A summer brunch might just be one of the most amazing ways to spend a hot, lazy Sunday. Even if you’ve had a late night on Saturday, it’s always good to gather with family, friends or flatmates and share food and coffee, slowly waking up together.

One of our favourite recipes for eggs is the one where the sweet tomatoes blend with eggs, creating a symphony of pure harmony. In Greece, this combination of flavours is often called Kagianas and resembles scrambled eggs mixed with tomatoes.

I first came across this dish in a cookery book for kids. A book with recipes from all over the world. I must have been in elementary school, I’m not sure, but this is one of the first cooking memories I have: Patiently waiting for the tomatoes to cook, then adding the eggs, sprinkling feta cheese on top (feta cheese was my addition). Then tasting for the first time the sweetness of tomatoes blending with the comfort of familiar eggs and the salty cheese. My childhood world of food would never be the same. I was mind blown.

This dish, with its many variations has followed me throughout the years. In my home now in London, the cousin of the Greek kagianas (or strapatsada), the well-known middle-eastern shakshouka eggs are most popular. So I encountered it again during our cooking workshop, when our guest chef Despoina prepared it for all of us who participated. The recipe below is inspired by that cooking class and the flavour combinations that Despoina put together.

So next Sunday, gather your family and friends and make with them these delicious eggs. Who knows, maybe you will create new memories.

For 2 people you will need:

3 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 large ripe tomatoes cut in cubes
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
1tsp oregano
salt
pepper
4 eggs
6 sun dried tomatoes, very finely chopped

 
Over medium heat gently fry the onion until translucent. Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add the paprika and half of the sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 5-10min, until the sauce thickens a bit.

Add the oregano. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Create four holes with the back of your spoon and crack the eggs. Around the eggs, sprinkle the rest of the sun dried tomatoes. Place the lid on the pan for a few minutes. Once the eggs are cooked serve with crusty bread and iced black coffee.


Gemista is a traditional way of cooking and enjoying vegetables in Greece. The word gemista, literally means filled or stuffed. It is a summer food, almost exclusively made during the summer months, as it uses predominantly tomatoes. Tomatoes are at their best in the summer as you may know.

When it comes to most traditional Greek foods, the perception (and often reality) is that they are labour intense. This one, gemista, usually is, as it requires carefully removing the flesh from tomatoes, preparing the stuffing with rice or mince meat, stuffing them and then baking them in the oven. However, in our version here, we are using bulgur wheat instead of rice. And bulgur wheat cooks much faster than rice. And instead of tomatoes, we are using colourful peppers. Removing the flesh is not necessary here, you just have to remove the seeds. So the actual time you’ll spend in the kitchen is really not that much.

The recipe below creates a very pleasant dish. It feels like that friend you want to spend time with on a cool summer evening. It is not heavy on oil, as most gemista usually are and the bulgur wheat gives it an interesting nuttiness. Add to that the sweet smoked paprika and fragrant herbs and you can imagine what we are talking about. So read on and come visit us at Borough Market to source everything you need!

For 6 long stuffed peppers

6 long peppers (red, yellow, green, you choose)
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
200g bulgur wheat
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
2 generous handfuls of pine nuts
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch of mint, finely chopped
salt
pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Cut the top part of each pepper. Remove the seeds using your fingers, a small knife or by tapping the pepper on your chopping board.

In a pot warm up the 3 tbsp of oil and gently fry the onion until translucent. Add the paprika and stir until your onions and oil turn red. Add the bulgur wheat and pine nuts. Stir so that everything is well mixed. Add your pine nuts. Add 1 cup of water and stir for a couple of minutes until the bulgur wheat absorbs it all. You are going for one step before al dente here, so that the rest cooks in the oven.

Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more seasonings or herbs. You need the flavour of your stuffing to be quite intense, as once it is fully cooked, the flavours calm down.

(At this point you could just stop and eat the stuffing, ignoring the rest of the recipe, but trust us, it gets better)

Using a spoon, stuff each pepper with bulgur wheat. Place them on a baking tray with the ¼ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of water. Bake until the peppers are soft and the filling is cooked through, around 30-40min.

Serve with feta cheese or Greek yogurt and warm crusty bread. Welcome to the Greek summer!


When one asks what Greek food is, one of the first things that comes to mind is pies. Yes, pies are what most Greeks associate with home. We may not all know how to make them, but we sure know how to appreciate them.

During our first workshop in May, our guest chef Despina introduced us to the world of pies. We all made together a delicious leek pie using filo pastry. The filling was sweet leeks, feta cheese and lots of herbs. Pie making skills? Check. Pie eating? Check.

