I LOVE, absolutely Love having friends over for to eat at the same table with me. I have a slight obsession with filling peoples bellies with simple delights.
So, when Superbowl weekend came around I took the opportunity to invite people over. I'm not particularly a fan of football, but I was eager for an excuse to gather people around. This time, most of the inspiration was from my youth. Typical Persian/Armenian appetizers covered the dining table and side console....
The above consisted of four distinct items:
- Armenian String Cheese. I used the "Karoun" brand, found at my local Costco of all places! If you havnt tried this before, you MUST try it soon. It has much more flavor than you typical school lunch brand. As an extra bonus, its actually stringy.
- Valbreso French Feta cheese - A very light, simple sheeps milk Feta.
- Bulgarian Feta Cheese - Lower in fat, and a slightly more "organic" or "gamey" flavor.
- Soujuk - You can call it "Armenian Salami" if you'd like. That's how I grew up thinking about it. Flavored with Paprkia, Cumin and lots and lots of Sodium.
This particular display pleased a few people at least... those of us who grow up on it call it comfort food.
Yes, its simply a big tray of herbs. Basil, Cilantro and Parsley in particular . Oh, and radishes, don't forget the radishes. They are a must before the dinner entree, a perfect apertif. You fill a pita with the herbs, some raw onion and some butter of Feta and you are set.
Of course to balance out the Kettle Potato Chips and the platter of cheese, I needed to offer some vegetables. Other than the basic tray of crudites I tossed together a simple salad of english cucumber (though I would have preferred persian), Cherry tomatoes, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, chopped green onion and a pinch of diced cilantro and parsley.
Can you guess what the above consisted of? Hummus I think is the most obvious. I chose to buy it from Trader Joes and everyone loved it. I topped it off with some smoked paprika. Then the duplicates, diagonally from eachother is something similar to Raita, but the Persian version. It consists of yogurt, cumbers, a pinch of dried mint and dried basil ( more mint than basil), fresh chopped green onions, cilantro and dill. Its the perfect dip for chips, or just to eat alone -- i promise. Lastly, closest to you is a simple dip made from a yogurt product called Lebne, if you can't find it at a local store you can make it by placing whole milk plain yogurt in a cheese cloth and hanging it from something like the faucet over the sink, allowing the liquids to drip out. What you are left with is a thick yogurt product. Once you have this Lebne, simply add a bit of sea salt and freshly chopped shallots. Let it marinade over night. Think of it like onion dip, but better :)
Simple potato salad, the recipe can be found here.
Speaks for itself.....