30 November 2011

GUEST BLOG: Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Mezze

By guest blogger SARAH-CLARE CONLON

Last Tuesday evening (22 November), Deanna from North Star Deli in Chorlton divulged the secrets of making a marvellous Middle Eastern spread to an enthusiastic group of eight cooks, both experienced and - by their own admission - somewhat less experienced. Everyone wanted, however, to learn something new, and the recipes on the menu were all new to me. We made lamb kofta meatballs, stuffed vineleaves, spanakopita, houmous and baba ghanoush, so we also went on a flying visit to various countries round the Med from Greece to Egypt!

It was quite a complicated affair with so many dishes, and we had to keep our eye on the ball (and the clock) to make sure nothing got missed out. But all went smoothly and we got everything done with enough time to have a relaxed sitdown at the end to plough our way through the mountain of delicious food before tackling the washing-up and tidying.

The meatballs were a little on the spicy side for me (I would have taken the seeds out of the chillis), but they were tasty and surprisingly easy to make. I was intrigued to see how the vineleaves were put together, and how such a small amount of filling (rice, onion, sultanas, herbs and seasoning) went such a long way. They were quite a fiddle to roll up, but as long as you have the time, it could be quite therapeutic! Also a bit of a fiddle were the spanakopita - filo parcels with feta cheese, spinach and spring onions - but they were so gorgeous that I would definitely attempt them again.

Much easier, despite Deanna's worry over the lack of hand blender, was the homemade houmous and baba ghanoush; the first, a chickpea dip, the second an aubergine dip. Deanna had all kinds of interesting tips for us, including putting the aubergine on the actual flame on the hob to cook through and also to make taking the skin off easier and giving the end result a really lovely smoky flavour. Really yummy!

For more photographs from the Middle Eastern Mezze session, visit our Facebook page: click here.

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