Recently, some friends and I decided it was time for a nice little dinner party. As the date grew closer, I developed a Grand Vision. Instead of the usual low-key potluck affair, I was called to do something more ambitious. Deep inside me, I felt the stirrings of a culinary adventure calling out to me: I called it the Middle Eastern Feastern. Pretty much every recipe I made was adapted from or inspired by recipes from Modern Flavors of Arabia, a really beautiful (non-vegan) cookbook (I did a review of it a while back).
... and who really needs another picture of hummus?
Well, I made it, so I'm gonna share the picture! I love the hummus recipe from this book. It uses fresh-cooked chickpeas (I even skinned most of them), and also has ice cubes and yogurt in it. The end result is a super light and creamy hummus. Topped with a few whole chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, and smoked paprika. Beautiful and delicious!
Inspired by a recipe in Modern Flavors of Arabia ~ I made these delicious little cheeseballs. They were definitely one of the highlights of the evening. I used the Cashew Chevre recipe from Artisan Vegan Cheese for the foundation. Then I made some Dukkah, which is a wonderful seeds-and-spices-and-nuts mixture. I used my favorite recipe, which is from Vegan Eats World. Then, I added in some fresh thyme leaves to the dukkah, and rolled my little cheeseballs in the mixture. They were just totally out of this world delicious. So good and special!
I didn't take a picture, but all these goodies were served along with a pretty platter of crudite: carrot sticks, yellow bell pepper slices, celery sticks, and baby hearts-of-romaine scoopers. The lettuce scoopers were Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats' idea, and they were great. They were light and fresh and a great vehicle for the flavor-packed dips and spreads.
Here's my dinner plate full of yummy goodness. Up in the top right, you can see two delicious drinks that we had! My friends K&K brought along the drinks: an iced tea laced with cardamom and rose water (mmm!) and a fresh mint lemonade. Oh man, that lemonade was outta sight! For whatever reason, I've had lemonade on my mind for the last couple of weeks, so that stuff really hit the spot. Super refreshing!
Last but not least! I made these date cookies called Batheeth. They were super easy and perfectly light after such a deluxe meal. I served them with some fresh orange slices, which I forgot to take a picture of. These no-bake cookies are made with lightly browned flour (in a saucepan), fresh dates, cardamom and nutmeg, a little vegan butter, and it's all mixed together and rolled out. They definitely have a strong date flavor, which I love, but if you aren't into dates, this isn't the cookie for you! I loved the suggestion to drizzle them with just a little chocolate. Mmm!
happy in the kitchen!
It had been quite a while since I'd had the time or opportunity for a big ambitious kitchen adventure and it felt so good. I got started on my cheeseballs 3-4 days in advance, and spent much of the day before the dinner party cooking and preparing things that could be made a day in advance. It was fun to clean the house and light the candles and anticipate the evening. I love a good potluck as much as the next person, but it was also very wonderful to have the chance to go all out for my sweet friends.