Cooking Class: Flavors of a Mediterranean Cocktail Party with Jennifer Abadi

Cooking Class: Flavors of a Mediterranean Cocktail Party with Jennifer Abadi

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The word “Mediterranean” conjures up images of balmy beaches with crystal clear seas and blue skies. Foods from this region reflect its temperate climate and coastal surroundings with bright flavors of lemon, mint and rose mingling with warm seasonings of garlic, paprika, and olive oil in a palate that is warm yet refreshing. 

During this interactive lesson, together we will explore how to create a simple spread of creamy hummus (made the traditional way using dried chickpeas), a zippy feta cheese dip with garlic, paprika, and mint, and crispy pita chips with za’tar and olive oil. A refreshing Mediterranean-inspired gin cocktail* infused with cardamom, rosewater, and mint will be paired with the chips and dips to round off a menu that will carry you off to a Mediterranean taverna along the sea.

Led by Sephardic and Middle Eastern food instructor, Syrian cookbook author, and recipe preserver Jennifer Abadi, this interactive hands-on seminar will show you how to have fun while preparing your own Mediterranean cocktail party. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the popular flavors of the Mediterranean cuisine that they can easily prepare at home. 

Invite friends and family to join you in class to prepare the tasty snacks together, then meet up with them virtually or in person after the lesson to make a toast and enjoy on the terrace, deck, garden, or backyard!

Please note: Alcoholic drink is optional and recipes can be modified for those attending who are under the drinking age.



Rose of Aleppo Cocktail:

  • 10 whole cardamom pods
  • Aniseeds
  • Dried rosebuds or petals (optional)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Gin (Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater)
  • Rosewater
  • Ice cubes
  • Unflavored seltzer, chilled
  • 1 Persian or Israeli cucumber (not waxed cucumber)
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 1 large lemon

Hummus, Feta Dip, Pita Chips (or Pita Bread):

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas (about one 19-ounce can), 
    • OR 1¼ cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water to (cover by 3 inches) mixed with ½ teaspoon baking soda for 12 hours or overnight in the refrigerator, drained
  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 2 large lemons (need ¼ cup juice)
  • 1 jar tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces feta cheese (whole blocks preferred for soaking)
  • Kosher salt
  • Dried mint leaves
  • Sweet Hungarian paprika
  • Smoked Spanish paprika
  • Za’tar spice blend (green kind, not red with sumac added)
  • Baking soda
  • Pita bread


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large chef’s/chopping knife and cutting board

For Cocktail:

  • 2-sided jigger
  • Mortar and pestle or rolling pin and small Ziploc bag, for crushing seeds 
  • Small saucepan, for preparing the syrup
  • Small jar or air-tight container, for storing syrup
  • Muddler, for crushing cucumbers with fresh mint leaves
  • Zester/Microplane, for finely grating lemon and citrus squeezer
  • Large glass or liquid measuring cup, for mixing a cocktail
  • Metal strainer or small mesh cone strainer (small enough to sit over a cup or glass)
  • 1 martini glass or small cocktail glass, for serving

For Dips & Chips:

  • Medium saucepan (if cooking dried chickpeas)
  • Food processor
  • Rubber spatula
  • Small bowl, for soaking feta cheese
  • Small bowl or jar, for mixing olive oil and spices
  • Pastry brush, for brushing oil on pita bread
  • Large baking tray or cookie sheet, for baking chips

Jennifer Abadi is a native New Yorker, born, bred and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She is half Sephardic (Aleppo, Syria) and half Ashkenazic (Riga, Latvia). She is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Judeo-Arabic and Sephardic recipes and food customs, focusing on the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa. She is the author of two cookbooks: "Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe" and "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen." Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC), as well as privately. Jennifer has been providing Jewish Food & Culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for Context Travel since 2012."

Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content).

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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