Fanouropita is a traditional Greek olive oil cake, made in honour of St Fanourios. The saint’s name, Fanourios, comes from the Greek word fanerono, which means to reveal; and this is where this cake’s name, fanouropita, comes from.

St Fanourios is celebrated on the 27th of August every year. On this day, many Greeks bake Fanouropites and take them to church to be blessed. The legend has it that these are in memory of the saint’s mother, who was a harsh woman, and whose salvation the Saint (and by extension the bakers) ask. So when one bakes the cake, one needs to say “God forgive the mother of St Fanourios”. Which is something I did not do, as I only found out about it during my research for this piece. So please, when you bake this cake, do it for me as well.

But fanouropita is also baked asking the saint to reveal items that are missing, or to bring people something that they want: Good health or “a good husband”, if one is single. So even though it is not August (yet!), this week we decided to make this cake and ask for health, and for finally being able to see, share food and hug our loved ones.

It is important to know that this cake is to be made with only seven or nine ingredients, symbolic numbers in Greek religion. Apart from the 7 key ingredients, we’ve added our delicious Corinth raisins and walnuts. The result is a rich and moist cake- and vegan! You can make it with sunflower oil, but we feel that the olive oil gives it a more robust flavour, so do give it a try!

Serves 8

150g super-fine white sugar
150g olive oil
350ml orange juice (from 3-4 oranges) and zest from 2 oranges
½ tsp baking soda
400g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps cinnamon
50g Corinth raisins
50g walnuts

Preheat your oven at 170C.

In a large bowl sieve the flour, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk the sugar and olive oil together until very well combined.

Mix the orange juice and zest and stir in the baking soda. Be careful as it will bubble. Slowly add to the olive oil-sugar mixture.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, until just combined (you do not want to overmix the flour). Add the raisins and walnuts and give it one final stir.

Your batter should look like a loose cake batter. Place it in an oiled baking tin and bake at 170C at the bottom rack for an hour, or until your knife comes up clean from the middle of the cake.

Remove from the oven and let your fanouropita cool in its tin. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 


Today is Kathara Deutera, literally translated as Clean Monday. It is the beginning of Lent in Greece. Traditionally on this day we fly kites and eat foods like taramosalata, melitzanosalata, lagana bread (a special type of bread with a lovely crust), seafood, pickled vegetables and lots of other delicacies like dolmades.

So this week, we’ve prepared for you a classic salad, made with black eye beans. We’ve added plenty of cupboard staples, like capers, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, but also fresh parsley and red onion. For that extra kick, we’ve used our balsamic chilli vinegar, a beautiful organic vinegar. It is made from grape must from the Nemea P.D.O wine process using the ubiquitous Agioritiko red grape variety, infamous in this region of the Peloponnese. This vinegar is then aged in French oak barrels for three years.

This salad is perfect served cold or at room temperature, and ideally the day after, so that all flavours blend together. As always, feel free to add more of anything you really love, and omit anything you don’t like.

Serves 6

300g black eye beans
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp capers, drained
1/2 jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in their oil
1 small red onion
3 tbsp balsamic chilli vinegar
½ tub olives
1 large bunch fresh parsley

Place your beans in a medium-sized pot. Fill it up with water, add the bay leaf and over high heat bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, until the beans are tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a large serving bowl add the capers and olives.

Finely chop the roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, onion and parsley and add to your bowl.

Add the beans and toss everything together. Drizzle the olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and the vinegar and toss well again.

Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve with more olive oil and vinegar.

 


When I was a child, my mother would prepare linden tea in the evening for me and my sister. It was not every evening, and I am not sure how, but she could somehow sense when we needed it. That very simple warm beverage, embodied for me her maternal care, and even as a grownup, whenever I want to feel comforted, I put on a pot of linden tea.

So this week, with Mother’s Day approaching this Sunday (Happy Mother’s Day to our favourite new mother, Marianna!), we’ve prepared something special. A warm milk with honey, infused with lavender and chamomile.

