Pies are very much loved in Greece. They were traditionally created as a way to use whatever vegetables, herbs, and other foods were available. They represent in many respects the “Greek cuisine of need”, in which the food that is created is interlinked to the changing of the seasons and availability of ingredients.

It takes flour, water, olive oil and vinegar to make the filo and then the cook’s imagination takes over. This week we are making a classic Greek pie, spanakopita. We’ve made a vegan version in the past, which is also traditionally eater during Lent in Greece. The basis of this pie is of course, spinach. Some kind of allium, usually spring onions, red onions or even leeks are used. Feta cheese is a must, as well as eggs for texture. In some households milk, cream or yoghurt is added in the filling, but we decided to keep it classic. You can make your own filo, use store-bought, or even puff pastry! If you can get your hands on large, dark green spinach leaves go for it! They take a while to clean and prep, but I feel they work better here than baby spinach.

Serves 10

1 bunch of spring onions
1 medium leek
1.5kg of spinach (leaves and stalks)
½ cup olive oil (80ml)
1 small bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped
250g feta cheese
4 eggs
8 sheets of filo
150ml olive oil

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Finely chop the spring onions, leek and spinach stalks (if any). In a large pot, and over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and gently fry them until translucent and tender.

Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pot, turning up the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper (but remember not to use too much salt, as the feta cheese is salty too). Stir everything together, until the leaves become tender, reduce in volume and all liquid is absorbed, around 20 minutes. Add the dill, remove from the heat and let the spinach cool down.

Crumble the feta cheese in the spinach mixture and add the eggs. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

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.

Place the cool 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.


If there’s one thing that’s associated with Greek cuisine (but also Turkish and quite a few others for that matter), that is definitely filo. Filo is a thin dough made with no yeast or other leavening agent. It is used for a variety of dishes, like baklava or pies.

It takes quite a bit of skill to roll out filo swiftly, and if you ever find yourselves in a Greek village, you will see older women, using a very thin rolling pin, creating paper-thin layers of filo in a few seconds. We do not have that skill (yet!), but join us as we -slowly- roll out filo.

This recipe was given to me by my godmother, Alexandra, who got it from her friend, also called Alexandra. It is surprisingly easy to make, so if you have never made filo before fear not!

Makes 8 sheets for a 30cm pan

350g all-purpose flour (you can also use half wholegrain and half all-purpose flour)
salt
70ml olive oil
45ml red wine vinegar
120ml (1/2 cup) water

In a large bowl add the flour and season generously with salt. Whisk together the flour and salt. Add your olive oil and vinegar and start mixing everything together using your hands. Add the water and work the dough in the bowl, until all ingredients are combined, and the dough is no longer sticking at the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a clean, floured surface. Work the dough for another 5 minutes until smooth. Return it to the bowl, cover in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for one hour.

Separate the dough into eight balls. You can use a scale to ensure each ball is the same size as the others, but really, you don’t have to.

Roll out each dough ball, so that you have a very thin, round sheet of filo, adding a bit more flour if needed. If when you start rolling our your dough it springs back, then it needs to rest a bit more. Leave it outside the fridge for another 10 minutes and try again.

You can roll out the filo by rotating the dough clockwise, and rolling it away from you. Alternatively you can rotate your rolling pin clockwise, moving from the centre of the dough outwards, keeping the dough in front of you.

Place the filo sheets on top of each other with clean kitchen towels in between. By the time you have rolled out the last one, they will have dried up a bit, which is what you want, so that they can absorb the beautiful olive oil that you will brush them with.

Your filo is now ready to use!! Check out our pie recipes for inspiration!


On Sunday we celebrated Greek Easter! There are many traditions that go with this celebration. There’s the lamb on the spit, of course; our beloved tzatziki; dying eggs red; fasting for 40 days; eating loads of tsoureki, the traditional brioche-type bread; the traditional magiritsa soup, made of offal.

Galatopita is a tradition upheld at Marianna’s home, and in many other Greek hourseholds as I’ve discovered while researching for this post. Galatopita literally means milk pie. Its custard-like filling has a buttery, creamy texture and a subtle, comforting sweetness. It is made of milk, sugar, fine semolina and eggs. Some variations around Greece include filo, while others omit the filo. The recipe we’re using is by Mrs Kalliopi, Marianna’s mum. It was hand-written, with just a rough estimate of the ingredients, and no cooking instructions. More of a reminder for the experienced cook of what goes into the galatopita. We absolutely love such recipes!

