Daring Cooks: Gluten-Free Mezze

Time for another Daring Cooks Challenge!  And what a great one it is!  The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.


Mezze is the Middle Eastern version of tapas.  Small plates, lots of variety, and lots of sharing.  I find I always have luck as a vegetarian eating mezze, as there is always something for me!

The official requirements of the challenge were to make hummus and pita from the given recipes.  As I had my Gluten-Free friend, Ashley, over for dinner, I turned the meal into Gluten-Free Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce.

Of course, in order to have gluten-free falafel, one needs gluten-free pita.  I’ve experimented with wheat pita before, using one of my favourite recipes from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, Whole Wheat Pita Bread.  I’ve tried the recipe with both whole wheat flour, and Indian atta flour (used to make Chapatis).  The whole wheat flour made light, puffy breads (that actually had a pocket!), while the atta flour made Greek-style flatbreads without a pocket.  Both delicious.

The recipe Michele chose included an adaptation for gluten-free flours, so off I went:

The gluten-free pita turned out perfectly acceptable, but pocket-free.  The flavour was great: a little grassy, a little earthy, very tasty.  And the texture was lovely — except they didn’t fold in half too well.  Instead of being flexible, they cracked.  They also had a bit too much flour on the outsides, which I needed due to the stickiness of the dough in the rolling-out phase (a lesson learned from the Gluten-Free Graham Crackers I made last month).  So we had “Falafel Pizzas”, and made a great mess… yum.

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 tsp. regular dry yeast
2.5 c. lukewarm water
5-6 c. all-purpose flour (I cleaned out my alternative flours pantry and used 1 c. sorghum flour, 1 c. brown rice flour, 1 1/2 c. amaranth flour, 1 1/2 c. buckwheat flour)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir for about 1 minute. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
  4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
  5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn’t puff up, don’t worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

With leftover pita the next day, it was a perfect excuse to whip up the hummus and take it as an appetizer to dinner with friends.

Hummus

Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

  • 1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
  • 2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons tahini  (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
  • additional flavorings (I made Spicy Hummus and used the zest of 2 lemons, 1 Tbsp. paprika, several dashes of tabasco, 1 Tbsp. chili oil, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and 1 Tbsp. red chili flakes; I also love making Cilantro Hummus: just tear off a big handful of fresh cilantro and pop it in)

Directions:

  1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

And Ashley brought Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Boston Creme Cupcakes for dessert.  Yumm.

I love Mezze and Middle Eastern food, and will be doing more experiments in the weeks to come!  I have yet to try muhammara, preserved lemons, baba ganoush, oh the list goes on!  Thanks, Michele, for a great challenge!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Bread, Gluten-Free, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack, Vegan, Vegetarian

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19 Comments on “Daring Cooks: Gluten-Free Mezze”

  1. February 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    Your pitas look great! Mine didn’t rise either. One trick about rolling out the dough is to put it between two sheets of plastic wrap and then roll it – you can easily transfer it where you need to this way and then peel off the plastic wrap when you are ready to bake. I’ve found this critical for sticky GF dough. Also, much less messy!

  2. February 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    oh I bet it was a delicious mess.
    great work on this one and tell your friend I adore that cupcake.

  3. February 15, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    The glutenfree pita looks interesting. Have you ever tried amaranth for pita? Maybe that would make softer pitas and allow a pocket to develop? Just wondering…

  4. February 15, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Love your pita it looks great and gf it is impressive. And love how you used the pita with hummus for another meal the next day superb effort.

    Do try muhammara it is wondrous.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. February 16, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Just in the midst of blogging about our lovely Friday meal. I *loved* your gfree pitas! Such a treat for me. I really appreciated them, even as pita pizzas.

  6. February 16, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    I commend you for being able to turn out such great pita using a gluten free recipe. I’ve heard it’s very difficult to get the desired result but yours look amazing! Beautiful mezze table and those cupcakes..yum..well done!

  7. February 17, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Jenn — awesome tip, thanks! I’m going to try that for sure next time!

    Wic — it really was deliciously messy. Perfect!

    ap269 — I used some amaranth flour in the recipe, but it was a real blend of the leftover g-f flours in my kitchen. Amaranth has become one of my real favourites, and I’d like to try this again with mainly amaranth.

    Audax — thanks, and thanks for the cheer to try the muhammara. I can’t wait!

    Ash — glad I could do them for you! 🙂

    Lisamichele – thanks, I was quite happy!!! My further gluten-free experiments will continue!!! I wish I could claim the cupcakes as mine, but they are from a local bakery. At least I have easy access to them!

  8. February 22, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    Thank you so much for cooking along with me.
    Wow! I am so impressed with your pita–great job! All of your food looks delicious and your photos are gorgeous!

  9. Lisa27
    August 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    Oh wow, gluten-free vegan BOSTON CREAM CUPCAKES?! Wow would I ever love the recipe for those! I have been gluten-free for 7 years now and (mostly) vegan for most of that, and the idea of a not-donut-chain Boston Cream anything is pretty awesome! Maybe Ashley would share them in a guest-post?

    • August 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

      Actually, (sorry to disappoint) but the Boston Cream Cupcakes were from my favourite local bakery: LPK’s Culinary Groove. So alas, we don’t have a recipe. And what’s worse… I haven’t seen them there for a looooong time. But I know they do classes on gluten-free baking, so they may share their recipe or some ideas if you get in touch?

      Honestly, I had no idea it was vegan/gluten-free by tasting it.

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