As we are waiting for our next workshop, we decided to put our skills into good use here. And hopefully to inspire you to play around and experiment with filo (or phyllo) pastry at home. In Greece, most spinach pies include eggs and feta cheese. Here, we are offering you a twist to what most Greeks might be familiar with. We wanted to bring out the flavour of spinach and herbs. So we decided to omit the eggs and include just a tiny bit of feta cheese. The feta cheese in such small quantity adds the needed tanginess and saltiness but is not visible in the pie. So spinach and herbs prevail!

What is magical about pies is that you can include whatever you have in your fridge. It’s the dish that represents no-waste. So, in the recipe we are suggesting below, do include whatever you have in your fridge. A green pepper or a few strips of bacon? Finely chop and add to the spring onions. Wilted greens or lettuce? Add them to your spinach. Of course, feel free to add an egg or more feta cheese. We usually make pies once a week, as a way to clear the fridge. Sunday is a great day to make a pie. You have the time it takes to prepare everything. And you have your lunch sorted for the week.

For a medium sized pie you will need:

1 pack of filo (phyllo) pastry at room temperature (you can find it in Greek and Turkish speciality shops)
1 kilo spinach,
5 spring onions
1 small bunch of dill
2 springs of mint
2tbs  olive oil (frying) and 3/4 cup (brushing the filo)
pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash your spinach. Finely chop the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Finely chop the spring onions, dill and mint. You can use the stalks of your herbs if you want to – we did.

In a large frying pan add the olive oil and gently fry the spring onions. Set aside in a large bowl. Add the spinach and gently fry until it releases most of its liquid. Add to your bowl. Let it cool down. Add in the herbs and crumble the feta cheese. Mix everything together.

Unwrap your filo pastry. Place it on your kitchen counter with a wet cloth on top, to prevent it from drying out.

Using a brush, cover your tray with olive oil. Here we are using our 27C extra virgin olive oil, as spinach pairs perfectly with its rich flavour and aromas. Lay 5 sheets of filo pastry, brushing with olive oil in between each layer. Add your spinach mixture and pat it so that it’s uniform around the tray. Add 5 more sheets of filo pastry, again brushing with olive oil in between each layer. If you have leftover filo pastry, you can crumble it on top of the pie to decorate it.

Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a green or a tomato salad.


The sun is shining. We are now officially in the beginning of summer. Summer is always better if one is by the sea. But most of us are not. So when one lives in a city, summer foods make it all better. Around the market you can now find watermelons. For us, it is the ultimate summer flavour. We spend the entire summer with this pink, sweet fruit. Eaten as is, straight from the fridge is dreamy. Some say it’s even better at room temperature. But you know, it’s summer, one wants something cold to balance the heat.

The last few years, recipes using watermelon are popping up. Think away from smoothies for a bit. Watermelon’s sweetness and crunch balances perfectly with something creamy and salty. You guessed it. Feta cheese and watermelon can become best friends!

And while in Greece usually watermelons are massive-a few kilos each- here, you can get a lovely small watermelon at the market for the salad we are suggesting.

This salad is quite simple. Went for the classic flavour combinations. Watermelon-feta cheese-mint. However, you can use whatever herbs you prefer. How about fresh coriander? Hm! The measurements for watermelon and feta are balanced, but you can obviously add more cheese if you want. Try it and see.

Here, we used our 18oC olive oil. Its grassy, fruity flavour is the perfect pairing for these ingredients.

And whatever you do, don’t forget the vinegar. It really makes all the difference, brightening up the entire dish. Something like the early summer sun, brightening up our lives. You can of course experiment more, add a bit of chilli for spice, lemon or lime for acidity.

For 2 people
400g of watermelon flesh
150g feta cheese
2 tbs olive oil
dashes of red wine vinegar
a few springs of mint
pepper

Remove the peel from the watermelon. Cut the flesh in cubes. We prefer large bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl. Cut the feta cheese in identical cubes. Fine, they don’t really have to be identical. Add to the watermelon. Pour over olive oil and splashes of the red wine vinegar. Finely chop the mint and sprinkle on top. Add some freshly ground pepper.

This salad makes for a perfect summer lunch. We tried it for breakfast actually. Trust us, it works!


Propolis is a collection of sticky resins that bees collect from sources such as poplar, pine, chestnut etc. The name comes from Greek, and means “in front of the city” as wild beehives often have large walls of propolis extending from the entrance to aid defence and reduce (or channel) wind. Propolis is collected in much the same way as pollen, and packed into small baskets on the bee’s hind legs. However because of its sticky nature, they must get help from neighbouring bees to remove it. Propolis is chewed by bees, mixed with saliva and used in the hive to fill small gaps, either on its own or mixed with wax to prevent parasite accumulation in areas of the hive they cannot access. It is also used to reinforce combs to allow greater strength and to avoid summer softening (propolis has a higher melting point). Its most famous role, however, is as an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal coating to the hive. It is the substance that makes a beekeeper’s job difficult, if you have ever witnessed how hard it can be to remove cover boards and frames from a hive, due to the sticky nature of propolis.