In the past, this was traditionally made with fresh, unpasteurised milk. So if you can find some, do use it for this delicious dessert. We used goat’s milk for ours. If you try any plant-based milk, do let us know how it turned out! As this recipe only has very few ingredients, do try and get the best you can afford. Definitely get the cinnamon to serve, this is not optional, it’s part of tradition.

So let’s enter May, and celebrate spring with this sweet delicious dessert. Thank you Mrs Kalliopi!

Serves 10

1200ml milk (approx. 6 cups)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
200gr white sugar (approx. 1 cup), plus more for the baking tray
150gr fine semolina (approx. 1 cup)
6 eggs
Olive oil and more semolina (for the baking tray)
cinnamon (to serve)

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your milk in a large heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat. Add the vanilla and stir well. Add the semolina and sugar. Using a whisk, start whisking all the ingredients together. As the milk warms up and the semolina hydrates, you will slowly see the mixture thickening up. Do not forget to whisk the mixture, otherwise the milk will burn at the bottom of the pot – you do not want that. The texture we are going for is like that of a very thick béchamel sauce, or Greek yoghurt.

After the mixture thickens up, after around 15-20 minutes, remove your pot from the heat. Very slowly add the eggs, one by one, whisking constantly so that each egg is incorporated before moving to the next one. You should end up with a very smooth, silky mixture.

Butter or oil a shallow baking tray and dust it with plenty of semolina. Pour in your mixture. Sprinkle more sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake at 180C for 40-45 minutes, until the cream is set.

Serve with plenty of cinnamon.

 

 


Remember last week’s semolina halva? This week, continuing our journey to the magical land of halva, we are making sesame halva with honey! Traditionally this sesame halva is made with sugar and tahini. However, as many (including us!) prefer honey to sugar, many recipes now opt for sweet, runny honey instead. The texture is less crumbly and resembles that of toffee, which we must admit, we absolutely love.

For this, we’ve used our whole tahini, but you can use the classic one as well. We’ve also used a combination of strawberry tree (Arbutus) and orange blossom honey. Both coming from the Peloponnese, arbutus is a rare “bitter” honey made by bees feeding on the Arbutus unedo tree flowers (strawberry tree), while the orange blossom honey is a delicate, sweet honey with a citrus taste and a light amber colour. They pair perfectly in this halva!

This is the basic recipe, to which you can add cocoa or chocolate, various nuts (almonds are a classic!), or sesame. We love pistachios, as they have this beautiful pink-green bright colours which make the halva not only taste, but also look delicious!

This is a quite filling snack, so a little goes a long way. Cut it in small square pieces and enjoy with your afternoon tea, for breakfast or as post-dinner dessert!

 

280g tahini (whole or white)
280g honey (we used both strawberry tree honey and orange blossom honey)
80g raw, unsalted pistachios or any other nuts of your choosing

Place your pistachios at the bottom of a non-stick cake tin. You can finely or roughly chop them and/or roast them if you prefer. We left them raw and whole.

Stir well your tahini in the jar and add it in a small saucepan. Over low heat warm it up for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan and over low hear warm up the honey, until bubbly and caramelised. To check if it’s ready, drizzle a bit in a glass with cold water. It should shape as a soft ball and not be runny. If you have a candy thermometer, you should aim for 115C.

Once your honey is ready add it to the tahini. Using a wooden spoon, stir everything together. Almost immediately, you will see the mixture changing texture, as the ingredients come together. When it gathers around your wooden spoon and not touching the sides of your bowl you are done!

Carefully pour the halva in the cake tin over your nuts. Let it set for a few hours. Cut in small pieces and serve!

 


Halva is a category of desserts which are very popular in the Balcans, parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There are many variations, flavour combinations and textures. Today we are preparing halvas simigdalenios, literally translated as semolina halva. It is a dessert served all throughout Lent in Greece, and in many other occasions throughout the year.

