Meze: Small Plates to Savor and Share from the Mediterranean Table

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Now you can enjoy the food and fun of a meze feast. Meze, the small plates of just about everything from seafood, meat, and vegetables to handheld pies, colorful salads, nuts, olives, and cheeses, is the food of hospitality and conviviality, food meant to be shared with friends and family and savored with wines and spirits.

Here, in Meze, Diane Kochilas, the award-winning author of The Glorious Foods of Greece, chef, restaurateur, and cooking teacher, takes you on a spirited ...

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Now you can enjoy the food and fun of a meze feast. Meze, the small plates of just about everything from seafood, meat, and vegetables to handheld pies, colorful salads, nuts, olives, and cheeses, is the food of hospitality and conviviality, food meant to be shared with friends and family and savored with wines and spirits.

Here, in Meze, Diane Kochilas, the award-winning author of The Glorious Foods of Greece, chef, restaurateur, and cooking teacher, takes you on a spirited journey across Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean, exploring these simple and simply irresistible dishes. The recipes are robust, dear, and easy to follow. These uncomplicated dishes are charged with flavor and based on fresh, accessible ingredients. The results are spectacular.

Meze makes every meal a party, and no one knows how to throw a party better than the Greeks. Youll find tangy, skewered meats and juicy meatballs, delicious seafood dishes from simple steamed mussels to creamy ouzo-flavored shrimp. You'll find a healthful selection of aromatic bean dishes, and a recipe for the best fried potatoes in the world, Greek fries, which are hand cut and cooked in olive oil.

The convivial and festive nature of the meze table is reflected in Diane's warm, inviting style. The innate attractiveness of the food — the colors, textures, and shapes — are captured in brilliant photographs that evoke the sunny, warm Mediterranean dime. Whether you make just a few dishes for informal entertaining, or create an entire meal of meze, Diane Kochilas makes it possible to bring the spirit of fun and sharingthe essence of meze throughout Greece and the Mediterranean — to your own table at home.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
This is also the only cookbook I've come across that tells you how to sit while you're eating -- what Kochilas calls ''the meze pose.'' Body language is important, she explains, because ''at a traditional meze meal, you don't sit facing the table, but rather facing the world and abutting the table with one side of your body. Why? According to my friend Zouraris, because it's not supposed to be a proper meal. The focus is on the social, on the conversation, on the exchange of opinions.'' I figure I've got all summer to practice. — Dwight Garner
Publishers Weekly
Mezethes (plural of meze, which means middle) are little Mediterranean dishes designed to complement a beverage, tease the tastebuds and encourage diners to linger around a table for good conversation, says Kochilas (The Glorious Foods of Greece), and "[v]ariety, playfulness, and surprise" are key to their preparation. Her nicely illustrated cookbook offers 80 meze recipes to pair with ouzo or Greek wines, and shows American home cooks how a varied gathering of Greek, Turkish and Lebanese flavors-olives, anchovies, cured beef, cheese, good bread-can make for a perfect brunch or buffet spread (though, Kochilas is careful to note, a "meze spread is not meant to be a meal, but a nosh"). Her chapters cover culinary themes such as Dips, Spreads and Relishes, Small Egg Dishes, Finger Foods and Fried Treats, and A Sea's Bounty of Mezethes; dishes range from Fluffy Fish-Roe Dip with Ground Almonds (a variant of the classic taramosalata), to Three-Cheese Phyllo Triangles with Onions and Yogurt, to Marinated Panfried Shrimp in the Shell, to Grilled Greek Meat Patties with Chopped Tomatoes, Spicy Yogurt, and Lemon. (Don't let the long names fool you-these dishes are never difficult to prepare.) These piquant, lively foods are "a savory flirtation," and an array of them on a table is a delightful thing. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Explains Kochilas, who lives in Athens, the Greek "meze culture" refers to a specific way of eating and, more important, socializing-a drink of ouzo, for example, accompanied by just a few tidbits to nibble on during a long afternoon's conversation-and the "small plates" served are meant more as a tease than as a first course or even a snack. That said, however, the dishes easily translate to appetizers or a whole meal put together from several or more of these savory bites. The author of many big books on Greek food, including The Food and Wine of Greece, Kochilas avoids readily found "absolute classics," such as tzatziki, instead offering more contemporary interpretations of traditional dishes, lesser-known regional specialties, and others of her own creation: Bread Salad with Watermelon, Feta, and Onion, for example, or Shrimp in a Skillet with Creamy Tomato-Ouzo Sauce. A good companion to Joanne Weir's broader From Tapas to Meze, this is recommended for most collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688175115
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 8.12 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of five cookbooks, including Meze and the IACP Award-winning The Glorious Foods of Greece, Diane Kochilas writes for Saveur, Gourmet, and the New York Times; runs the Glorious Greek Kitchen Cooking School on the Greek island of Ikaria; is the consulting chef at Pylos, an acclaimed Greek restaurant in New York City; and is the food columnist and restaurant critic for Ta Nea, the largest-circulation daily newspaper in Greece. She divides her time between New York City, Athens, and Ikaria.

