Category Archives: Mezedes

Methismeno kotopoulo / Drunken chicken

No, you don’t have to feed chicken alcohol, poor little thing (the chicken, that is), but you must buy large, juicy chicken breast, cut them in cubes and put them in a marinade of white wine and ouzo.

The first time I ate chicken made in this way was at a lovely taverna in Nafplio called Epi Skinis, and no matter where I’ve been in Greece every since – if I find it (very occasionally) on the menu I order it.
There are, as with most Greek recipes, a myriad of variations, and as long as the chicken’s marinade contains alcohol, it’s called Methismeno kotopoulo. So you may well vary the dish, depending on the contents of your liquor cabinet. I once made Methismeno kotopoulo with cognac instead of ouzo and dark beer instead of wine, and that tasted lovely too. (Not to brag, of course.)
Epi Skinis serves this as a meze, but there is nothing wrong with serving it as a main dish, either, with rice or fried potatoes and lots of greens. I think a mixture of broccoli and green beans taste good.

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • For the marinade:
  • 20 ml olive oil
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 50 ml ouzo
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, add the chicken pieces and marinate 1 to 2 hours.
Strain the chicken, but save the marinade.
Heat the butter and brown the chicken quickly and easily. Add tomato puree and let it fry a few seconds, add the marinade. Cook, uncovered, a few minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Main course for 2, meze for more.

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Bouyiourdi / cheese and tomato dip

This is just outrageously good! A kind of cheese dip, with tomato, garlic, chilli, a little oregano … You can hardly make enough, but this is best eaten hot, so if your making this for a party, it’s best to make two smaller than one big bouyiourdi. This recipe is enough for two for lunch, four as a starter, for many as a meze. And if you don’t understand what this word meze/mezedes I constantly write about means, check Greek Food in the menu above.

Chilli is not so common in Greek cuisine, and you can be pretty sure that if there’s chilli in the recipe, it comes from northern Greece, and have been inspired or brought there by the Greeks who came there after the “exile” in Istanbul or Smyrna.

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt, pepper
  • 100 grams feta
  • 150 grams kasseri (or the mildest white goat cheese you can find. For emergencies use English cheddar)
  • ½ small green bell pepper
  • some chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • country bread, white bread or pita bread

Strain the tomato box and pour the tomato flesh into a bowl. Finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and mix it in the tomatoes with oregano, salt and pepper. Pour half of this in a small ovenproof dish.

Chop the feta and layer it on top of the tomatoes, grate the kasseri and put half of it on top of the feta. Pour over the rest of the tomato mixture, and sprinkle the rest of the kasseri on top of everything. Cut peppers into strips and place them on top. Sprinkle with chilli and pour over the oil.

Place a lid on the dish, or make a tight lid of aluminium foil. Bake at 200 degrees C for 1 hour. Serve the bouyiourdi hot or warm, with bread, and dip, dip, dip – but please use a fork as well, so you get to taste all the good stuff!

PS! As a variation, you can slice some black olives and add to the tomato mixture.

 

Tonosalata / Tuna salad

In a Greek home, I once was served a delicious tuna salad, and here is my attempt to recreate it. It’s probably not, I believe, arch-typical Greek, but it consists of ingredients that are found in most Greek kitchens. So it’s ok to give you the recipe here, I think.
The salad can be served as a meze; you can eat it in a sandwich, or tear up a few different types of green salad leaves and add tuna salad in splotches on top. Seriously good!

  • 2 large tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 large tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 can tuna in water
  • salt, pepper

Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, red onion and dill. Pour the brine from the tuna and stir the tuna vigorously in the sauce until it flakes into small pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
And that’s it!

Lentils a la the ancient Greeks

This old Greek recipe was found written on papyrus in Egypt, and proves that also the ancient Greeks could make great food. Just smell the aromas that spread in the kitchen while it’s cooking! The old recipe doesn’t say anything about amounts, so I’ve experimented to find a dish I like, you can add more or less amounts of whatever you like if you want to experiment further. The original recipe asks for a little anise, I use ouzo, Greek liquor with anise, instead. The lentils taste great with white fish or fried chicken, and are also an original mezé dish.

