We recently attended Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet recording where one of the foods discussed was rice pudding. In the UK rice pudding is oven baked and links to memories of childhood pasts. In Greece, it’s made in the hob and yes, links to memories of childhood pasts.

Rice pudding basically is made of three things: Rice. Sugar. Milk. But such ingredients scream for something else. Something subtle which will give the whole dish an exciting undertone, without it losing its comfort. Nor the link to a happier past.

What do we mean? When you make rice pudding try adding some subtle flavourings. This dish is the vessel for whatever you can think of. So in the recipe below, try adding a vanilla pod. Some lemon peel (find unwaxed lemons please). Maybe orange zest. A cinnamon stick.

This time, we used some lemon peel and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. Delicious.

The recipe below is by Greek pastry chef Stelios Parliaros.
Feeds 4

100g rice (you need rice with high amylopectin (starch) content such as Arborio or other risotto rice)
100g white sugar
1.2L whole milk
peel of one lemon (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil stirring gently. Be very, very careful here. Don’t let your milk boil-turn down the heat in its lowest setting as soon as your milk is near boiling. Why? Well, it sounds obvious but the writer of this blog post, who made rice pudding four different times, at four different kitchens this last month managed to let the milk boil, overflowing the pot, making a mess in two kitchen stovetops. That’s 50% success. You don’t want that. Lower the heat and let your rice pudding simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is soft and the milk has thickened.

Serve hot, cold or at room temperature- with cinnamon or whatever else you prefer.


People often wonder what Greek food is all about. For us here at Oliveology, and for most Greeks maybe, it’s about two things. Greek food is about simplicity. Dishes usually use few ingredients. This is why one should be very careful when selecting these ingredients. When there are only onions, fava and olive oil in a dish, these better be some damn good fava (split yellow peas; not to be confused with fava beans).

The other thing is about simplicity in the cooking method. With a few exceptions recipes don’t usually require spending hours in complex preparations or involve elaborate steps in the cooking process. However, cooking takes a long time. Why is that? Well, we Greeks associate cooking for a long time with care. The food needs to spend a good time in the oven or hob. It needs to become soft and mellow. You need to keep an eye on it, show your care.

This recipe we have for you this week combines both these elements. It only has three main ingredients. Fava, olive oil, onions. You may add some thyme, and of course salt and pepper. Having this solid base, then you can really let yourself be creative with what you pair it with. Caramelise some onions. Chop some raw red onions for an extra kick. Add salty juicy capers. Try different oils. Definitely lemon juice. How about truffle oil even? There are many things you can do with fava. We like onions, capers and lemon. But it’s really up to you.

400g fava (yellow split peas)
200ml olive oil 
2 medium onions, finely grated
salt
fresh thyme (optional)
lemon (to taste)
capers (to taste)
red onions (to taste)

Rinse the fava under running cold water, until water runs clear. Place the fava in a large saucepan and add cold water. The volume of water you add must be approximately the same as the volume of fava. Bring to the boil, removing any white foam as the fava heats up. Once your fava starts boiling, lower the heat to the lowest possible setting. Add the onions and olive oil, thyme if you are using. Salt to taste but bear in mind, the flavours will concentrate. You can add more salt later.  Let the fava cook at very low heat, until it looks like mashed potatoes, stirring occasionally. Yes, fava magically breaks down into mush. If needed add a bit more water as you go along.

Serve with olive oil and lemon juice, capers and raw onions.


Unsalted Kalamata olives are a very interesting ingredient. They are very different than any other Kalamata olives you’re used to eating. The lack of salt makes all other flavours become more intense. What do we mean by that? Imagine an olive with a more fruity olive-y taste. An olive with the acidity of vinegar biting you gently. And that olive paired with mellow Spartan extra virgin olive oil and wild herbs from the Mt. Taygetus. Add to that the fact that they have been hand picked, hand selected, cured in fresh water and they have not been pasteurised. You see where we are going with this?

Unsalted Kalamata olives are a very unique ingredient.

And sure you can enjoy them plain or in salads. But because of their unique flavour they change anything plain to super interesting. They add colour to a white canvas and they do not overpower the dish with added saltiness.

What is the whitest of canvasses for a cook? White bread of course.