Propolis was well known to the ancient Greeks as a cure for dental abscesses, infections, colds and flu and as a general healing remedy, and is having something of a renaissance today as we look for more natural remedies. These days propolis is best collected from insect screens placed at the top of hives, encouraging bees to fill the gaps. This avoids the dangers of scraping wooden hive surfaces for propolis with the associated contaminants.

Oliveology propolis is collected using the insect screen method, and is of excellent quality. Try our propolis tincture (propolis dissolved in alcohol) or our raw propolis for the old school/ hardcore amongst you! It’s the bees knees!


Foragers will perform the waggle dance during swarming season to propose suitable new nest sites. The waggle dance is also the way successful foragers share information with the colony about nectar/pollen sources, water or propolis. For close sources less than 50m from the hive, bees tend to use a round dance, although confusingly this can also have a short waggle segment! Dancing bees release a pheromone to alert their siblings nearby of the importance of this message. Dancing bees will indicate the quality of their source by the frequency of the waggle and the amount of pheromone release. They can also provide small samples of the source product to nearby bees to allow independent assessment of the quality. These bees will also perform the dance if they approve of the source. In this way, when multiple dances are occuring simultaneously, a democratic process ensures the best, closest sources are exploited first.

As all comb within the hive is orientated in the same direction, the angle of the dance in relation to vertical represents the angle of flight in relation to the sun. The length of the dance is proportional to the distance involved, with 1s of dance roughly equal to 1Km of flight. This allows observer foragers to work out the correct direction and distance to fly.

This is all remarkably clever for such a small navigator, considering we as humans pride ourselves on our complex communications. What is more amazing is that observer bees can also remember a time component, as if they try to find the source hours later, the sun will be in a different position in the sky. The bees understand this and change the angle of flight accordingly so they can find the source.

Photo Credit © Stamp Design Royal Mail Group Ltd (2015)


Further to our research project: “Fides –beyond the chicken soup” we developed this comforting and delicious soup.

Combining the excellent antioxidant properties of saffron with mineral-rich tahini bring us to a special soup that you can use as a starter or as a meat free Monday meal. It’s great if you’re fasting too –the main inspiration for this soup is frugal Monastery cooking. We are preparing a special blogpost introducing you this brilliant cuisine, stay tuned!

Ingredients

1 lt water
, 1 1⁄2 cup of fides pasta (angel hair)
1 cup of tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
Pinch of Kozani saffron
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Method

Break fides with your fingers, in smaller pieces. Boil it in salted water. Remove it from fire.

Mix tahini in small bowl and set aside. Add saffron and lemon.

In the small bowl with tahini, add a few spoonfuls of hot soup broth and mix well. Add this back to the soup and stir to incorporate completely. Stir well and boil it for a couple of minutes.

Serve it and sprinkle with sesame seeds. If you feel like going large with your toppings: garnish with grated lemon zest, sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Don’t forget paximadia!

Delightful note:
Did you enjoy the saffron-tahini combination? You can always use it as a salad dressing. We love it with green salads, especially with roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Soften the saffron in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, and let it cool. Put into a bowl with the tahini and lemon juice and whisk to a creamy consistency. Check the seasonings.


What is interesting about spring, is that it is an in-between season if you wish. Between winter and summer. During spring one gets to experience the best of both worlds. Winter is not completely gone. There might be rain or cold. Summer is not completely here. There might be sunny and warm days. That’s spring for you. Which sometimes makes what to cook very confusing. It is not the time of the year for a hearty lentil soup. It is not the time of the year for aubergines.

Then what time of the year is it anyway? Well. You know that spring is here when you are suddenly surrounded by greens. Green broad beans, wild garlic, peas, spinach. The market is now officially deep into the new season. What can you prepare with these spring greens? Well, this week we are making a soup. Yes, you heard right. A soup for the cooler days of spring. One which however, you can have at room temperature and will be equally satisfying. You see, the trick in this recipe (inspired by epicurious.com by the way), is not to overcook anything. In this recipe, we will use fides ( also known as angel’s hair) a very thin handmade pasta that cooks in seconds. There is a bit of chopping in the beginning and then before you know it, you are presenting an impressively looking dish to your dining companions. Or yourself for that matter.

The ingredients listed below are the ones we used. But of course, feel free to substitute anything. Or include whatever else you have in the fridge. Keep something onion-y, something sweet like the carrot, and then whatever else inspires you from the market. Definitely green vegetables though. It is a spring soup after all.

