Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Tessa Kiros Mezedes Feast (Keftedes, Patates Tiganites, Tzatziki, Cucumber Meze, & Alatopiperigano}

Tessa Kiros is one of my favorite IHCC chefs and I love all her books, but Food From Many Greek Kitchens was on my kitchen counter and her Omeleta Horiatiki was so good I was hungry for more! I have so many pages in this cookbook bookmarked to make and I decided it was time to get to work and start crossing some off my list.

Now, I'm all about potatoes lately and I will confess that I planned this meal around Tessa's Patates Tiganites (French Fries) solely because she mentions scattering the wedges with a seasoning blend called Alatopiperigano (salt, pepper, and oregano) then topping with feta cheese before dunking them in some tzatziki. Um, yes. Why haven't I had fries with feta or tzatziki before? Where have I been hiding? Three recipes down. Next, I needed some meat, hence the Keftedes and then I needed a veg, and we love cucumbers, so bring on the Cucumber Meze.

I won't lie. I was in the kitchen for a good amount of time, but it was all easy and doable. First I made the Cucumber Meze and it was so refreshing and delicious I pretty much ate it all while I was putting the other recipes together so then I had to make another batch! Next was the Tzatziki. I wanted it to have some time to set in the fridge and allow the flavors to meld.

Then I fried up the Keftedes and I have to tell you, you need to make these! They are no ordinary meatball. Instead of breadcrumbs, they are bound with potato and they are therefore much lighter and become much crispier when fried. The texture is a huge delight and they are irresistible right out of the frying pan. Not to mention, those little suckers are loaded with flavor.

Next, I soaked the potato wedges in salt water to remove some of the startch and waited to fry them up. While they were soaking I mixed up the Alatopiperigano seasoning which is just a simple blend of salt, oregano, and black pepper that smells absolutely delicious. When the potato wedges were ready I fried those babies up and was so excited to drain them and sprinkle that Alatopiperigano on top because now it was time to feast!

It was all such a delight and for a moment I was transported to Greece. I closed my eyes and smelled savory meat, aromatic oregano and mint, and lemon. I imagined a world where people topped hearty potato wedges with feta cheese before dunking them in tzatziki and I wanted to be a part of it, and in my kitchen, I was a part of it. Even if only for a moment or two.

Keftedes (Fried Meatballs)
Adapted From Food Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Makes about 35

10 - 1/2 ounces unpeeled potato (about 2)
1 pound 2 ounces ground beef
1 red onion, grated (small)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried mint
a good pinch of ground cinnamon*
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
all-purpose flour for dusting
olive oil, for frying
lemon quarters, for serving
Note: I know cinnamon is traditional in Greek cooking, but I don't care for it with meat so I omitted it.
Boil the potatoes, covered, in plenty of water until they are soft when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, put the beef, onion, parsley, oregano, mint, cinnamon and egg into a bowl and mix. Drain the cooked potatoes and when they are cool enough to handle, peel and break up into the bowl. Season well with salt and pepper, then mash everything together with a potato masher. Knead again with your hands to make a compact mix. Form walnut-sized balls of about 1 ounce each, but you can make them smaller or bigger if you like. Scatter some flour onto a flat plate and roll the balls lightly in the flour, keeping them in compact balls.

Heat olive oil to a depth to a depth of about 1/4" in a large nonstick skillet. Add as many balls as will fit to the skillet and fry until they are golden on all sides, flicking them gently to roll over. You will probably have to fry them in two batches. Remove carefully with tongs and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Add a little salt and serve hot, with a few drops of lemon juice.

Patates Tiganites (French Fries)
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 2

10 1/2 ounces long potatoes, about 2
light olive oil, for frying
Alatopiperigano* (see recipe below)

Note: I fried my potatoes in canola oil, but olive oil is what they use in Greece.

Peel the potatoes, halve them lengthwise and slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges. Put into a bowl of cold water with some salt and leave them for 30 minutes to 1hour to soak off some of the starch. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap in a clean dish cloth to dry further while the oil is heating.

Pour a good 1/2" depth of oil into a large skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. When you think it's hot enough, throw in a wedge to see if it bubbles and fizzles. If so, add all the wedges, leveling them so they are not on top of each other. When they start to look soft, poke at them with a wooden spoon to roughen up their surfaces. Leave them alone again until they start looking crunchy, then shuffle them with a wooden spoon, turning them if necessary. Turn the heat down if the oil bubbles too quickly and becomes too hot; you don't want dark brown, soggy chips. When they are lightly golden and crisp, move them around in the pan with a slotted spoon and remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Scatter with alatopiperigano. Serve at once with tzatziki and a scattering of feta cheese on top!

 Tzatziki (Yogurt, Cucumber, Garlic)
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Makes a bowlful

1 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
5-3/4 ounces cucumber (1 small)
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces Greek yogurt
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped mint
black pepper, to taste

Note: I think the flavors of this tzatziki will depend on the yogurt you used. I used Fage 2% and the results were a thick sauce. If you wanted a thinner sauce you could always save a little of the cucumber liquid or add a touch of olive oil.

Using the flat of your knife, crush the garlic with a pinch of salt into a paste. Put into a small bowl with the oil and leave to marinate while you proceed with the rest.

Trim the cucumber and peel it. I like it striped, with one strip peeled and the net left unpeeled. Using the large holes of the grater, grate the cucumber into a sieve. Scatter with the salt and leave it for 30 minutes or so to drain, turning it over a couple of times and even pressing down with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Put the yogurt into a bowl for serving. Add the garlic and oil, the mint and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Fold the cucumber through and taste for salt. This can be stored in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days. The cucumber will give up a little water, but stir it through to loosen the tzatziki.

Cucumber Meze
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 2

7 ounces cucumber (about 1, peeled and sliced)
juice of 1/2lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
salt and pepper, to taste
about 1 tablespoon olive oil

Put the cucumber and lemon juice into a bowl and crumble in the mint. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over just before serving.

Alatopiperigano (Salt, Pepper, Oregano)
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Few grinds of black pepper

Mix together and keep in an airtight container. Use as a Greek seasoning and sprinkle on fries, meats, eggs, etc.


  1. This is quite a feast!! There's a place near me that serves fries like that - they call them Greek fries lol - and they are SO SO good! I crave them regularly.

  2. Wow, you outdid yourself. What an amazing collection of mouth-watering dishes? It makes sense to put potato in meatballs. I have to makes these, as instructed.


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