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Slices of saganaki with a bit of lemon
Kevin D. Weeks for NPR /

Saganaki may or may not be a melted cheese depending, on which cheese you use, how long it was aged and how it was made. Use kefalograviera, kasseri, haloumi or graviera. I find kasseri and haloumi the easiest to find, and I prefer the milder flavor and chewier texture of haloumi. You can find this at upscale grocers, and I've occasionally seen it in some mainstream supermarkets. I've served saganaki at a number of parties, and it's always a surprise hit to the folks who've never had it before, probably because it's hot, un-melted, salty cheese and a long way from the bland fried mozzarella sticks served at some restaurants. Flambeing saganaki is popular in restaurants, so you can add a couple of tablespoons of warm brandy to the pan (off the fire) if you like and ignite it just before serving.

Serves 4 as a small appetizer

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 ounces cheese at room temperature

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon, cut into quarters

Combine flour, pepper and nutmeg in a small pie plate. Cut cheese into 2-by-1-by-1/2-inch slices and dredge in flour, shaking off excess, then place on a sheet of waxed paper.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, dredge cheese in flour again, shaking off excess, and fry in batches until browned — 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side.

Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over cheese.

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