makes each bite a complex tasting of sweet cream and sharp rose. A perfect light pairing to the menu! I didn’t have time to make anything else but a light cookie or shortbread would have increased the flavor. I wish I would have had time to make the chocolate-pistachio biscotti recipe that I have on the list, or a chocolate cupcake. Pistachio is regularly used in Middle Eastern sweets.

2 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Jami (May 6, 2010)

    Hey Ambs!! Thanks for a FAB dinner. We had a great time trying your recipes and especially loved the lamb and couscous. Can't wait to try Test Nest again. xoxo

  2. Nicole (May 10, 2010)

    I have to say the Couscous Salad and Thyme Lemonade were my favorite. I initially thought I'd still be hungry after sampling my first plate of food, but I was pleasantly surprised by how satiated I felt after just a few bites. It was a fantastic meal!

Leave a Reply

(* required)
Email Address
(* required - will not be published)
Web Site
(* required)