So here it is, for this week, a recipe for bread that comes to life with the unsalted olives. Oh and we’ve added some sun dried tomatoes and oregano, too. But we’ll tell you more about the beauty of our sun dried tomatoes and oregano another time.

Makes 1 loaf

500g strong bread flour
1 sachet (7g) of yeast
1 tbs of salt
1-2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
375ml of lukewarm water
1 tbs oregano
50g unsalted olives, finely chopped
50g sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

Mix the yeast with water and stir gently until it dissolves. Add the olive oil. Mix the salt with the flour on a clean surface. Make a hole in the middle and slowly incorporate the water-yeast, stirring with a fork or with your fingers until all ingredients are combined together. Dust a bowl with flour and place your dough inside. Let it rise for a few hours, until double in size.

Dust a surface with flour and kneed the dough, adding the olives, sun dried tomatoes and oregano, until all ingredients seem to have combined evenly. Don’t kneed too much though. Shape a loaf (shape it as you wish) and let it rise until again doubles in size.

Bake at very hot oven (250oC), by placing your loaf on a pre-heated baking tray. It takes about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven once your bread is golden brown and responds with a hollow noise when you tap its bottom. Wait until it cools down to cut. Or don’t. Hot bread makes right all that’s wrong in the world.


Or else, what’s the easiest way to cook chickpeas. Well, it’s this one here. I know many of you don’t really go for dried chickpeas. Maybe the tinned ones seem easier. But they are not, really. The only thing you need to do with chickpeas is plan ahead. Which means decide the night before that you will have chickpeas the day after. And soak them in cold water.

To make the revythada all you need to do is gather the ingredients and place them in an oven dish. Then slowly cook them in the oven. On Greek islands revythada is traditionally cooked in wood fire ovens. Unfortunately we don’t have one, so we will go for the next best thing here. Our conventional oven. The result is still a very comforting stew that requires almost no active cooking time. Can you think anything better than that?

Feeds two people

200g chickpeas
1 large red onion
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 spring of rosemary
salt to taste

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Drain and rinse. Place them in an oven dish and cover them with water. Roughly chop the onion and add it to the chickpeas, along with the rosemary and olive oil. Season with salt. Stir. Cover the lid and bake at 170C for approximately 2-3 hours, until chickpeas are tender. Check every hour or so, adding a bit more water if needed. Once ready, serve on a plate and generously squeeze lemon juice. Enjoy hot or at room temperature. Even cold they are really nice!


Pesto is one of the things we love. And we also love playing around with it. Use different herbs. Different nuts. Different types of cheese. Always keep the extra virgin olive oil though.

This week we got inspired by our pistachios. With beautiful pink exteriors and vibrant green kernels, these little gems from the island of Aegina are sweet and intense in flavour. Nothing to do with your supermarket stuff.

This recipe is so versatile. You can make a large batch and then use it in so many different recipes. Mix with warm pasta shells, put a dollop over baked potatoes, mix it into your favourite soup, mix with some Greek yogurt for an easy dip. The combinations are endless. These are the recipes we love. Few, good ingredients. Easy to make. Easy to use.

Makes one cup of pesto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 
½ cup unsalted pistachios kernels
½ cup basil
½ cup parsley
1 tbs grated St Isidoros cheese* (or parmesan)
lemon juice to taste
pinch of salt

Pick the leaves from the herbs and save the stalks for stock. You can dry fry the pistachios in a frying pan if you like, but raw are better if you ask me. In a blender or with a pestle and mortar place the herbs and pistachios. Blend, adding slowly the extra virgin olive oil until your pistachios are crushed and combined with the herbs. Add the cheese and stir. Season with salt and squeeze generously the lemon juice to balance the nuttiness of pistachios. If you don’t use it right away, store in a jar in the fridge, pouring some olive oil on top.

*St. Isidoros is a goat’s milk hard cheese from Naxos Island. Come and try it at our shop at Borough Market.


Few trivia you might not be familiar with:

Not quite animals, not quite plants, not quite bacteria either; fungi received their own classification since 1969. Not all fungi are mushrooms but all mushrooms are fungi. Mushrooms are the fruit or the flower of the fungi.

