You know, often one cooks the same Christmas recipes, year after year. It’s beautiful to keep these food traditions. We do have many loved ones, like the melomakarona cookies that we make every year. But at the same time, every year we try something new.

This year we have a lovely brussels sprouts recipe for you! You know there are some people who just loath brussels sprouts. We are definitely not those people. We absolutely love this winter vegetable. What’s not to love anyway? And as we are getting our recipes and foods ready for Christmas, we couldn’t but create a festive brussels sprouts recipe for our table.

The recipe below uses walnuts, dried oregano and rosemary and our winter favourite: walnut oil. This special oil is made from semi ripe olives crushed with walnuts, purslane, and wild aromatic herbs giving a fresh taste that is full of flavour. The result is a very warm, nutty, comforting dish. If you want to add some zingy notes, serve with some lemon juice. But we prefer it as is.

Serves 2

350g Brussels sprouts, shredded
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried rosemary
35ml 21 walnut oil plus more for serving
50g walnuts, crushed
salt
lemon juice (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the Brussels sprouts, garlic, oregano, rosemary and walnut oil. Season with salt. Place sprouts on a baking sheet. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Bake at 200C for approximately 20 minutes, or until sprouts are tender and slightly charred.

To serve, drizzle with walnut oil and lemon (if using).

 

 


Christmas is just around the corner and here at Oliveology we are getting ready for the day. Very interesting cheeses have arrived from artisan cheesemakers from all over Greece. They are made mostly with sheep’s and goats’ milk. Soft white galomyzithra from Crete, Ash Cheese and St. Isidore from the island of Naxos, matured feta cheese from Attica, these are just some of the options. Of course you can use them in cooking, preparing delicious festive recipes. But there is no better way to enjoy such excellent cheeses than on a cheese platter.

And what better to accompany them than a home made chutney. This one is easy to make, as it doesn’t require much chopping or preparation. Gather your favourite spices and get cooking. We are using of course our succulent dried figs. Carefully hand-picked and selected for top quality, they are dried naturally under the Greek sun, with no additives or preservatives. The figs are harvested from the fertile Messinia region in the Peloponnese, which is famous for its high quality figs. Together with our aged balsamic vinegar and grape molasses, this chutney is both sweet and vibrant.

Just one bag of our figs makes a jar of chutney!

You will need:

1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1tbs ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bag (250g) coarsely chopped dried figs
160ml balsamic vinegar
70ml grape molasses
200ml water
Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a saucepan add the olive oil and in medium heat stir in the ginger and coriander, until fragrant. Add the dried figs, vinegar, grape molasses and water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let your chutney simmer. Add more water if needed until the figs are soft and the liquid is thick and glossy. Let cool and place in sterilised jars. Enjoy with your cheese platter or offer it as a delicious edible gift.


Melomakarona is one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the festive season.Their intense homely smell makes every house smell like Christmas! This is an easy, healthy and easy recipe based on olive oil and honey.

Makes: 20-25 cookies

½ cup olive oil (175ml)
½ cup brown sugar (100g)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (120ml)
1 tbs orange zest
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda

2 tbs brandy
4 cups flour (about 450g)
1 cup (120g) chopped walnuts
(½ for the mix ½ for topping)
2 tbs cinnamon (½ for the mix ½ for topping)
½ tsp powder clove (½ for the mix ½ for topping)

For the syrup:
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of water

This is a traditional Christmas cookie recipe. You will find it in every home in Greece at Christmas time.

Mix the flour, baking powder in to a bowl. Mix baking soda into the orange juice. Mix the oil, sugar, orange juice, brandy and orange zest and pour gradually into the flour mixture. Mix all the ingredients gently, without kneading to create a soft dough. Add cinnamon and clove in the mixture.

Make the dough into little cookie balls. Remember that these will rise so keep them small. Put the cookies into a tray covered with greaseproof paper. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile make the syrup. Put the honey, sugar and water into a large pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes skimming off the froth. Let it cool down a little bit. Take the cookies out of the oven and put them in a large plate. Pour the syrup immediately over them while they are still hot. When all the syrup is absorbed turn them over. Repeat the same procedure a few times until almost all of the syrup is absorbed.

For the topping mix cinnamon, clove and chopped walnuts and sprinkle over the top of the cookies. Let them cool down and store them away. They usually taste better a few days later and as they age. They can last up to 3 weeks.


