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planning an evening of turkish...ish... delights- menu help?

Well, more like nibbles of the vaguely Middle-Eastern inspired. But I couldn't resist the pun.

I'm throwing a dinner next week for a small group of friends and so far, the plan is starting off with crudites (cucumbers, radishes, mint, basil, carrots) and homemade hummus (tahini, cumin, garlic, maybe some za'tar?) and white bean dip with roasted garlic, along with dishes of olives, figs and feta, and homemade pita chips on the side. For kind of a main course/buffet, I was hoping to do falafel (probably out of a box and broiled, given the timing) with toppings- strained yogurt dip with mint/basil/garlic, thinned tahini, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, alongside green beans tossed with shallots, olive oil, s/p and preserved lemons, the persian rice salad from epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) and "cold salad of sweet potato wedges and diced red onion tossed with chopped mint and sumac" from slashfood.

Does this sound reasonable? Part of the problem is that I'm mostly vegetarian and most of my friends aren't- would you all still consider this a satisfying array? Should I throw in grilled eggplant?

Oh, and for dessert, I'm totally lost. It's technically my birthday party but I keep getting distracted by flavors and I can't decide! The cinnamon-scented devil's food cupcakes (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) are calling me, but I'm also dreaming of something with rosewater or lemon in it...and fresh berries....

thank you for any thoughts!

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  1. For dessert, a selection of baklava seems like it would be perfect. A little time-consuming, but if you don't feel like making it from scratch, maybe you could pick up some at a Middle Eastern shop.

    1. Yes, it sounds like a totally satisfying array. Another entree, if you're so inclined, is the preserved lemon, roast beets and lentils from Deborah Madison's Veg Cooking for Everyone. Though not Middle Eastern per se, it's pretty Middle Eastern-y and it's super delicious.

      This sour cherry tart is delicious and easy to make: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/281699

      This tempting orange blossom water thread may provide other dessert ideas:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/305945

      1 Reply
      1. re: rose water

        That DM lentil recipe is SO GOOD! A family favorite!

      2. Locum candy. If you don't have time to make them, Applets & Cotlets are a really good commercial version.

        1. It's your birthday, and if the cupcakes are calling you, I say listen to them! Maybe a bowl of fresh macerated berries and lemon curd for topping as a secondary dessert.

          I recently had dinner at a Moroccan restaurant and we had an assortment of starters --
          one of which was a room temp beet salad with rose blossom water. I just Googled and didn't find anything close. It was just cooked, diced beets with a very floral note to it. Lovely for a small taste.

          1. Mouhammara is my favourite middle eastern dip.

            5 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
            1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
            1/4 cup walnuts
            2 T. pomegranate molasses
            3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
            3/4 c canola oil
            3 c dried bread crumbs

            Place first 4 ingredients in the container of a food processor. Cover and puree whil streaming in the oils through the feed tube. Puree until pasty.

            Add bread crumbs a bit at a time, continuing to puree, until mixture is spreadable.

            Serve with pita bread. Makes about 4 cups.

            And for a main course, my favourite is a Moroccan Tagine.

            For dessert, why don't you make a flan flavoured with orange flower water. Cooking Light had a nice lower cal version of flan that I make all the time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sarah galvin

              I LOVE muhammara, it is so fattening but so delicious...I would add a pinch of red chili flakes to that recipe because it is supposed to have a slight bite of heat.

              To the original query, I suppose do whatever you want, but za'atar is not usually added to hummus, if you are going for authenticity.

              If you happen to go to a Middle Eastern grocery for the baqlawa (a suggestion which I second if you have a good fresh Arabic pastry maker in your town), then pick up some sesame sweet called rahash or halwa tahiniyyeh. It is just untoasted sesame ground with sugar. It is served with the cold savory dishes and eaten with pita bread, even though it is a sweet. You could also serve fresh cream drizzled with honey to eat with pita and expand your dishes. Also, you could pick up some makdous, pickled stuffed small sized eggplants---they are stuffed with red chilies, walnuts, and other fun stuff. Serve with your main cold dishes on a small plate.

              Be sure to have a plate of unseasoned fresh greens like a few carrot sticks, jarjeer/rocket. mint, cucumber.

              Have fun.

              1. re: luckyfatima

                The onion actually gives quite a bite in this recipe. I had to let it sit overnight before I could eat it!

                ps it's only fattening if you eat the whole thing ;)