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Muhummarah

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Hanukkah is over but the season of cocktail parties is just beginning. Need to bring a dish to a friend’s or co-worker’s party? Is it your turn to host?

No prob! I’ve got a cocktail party that will practically take care of itself, not cost a fortune and have you looking like a kitchen deity.

 Muhummarah

This is my favorite dip. The complex spices combine perfectly with the fruity olive oil and toasted walnuts. Muhummarah can be made up to 5 days before serving.

2 red peppers, roasted

1 cup walnuts, toasted

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup pomegranate molasses or pomegranate syrup

1 cup fresh bread crumbs-left over challah is perfect

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies

1 teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cumin seed

Salt and pepper

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth but with some chunks. You may need to add more olive oil to adjust the consistency.
  2. Place in a container and cover the surface of the muhummarah with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. The muhummarah can be kept covered for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  3. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and olive oil.

Pita Chips

These pita chips are very crispy and not at all greasy like some store bought chips can be. The chips can be made up to a week ahead before serving.

2 7-inch pitas (I like whole wheat pita)

Olive oil

Kosher or sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350

  1. Cut the pitas into 8 wedges. Cut off ¼ inch of the round edge of each pita.
  2. Pull apart the wedges into 2 pieces. Drizzle the pita pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the seasoned pita segments onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place another sheet on top of the pita and weight it down with a pan.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the pita and continue baking for another 5-7 minutes until the chips are very crispy.
  5. Store the chips in a covered container for up to one week. 

Spiced Chick Peas

Smoky, sweet, crunchy and practically guilt free, these spiced chick peas taste like you spent hours laboring over them when you actually just chilled and let the oven do the work. 

1 15 ounce can chick peas

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (I like the hot version)

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350

  1. Dry the chick peas thoroughly on a clean towel.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, including the chick peas, in a bowl. Toss to coat the peas.
  3. Place the peas on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Stir the peas and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the peas are crispy and lightly browned.
  4. Store covered for up to 3 days before serving

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Buy great olives and great olive oil and the rest will take care of itself.

2 cups kalamata olives-pitted

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic

2 anchovy filets

¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies

1 tablespoon capers

Extra virgin olive oil 

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it resembles a chunky paste. Add additional olive oil if necessary.
  2. Remove mixture and place in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning. Additional Tapenade can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 weeks.

Serve with toasted baguette slices (crostini)

Crostini

I have burned more crostini than I care to remember. Somehow the simplest of tasks are the hardest. You can toast the crostini up to one day before serving.

1 12-inch baguette

Olive oil

Garlic clove

Preheat oven to 350

  1. Slice the baguette on the bias into ½ inch thick slices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  3. Toast the crostini for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and crispy. Cool slightly.
  4. Rub the crostini with the garlic clove.

Tuna Crudo

This simple, sexy and tres chic Italian raw tuna hors d’oeuvre is a snap to prepare.

Buy the best tuna you can find and marinate it in the best olive oil you can find plus citrus juice. DONE!

Serves 4

½ pound best quality tuna, cut into 1-2 inch long X ¼ inch thick slices

3 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or blood orange juice

Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper

  1. Toss the tuna with the olive oil and allow it to sit in the oil for about 2 minutes.
  2. Arrange the tuna slices on a plate or platter and sprinkle with the citrus juice, sea salt and pepper.

Serve with crostini

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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