This week we are cooking asparagus again! You see, the beauty of waiting all year long for a vegetable or fruit is that you can then enjoy it to the fullest. This week we have decided to make something simple. As we are busy preparing for our upcoming cooking workshop in mid-May, and many new exciting things for this autumn, we often find ourselves very tired at the end of the day.

On days when the idea of cooking something elaborate for dinner seems absurd and you come home late from work (or worse, you have more work to do like we often do), this simple recipe will make you happier. Making it only takes a few minutes, enough to relax you from the day’s stress.

For this one we’ve used St Isidoros cheese, a smooth and intense goat’s milk cheese, made on the island of Naxos and matured for 400 days. Come by Borough Market to taste it!

So here we go, ingredients and recipe for two people:

4 eggs
½ bunch asparagus
a couple of pinches of dried thyme
1 small leek
3 tbsp olive oil
100g St Isidoros cheese, grated
salt, pepper

Turn on your oven to grill.
Finely slice the leek. Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut each in half.
Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for two minutes.
In an oven proof skillet gently fry the leeks with the olive oil until softened.
Set aside and sprinkle half of the cheese.
Mix the eggs, salt, pepper and the rest of the cheese in a bowl, whisking with a fork.
Pour the egg mixture on top of the leeks and scatter the asparagus.
Place it under the grill for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

We hope that by now you have relaxed. Set the table and serve with a simple green salad.


St George’s day here in the UK marks the beginning of asparagus season. As you know, all of us at Oliveology love cooking with ingredients that are in season. And the writer of this blog post loves asparagus!

Our lovely guest chef Despoina was part of Borough Market’s celebration for St George’s day, making delicious recipes with some of our ingredients! If you want more, you can find her at the Borough Market Cookhouse along with our very own Marianna in our two upcoming cooking workshops in May and June.

So with spring in its full swing and the sun shining, this week we have also prepared for you a recipe with, what else, asparagus. With green all around us in London parks we couldn’t but combine asparagus with fresh green vegetables. So get your basket, come by the market and get all your ingredients for a green grain bowl! Oh, and this one has a zingy green yogurt dressing to go with it. This dish is perfect to take with you for a lunch in the park, or enjoy for dinner in a warm evening.

For 2 people you will need:

100g cooked bulgur wheat
1 small bunch of asparagus
1 medium cucumber
1 avocado
a handful of seasonal greens (we used fresh spinach)
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 bunch of chives
100g Greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grape molasses
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
salt

 

Dressing: finely chop your herbs. In a small bowl mix the yogurt, herbs, lemon zest. Season with salt and add lemon juice to taste.

Asparagus: Cut the asparagus. We finely chopped the stalks and kept the tops. But you can do whatever you prefer. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. Place in a bowl with ice cold water to stop them from cooking further.

Veg: Cut the cucumber in bite-sized pieces. Slice the avocado.

In a large bowl, mix your bulgur wheat with asparagus, cucumber, and half of the dressing. Place in bowls, top with the sliced avocado and seasonal greens. Serve with fresh herbs, more dressing and lemon wedges.


OLIVE JAPAN International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition is one of the premier olive oil competitions in the world, bringing together the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in awarding medals to the best oils from around the globe. It takes place in the region of Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

The process of selecting and awarding olive oil has very strict quality criteria based on the International Olive Oil Council’s regulations and standards. The tasting selection was done by blind tasting from expert panel tasters of international prestige and stature. There was a large participation of olive oil from many oil producing countries worldwide such as Australia, China, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, U.S.

We are very proud to announce that our 18C evoo acquired a very high score (9,00 -9,50 / 10 points) and was awarded the GOLD MEDALIt is a great honor and recognition for our producer Sakellaropoulos Organic Estates.


This week we’ve got something special for you! A sneak peak into our March Cooking workshop! For this one, Marianna teamed up with lovely Despoina Siahuli, for a 3-hour Greek feast! Despoina shared her skills and Oliveology Cooks learned to make delicious Greek dishes. Marianna talked about our favourite Oliveology ingredients and their stories. Everyone gathered together and shared food and wine in the end.

In case you missed it, there will be more!
But to give you an idea, this week we have prepared for you one of Despoina’s recipes from the March workshop! Despoina put together a beautiful combination of flavours: dakos rusks, grape molasses, feta cheese, hazelnuts. All of these coming together with seasonal greens!

We’ve adapted her recipe, steamed our greens and used more dakos and feta, but the core flavour palet is the same. And it’s delicious!

So make the recipe and sign up for the next two cooking classes with Despoina and Marianna! We look forward to having you there cook with us.

Serves 4 as a side or two as main

Salad
300g of spring greens
50g roasted hazelnuts
100g dakos croutons
100g feta cheese

Dressing
¼ clove of garlic, minced into a paste with salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp grape molasses
4 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

In a large pot with salted, boiling water blanch your greens for 3-4 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl with iced cold water. Let them cool.