It is also known as the 1-2-3-4 halva, as the key ingredients are measured by volume: 1 x olive oil, 2 x semolina, 3 x sugar, 4x water. In the classic recipe, the olive oil is mixed with the semolina, the sugar with the water and then the two come together. We’ve simplified the recipe, simply adding everything gradually in the same pot. We’ve also weighed the ingredients, so that it’s easier for those of us who do not like measuring things in cups.

The traditional recipe calls for the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and orange. We’ve also added almonds and raisins. You can add your preferred spices, use whichever nuts you prefer and other dried fruit instead of raisins.

Serves 6

100g olive oil
200g coarse semolina (you can also use fine, or a mixture of the two)
300g sugar (we used light brown sugar, but white sugar works as well)
400g water
1/3 tsp ground cloves
2/3 tsp ground cinnamon
zest from 1 orange
50g raw almonds (you can also use any other nuts you prefer)
50g Corinth raisins (you can also use any other dried fruit you prefer)

Roughly chop the almonds, so that they are the size of the raisins. Or however you prefer, it’s a personal choice, really.

In a bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat pour the olive oil and semolina. Stir until the semolina is golden-brown, around 10 minutes.

This step is crucial. So leave all distractions outside the kitchen. Take your time in “roasting” as we say in Greek the semolina, and your halva will have a nutty, intense, wholesome flavor. But this step needs lots of care, so stay with it for those minutes, stirring and contemplating the beauty of the heat, as it transforms the white-yellow grains into golden brown. Or the beauty of those moments of stillness.

Once the semolina is ready, add the sugar-spice mixture and stir for a minute. Add the almonds and raisins and stir for another minute, smelling as the aromas come together.

Remove from the heat and very, very slowly add the water. It will splatter, so be careful.

Lower the heat to its lowest setting. Return the pot to the heat and stir until the mixture thickens up, around 15-20 minutes.

Again, do not leave it alone, the halva doesn’t like that. Yes, this is a recipe that takes time and care. But you will be rewarded. Soon, you will have a delicious halva. But as you may have realised by now, these moments of stillness, as you stir the halva, smell the aromas and breathe -without any distractions- are perhaps even more precious than the halva itself.

You will know it’s ready when it’s quite thick and there is resistance as you stir.

Now there are two schools of thought here.

Some prefer the halva hot, so in that case you are done and you can serve immediately. Others however prefer the halva cold. It’s a big debate in Greece, you must know. So if you want to serve it cold, pour the halva in a greased cake tin (even better if it’s non-stick), and let it cool down a bit. Place in the fridge to let it cool completely. Remove from the tin and serve.

After you are done, take a walk around the house. Perhaps the most rewarding thing when you make halva is the smell that fills your home.

Let us know which of the two ways you prefer (hot/ cold, or maybe at room temperature!) and in any case, do serve with extra cinnamon!


Happy Monday everyone! We hope you are enjoying this bank holiday and that you’ve had a lovely Easter.

Greek Easter is still upon us, on the 2nd of May. During all these 40 days that precede our Easter, many choose to fast. Some remove meat from their dishes; others abstain from all animal products. It is the time of the year for dishes made with vegetables, grains and pulses and of course, olive oil!

So this week, we’ve prepared for you a delicious, wholesome dip made with gigantes beans. These giant beans are perhaps the most traditional Greek ingredient. They are the basis for many iconic and absolutely delicious Greek dishes: enjoy them in the classic recipe, oven-baked with tomato sauce or in this lovely spring salad! They are nutritious, super filling and very tasty.

For this dip we’ve used our dark tahini and walnut oil, which add depth and warmth to the buttery beans. The result is a comforting dip that will definitely bring some feasting into the fasting!

Serves 6

150g gigantes beans
5 cups water / vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
50g whole tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice, plus more for serving
2 tbsp 21°C walnut oil, plus more for serving
salt
sesame seeds (optional, to serve)

The night before soak your beans. The morning after, drain and place your beans in a medium-sized pot with fresh water or vegetable stock. Add the bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat to medium-high and cook until the beans are soft and buttery, around one hour.

Drain, reserving a bit of the cooking liquid. Set aside to cool for a bit.

In a blender, whiz together the beans, tahini, lemon juice, walnut oil, adding a bit of the cooking liquid to loosen the mixture – if needed. Season with salt.

Serve with plenty of walnut olive oil, more lemon juice, sesame seeds and raw vegetables, crusty bread or pita for dipping


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!