We’re having an impromptu New Year’s Eve “party” tonight. I put party in quotations because we’re not exactly a wild bunch. We’re having food, alcohol, and friends on NYE, so I feel like it qualifies as a party, but we’re doing a lot more playing of board games than dancing on tables.
I’ve wanted to make muhammara for awhile now and tonight seemed like a good night! It’s really pretty easy to make, especially if you have a decent food processor. I mostly followed the recipe of my old faithful, Yotam Ottolenghi, for this one. If it’s any type of food from the greater Middle East, I feel like he makes it and makes it well! Muhammara originates from Aleppo, Syria, so the use of Aleppo pepper in the dish just feels important and necessary to me. Unfortunately, the civil war in Syria has greatly decreased world-wide supply of Aleppo pepper.* (*Obviously, this is not the most important negative impact of the Syrian civil war.) But with that in mind, if you don’t have any/can’t find any, you can substitute a smaller quantity of crushed red pepper flakes. (Aleppo pepper isn’t quite as spicy and has a deeper depth of flavor + a slight sweetness as compared to crushed red pepper. Some suggest a mixture of sweet paprika & cayenne/crushed red pepper is a okay approximation.) This spread is popular from Syria through Turkey and the Caucasus, with some regional variations. The main ingredients always include red pepper and walnuts (the basis of the dip), Aleppo pepper, and olive oil.
Also, for your party hosting pleasure, this recipe would be very easy to scale up. This yielded ~ 2 cups.
Hope you enjoy!
Happy New Year!! 🎉🎇🥂🖤
(Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi)
- 3 red bell peppers
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs [I actually used cracker crumbs – crushed matzoh from our Potato Latkes the other night]
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup walnut pieces
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bell peppers in half, removing the stems & seeds, and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast until blackened and blistering, ~30-35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grind up the walnuts in a food processor. You want them to be fairly finely ground, but still have some texture. Set to the side.
- Peel the skin off of the red peppers once they are cool enough to handle.
- Place peppers, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, bread crumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse until well-combined. Again, don’t over-process and destroy all of the texture.
- By hand, stir in the walnuts into the rest of the ingredients.
- Add salt to taste.
- When serving, top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
Ok y’all, I know I say things like this all the time, but… This dip is SO easy to make and SO worth it. Bring this to your next family gathering, book club, or just make it for tomorrow’s dinner! It’s spicy without being overpowering. And everyone loves feta cheese!
On that note, now is a good time to talk about feta again. There is feta cheese and then there is feta cheese. If you bring someone from Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Israel, France, or, you know, basically anywhere else in the world, to the United States and show them the crumbly stuff that we sell in our grocery stores as feta – prepare to be laughed at. It is just nowhere near as good as what they have. But fear not! We Americans now have access to much better qualities of feta (usually imported from Europe or the Middle East) pretty easily here. Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods will always have some, your local grocery store might in some areas, and if those all fail, it’ll give you the opportunity to check out your nearest Middle Eastern market or international food shop! Look for feta in blocks, usually in brine. It’ll be wet and have some holes in it. While it crumbles easily between your fingers, it shouldn’t be dry and pre-crumbled for you. Believe me, I was a lover of American grocery store feta for years, so I’m not judging. But do yourself a favor and upgrade! Mmmmmm… feta 🙂
Also, you may have noticed if you read our blog semi-regularly (heyyy Baba, Aunt Suzanne, Mom 🙋🙋🙋), that we share recipes that make a wide variety of serving sizes. For example our Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese basically feeds an army, while this dip was easily eaten by the two of us tonight. This just goes to show you that we only share what we’re actually making for ourselves at any given time. We ate this dip with crudites to accompany some lahmacun tonight (perfect combo in case you were wondering!).
Spicy Feta Dip
(Recipe adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook, by Özcan Ozan)
- 6oz feta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Juice from a lemon wedge
- Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.
- Refrigerate until serving.
- Top with a drizzle of olive oil when serving, if desired.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Ok, bear with me now. I know this isn’t the first post where I’ve started with – “this sounds kind of weird, but I promise you it’s really good!” This is another one of those. I don’t know who originally thought, 💭Hmm… let me combine some eggs and crab and make a dip out of it, but I’m glad s/he did. My aunt Ann has made this dip for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always loved it. It’s super easy to throw together for a party and definitely something your guests probably haven’t eaten before. It’s a fairly mild dip, that will please most palates, provided they like crab/seafood. It’s delicious and addicting spread on crackers. I like it with a drop of hot sauce on top! Let us know what you think!
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Pinch of Crab Egg Dip
- 9 eggs, hard-boiled
- 3 6oz tins of crabmeat (obviously use fresh if you’re so inclined/budgeted)
- 2 tbsp poppyseeds
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- Chop up the hardboiled eggs.
- Mix all of the ingredients together.
- Chill until serving. Serve with crackers.
I don’t really know how to describe portions of a dip. This makes the amount of dip pictured above, served at a large party.
For those who don’t know, raita is a very versatile Indian yogurt dip/sauce. A dollop on top of spicy hot dishes cools them right off. Naan dipped in raita makes delicious naan even better. I say versatile because raita basically is a blank canvas that can be modified in a million different ways. You start with plain yogurt and go from there. Herbs and spices, vegetables, even fruits, can be used to make unique raita! For those looking for a maybe more familiar comparison, cucumber-based raita is popular and very similar to Greek tzatziki. That’s what I was going for today for this recipe and then was inspired by this delicious-looking recipe too!
Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 large pickling cucumbers
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt – divided
- 10 turns of pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the top off of the head of garlic (so tips of individual cloves are exposed).
- Drizzle the oil over the exposed parts of the garlic head. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a middle rack. Enjoy the amazing smell of roasting garlic.
- Roast for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cucumbers. I spiralized about half of the cucumbers and grated the other half, because I like different textures.
- Set the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will draw water out of the cucumbers. Allow them to sit there for at least 20 minutes. You can squeeze them too to get even more of the water out.
- Remove the garlic from the oven when it’s done and allow the garlic to cool until you can handle it.
- Pull apart the individual cloves and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a small bowl. After you’ve squeezed all of the cloves out, then use the back of a fork to mash the more intact cloves up.
- Add the garlic, cucumbers, the rest of the salt, and pepper to the yogurt. Mix everything together.
- Serve with Indian food, on a wrap, as a dip for crudites or pita chips, or whatever you want!