Feeds 4 as a starter

1 small carrot
½ leek
1 small onion
1 stick of celery
salt pepper
dried thyme
fresh basil
4 tbsps olive oil
1 handfull sugar snap peas, broad beans or other green beans of your choice
1 cup fides
1 small bunch of spinach

Finely chop the carrot, leek, onion and celery. In a pot place the olive oil and gently fry your vegetables, adding the thyme and basil. Once the vegetables are caramelised, fill the pot with water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, letting it simmer. In 20min or so you will have a flavoured vegetable broth. Turn up the heat and add the peas or beans and the fides. Let them cook for 3-5 min. Add the spinach and stir. Leave for a couple more minutes. Serve with a glass of chilled white wine.


What is Dakos you say?

Dakos salad is one of the most iconic Greek dishes and probably one of the simplest to make. For us Greeks, it brings back memories of Greek summers. Of time spent by the sea, in the village. This is why often we eat it all year round. And in the big cities most of us now live.

What is dakos, many may ask. Dakos is a hard rusk traditionally made with barley. Barley mixed with water, salt and sourdough creates these delicious dark brown rusks. Barley gives a more intense flavour. Nowadays many make dados rusks using wheat, or a mixture of wheat and barley. But please try and get the barley ones. Especially if this is your first time tasting this. Barley after all is good for your body. It is a rich source of nutrients, that are essential for you, including protein, dietary fibre vitamins and minerals. So go on, swap wheat for barley for a bit. Dakos is good for your soul, too. The way it is usually prepared in Greece, originating from the island of Crete, forms the perfect filling lunch or dinner. Even breakfast if you prefer savoury flavours in the morning.

Our dakos rusks are made just for us by a family owned bakery in Chania, Crete. They still use their family recipe from 1930’s and bake them in traditional ovens using olive wood. These rusks come in various forms and shapes. The ones we prefer at Oliveology are the round ones that come cut in half.
Tradition has it that the top part of the rusk, slightly lighter in texture as it containing more air, is given to guests. The hosts always take the bottom part. Greek hospitality through food, wouldn’t you say?

There are many ways to use dakos; it is so versatile. During our cooking workshop  our guest chef Despina Siahuli even crumbles it on top of strapatsada (the greek version of shakshuka), a dish made with eggs and tomatoes.

Yes, tomatoes go great with dakos. Ideally you need juicy, ripe tomatoes. But if you can’t find any, our passata is an ideal substitution. Just add a few cherry tomatoes for texture. The way we usually prepare and savour dakos is simple, yet includes flavours that smell of Greece. Tomatoes, oregano, feta cheese, olive oil, olives. We always add capers too. We won’t give you quantities for this recipe, as you should adjust everything according to your own personal taste. Every household in Crete has their own way of making dakos after all.

You will need:
Dakos barley rusks
Tomatoes (or combination of passata and chopped tomatoes)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Feta Cheese
Dried oregano
Kalamata Olives 
Capers

Start by laying your rusks on a platter. You can prepare individual plates, but the Greek way of serving food is sharing it. Drizzle some water and olive oil on top. This will moisten the hard rusks. Scatter the passata and chopped tomatoes, with all their liquids. Don’t worry, the rusks will absorb them all. Crumble some feta cheese. Scatter olives and capers. Add oregano generously. Drizzle with lots of olive oil. Smell it. Smells like Greece, doesn’t it?


As fides (angel hair) is a delicate type of pasta, we love pairing it with light, structured sauces. They are wonderful with broths, consommés, soups, light tomato and dairy sauces. In Greece, it’s the type of pasta that is usually added in avgolemono soup –a lemon chicken soup, thickened with eggs. However we find this type of pasta versatile and fun and we would like to show you more ways of using it. The following recipe is a great light and healthy, spring dinner. Alternatively, omit the noodles and serve as a prawn dressing for crisp salad leaves. This recipe is special as we use petimezi, which adds depth and a hint of spice. Salad with fides (angel hair), spinach and prawns

Ingredients
500g fides
250g prawns fresh or frozen
2 oranges thinly cut in fillets but also juiced
1/2 cup of petimezi
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon of powdered
60ml evoo
250g fresh or frozen spinach
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Optional: more evoo for the pan, 1-2 garlic cloves crushed, chilli flakes, sesame seeds

Method
Steam the spinach for 3-4 minutes, remove it from the pot and set aside the water you used. Alternatively, sauté spinach in a pan, with evoo until softened; put in some crushed garlic and some chilli flakes to enhance the flavours.

Prepare the prawns by removing tails, heads, shells and intestines. Boil them for 2 minutes, as soon as they show any sign of changing colour. In a bowl, mix together petimezi, orange juice, evoo and add the shrimps to the marinade. Boil fides in the water you left previously, according to the package. Drain well and run the pasta under cold water, to stop cooking.

Mix fides with spinach, prawns and the orange fillets. Add ginger and fish sauce in the marinade. Shake up the dressing ingredients in a jar and tip over the salad. Toss gently and check the seasonings; remember that fish sauce is quite salty. Garnish with sesame seeds and dinner is served.
Enjoy!