The 28th of October is the Greek national holiday, known as the Ohi Day. It commemorates the rejection of the Mussolini ultimatum by the Greek PM Metaxas, which resulted in Greece joining WWII. The day is widely celebrated all around Greece, and though there are no traditional dishes served on this day, it’s usually a time for the family to come together.

So this week, we’ve prepared something sweet for you, a beloved Greek traditional dessert called portokalopita. Portokalopita, literally meaning orange – pie, is a fascinating dessert. It’s made both with cake batter and filo pastry, and (!) an orange-sugar syrup drizzled on top (using the same technique as in the classic baklava). The result, as you can imagine is spectacular. It’s moist and aromatic, and extremely satisfying.

The cake batter is made with oil and while the classic recipe uses sunflower oil, we prefer using olive oil, as it adds depth and flavour.

Serves 12

For the cake
225g olive oil (plus more for the cake dish)
225g sugar
225g Greek yoghurt
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
3 oranges (zest)
400g filo pastry
3 tbsp semolina or flour (for the cake dish)

For the syrup
500ml water
500gr sugar
250ml orange juice
1 orange, sliced (optional)

fresh bee pollen (to serve)

Thaw your filo (if from frozen). Shred your filo into large pieces and scatter on a large baking dish. Let it dry for a couple of hours. You can do this step the night before.

As your filo is drying, prepare the syrup. In a medium-sized pot, add the water, sugar, orange juice and sliced orange and stir everything together. Place your pot over medium-high heat and warm up the suryp, until the sugar has dissolved, 2-3min. Boil for another couple of minutes, remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat your oven at 180C

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until white and fluffy. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the olive oil, baking powder, yoghurt, orange zest. Stir well until everything is combined.

Grease a large cake tin (30cm) with olive oil and dust some semolina flour all around. Lay the dried filo. Pour over your cake batter and using your hands gently toss everything together. You can do this in your bowl and then transfer to the cake tin if you prefer.

Bake at 180 for 30minutes or until your cake is cooked through. Remove from the oven and using a ladle, immediately pour over the cold syrup, one ladle at a time. It may look a lot, but worry not, your portokalopita will magically slowly absorb it all.

Decorate with the orange slices and bee pollen.
You can serve it immidiatley or ideally wait a few hours. It keeps well in the fridge.

 


It’s just past the middle of October and autumn is in full swing. The weather is unpredictable – often too unpredictable, and it’s time for warm, comforting soups. If you’ve been reading our newsletter you will know that we love soups!

And for many Greeks, the best soup is the soup with avgolemono! What is avgolemono?

The word literally means egg and lemon, and it is exactly that: an egg-lemon mixture that turns any soup into a wholesome, lemony bliss. Lemon is one of the key flavours of Greek cuisine, and avgolemono is perhaps one of the favourite ways to enjoy it.

Many use avgolemono in soups (it’s excellent with a chicken soup!), or in other classic Greek dishes such as lahanodolmades (stuffed cabbage leaves), and of course, in the Easter mageiristsa offal soup.

Avgolemono requires patience and passion, the foundation for any good creation. The technique entails passionately beating the eggs and lemon juice until frothy, and then patiently tempering the mixture by slowly pouring part of your hot soup into the cool egg mixture, so that its temperature slowly rises. That way, avgolemono and soup will be in similar temperatures and their coming together will be peaceful.

In my family, we add a bit of corn-flour to thicken the avgolemono, but you can omit that if you prefer.

Serves 2

2 eggs
2 lemons, juiced (approx.. 6-8 tbsp)
2 tbsp corn-flour (optional)
warm soup of your choice

In a bowl whisk the eggs until very frothy, around 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and corn-flour (if using) and whisk until combined.

Using a ladle, very slowly add some broth from your soup to the avgolemono, constantly whisking. You should pour a few drops at first, then a few teaspoons at a time, then more as you go along. Use your senses to check the avgolemono’s temperature: dip your finger in, or a spoon and taste it. It’s ready when it’s as hot as your soup.

When the avgolemono and broth have reached the desired temperature, add it to your soup pot and stir for a couple of minutes.

Serve immediately.


Today’s recipe is an ode to Florina peppers. Florina peppers are a specific variety of peppers, cultivated in northern Greece in the region of Florina. This is where they take their name from. As the Greek food writer Evi Voutsina writes, they ripen and turn red after the 15th of August. They are a big part of the local history and culture, and there’s even a yearly local celebration of Florina peppers at the end of August in Florina.

In 1994 they were awarded a Protected Destination of Origin status. They have a distinct flavour, with a rich sweetness and are widely used in Greek cooking. They are perhaps one of the most popular preserves, roasted over open flame and jarred. Vinegar is the key ingredient in preserving here.

In our recipe today, we’ve used our organic roasted peppers to make a delicious and easy recipe. This lays somewhere between a dip and a sauce. You can add it in pasta, in roasted vegetables, or enjoy as a dip on its own. Dakos adds body and complexity to this recipe, but you can use stale bread as well. Don’t omit the tomato paste, it really transforms this dip! Check out our recipe to make your own roasted red peppers!

4 large roasted red peppers (350g)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grape molasses
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tomato puree
50g dakos rusks or stale bread
½ tsp chilli flakes (plus more, to taste)
salt (to taste)

Serves 6

Break the dakos rusks into small chunks.
In a blender whiz together the peppers, olive oil, grape molasses, vinegar, tomato paste and dakos, until you have a smooth dip. Add the chilli flakes and season with salt. Blend for a few more seconds.

Taste and adjust for seasonings, adding a bit more grape molasses, balsamic, salt or chilli if needed.

 


Autumn is officially here and our first recipe for October couldn’t be anything but a comforting soup. If you’ve been following this blog, you must know by now how much we love soups. Remember our luscious celeriac soup? Or our soup with beans and many colourful vegetables? Be it with pulses or just vegetables, soups are our favourite way to get all the nutrients we need. Not to mention, the anticipation of a hot bowl of soup for dinner make us feel wonderful.

This week however we are not using pulses or vegetables for our soup. Instead, we are using trahana, a fascinating ingredient made with wheat and fermented milk. There are two varieties, sour and sweet, and you can opt for either. We selected the sour trahana, as we are serving this soup with dried spiced peppers also known in Greece as boukovo. Boukovo is a blend of various spiced peppers which is widely used in Greek cooking. Because of the variety of the peppers used, it that adds a unique warmth and depth to your dishes. Of course, you can use any other dried chili of your choice. We’ll be serving this soup at our Greek Rural Feast Dinner, this December! Book now, spaces are filling up fast.

Serves 6 as a starter

1 small onion
2 tbsp olive oil
A few pinches of boukovo or dried chilli (to taste)
160g sour trahana
1.5lt vegetable stock
Salt (to taste)
Chili oil (to serve)

Very finely chop your onion.

In a medium-sized pot add the olive oil and onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add the boukovo and cook for another minute. Add the trahana and stir well, until the grains are coated in the olive oil.

Add the vegetable stock, season with salt and stir. Bring your soup to a boil, then lower the heat to its lowest setting and cook, covered, for an hour, or until trahana is very, very tender, stirring every few minutes.

Serve immediately with chili oil. If you have leftovers, you can reheat your soup adding some water or vegetable stock, as tranaha tends to absorb all liquid as it cools down.