How was your Easter? We are all now well rested from the long weekend last week and getting ready for our own Greek Easter. Easter in Greece is one of the most important holidays. Starting from Clean Monday, the days of lent prior to Easter prepare us all for this week. Going to church, making sweet tsoureki and painting eggs are only a few of the traditions we uphold during those days.

On Easter Sunday, families gather together for the Easter lunch. Lamb is served, alongside a simple salad with lettuce, spring onions and plenty of dill. Then, each family has its own additions. Some will prepare pies, others will have various types of meat. At Oliveology we always go for tzatziki. This refreshing dip balances perfectly the intensity of lamb. And we make ours with plenty of garlic of course.

So, in the classic recipe the main ingredients are yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill. But we are going to take this one step further this Easter. Marianna’s very own family recipe swaps the cucumber for raw beetroot, giving this pink tzatziki sweetness and crunch.

For a large bowl you will need

500g yogurt
3 cloves of garlic, minced to a paste (if you love garlic then feel free to add more)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil plus more to serve
1 large beetroot
3 tbsp. fresh dill, plus more to serve
salt  (to taste)

Grate the beetroot. Place in a bowl, squeezing away any excess liquid (you can use the liquid for smoothies, soups or cocktails). You can skip this step if you prefer a less thick tzatziki. Add the yogurt and dill and stir well. In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Combine the two. Mix until all flavours have blended together. Taste and season with salt. Serve with plenty of dill and olive oil.

 


If you haven’t tried Greek tsoureki before, then you are certainly missing out! Soft, fluffy, with a beautiful brown semi-soft crust and an amazing stringy texture. Its distinct, rich flavour and intense aromas come from the two aromatic spices used: mastic and mahlab, which give a really characteristic flavour and smell. Freshly ground mastic (masticha), is an aromatic spice from Chios island, and aromatic mahlab or mahleb (mahlepi), is a spice made from ground seeds of cherry.

Ingredients

40g fresh yeast
60ml water
75g special flour for tsoureki (a flour mix, high in protein)
45g butter 82% fat
135g sugar
100g eggs
85ml milk
10g mahlepi (a spice made from cherry stones)
20ml orange juice
Zest from an orange
3g grounded mastic (resin obtained the mastic trees in Chios island, PDO product)
1g salt
A portion of vanilla (powder)
425g special flour for tsoureki
40g melted butter 82% fat, in medium temperature
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
40g thinly sliced almonds
Red eggs (if desired)

Method

Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and let it stand for 10 mins. Afterwards, add 75g of flour, stir to combine and leave it to rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins.

In a pot combine 45g butter, sugar, eggs, milk, mahlepi, juice and orange zest, mastic, salt and vanilla and warm up the mixture until it’s lukewarm. Stir to combine with a whisk. Add the mix to the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and start adding flour gradually, stirring between additions. Combine the initial mix (with the yeast) as well and mix until the dough is elastic. Finally, add melted butter and keep mixing until the dough doesn’t stick to the mixer bowl anymore. Transfer the dough into a buttered bowl, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins, until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and cut the dough in 350g balls. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Divide the dough into three and roll into three stands. Plait the strips together, place on the baking tray and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately an hour, until doubled in size. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash, sprinkle some almonds and push the red eggs (if desired) into the bread. Finally, bake tsoureki at 170° for 40 mins. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Καλό Πάσχα – Happy Easter!


One of the first things I tried at Oliveology was the kalamata olives with ouzo. Until then I had never tried anything like it. They were intense, meaty, with the aniseed flavour present, but not overpowering. They were amazing!

Since then I have been thinking what to do with such an interesting product. Greek chef Ismyrnoglou gave me the inspiration with one of her recipes.

This week, we are making chutney! But not what you have in mind. This is the easiest chutneys you’ve ever made. It tastes like Greekness on a plate. Even though you know, chutney ain’t really Greek. But that’s ok, right? What are we using? Two ingredients only: ouzo flavoured olives and dried figs.

You can serve it with cheese or spread it in a sandwich. You can also eat it as a snack. It really is delicious!

