Middle Eastern finger foods? EASY please
After much debate and discussion, my friend and I have decided to give my guy friend a Middle Eastern themed birthday party. We're keeping it low key, very quiet and mellow since one of his best friends has recently lost his wife. I don't want to do a dinner, but rather finger foods. EASY finger foods, and small plates. So now that I have a theme, I need a menu. Any ideas? I don't have a lot of time- the party is this sat night (Feb 5) so I have to hustle. And if you have any ideas for decor, please share!
Sliced lavash bread
Persian or other pickles
Walnuts and feta cheese
Fresh herb plate: mint, basil, etc.
Dips: hummus, babaghanoush or a badenjan dip (eggplant based dips)
Yogurt dip (Greek or Persian yogurt, dried mint, salt and pepper to taste)
Dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves)
Cotlet (Persian stye: meat and potato fried, almost like a potato pancake, but with ground beef, onions and turmeric in it)
If you don't want to do cotlet, you could also do falafel balls.
You're set! Yum!
Easy, the dips type appetizers are easy, but messy to consume unless everyone is sitting around the table. Put out some dips like the ones suggested above -muhammara, hummus, muta'abal, baba ganoush, put out some feta cheese drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with za'atar, put out a plate of store bought raahash or halwa tahiniyyeh which is ground sesame with sugar sometimes mixed with pistachios or even chocolate, available in small tubs are your local Middle Eastern store. It is sweet but served with the meal and eaten with bread like hummus, your guests will ooh and aaah over it even though all you had to do was open the plastic tub. All of these small plates in the middle of the table, plus some fresh flat bread and a couple of plates with an assortment of green onions, mint leaves, radish slices, and arugula (jarjeer) for people to bite on while they munch the other items, and you have a full Levantine style meal.
If you mean people are lounging around a space and not all at a table: Non-messy finger foods: sambusek or bureka, assorted small bread rolls (size of kolache or mini-pies) called fataayer or sfeeha stuffed with za'atar, cheese, spinach, or ground lamb are pretty standard Levantine party fare, also mini-mana'eesh with assorted toppings, fried kibbeh. With the exception of the kibbeh, you can order these from a Middle Eastern bakery if you need to hustle but don't want to serve difficult to eat/messy foods. You could probably also find good ones in the fridge/frozen section that only need to be baked. You can buy frozen kibbeh as well and deep fry at home.
You can also serve homemade tabbouleh and a fattoush or some other type of salad.
The ME food scene and groceries are lacking here. But Phoenecia is decent. There is also a new halal grocery on N. Lamar called International Market (it is right after China Town Center near Braker) and it is Pakistani owned but is well stocked with Middle Eastern goods, and they have a Syrian and Iraqi running their deli, with ME style kababs on offer.
What good friends you are. Mezze are a great idea for a casual party. You can do many things, including lots of salads and dips (fattoush salad, baba ghannoush, matbuchah, tzaziki, hummus, tabboule, muhammara [red pepper & walnut dip]) with veggies, lavash, and pita or pita chips, phyllo pastries (like spinach triangles) and/or burekas (potato, feta, mushroom, or spinach), sambousak (meat or cheese filled pastries), kofte or kabobs, falafel balls, stuffed veggies, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), a plate with olives and feta and/or halloumi cheese, grilled veggies (can serve with tahini), spiced roasted chickpeas or nuts, and for dessert, baklava, halva (you can buy this), dried and/or fresh fruit, nut-stuffed dates, or tahini cookies.
Some online resources:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Red-Pepper-and-Walnut-Spread-354472 I think GHG may also have a good muhammara recipe.
A few recipes I like:
Chickpea & Feta Veggie Burgers - For vegetarians, you could make these much smaller, meatball size. http://www.food.com/353709
World's Best Tabbouli / Tabouli / Tabbouleh / Tabouleh Salad http://www.food.com/379639
Joan Nathan's Favorite Falafel http://www.food.com/349289
Vegetarian Kufteh / Köfte (Middle-Eastern Meatballs) http://www.food.com/347599
Cucumber and Feta Salad http://www.food.com/381106
Armenian Eggplant Salad http://www.food.com/380410
Zucchini Fritters http://www.food.com/388301
Persian Eggplant Souffle http://www.food.com/430834
I hope this helps get you started. :-)
I love zucchini fritters; they're one of my favorite finger foods, but the frying does take a bit of attention.
If it were me I might make a variety of bourek with phyllo the night prior and freeze them so I just need to heat and serve the following day. Maybe some sfiha or lamb kofte in a saffron sauce as well just so there is textural contrast. Fried halloumi cheese with shredded mint, lemon and chilies is also very good.
For a cold platter I might have labne; feta, dill and radishes; crisp fried chickpeas with za'atar; stuffed grape leaves (with lamb, please).