I think as we are moving into winter, it’s time you got introduced to our favourite winter vegetable. For this year at least. What do we love this December? Beetroot!

With its deep purple-red colour, sweet taste and aroma, it is the perfect ingredient to brighten up our winter lives. You can of course enjoy it raw. Like last week’s cauliflower, or last year’s winter salad.

But this time around, we are making something using another of our favourite ingredients. Oregano essential oil is in store, all the way from a small farm in Nothern Greece. We met the producer a few weeks ago, during our November workshop and got even more excited about this aromatic ingredient.

So this week, we are bringing the two together, in a creamy beetroot dip, topped with oregano oil. Can you think of anything better for this time of the year?

For one large bowl you will need:

8 medium beetroot (approx. 500g cooked)
100g greek yogurt
3 tbsp sweet vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp grape molasses
salt

To serve:

2 drops oregano oil
4 tbsp olive oil
finely chopped spring onions and fresh thyme
sesame seeds or other nuts

Scrub the beetroot. Wrap each beetroot in tinfoil and bake at 180C until soft inside. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, using your fingers remove the skins. Let them cool. Place beetroot in a food processor (you can cut them in smaller pieces to make your life easier). Add the yogurt, vinegar, olive oil and grape molasses. Blend until smooth. Season with salt.

To serve, mix two drops of oregano oil with 4 tbsp of oil. Smell. Breath. And drizzle over the dip. Sprinkle over some spring onions, fresh thyme and sesame seeds.


It sounds quite philosophic, doesn’t it? It’s mostly because we love freshly baked bread and the moment it comes out of the oven, hot and crusty you can’t help but feeling pure bliss. And it is also that feeling -that you accomplished a simple but glorious task- that boosts your confidence.

How can you not love bread? Of course we Greeks have a special affair with it –you can’t really have a meal without it. That’s why we were thrilled when Michael Pollan devoted a whole episode in his brilliant series Cooked, about it. He argues that bread is the product of civilisation and the enabler of the civilisation, as well. But related to the title of the post, he explains that air is mostly what you’re eating when you eat bread.

Have you ever considered that air is one of the reasons we love bread? And as far as this very recipe is concerned, what a fine air that is, with grape molasses, mastiha, orange and cinnamon?

Petimezodakos
Ingredients
1 cup of grape molasses
3 pieces of mastiha
1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 kg all-purpose flour (sieved)
30 g of fresh yeast
Olive oil for glazing
1 egg for glazing

Method
Dilute yeast in lukewarm water. As soon as it’s done, add the mix to a small portion of flour in order to create very soft dough. Cover it and let it sit in a warm place in order to double its size.

Freshly ground mastiha using mortar and pestle. When the initial dough is increased add grape molasses, orange juice, olive oil, mastiha, cinnamon and salt. Mix it well until the initial form changes and add flour gradually until a homogenous fluffy dough is created. Cover it once more and let it sit for 40-50 minutes until it’s double the size.

Knead the dough and form loaves cut in 4-5 cm pieces. You can also knead individual loaves –this amount of dough makes about 12 small loaves. Place them in baking pans, let them rise and they’re double the size. Drizzle some olive oil (or an egg and water mixture, alternatively) and let them bake in a preheated oven for approximately an hour about 180°C. Remove from the oven, let them cool and cut the pieces you have already carved –or your individual loaves.

Petimezi makes the dough quite moist, so keep checking your oven so they won’t get dry. If you still have some left from the day before, taste them and see the difference – we felt they tasted less sweet the day before. Liked our thoughts on Michael Pollan’s Cooked? We’ll get back to it, soon as we were quite inspired by this series! Have you watched it? Would love to know your thoughts on that.


The countdown for Christmas has started. In preparation for this year’s celebrations we are bringing in store many delicious ingredients. Ingredients to cook with; ingredients to offer as gifts; ingredients to indulge yourself with.

Corinth raisins and dried figs have arrived from the Peloponnese, organic walnuts from the island of Eboea. They are a great addition to your morning cereal, yogurt or porridge. They are a very healthy snack between meals. They are amazing to add to any Christmas cheese platter. You can use them as ingredients in myriad festive cakes, puddings and bread.

