The Cook Book blog:gets cooking

The Cook Book Blog

I've begun to design a menu for a meal on Sunday December 17th. This is an occasional occurrence for me as such designing is something I do for big dinners as a way to balance culinary delight with cost and practicality.

The problem in this case is that I'll be designing for a meal on a boat which will cruise the Brisbane River while offering no kitchen facilities what soever...and I guess we're looking at 80-100 people wanting to be fed! >>

My specialty is Mezze :
A Meze or Mezze (Turkish Meze from Arabic: مزة; Greek Μεζές, pl. Μεζέδες; Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian мезе, Montenegrin Meza, Russian Закуска‎), in eastern Mediterranean, Bulgarian and Turkish cuisine, is a selection of appetisers or small dishes taken with alcohol, similar to tapas of Spain. In Levantine cuisine, these dishes form part of any large-scale meal, but are known as muqabbilat (starters) when not accompanied with alcohol.

In Turkey, meze are served along with raki in similar establishments called meyhane. Turkish meze often consist of kashar cheese, dolma or sarma, and köfte.

Likewise in Greece, mezedes are little dishes, commonly seafood dishes such as "little fishes" of grilled octopus, designed to complement a beverage, tease the tastebuds and encourage diners to linger around a table for good conversation. In large portions, mezedes can replace a full meal, although this is not nutritionally advisable. They are served in a tsipouradiko or ouzeri (café-like establishments that serve tsipouro or ouzo, respectively).

And I do knoe my way around a mezze table and after all these years of doing them -- for community and political dinners (I even did a funeral once!)-- there is still the prospect of a new variation and combination that makes the business of preparing it always a source for fresh excitement.

So I've started to collect a few recipes and amalgamate them on my Cook Book Blog. This is the way you see: I pull together "x" number of recipes on impulse with some sort of imaginative thread that draws them together -- usually my own tastebuds is that imaginative register-- and then I begin to review in regard to such topics as:
  • ingredient availability
  • ingredient costs
  • preparation time
  • serving practicalities
  • nutritional quotient
  • taste
  • exotic degree rating vs consumer acceptance

Then I get serious and begin to cull primarily on the practical aspects. If I have not prepared or tasted the dish before, I make a point of doing so and arrange a at home rehearsal for any recipe I am unfamiliar with. And when I say cost, I'm talking cheap, real cheap as this food is real cheap to serve. Thats' primarily because you do the lot from scratch and you can get away with a low meat percentile.

Nonetheless I have it in my head to do some seafood and I also know that if thats' problem for some I need to also fall back on another source of land based protein. And then, of course, there are the vegetarians...Not my favourite creatures, but I nonetheless will feed them as is their want.

So we are, as they say, in treansit...and will soon be cooking up a storm. Check in at the Cook Book Blog for the menu as it unfolds.

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