For one jar you will need:

150gr kalamata olives with ouzo
150gr dried figs

Cut the figs in small pieces and place them in a small pot, with just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer until they absorb all the water and are moist and juicy. Cut the olives in identical pieces. Or not. Really, you can chop everything as you like. The smaller the better though! Once the figs have absorbed all the water and are nice and sticky, place both ingredients in a bowl. Mix the olives and figs so that they stick together. Your Greek chutney is ready! Keep it in the fridge so that it lasts longer and enjoy at room temperature.


Well, after a weekend of snow here in London, we might have been a bit hasty celebrating spring last time. But the sun is shining again, so let’s just wait a bit and see, maybe it’s finally here!

This week we’ve got a salad for you. I’m not sure recipes like the one below should be called salads (remember, we’ve had this discussion when we made our pasta salad last spring). But anyhow, these are dishes that feel healthy, are eaten without making you want to fall sleep after and give you energy to get through the day. Just like salads. Yet more filling.

The writer of this blog post grew up hating our main ingredient, gigantes beans, cooked in the traditional fasolada (bean soup). But things change as one grows older, and often we see the same things very differently. And all of us at Oliveology love discovering new ways to cook familiar ingredients.

These beans become soft and buttery when cooked. They are, I must admit, so flavourful that they can stand on their own. However, we’ve added a few things to brighten up their smoothness. Think of roasted broccoli and green peppers, zingy lemon zest and juice and our favourite lemon and herbs kalamata olives. So let’s get started before the weather turns cold again.

1 small head of broccoli
1 large green pepper
a few pinches of dried thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

100g gigantes beans
vegetable stock or herb stalks, vegetable scraps
salt, pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
½ tub lemon olives

The night before soak your beans in plenty of water.

Cut your broccoli into florets. Use the whole vegetable, just cut the stem in smaller pieces. Cut the pepper into large chunks. In a bowl toss broccoli, green pepper, thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking tray and bake at 180 for 30 min or until broccoli is charred and soft.

Place your beans in a medium sized pot, cover with new water and vegetable scraps or stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender, around two hours. Season with salt after the beans have softened up.

Drain and let the beans cool. In a salad bowl toss together beans, broccoli, green pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and lemon olives. Taste and add more salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy in the sun. Or snow, who knows anymore?


Aegean Sea in a Bottle

No other wine has ever impressed me so much at first sight. This Gavalas Santorini truly brings the Aegean Sea in a bottle. The beautiful sunshine and blue sea from Santorini can brightened up your entire day.

The island of Santorini has been long famous amongst tourists for its picturesque views. This stunning beauty also exists in its wines. As one of the 25 OPAP (Oenoi Onomasias Proelefseos Anoteras Poititas or Appellation d’Origine de Qualité Supérieure, one of the terms for the Greek PDO labelling system), Santorini produces both white and red wines in dry and sweet style.

Ancient volcano eruptions have not only created its cliffs and lagoons, but also the volcanic soil for grape vines. It is this volcanic soil that has prevented the spread of phylloxera from other parts of Europe, and thus maintained the old vines that give wine of great quality. Meanwhile, the climate in Santorini has contributed significantly to its terroir. It is normally dry and warm like what you would find in a desert during the growing season, with sweeping westerly winds. Such winds are so strong that photosynthesis of the plants can stop and consequently slows down the ripening process of the grapes. To protect the vines from the wind, vine growers here follow the tradition of cultivating the vines in wide spaces and shaping them into crown-like spirals.

Assyritko is the flagship among the grape varieties on the island, as it takes up almost 83% of all the grapes being cultured in Santorini. It is a local variety of which 99% is planted in Greece nowadays. Santorini Assyrtiko is the most famous as the special growing environment has given high levels of sugar and of acidity. This versatile variety can be made for both dry and sweet wines.