But most importantly, they are what turns a salad dish from everyday, to festive. The small black raisins punch above their weight in terms of their sweetness and taste. Dried naturally under the Greek sun, the figs are succulent and intense. Pure, nutty walnuts add crunch.

Walking around the market we selected delicious green leaves to create this festive salad, and our very own artisan galomyzithra cheese, a soft white cheese made in Crete from goats’ and sheep’s milk. Of course, any salad that respects itself has a good quality extra virgin olive oil (we chose our 22oC). And finally, an aged balsamic vinegar will add the much needed acidity and sweetness. Read below the list of ingredients, we have a little secret in the end.

So here goes:

Festive Salad (For two people)

1 bunch of green leaves
A small handful of raisins (approx. 20g)
3-4 large dried figs, cut in half
A small handful of walnuts (approx. 50g)
100g of galomyzithra cheese
3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper (to taste)
grape molasses (to serve)

Place your leaves in a large bowl. Add the raisins, figs, walnuts and gently toss. In a separate bowl mix the olive oil and vinegar together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dress the salad and place in a beautiful serving platter (it is festive after all). Add the cheese and serve, drizzling some grape molasses to add sweetness.


This week’s recipe is a bit stranger than the others. Not the recipe itself, the way we ended up creating it.

As you know, we love discovering interesting ingredients. And surely, there are many ways to prepare a beautiful cauliflower like the one we found at the market this week. But, I thought, there is no better way to enjoy it than in its purest form. Raw. Of course, you need something warm, spicy and comforting to balance the cold, crunchy nuttiness of the cauliflower. What else than a hot, spiced chickpea stew?

This stew takes a while to boil. This is because unlike many recipes we didn’t boil the chickpeas first. Why? Well, because we wanted them to absorb all the goodness from the spices, vegetables and tomatoes, so as to become little balls, bursting with flavour. However, you can of course boil them first (add a bit of baking soda to speed up the process). In the end, you will have a chickpea stew that will taste like Christmas in the Middle East!

Serves six hungry guests.

You will need:
1 beautiful cauliflower
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp grated cumin
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
150ml olive oil
250g chickpeas
2 medium carrots
2 stalks of celery
2 medium onions
50g raisins
1 bottle tomato passata (680g)
salt, black pepper
fresh coriander leaves and lemon wedges (to serve)

 

The night before soak your chickpeas.

The morning after, finely chop your onion, celery and carrot. We went for pieces the size of the chickpeas, but you can really roughly chop your vegetables if you prefer.

Pour your olive oil in a large pot and over medium low heat warm up all your spices. Yes, the bay leaves too. Once they have released their aromas, add the chopped vegetables and stir until coated in oil. When they become softer and translucent, add your chickpeas, raisins, tomato and 1lt of water. Season with salt and pepper. Stir everything very well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let them simmer for a couple of hours, or until chickpeas are cooked. Check occasionally and add water if needed.

To serve, cut your beautiful cauliflower into florets. In a bowl serve your hot chickpea stew. Place the cauliflower on top. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and squeeze some lemon juice. How about that for satisfying your senses?


It’s this time of the year again -around Thanksgiving- that the web seems to be exploding with pumpkin pie recipes. This year the food world went crazy over a clear pumpkin pie prepared by the Alinea wizards. Some found this version of the classic American dessert “creative”, others “nonsense”. Let’s be honest, we would love to try it -would you?

The following recipe is one of our favourite ways of preparing this pie: Baking the pumpkin first, lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg (sometimes we also use ginger and cloves) and mashing it up. The filling is quite delicious as it includes grape molasses for depth of flavour, walnuts for crunch, Corinth raisins for texture, and orange peel for the citrusy effect. Feel free to modify if you prefer it sweeter or add more grape molasses in case you follow a sugar-free diet. We choose to use phyllo pastry as we love its versatility –have you checked Despina’s recipes with it during our cooking workshops?

Ingredients
1 kg yellow pumpkin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup ground walnuts
2 tsp fine semolina
2 tbsp grape molasses
5 tbsp cognac
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter at room temperature
½ cup of Corinth raisins
Peel from an orange
1 egg for glazing
½ kg phyllo pastry
Olive oil
A pinch of sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cut the pumpkin in big pieces, peel, deseed it and cut in small cubes. Coat the bottom of a tray with olive oil and lay the squash. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon. Cover the tray tightly with a double layer of tinfoil and bake to 170°C until soft (approximately for 45 minutes).