  • 150 g lentils
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 150 ml stock (water + chicken or vegetable cube is ok)
  • 3 tablespoons ouzo
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 1 / 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (or about 2 tablespoons fresh – if you use the latter add it at the end of the cooking time.)
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • salt, pepper

Wash lentils. Mix everything except the parsley, salt and pepper, and simmer, covered, until you have a thick stew, about 45 minutes. Add a little water if it cooks dry. Add the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Rosiki salata / Russian salad

No, I’m not geographically confused. Russian salad is on the menu of many Greek tavernas and sold in Greek supermarkeds, so it has to be here too. The salad is served as a meze, or as a side dish with fried / grilled sausages or fish. The ingredients tell us that it’s not at all impossible that the salad has roots in Russia or thereabouts, but in France it’s supposedly called “macédoine” – and Macedonia is an area in the north of Greece. Alexander the Great was from Macedonia, but he never ate Russian salad. He didn’t even know potatoes existed.

  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 small finely chopped pickled cucumber and / or 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1,5 cup mayonnaise, (more if you want it to be totally Greek)
  • salt, pepper
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • parsley for garnish. (If you want to garnish, that is)

Boil the potatoes, carrots and peas separately, and cool them. Cut the potatoes and carrots in cubes and mix them with peas and pickled cucumber / capers. Then mix in mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Chop two of the eggs and fold them in, garnish with the last egg. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

As a variation you can substitute the potatoes with “gigantes”, large white beans/butter beans. Boil them yourself or buy canned. This way, the salad tastes more Greek, somehow.

By the way it’s quicker to make this if you cut the potatoes and carrots in cubes before you cook them. Some of the nutrients vanishes in the water, but if you’re busy …

For print, copy url: http://wp.me/s14tPb-rosiki and click the button: Print

Mezedakia / snacks

Mezedes is the Greek word for appetizers, but it can also describe a small plate of snacks served with wine, ouzo or a drink. Greeks don’t drink alcohol without eating a little (or a lot). You’ll experience this both in the bars and if you get served alcohol in friends’ homes. It could be something as simple as a bowl of sliced cucumbers, olives or peanuts, or slightly more advanced, like pieces of grilled squid or sausage. Here are some ideas:

Carrot and Cucumber: Cut vegetables into strips, salt them and serve. If you need enough for an entire party, put the vegetables in ice-cold, very salty brine in the refrigerator, and use when needed.

Feta with Honey: Cube the feta, grind over pepper, and sprinkle some Greek honey on top.

Feta with olive oil: Cube the feta; sprinkle them with a really good olive oil, dried oregano on top.

Cheese with salami: This is found in many countries, but use a Greek cheese and it becomes Greek… Graviera or Kefalotyri are my favourites, both quite hard yellow cheeses with great flavour. Cut them into cubes and attach a small piece of salami on each cube with a toothpick.

Crackers with topping: Use small crackers or small pieces of toasted bread, no bigger than a mouthful, and add a little tirokafteri or olive puree:

  • 1 cup black olives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • optional: 2 – 3 anchovies
  • salt, pepper

Pit the olives. Run everything except salt and pepper in a food processor, season with s + p. Let the puree stand for at least a couple of hours to develop flavour. Add a little puree on top of each cracker.

The puree can be stored for a long time in the refrigerator. (And to add a completely un-Greek thing: Plenty of butter on the toast – before you add the puree – that is seriously good!

For print, copy url: http://wp.me/p14tPb-2i and click the button: Print
 

Tirokafteri / feta cream

Tirokafteri (or kopanisti as it’s also called) is a spicy, mashed feta cream or dip. Thus, the basis is, of course, a piece of feta. The rest of the ingredients vary from kitchen to kitchen, place to place. Some people use olive oil, some yogurt to make the dip softer, some use vinegar, some lemon juice to add some acidity. Dried or fresh chilli, Tabasco or cayenne pepper for “hotness”, and some add oregano, others garlic. Finely, chopped pimiento / grilled, peeled peppers are optional. In other words, this recipe can be varied almost infinitely. The only thing that is important is that you have really good Greek feta, not a Danish imitation or some such nonsense. Also, this is one of the few dishes in Greek cuisine that tastes (slightly) hot, but the amount of chilli or the like is of course up to you.

Tirokafteri can be served with warm pita bread or a few slices of country bread, or as a mezé (snack).