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First Chapter

Bread Salad with Watermelon, Feta, and Red Onion

Makes 4 Servings

The combination of feta and watermelon is one that Greek connoisseurs savor with special gusto. There is no recipe for enjoying the two together. Cut-up watermelon is served on one plate with a little feta cheese, or served separately and left to each diner to join the two together in a forkful. Here, I take this elemental duet and make something a little more special. Seek out the sweetest watermelon and Dodoni feta. You can find the latter in most Greek and Middle Eastern food shops, as well as in specialty cheese emporiums. The feta from Dodoni in Epirus has a firm, creamy texture and can be cut into cubes without crumbling.


1 Cretan barley rusk or 1 thick slice of stale country-style bread (see Note on page 34)
1 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
3 cups cold watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup (about 4 ounces) Greek feta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon sherry or raspberry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A few mint sprigs


Dampen the bread under running water and then hold it over the sink for the water to drip off. Break it into chunks, about 1 inch each.

Place the chunks on the bottom of a serving bowl and sprinkle half the onion slices over them. Place the watermelon and any of its juices together with the feta cubes on top. Drizzle in the vinegar and toss gently, careful not to mash the watermelon. Season with pepper and garnish with the remaining onion slices and mint. Serve.

Feta Saganaki with a Sesame-Seed Crust

Makes About 16 Pieces

Saganaki is a two-handled shallow skillet with a rounded perimeter, and any food cooked in it takes on its name. So, saganaki as a recipe includes many things. It can be a bubbling shrimp or mussel dish with spicy tomato sauce and melted cheese; it can be one of many flour-dusted panfried cheeses, too. This recipe is a take on the fried-cheese tradition, and one that began to make its way onto Athenian menus in the late 1990s. I like the contrast in textures, the crunchiness and subtle flavor of the sesame seeds next to the intenseness and softness of the feta as it is heated.


1/4 pound hard Greek feta or telemes cheese, aged in tins, not barrels
1 large egg
1 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


The feta should be a rectangular, not triangular, piece. Cut it into four 1/2-inch slices and cut each slice into quarters to get bite-sized rectangles.

Beat the egg lightly in a shallow bowl. Spread the sesame seeds onto a large plate. Dip the cheese in the egg and then in the sesame seeds. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet. Place about 6 of the cheese pieces in the skillet, and sauté over medium-high heat. As soon as the feta begins to soften, flip it over to brown on the other side. Remove and serve hot. Repeat with the remaining feta and sesame seeds.

Meze. Copyright © by Diane Kochilas. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Authentic Recipes, Simple and Delicious

    Kochilas is fabulous. Her recipes are authentic and easy. And, although I'm not a master chef, I've had fabulous results every time. I love the anecdotal descriptions of the dishes and their ingredients, as well as the background of the meze concept. Kochiles also provides suggestions for obtaining ingredients, and worthy substitutions that might be more easily obtained. She also recommends wine pairings and resources for Greek wines. As a Greek-American myself, and a long-time fan of Mediterranean cooking, I find this book absolutely the best!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2007

    Good recipes, arrogant author

    Some of these recipes are truly divine. The author, however, comes off as being arrogant. If you can bypass the attitude, you'll find some nice recipes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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