Thursday, December 22, 2016

Eastern European Meze Platter

     Cabbage Stuffed Peppers, Hungarian Paprika Deviled Pickled Eggs, Sour Cherries, Sourdough, Smoked Provolone & Czechoslovakian Salami!
     The word Meze (or mezze) translates to event.  In culinary terms, meze refers appetizers or a large event platter.  A meze platter is meant to be shared by guests during a social event.  Meze platters can be part of a casual afternoon get together, parties or formal occasions.  In America, a meze platter is called a party platter or a banquet hors d'oeuvres platters.  
     Meze does have its origins in Persia.  In Persia, dining is a social occasion.  When food is shared, manners take on importance.  Etiquette, politeness and social skills are enhanced.  Meze also promotes civility.  Sharing food at social event promotes a peaceful coexistence!   
     In America and many other countries, a meze platter often is designed with a theme in mind.  The theme can feature vegetarian, delicatessen food, local source food products or any number of ideas.  A meze theme can feature the cuisine of a specific region or country too.  
     Todays recipe features Eastern European casual food.  Every item on the meze platter is popular in Eastern Europe.  Most of the food items for today's platter came from the Euro Market & Deli in Las Vegas.  Similar Eastern European food markets are located in major cities nationwide.
     During the holiday party season, convenience becomes a factor.  Assembling a party platter with quality food products purchased at an Eastern European food market is easy to do.  A party platter like this will create far more interest than a cheap deli platter that is purchased at a regular grocery store.         

     Pickled Eggs:  
     This recipe yields 2 pickled eggs.
     This recipe is very easy to expand if more is needed.  One or two deviled egg halves per guest is a good par when planning party food.
     Eggs that are 2 week old are far easier to peel after they are hard boiled.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a sauce pot.
     Add enough salted water to cover the eggs with 1" of extra liquid.
     Bring the salt water to a boil.
     Boil the eggs for 12 minutes.
     Step 2:  Cool the eggs under cold running water.  
     Peel the eggs.
     Set the eggs aside.
     Step 3:  Place 3 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
     Add 2 to 3 slices of fresh red beet. 
     Add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 clove.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of ground ginger.
     Step 4:  Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer till the beet slices are tender and the liquid turns a purplish red color.
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Add the peeled hard boiled eggs.
     Place the container in a refrigerator.  
     Chill for about 24 hours, so the eggs pickle and turn a purplish red color.

     Hungarian Paprika Deviled Pickled Eggs:
     This recipe yields 2 Deviled Eggs.  
     This recipe is also easy to expand.
     Step 1:  Remove the 2 eggs from the pickling liquid.
     Cut the eggs in half.
     Pop out the hard egg yolks and set them aside.
     Chill the egg white halves till later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 pinch of onion powder.
     Add 1 small pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 2 drops of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Mash the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise while mixing, to bind the ingredients together.  (About 3 or 4 teaspoons.)  
     Mix till the ingredients are blended smooth.  The deviled egg yolks should be a thick creamy texture that can stand in a spoon.  
     Step 4:  Place a small portion of the deviled egg yolk in each pickled egg white half.   
     *A spoon or scoop can be used to place portions of the deviled egg yolks in each hard egg white pocket.  A small star tipped pastry bag can also be used.
     Step 5:  Place the finished Hungarian Paprika Deviled Pickled Eggs in a shallow container.
     Chill the deviled eggs till they are needed.

     Eastern European Meze Platter:  
     This recipe yields 1 Eastern European style party platter for 4 to 8 guests.  
     All of the food products for this party platter can be found in an Eastern European food market.  The Preserved Sour Wild Cherries and Pickled Cabbage Stuffed Paprika Peppers are sold in large glass jars.       
     Step 1:  Place 8 slices of Eastern European style Sourdough Boulle Loaf Bread on a countertop.
     Place 1/2 of a thin slice of Smoked Provolone Cheese on each slice of bread.  (half moon shaped slices)
     Place 2 thin slices of Czechoslovakian Salami on each slice of bread.
     Overlap the meat and cheese bread slices on a large oval shaped party platter.
     Step 2:  Place 3/4 cup of Preserved Sour Wild Cherries in a large ramekin.
     Place the ramekin on the platter.
     Step 3:  Place the 4 Hungarian Paprika Deviled Pickled Eggs on a bed of curly leaf parsley sprigs on the platter.
     Step 4:  Place enough Pickled Cabbage Stuffed Paprika Peppers on the platter till fill any empty space.  (about 4 to 8)
     Step 5:  Serve the Eastern European Meze Platter with small ramekins of condiments on the side.  (Sour cream, olive oil, Ajvar and Russian Mustard are good choices.) 

     Ethnic party platters, like today's Eastern European Meze Platter are a good way to introduce food items that guests are not familiar with.  A good Eastern European party food platter will naturally please guests and inspire conversation!

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