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I need some help with timing!


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Ok, I'm having about 50 people over on Saturday evening for a themed party. We are calling it Arabian Nights, basically because I wanted to cook some Middle Eastern food, and belly dance all evening. Its not really a dinner party, so I'm making mostly mezze type things. What I need the most help with is timing all the prep so that I don't kill myself on Saturday with cooking Here is what I'm planning on having:

Hummus bi tahini

Muhammara<sp>

Lebneh spread

Lebneh balls rolled in zataar

Vegetarian dolmas

Lamb kofta

Chicken kebabs

Pide

Balkava

Cacik

Raw veggies

Its now Thursday, I'm off work, and I want to start getting what can be done, done. What besides the Hummus and Lebneh stuff can be made before Saturday?

I figure I can do the Baklava tomorrow, it will still be fresh for Sat. Dolmas maybe tonight. What about the meats and the pide? I want the pide to be lovely and fresh.

Any help, suggestions on timing, menu planning, ingredient choice, pep talks etc. would be much appreciated.

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The baklava will be better if it gets to sit for a few days or even a week. I've never tried making any of the rest ( raw veggies excepted ) so I cannot offer any advice there. Sounds like a fun night, good luck!!

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Oh really? I'll get on the Baklava as soon as I get back from the grocery. Silly question, do you store it in the fridge or at RT? Last time I made it I made it day of, half of it got consumed and I froze the rest.

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I just leave it out for a few days and put it into the fridge eventually. Honey, nuts and phyllo are not things that spoil quickly so I don't worry too much. It needs some time to soak up the sauce and to blend all the flavours. I always try to get the best honey I can find. Last time I used Bulgarian honey flavoured with pine extract. The pine didn't add much flavour but it sure threw in a new aroma.

You might guess by my handle that I am a pine fan!!

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Ok, I'm having about 50 people over on Saturday evening for a themed party.  We are calling it Arabian Nights, basically because I wanted to cook some Middle Eastern food, and belly dance all evening.

Hummus bi tahini

Muhammara<sp>

Lebneh spread

Lebneh balls rolled in zataar

Vegetarian dolmas

Lamb kofta

Chicken kebabs

Pide

Balkava

Cacik

Raw veggies

what can be done, done.  What besides the Hummus and Lebneh stuff can be made before Saturday?

I figure I can do the Baklava tomorrow, it will still be fresh for Sat. Dolmas maybe tonight.  What about the meats and the pide?  I want the pide to be lovely and fresh.

Any help, suggestions on timing, menu planning, ingredient choice, pep talks etc. would be much appreciated.

sounds like a great party! you can make the pita dough ahead (today), roll into balls, dust with flour and wrap in plastic, then pop those into ziplock freezer bags and freeze until a few hours before you're going to bake them. take them out of the freezer, re-roll them in flour and set out to rise at room temperature. if the balls are small, they will thaw and rise quickly, and can be served hot, fresh from the oven. keep them wrapped in a tea towel, so they stay warm and don't get too crispy.

as for baklawa (the lebanese way of pronouncing baklava), it is delicious when freshly made and will keep in an air-tight tin for several days. i wouldn't refrigerate it.

our recipe does not use honey for the syrup, which is very heavy and sticky, but rather a simple sugar syrup with rose and orange flower waters, and a little lemon juice. another alternative to a sugar syrup is to use agave syrup, available in natural food stores. it is delicious, and is a great substitute for sugar syrup for people who need to stay away from white sugar. it is from the agave plant and has a much lower glycemic index (you can find more info on it online...google or maybe egullet?). i've used it on baklawa and in lebanese rice puddings, and it's great! it doesn't need to be cooked, just add fragrant waters (rose water and orange blossom water) and lemon juice to it and chill it. pour it on the hot baklawa as soon as it comes out of the oven.

you can also marinate the chicken kebabs the day before! (minced garlic, salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper). a fabulous dip for the kebabs that will be the party stopper is a fresh garlic "mayonnaise" made in lebanon called "toum ou zeit", garlic and oil. (a lebanese version of the spanish aioli or italian agliolio). here's a quick recipe from my cookbook which can be made ahead in a food processor and chilled.

Toum ou Zeit (garlic and oil dip)

10-20 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 c. vegetable oil (such as sunflower or safflower)

or 3/4 vegetable oil and 1/4 c. olive oil

1/2 t. salt

2 T. lemon juice

dash cayenne pepper

Put garlic, salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper in processor and pulse until smooth. then (this is the key) drizzle in oil drop by drop, VERY SLOWLY, continuing to blend. this takes patience but the result (a creamy, emulsified dip) is worth the time it takes! chill and serve with kebabs. keeps up to two weeks refrigerated. this recipe makes about 2 cups.

finally, to quote my dear recently deceased mother, alice, who my cookbook is named for, "if you make it with love, it will be delicious!"