Humankind has a long history of the use of mushrooms; in Ancient Egypt, they were considered food for royalty and that no commoner could ever consume them. One of the healthiest foods you can eat; they have anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents, very rich in protein and essential nutrients as well. Not only are they, one of the most commonly bought foods in the UK but there more types of cultivated mushrooms available here now than there has ever been, too.

Few tips for getting the most out of this flavourful ingredient:

• Chefs recommend cleaning the mushrooms by peeling them. This makes the food lighter in colour and improves the flavour as well, as mushrooms are crunchier when cooked after peeling. Alternatively, clean them with a damp cloth. If you want to wash them anyway, avoid soaking them in water but ran them under a quick shower, instead.

• Remove the stems for a yummier result. You can always use those stems for broths with wine, herbs and vegetables in order to enrich risottos, soups or stews.

• Cook them in medium high –high temperature. Also, don’t overcrowd them for their liquid to evaporate. Otherwise, they will only simmer in their liquid. While cooking, make sure they have enough fat and add more, if needed. Not only do mushrooms absorb fat fast but, you’ll avoid burning them, too. We recommend using evoo, not only for the precious polyphenols but for the wonderful flavour, as well.

Creamy vinaigrette* marinated mushroom recipe

1. Prepare 3-4 cups of mushrooms and slice them into medium-sized pieces. We used pleurotous from Northern Greece but portobello or button mushrooms would work, too.

1. Marinate your mushrooms for at least an hour with evoo, salt and pepper, oregano, thyme, marjoram (if desired).

3. Sauté or Grilling time: you can use a skillet or a grilling pan for a better result. Sauté until mushrooms are slightly brown and all water has evaporated.

4. Prepare your vinaigrette by whisking 1⁄2 tbs mustard and 15ml water and preparing a loose mixture, initially. Next, put 10-15 ml vinegar at a slow pace and whisk in 30 ml evoo until the mixture is emulsified. Finally, sprinkle salt, pepper; add oregano, parsley and chives to taste. Dress your mushrooms and enjoy!

* A vinaigrette is a mixture of vinegar/ lemon, oil, mustard and herbs for flavour. Usually three parts oil to one part vinegar and a tbs of mustard. Feel free to experiment with the recipe and let us know how you get on!


Valentine’s day is almost here! A celebration of love as they say. This week calls for chocolate of course. And what a better way to show your love than a home-made gift? Made of chocolate of course.

But one doesn’t have to be in love to indulge. This is perfect to give to any loved ones, friends, family, whoever really. Even yourself.

What are we making this week? A chocolate slab of course!

In our very own valentine’s slab, we are using pistachio nuts to add some crunch. And raisins for a chewy texture. Plus, both of these go great with white chocolate which we secretly love.  This white chocolate has vanilla as well!

Chocolate slabs are also a brilliant way to use whatever leftover chocolates that you have sitting around. Same goes for nuts and dried fruit. Or marshmallows. Anything really. This recipe idea is so versatile, you can use whatever you’ve got available.

Three-ingredient chocolate slab

1 bar of good quality white chocolate

a small handful of pistachios and raisins

Melt the chocolate of your choosing in the microwave or using a bain-marie. Be very, very careful to melt but not burn the chocolate. Don’t forget to stir very often as you go along.

Once melted, gently spread the chocolate on a greaseproof paper. Lick the spatula. Place the pistachio nuts and raisins on top of the chocolate. Here you can either sprinkle them or carefully place them one by one. Let the slab cool down so that the chocolate hardens. Once hard, break into pieces and indulge. Or give as gift, we forgot about that!

   


Winter is the time of the year when we need to be most careful. Eat well, everyone says. It’s cold outside. In the dark and gloomy days of February, protect yourselves from the cold with what we think is a pretty healthy combination of foods. What is healthy of course changes every few years, but let’s not get side-tracked.

Our inspiration for this week is the newly arrived favaki. What is that you say? Well, thank you for asking. Favaki is a genius (yet so simple) idea of our producer’s (Mr. Nestoras) wife , to combine lentils and yellow split peas (fava we call it in Greece). The result is a bit of yellow sunshine breaking the wintery brown of lentils.

