Greek cuisine may be grounded in generosity, but sometimes snacks are where it’s really at. Get your hands on these pint-sized pastries, crisp croquettes and syrupy ladies’ fingers.
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8 May 2017 - 6:32 PM  UPDATED 1 Oct 2018 - 2:24 PM

1. Stuff 'em

Home cook Maria took out the trophy on tonight’s The Chefs’ Line challenge, beating Alpha apprentice chef Matthew with her tiny, but ultra-tasty dolmades and tzatziki. Containing a mix of pork and beef mince with pine nuts, parsley, mint and, of course, tomato and rice, Maria’s well-seasoned vine leaves hit all the right notes. As judge Mark Olive remarked: “They’re just like you Melissa: tiny but pack a big punch”

2. So fly for a hand pie

If you’re of the Greek Orthodox faith, chances are you would have munched on flaounes (cheese pies) to mark the end of the Lenten feast. These triangular pastries are traditionally made with a special flaouna cheese found in Cyprus, but you can substitute haloumi and a firm sheep’s milk cheese, such as manchego or pecorino, for the filling. Laden with currants, mint and lemon zest, these more-ish bites can be rather addictive.

3. Footballs of flavour

Mpiftekia can be shaped into patties, burger-style, but we prefer small, bite-sized ovals. Whether they’re grilled, baked or fried, these meaty treats pair wonderfully with a simple tomato salad and pita bread.

4. Dainty dessert 

Known as daktyla or ladies’ fingers, these sweet fried treats are a loved by all generations of Greeks. The pastry pillows are filled with cinnamon-sprinkled walnuts, fried, then soaked with citrusy sugar syrup.

5. Smoke on that

You might be familiar with baking spanakopita or a sweet filo pie, but have you ever tried barbecuing this light, flaky pastry? Ross Dobson comes to our rescue with this kitchen-changing tip and his recipe for haloumi, mint and preserved lemon cigars.

6. Holiday vibes

Sardines are an underrated fish says Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans, so why not go Greek with this Santorini special? Here, the pan-fried sardines are served with a sauce of tomatoes, capers, garlic and white wine.

 

7. Soft on the inside, crisp on the outside 

Greek-Australian chef David Tsirekas ups the ante for skordalia – a classic Greek dip – by covering it in polenta, breadcrumbs and semolina, then frying it to perfection. With a lush garlicky potato filling, these crispy croquettes are a must for your next meze plate. Add a serving of ouzo-spiked mayonnaise for extra punch.

 

8. The all-mighty fritter

Known as marathon in Greek, fennel was thought to have increased longevity, strength and courage amongst ancient civilisations. We can’t say these crispy fritters will make boost your braveness levels, but we can speak to their deliciousness.

9. Biscuit replacement

An enticing blend of honey, nuts dates, seeds and spices goes into the Greek pastry known as patouda. Popular on the Greek island of Greek, especially around Easter time, these icing sugar-dusted treats are excellent with strong, black coffee.

Patouda, filled with honey, nuts, dates, seeds and spices.

10. Edible bouquet

As pretty as they are tasty, these rice-stuffed zucchini flowers make a wonderful Greek banquet addition. Spiked with dill, mint and a sprinkle of cumin the wholesome tomato mixture is good enough to eat on its own.

11. New school thinking

Almonds, walnuts and pistachio nuts rise to the fore in these cute-as-a-button baklava cookies. Spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with sugar syrup, they’re an easy alternative to the traditional baklava.

 

12. Sticks and swordfish

The ancient Greeks, writes Maria Benardis in her book My Greek Family Table, would impale, eat and cook animals on a sword (souvla) as a sacrificial offering to the gods. We don’t recommend going to such lengths, but we can get behind swordfish souvlaki. Marinated with garlic, lemon, olive oil and Greek oregano, these seafood sticks are little swords of swordfish goodness.

 

Have we got your attention and your tastebuds? The Chefs' Line airs 6pm weeknights on SBS. Check out the program page for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more.

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