Edited by linda dalal (log)

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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Wow!! Thats a lot of helpful info, thanks! That sounds like the kind of baklava that I've made before. I typically use pistachios but this time I'm going to use pecans because my stores were out of pistachios and I do not have the energy or time to go across town yet again. I do have some extra walnuts from the muhamara......

Fabulous idea on the dough, though. Do you think I could refrigerate the dough instead of freezing it?

I have got to make that garlic stuff.... I think I even have that much garlic! Much thanks!

ETA:I'm running behind as usual, just prepping stuff for dolmas because I have some slave lab...... er friends coming over who want to learn to make them I wonder what else I can press them into doing......

Edited by nessa (log)
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Wow!! Thats a lot of helpful info, thanks!  That sounds like the kind of baklava that I've made before.  I typically use pistachios but this time I'm going to use pecans because my stores were out of pistachios and I do not have the energy or time to go across town yet again.  I do have some extra walnuts from the muhamara......

Fabulous idea on the dough, though.  Do you think I could refrigerate the dough instead of freezing it?

I have got to make that garlic stuff.... I think I even have that much garlic!  Much thanks!

hi nessa, (i have a friend named nessa in portland!)

if you refrigerate the dough, it will continue to rise in the fridge...so it's easier (to me) to freeze it.

we always use walnuts for our baklawa, without cinnamon, just sugar and orange blossom water...

all best!

linda dalal

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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Nessa, it sounds like a fun party! I have to ask whether you mean YOU will be belly dancing all evening? If so, I see why you want not to be tired out from cooking!

Linda, thanks for offering up that toum ou zeit recipe. I'm always on the lookout for more ways to try making what I know as toumeyya, so as to get as close as possible to my favorite restaurant version. That restaurant (a place in Cairo) uses an egg yolk in their toumeyya. Have you ever tried that? Or does that, in your opinion, change the nature of the dip too much?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Linda, thanks for offering up that toum ou zeit recipe.  I'm always on the lookout for more ways to try making what I know as toumeyya, so as to get as close as possible to my favorite restaurant version.  That restaurant (a place in Cairo) uses an egg yolk in their toumeyya.  Have you ever tried that?  Or does that, in your opinion, change the nature of the dip too much?

you're welcome! i haven't made it with egg yolk, as it doesn't seem necessary (and would make it more like mayonnaise). it is very "light" with just oil. and using straight olive oil is a bit too heavy, therefore the combination of vegetable oil with olive oil seems just right.

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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Nessa, it sounds like a fun party!  I have to ask whether you mean YOU will be belly dancing all evening?  If so, I see why you want not to be tired out from cooking!

Linda, thanks for offering up that toum ou zeit recipe.  I'm always on the lookout for more ways to try making what I know as toumeyya, so as to get as close as possible to my favorite restaurant version.  That restaurant (a place in Cairo) uses an egg yolk in their toumeyya.  Have you ever tried that?  Or does that, in your opinion, change the nature of the dip too much?

Yes, I will be belly dancing all evening. That way I won't eat too much!! Belly rolls on a full tummy are a really bad thing. :wacko:

I made the toum and I'm in love!! :wub: Thanks for that awesome recipe and serving tip. I'm about to start marinating the chicken.

I added to the menu some candied figs which I boiled in honey, water, orange blossom water and cardamom. I also plan to add some honeyed apricots. I'm hoping all I have to do is simmer the apricots in some water and honey. I dont want them to be candied like the figs, just.... glazed. We used to get these when I was a kid, these huge honeyed apricots, and I love them so.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Nessa, it sounds like a fun party!  I have to ask whether you mean YOU will be belly dancing all evening?  If so, I see why you want not to be tired out from cooking!

Linda, thanks for offering up that toum ou zeit recipe.  I'm always on the lookout for more ways to try making what I know as toumeyya, so as to get as close as possible to my favorite restaurant version.  That restaurant (a place in Cairo) uses an egg yolk in their toumeyya.  Have you ever tried that?  Or does that, in your opinion, change the nature of the dip too much?

Yes, I will be belly dancing all evening. That way I won't eat too much!! Belly rolls on a full tummy are a really bad thing. :wacko:

I made the toum and I'm in love!! :wub: Thanks for that awesome recipe and serving tip. I'm about to start marinating the chicken.

nessa, how did your party go???? the toum ou zeit (toumeyya) is really addictive! glad you enjjoyed it!

all best,

linda dalal

java script:emoticon(':cool:')

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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  • 1 month later...

nessa, how did your party go???? the toum ou zeit (toumeyya) is really addictive! glad you enjjoyed it!

all best,

linda dalal

It was a smashing success! Everyone loved the muhammara<sp> and the toum especially. The lamb was favored over the chicken but both got rave reviews.

The bread was ok, I need to use a higher gluten flour I think. Baklava was gone.... :shock: . The dolmas did not turn out well, I made the mistake of using basmati rice and they turned out kind of pasty. All in all though, much fun was had by all!

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