What do we do with favaki? Once again, following the seasons, we grabbed some citrus fruit, our favourite pink grapefruit. Packed with vitamin C (as a nutritionist might say), pink grapefruit also has, what else, pink colour!

If you haven’t yet understood, yes we are going for colours this week, to brighten up February. And for another healthy kick, we also got some mackerel. Somehow eating fish makes us feel healthier, no?

The recipe is as always simple and easy to prepare.

For 2 people
150g favaki
2 Mackerel fillets
1 pink grapefruit or other citrus fruit of your choosing
a handful of rocket or other green leaves
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Boil the favaki until tender but not soft. You can boil it in vegetable or chicken stock if you want to flavour it more. Although really, it is amazing as is.
While your favaki is boiling, peel the grapefruit, getting rid of all the white. Slice horizontally or cut into triangles. Flake the mackerel or keep the fillets as they are, and debate with your partner whether to keep the skin on or not. Drain your favaki and place it on a beautiful platter. Place the mackerel and pink grapefruit. Scatter some rocket or other green leaves (finely sliced onions or black Kalamata olives would also work here).
Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


Some flavour pairings are very familiar to us. Take chocolate and nuts for example. It’s everywhere you look, from the artisan hand crafted truffles to the cheap candy-store bar. You probably have thought of pairing honey and nuts. Being used to these flavours it so happens that often we crave for something different. Something completely new. Something that we haven’t tasted before.

Indeed, the thought of pairing tahini, chocolate and honey may never have entered your head. Until now. Until you taste them together. Then you will be in love.Put together the exciting bitterness of dark chocolate, the comforting nuttiness of the tahini and nuts, and the sweetness of honey and you have something truly unique. Oh and gluten free!

As always, we’re here to inspire you. So go ahead, gather your ingredients and as you are melting the dark chocolate think of how exciting experimenting can be. And you know what they say, once you’ve tried something so exciting, you are already on the other side.
For a small tray you will need:

140g tahini
60g honey
100g dark chocolate (we used 85%)
40g pistachios, walnuts or other nuts
200g oats

In a saucepan on very low heat or using a bain-marie melt the chocolate, tahini and honey. Be very careful not to burn the ingredients. Remove from the heat and add the nuts. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add the oats and stir until all oats are covered in chocolate and mixture is compact. Place in a baking tray and press the mixture firmly together. Let it cool. Once cooled down, cut in the shape of your choosing (rectangular, squares). Savour with your eyes closed.


New grains and pulses are here! Straight from northern Greece, chickpeas, lentils, fava, bulgur and many more. There is nothing more comforting than a warm soup of nutritious grains or pulses to fight winter blues. Hm. Maybe except a pie.

Greeks are famous for their pies. Any Greek cook will know how to make a pie. Or they will know someone who makes them. They used to be the food of the poor.  Even today, you would make the filling with whatever’s in your fridge.

Today we are making a pie with bulgur and (what else) feta cheese.  This recipe is by a Greek chef Nikos Katsanis, adapted for you.

For one large baking tray

2 sheets of puff pastry
230g bulgur
30g semolina flour
650ml of whole milk plus more if needed
2 eggs plus one more for glazing
170g crumbled feta cheese
A few springs of mint (or other herb of your linking)
Olive oil for the pan
Salt, pepper to taste

In a pot warm up the milk and just before it reaches its boiling point, add the bulgur and cook until bulgur is tender, approximately 15 minutes, stirring regularly, adding some more splashes of milk if needed. Add the semolina flour and stir for another 10-15 minutes until you get a thick cream-like mixture. Turn off the heat and let it cool, stirring every so often so that no crust is formed.

Once the mixture is cooled down, add the feta cheese, eggs and mint (you need the mixture  to be cool so that you don’t cook the eggs with the heat). Season with salt and pepper.

Oil your baking tray and lay the one sheet of puff pastry. Place the bulgur-feta mixture and spread it evenly, using your fingers or the back of a spoon. Place the other sheet of puff pastry on top and pinch together the edges. If there is leftover puff pastry and you are feeling creative cut shapes of your linking and “glue” them on top using some water. Brush the pie with the beaten egg-this will give is a lovely shiny colour.

Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked at the top and bottom.

Serve with some Greek wine!