Tyrini: One of the cheesiest Greek traditions! (Baked and Fried Feta recipes)
I know what you're thinking, does a culture that serves feta with almost every meal really need a whole week dedicated to eating even more cheese? You'd feta believe it!
This week Greeks around the world will be eating even more feta, graviera, kaseri and mizithra than usual! Last Sunday marked the end of the 'Kreatini' week which was the last week where fasting Greeks eat meat before lent. This week they go veggie and celebrate eating cheese and dairy products before weaning off most animal products for the 'Sarakosti.'
Lent is a great time for vegans to visit Greece as most restaurants offer a special 'nistisimo' fasting menu, although beware because seafood that doesn't have a spine is still fair game for some reason. Next week I'll be sharing some of my favourite vegan Greek recipes, but this week it is all about the cheese.
I'm sure lots of you will have seen the baked feta video that went viral on Tiktok (confession, I have not. Tiktok will never be more than a Ke$ha song for me, soz Gen Z) Anyway, baked feta is one of the greatest payoffs in terms of easiness vs impressive end result. All you need is a slab of feta, some foil to wrap it up in, some olive oil and whatever you decide to use to spice up your feta.
You can decide to go sweet or spicy. Honey works really well with the tanginess of feta (seriously, is there anything that doesn't?) so you can bake your feta with some oregano and thyme and then drizzle with honey before serving. I have this on my menu with roasted walnuts to give it that extra crunch. Just make sure that the foil is properly wrapped all around the feta and take care while opening it! (If you want to take this recipe to the next level, wrap your feta in filo pasty instead of foil to bake it, and then add your honey and herbs to finish.)
The more classic Greek recipe is a spicy version of this, you lay your feta out on the foil with some olive oil and then lace it with chilli, paprika, fresh tomatoes, red onions and anything else you would like to include. Don't forget some nice crusty bread for dipping.
Saganaki is one of my favourite meze dishes to order in Greece. The word saganaki actually refers to the skillet type pan that it is cooked in (don't worry, a frying pan is fine) and so if you've already had a few Mythos and happen to skim read the menu you can actually find yourself with a plate of mussels instead (midia saganaki)...Don't worry, it happens to the best of us.
Cheese saganaki is usually made with a harder cheese like graviera or kefalotyri, which can be hard to find in north Wales, but don't worry, feta won't let you down, it just melts a bit more- tell me how that's a bad thing? Fried halloumi isn't actually very common in Greece as it's more of a Cypriot thing.
To make feta saganaki just beat an egg and brush it all over the bock of cheese, dust with some flour (for the crispiness) and pan fry for a few minutes. Serve with a slice of lemon and never look back!
And now I leave you with this ode to feta by Greek-American comedian SoTiri (tiri means cheese...)
How many Greek foods can you pick up from the song? As always, please let me know how you get on if you try my recipes, and don't forget to subscribe and make it a regular thing!