For this, we’ve used a very special honey. The rare “bitter” arbutus honey is made by bees feeding on the Arbutus Unedo tree flowers (Strawberry tree). It comes in very limited quantities, from a small family of beekeepers in the Peloponnese. It also pairs perfectly with the aromatic lavender and chamomile flowers.

We are serving it with lavender floral water, that is water which is produced by organic steam distillation of lavender. It can be used as a body mist or linen spray, but our personal favourite use is, of course, in the kitchen! You can find it in our Mother’s Day and Winter Pampering hampers!

So this Sunday, make this warm milk and raise a glass to all mothers and mother figures in your life, past, present and future.

Serves two

2 cups milk (cow’s, oat, almond, whatever you prefer!)
1 tbsp chamomile
½ tbsp lavender
1 tbsp Strawberry tree (Arbutus) honey or any other honey of your choosing (or more, to taste)
Lavender floral water (to serve)

In a small pot place the milk, chamomile flowers, lavender and honey. Warm it up over medium-low heat, stirring often. When the milk is hot, but before bubbles form, remove it from the heat.

Taste and add more honey if you want.

You should be able to taste the aromas of chamomile and lavender. You can let it steep a bit longer for a more intense taste.

Strain and serve in your favourite cups or mugs, spraying with the lavender floral water.

Oh, and this infused, aromatic milk is perfect for your overnight oats!

 


Today is tsiknopempth! It is the Thursday very close to the beginning of Lent for the Greek Orthodox Easter, where traditionally we consume meat. And if you’ve ever been to Greece you will know that one of the few things that go perfectly with meat are pies!

Traditionally, pies were peasant dishes, in which people would use literally whatever they had available. Greens from the garden (spanakopita!), cheese from their animals (like in this bulgur wheat pie), you get the idea. But of course, they are quite sophisticated dishes, as they can be elaborate in their making, this is why they are usually made in large trays. But fear not, this is a simple recipe, open to all! It will require some time, so consider this a Sunday affair. Or you know, make it any other day of the week, days seems to have blended into one now that we are in lockdown.

For this one we’ve used the last pumpkins of the season, a very appropriate goodbye to one of our favourite autumn/winter vegetables -yes we are now ready for wild garlic, bring it on, spring!

Serves 12

1.5 kg pumpkin (around 1.350gr flesh)
1 large onion
4 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper (to taste)
85g Carolina rice
250g feta cheese, grated or crumbled
1tsp dried spearmint
2 eggs
8 sheets filo pastry
150g olive oil

Using a sharp knife, cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces. Peel the outer layer. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Coarsely grate the flesh.

Peel and finely chop the onion.

In a medium-sized pot, place the olive oil and onion over medium heat. Cook until caramelised, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and stir well. Season with salt and pepper (but do not add too much salt, as you’ll be adding the salty feta cheese afterwards). Once the pumpkin starts cooking, lower the heat and slowly cook, stirring often for 15 minutes, until soft and tender. Add the rice, stir, and cook for another 20-25 minutes, stirring often.
-Yes, this is a recipe that requires care. But it’s also very relaxing as a process.

You will know that your filling is ready, once the pumpkin is soft and the rice is al dente but not fully cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven at 180C.

In the meantime, prepare your filo. Brush your baking tray with olive oil and place one sheet of the filo. Brush with olive oil again. Cross over a second sheet of filo, ensuring that the entire surface of your tray is covered. Brush with olive oil. Continue crossing over with olive oil and filo, using four sheets in total.

Return to the filling. In the cool pumpkin mixture, add the spearmint, feta cheese and eggs and mix everything together. Check for seasoning and adjust. Place the filling in your tray, careful not to break the filo.

Cover with one sheet of filo and brush it with olive oil. Repeat until the top is covered with four sheets of filo. Tuck in the edges. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil.

Score the pie and bake at 180C at the lower rack of your oven for about one hour.

Enjoy!