Remove from the oven and allow the pieces of squash to cool. Put the pumpkin in a food processor and whiz until smooth or mash it with a spoon. Transfer to a big bowl.

Combine the walnuts, semolina, orange peel, half portion of the sugar, sea salt and grape molasses to that mix, as well. Drizzle the raisins with cognac and let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain them and place them to the mix.

Coat the baking pan with butter and place 5 sheets of phyllo-each coated with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Turn the ends inwards and glaze the pie with an egg and water mix. Carve the pieces and bake in a preheated oven to 170°C for 45 minutes.

Enjoy with a warm cup of tea or coffee!


Eating vegetables can be quite tricky for some. You see, many of us grew up eating boiled vegetables. Or deep-fried. Boiled vegetables can be quite bland. Deep fried vegetables can often be very heavy. So what does one do?

When you decide to incorporate more vegetables in your diet, your mind often goes to boring food. And at wintertime one needs bold, interesting flavours to balance the gloomy weather outside. How do you go from a hearty beef stew to a meatless Monday?

When it comes to vegetables, there are two things you need really. A different way to cook them. Something interesting to dress them up with.

So grab some nice root vegetables. Or squash. Or broccoli. Whatever’s in season. Whatever you like. We chose cauliflower this week.

Cut the vegetables and place them neatly on a baking tray. Make sure to spread them in one layer and leave space between them. You don’t want to end up with boiled vegetables. Not today anyway.

Season with salt, pepper and drizzle some olive oil. Add spices or herbs. For the cauliflower we used some dried thyme. Roast the vegetables at 200C, turning them once if needed. When they are tender when pierced with a knife and have a lovely golden brown colour they are ready. You’re half way there.

Now for the second step. This week we are making a yogurt-tahini dressing. It goes perfectly with roasted cauliflower (or any other vegetables of your choosing).

For a medium-sized bowl you will need:

Yogurt, 250g
Tahini, 2 tablespoons
Lemon juice, 2 tablespoons
Lemon zest, from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, mint…), 2 tablespoons or more to taste

In a bowl, mix the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and zest. Stir until everything is blend together smoothly. If you want a more liquid sauce, loosen the mixture with as much water as you like. Season with salt and pepper. Before serving, add the freshly cut herbs. You can use chives, parley, mint, whatever you prefer. Whatever you have in your fridge really.

Serve while the vegetables are hot and the sauce is cold. I think now you are ready for that meatless Monday, right?

 


This week we’re baking! Because you know, there’s nothing better than a freshly baked cake to accompany your favourite cup of tea or coffee. Especially if the cake in question is made with interesting ingredients! Remember last year’s apple cake? Or the petimezopita? This time we are using pumpkin. You might have guessed it by now that this orange vegetable is our favourite one for this time of the year. You know, this pumpkin soup or the that butternut squash soup  and how about a tart or a risotto?

There is something really unique about this pumpkin cake. It is both comforting and very exciting at the same time. The pumpkin makes it very moist inside, and the plump raisins add extra toffee-like sweetness. This recipe also lays somewhere between autumn and winter. It has the autumn-y pumpkin and the fragrant spices we often associate with winter.

You will need:
700g pumpkin
120ml olive oil
120ml water
70g raisins
150g flour
100g of brown sugar
5g baking soda
10g baking powder
2tsp cinnamon
6 cloves
½ nutmeg grated
2 generous pinches of salt
5 pinches of grated cardamom

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Peel the pumpkin and remove its seeds. Chop in small pieces. Place your pumpkin pieces in a small pot over medium low heat, until soft. Mash up with a fork. Alternatively, you can cut the pumpkin in half, bake in the oven, and then scoop out its flesh. If you have some lumps remaining in your pumpkin mash it’s fine. Let it cool.

In a bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. In another bowl mix the water with the olive oil, raisins and the pumpkin puree.

Using a wooden spoon stir together the wet and dry ingredients. Be careful not to over mix them. Taste the batter. Are you a fan of cinnamon? Add more. Do you feel you want more cardamom? Go right ahead.

Pour into a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30-40min, until cake is cooked through, yet moist inside.

Now, put the kettle on and get that lovely teapot out of the cupboard.