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      RECIPE TITLE "Feta Saganaki with a Sesame-Seed Crust"
    Excerpted from Meze . Copyright © by Diane Kochilas.
    Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

    yields Makes About 16 Pieces time --- difficulty easy

    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

    Meze Meze
    Creamy dips. Golden, crisp phyllo pastries. Refreshing salads. Juicy meatballs. Vegetable fritters. Diane Kochilas introduces the dazzling array of Greek meze and explores its rituals and traditions. A meze spread is not meant to be a meal, but a nosh, a communal, convivial landscape of small and varied dishes perfect for grazing, she explains. Some items might be storebought; others--like bread salad with watermelon and feta, pan-fried shrimp--are quickly put together at home. From yogurt and eggplant dips to seafood delights to meatballs and kebabs, Meze features 80 simple dishes that can be enjoyed as appetizers or used to create a meal. Filled with dozens of color photographs, Meze adds Mediterranean flavor to any gathering.


    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.

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