  • 200 g Greek feta
  • 5 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • chilli / chilli pepper / Tabasco / cayenne pepper to taste, start with 1 teaspoon let’s say cayenne and taste your way.
  • 1 to 2 roasted, peeled and cleaned peppers; the easiest way is to buy canned ones.

Mash feta well with yogurt, vinegar, oregano and chilli. Stir in the finely chopped pepper fruit. Done!

The dip can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator, and should be eaten at room temperature. The flavour develops over time. A Pita bread recipe can be found here, or buy ready-made and just heat them a bit in the oven.

Gigantes Ston Fournos / baked butter beans

Many Greek dishes take time to make, but they are not very labour intensive. They pretty much take care of themselves, boiling on the stove or baking in the oven. Gigantes Ston Fournos is such a dish, needing both boiling and baking, and the beans even have to soak overnight. But it’s really yummy in the end!

A few words about the beans: Gigantes are large, dried beans, we call them lima beans or butter beans. The longer the beans have been dried, the longer cooking time they need, and so it is difficult to specify the exact time. But start by following the instructions in the recipe, and taste your way. The beans should be completely soft, like butter (hence the name, I guess) when they are ready.

  • 2 cups Gigantes / butter beans
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 grated, ripe tomato, or 1 / 2 tin of tomatoes
  • ½ litre water
  • 1 bunch parsley, or celery leaves if you can find them, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pepper
  • ▪ salt

Place the beans in water overnight. They swell a lot, so use plenty of water in a large bowl.

Heat oil, fry the onion until it just begins to brown, add tomato puree, tomato, water and all the spices except salt. Be careful, it can splutter if the oil is too hot! Cook the sauce for 20 minutes.

Drain the beans, boil them in new water for 20 minutes, and drain again. Mix the beans and tomato sauce and pour this in a wide, ovenproof dish. Bake at 190 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours. Turn the beans occasionally and add more boiling water if it seems dry. Season with salt when the beans are soft and the dish ready. Eat warm or at room temperature, as a main dish or mezé.

Pita

A pita bread can be rolled around some grilled meat, tztatziki and tomatoes, eaten with a stew, or be served like the photo shows, topped with meatballs, tzatziki, grilled peppers and a tomato sauce.

  • 25 g fresh yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 ts salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2,5 cups wheat flour

Crumble the yeast in a bowl and mix it with a little water. Add the rest of the water, oil, salt and almost all the flour, until you have a soft, smooth dough

Leave to rise for one hour.

Knead the dough lightly on a floured worktop, and divide it into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the balls, and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough into thin, round cakes of about 12-13 cm in diameter. Place them on an oiled baking tray. Leave to rest while you heat your oven to 275 degrees C.

Bake for 4 minutes, or until the pitas rises and colours slightly. Leave to cool on a wire rack, under a kitchen towel.

Tiropitakia / Small Greek cheese pies

Filo pastry can be filled with almost anything and become delicious pies. Here we’re making cheese pies, to which we can add ham or spinach if we want to. The pies can be frozen before baking. You don’t have to defrost them before baking, just brush them with some melted butter and bake a bit longer than indicated below.

  • 200 gr. Feta cheese
  • 100 gr grated Kefalotiri or Graviera cheese (or Gruyere)
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley or dill
  • 2 eggs
  • pepper
  • 0,5 cup melted butter or more
  • 250 gr. filo
  • Optional: 100 gram cooked ham, in small cubes, or
  • 100 gram cooked, cold spinach

Crumble or mash the feta cheese with a fork. Add the grated cheese, herbs, eggs and pepper. Fold in ham or spinach if you are using this.

Cut the pastry sheets in strips, about 7-10 cm (in this case, size is not important.. Stack them, one on top of the other, to prevent them from drying. A moist kitchen towel on top will also help. Brush a strip with melted butter, place one teaspoon or so of the filling on one end of the strip and fold over one corner to make a triangle. Continue folding the pastry strip from side to side in the shape of a triangle until the entire pastry strip covers the filling. Proceed in this manner with pastry strips and filling until you have used your entire filling. Put he pies on a buttered baking sheet, brush with melted butter and bake in a moderate oven, 180 degrees C for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Makes about 24 pies, depending on how big you make them, of course.

Leftover filo? Mix a box of drained cherries, 2-3 tbs sugar, 1 tbs flour and a little cinnamon, and make more pies as explained above, or make small “cigars” as shown at the left on the photo.