Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Lebanese Village Cheese Mezze Platter

     A Casual Lebanese Event Platter with Assorted Bread!
     The word "Mezze" is spelled many different ways in Mediterranean and Eastern European languages.  The word Mezze basically translates to "event."  In a culinary sense, Mezze refers to food for an event.  The event can be a small dinner party, cocktail party or a banquet for thousands of guests.  
     Food is considered to be a social item in Mediterranean countries, so mezze is essential to make an event a success.  Food definitely is entertainment at a social event and it is inspires guests to comment amongst each other.  Creating tasty event platters that inspire conversation is a key to mezze platter design.  
     Selecting interesting combinations of appetizers, cheese, fruits, pickles, dips, salads, condiments and appetizer items for mezze platter can be as easy as shopping at a Mediterranean food market.  I purchased the items for today's mezze platter at the Mediterranean Market in Las Vegas.  This market is stocked full of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food items.  Similar Mediterranean food markets can be found in most big cities in America.  
     There really are no demanding cooking techniques involved with designing a modest looking casual mezze platter.  A cheese, pickle and condiment mezze platter is fairly easy to make on short order, so a party platter like this is convenient during the holiday season.   
     Each item on a mezze plate should peak the interest of guests.  If there is a variety of items on a mezze platter, then surely some of the items will appeal to each guest.  Selecting interesting food items is easy to do at a Mediterranean market, because in America, cuisines of the Mediterranean region are still considered to be exotic.    
     The way that the food items are arranged on a platter creates interest too.  Platter design should include elements of focal point, flow, patterns and color combinations.  Grouping complimentary flavors together inspires guests to combine the items, so they can experience the effect.  Crowding items together on a platter will result in a cluttered look.  Leaving space between items results in a clean visual effect.   
     A theme can also be part of mezze platter design.  Because Lebanese Village Cheese is the featured item on the platter, popular Lebanese accompaniments should fill the rest of the platter.  Even the accompanying bread selection should support the theme of the platter.  
     Lebanese Village Cheese Mezze Platter:
     This recipe yields enough appetizer items for 8 to 10 guests to sample.  This casual mezze platter can easily be refreshed with more food as the event goes on.
     All of these items can be found in a Mediterranean food market or Persian Arabic food market.    
     Step 1:  Select a 16 ounce to 20 ounce wheel of Lebanese Village Cheese.
     Cut half of the cheese wheel into thin wedges.
     Place the uncut half of the Lebanese Village Cheese Wheel on a large oval platter.  
     Arrange the thin cheese wedges next to the cheese wheel head piece.
     *This will be the primary focal point of the platter.
     Step 2:  Place about 2 to 3 ounces of Persian Rosebud Jam in a ramekin.  
     Place about 2 to 3 ounces of Brinjal (highly spiced eggplant and tamarind chutney spread) in a second ramekin.
     Place the ramekins on the back half of the platter.
     Step 3:  Garnish the rest of the platter with:
     - Arabic Black Olives
     - Sliced Preserved Lemon
     - Sliced Persian Pickled Wild Cucumber
     - Capers
     - Spicy Turkish style Harissa Sauce
     - Italian Parsley sprigs
     Try to organize the items so they are visually appealing.
     Mediterranean Bread Platter:
     Mediterranean breads are en vogue and they create interest.  Since today's mezze platter is about convenience during the holiday party season, purchasing fresh baked bread at a Mediterranean food market is a good option.  
     The bread should be sliced into portions that can be eaten with a few bites and presented on a separate platter.  
     Bread Selection:     
     Whole Wheat Tonil Lavash (The first lavash recipe created!)
     Mediterranean Ring Bread (Koulouri Thessalonikis)
     Small Pita Bread (Khubz Arabi)

     Mezze platters like this inspire good conversation and smiles!  

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