To make your dressing, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, grape molasses. Slowly add the olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper (but remember, feta will add a layer of saltiness too).

Crush your hazelnuts and crumble the feta cheese.

In a large bowl toss together greens, hazelnuts, dakos croutons, feta cheese and dressing.

I liked this salad more the next day, the flavours all blend together and dakos is soft. Try it both ways and let us know which you prefer!

 

 


How was your Easter? We are all now well rested from the long weekend last week and getting ready for our own Greek Easter. Easter in Greece is one of the most important holidays. Starting from Clean Monday, the days of lent prior to Easter prepare us all for this week. Going to church, making sweet tsoureki and painting eggs are only a few of the traditions we uphold during those days.

On Easter Sunday, families gather together for the Easter lunch. Lamb is served, alongside a simple salad with lettuce, spring onions and plenty of dill. Then, each family has its own additions. Some will prepare pies, others will have various types of meat. At Oliveology we always go for tzatziki. This refreshing dip balances perfectly the intensity of lamb. And we make ours with plenty of garlic of course.

So, in the classic recipe the main ingredients are yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill. But we are going to take this one step further this Easter. Marianna’s very own family recipe swaps the cucumber for raw beetroot, giving this pink tzatziki sweetness and crunch.

For a large bowl you will need

500g yogurt
3 cloves of garlic, minced to a paste (if you love garlic then feel free to add more)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil plus more to serve
1 large beetroot
3 tbsp. fresh dill, plus more to serve
salt  (to taste)

Grate the beetroot. Place in a bowl, squeezing away any excess liquid (you can use the liquid for smoothies, soups or cocktails). You can skip this step if you prefer a less thick tzatziki. Add the yogurt and dill and stir well. In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Combine the two. Mix until all flavours have blended together. Taste and season with salt. Serve with plenty of dill and olive oil.

 


If you haven’t tried Greek tsoureki before, then you are certainly missing out! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful brown semi-soft crust and an amazing stringy texture. Its distinct, rich flavour and intense aromas come from the two aromatic spices used: mastic and mahlab, which give a really characteristic flavour and smell. Freshly ground mastic (masticha), is an aromatic spice from Chios island, and aromatic mahlab or mahleb (mahlepi), is a spice made from ground seeds of cherry.

Ingredients

40g fresh yeast
60ml water
75g special flour for tsoureki (a flour mix, high in protein)
45g butter 82% fat
135g sugar
100g eggs
85ml milk
10g mahlepi (a spice made from cherry stones)
20ml orange juice
Zest from an orange
3g grounded mastic (resin obtained the mastic trees in Chios island, PDO product)
1g salt
A portion of vanilla (powder)
425g special flour for tsoureki
40g melted butter 82% fat, in medium temperature
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
40g thinly sliced almonds
Red eggs (if desired)

Method

Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and let it stand for 10 mins. Afterwards, add 75g of flour, stir to combine and leave it to rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins.

In a pot combine 45g butter, sugar, eggs, milk, mahlepi, juice and orange zest, mastic, salt and vanilla and warm up the mixture until it’s lukewarm. Stir to combine with a whisk. Add the mix to the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and start adding flour gradually, stirring between additions. Combine the initial mix (with the yeast) as well and mix until the dough is elastic. Finally, add melted butter and keep mixing until the dough doesn’t stick to the mixer bowl anymore. Transfer the dough into a buttered bowl, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins, until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and cut the dough in 350g balls. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Divide the dough into three and roll into three stands. Plait the strips together, place on the baking tray and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately an hour, until doubled in size. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash, sprinkle some almonds and push the red eggs (if desired) into the bread. Finally, bake tsoureki at 170° for 40 mins. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Καλό Πάσχα – Happy Easter!


One of the first things I tried at Oliveology was the kalamata olives with ouzo. Until then I had never tried anything like it. They were intense, meaty, with the aniseed flavour present, but not overpowering. They were amazing!

Since then I have been thinking what to do with such an interesting product. Greek chef Ismyrnoglou gave me the inspiration with one of her recipes.

This week, we are making chutney! But not what you have in mind. This is the easiest chutneys you’ve ever made. It tastes like Greekness on a plate. Even though you know, chutney ain’t really Greek. But that’s ok, right? What are we using? Two ingredients only: ouzo flavoured olives and dried figs.

You can serve it with cheese or spread it in a sandwich. You can also eat it as a snack. It really is delicious!

For one jar you will need:

150gr kalamata olives with ouzo
150gr dried figs

Cut the figs in small pieces and place them in a small pot, with just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer until they absorb all the water and are moist and juicy. Cut the olives in identical pieces. Or not. Really, you can chop everything as you like. The smaller the better though! Once the figs have absorbed all the water and are nice and sticky, place both ingredients in a bowl. Mix the olives and figs so that they stick together. Your Greek chutney is ready! Keep it in the fridge so that it lasts longer and enjoy at room temperature.