The Gavalas Santorini vintage of 2016 is a crisp and well matured dry wine. In the glass it has a clear and pale lemon and straw-like colour, indicating that the wine has started its developing stage in terms of aging. On the nose, the perfumed wine presents profound fruity aromas such as pear, lemon, pineapple and slightly banana. It is a little flinty, but will be soon covered by its dominating notes of nut and honey, which is another hint of its aging development. On the palate it is crispy and refreshing. As one of the very few white wines that contains tannins, its tannins are rather smooth and rounded. This is also a full-bodied wine, with a moderate alcohol level and a long and nutty finish.

The wine is ready to drink, best served chilled at 8-10°C, in a globe shaped glass that is usually for Burgundy red wine. Decanting is needed to soften the tannins, but it will also enhance the honey and nut flavours in the wine. This wine is perfect to pair with seafood, such as fried fishcake, crab cake, slightly smoked mackerel fillet or pan-fried scallops. It also tastes great with white meat, light cheese, and even Korean seafood pancakes. It may not be the typical wine for summer, but definitely suits the beginning of spring days in London!

 References used: Wine-searcher.com

 


Well, spring is officially here! You may be reading this on every blog post for the next month, but bare with me, I absolutely love spring. How do we know that spring is here? Well, more flowers, much more light, warmer weather and…wild garlic!

I first encountered these fascinating leaves here in London. They have a bright green colour and an intense garlic flavour. Since I discovered them at Borough Market, they mark the beginning of spring for me. And what’s more interesting is that you can find them only for a few weeks in spring. All of us at Oliveology love it when some foods appear for a very short time at the market. We always try to eat seasonally, and anticipating unique vegetables, fruit or leaves like wild garlic is quite exciting. So when Marianna brought me a bunch of these last Saturday, I knew the time for one of my favourite things (and seasons) was here.

What does one do with these aromatic leaves? Well, garlicky pesto of course! You may remember our pistachio pesto from last year, or the sun dried tomato pesto from last fall. This spring we are making wild garlic pesto!

For this recipe we used walnuts and kefalotyri cheese. As for herbs, well, even though basil is traditionally used for pesto, we went for parsley. Its hebry notes blend perfectly with the wild garlic. But also a large bunch of parsley is much more affordable than these small bunches of basil you find at London markets. Now, if you are those lucky people who have pots with herbs then feel free to use whichever combination you prefer!

For a large jar of very garlicky pesto you will need:

½ cup wild garlic leaves
2 cups parsley leaves (save the stalks for stock)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup olive oil
kefalotyri cheese (optional)

Here is what you need for the recipe

If you prefer a subtle garlic flavour, then I suggest you halve the quantity of wild garlic leaves. But you know, a very garlicky pesto is better. So, in a blender or with a pestle and mortar place the herbs and walnuts. Sure, you could toast the walnuts first. But don’t. Trust me, these walnuts can proudly stand on their own. Raw. Blend, adding slowly the extra virgin olive oil until your walnuts are crushed and combined with the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and add as much cheese as you like.


Spring is here! Well, let’s not be hasty, but it seems so. The snow that surrounded us here in London last week has now melted and the sun is shining. The first flowers appear in the green parks. We timidly stop to smell them once again.

I always think of bees when I smell flowers. Imagine living a life surrounded by aromatic flowers. But let me not get carried away, our favourite beekeeper has more to say on bees.

But bees bring us to this week’s recipe. We will make a delicious spring breakfast using bee pollen! And not only to welcome spring. As many of us at Oliveology have been ill the last few weeks, bee pollen is our go-to superfood to boost our immunity. And ideas on how to incorporate it in our lives are always welcome (let us know if you’ve got any!). Bee Pollen is a source of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes including iron, protein, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3. Sounds like it’s very good for our bodies.

Collected by honeybees from the forests and flora of Northern Greece, our bee pollen is carefully dried to preserve all the vital nutrients. If you’ve never tasted bee pollen you’re in for a treat! These golden granules look like small rocks. But they are powdery, creating a silky dust in your mouth. And you can read a bit more here too!

This week we are pairing bee pollen with pairs and our favourite white soft galomyzithra creamy cheese. In an open sandwitch! Talk about pumping up your morning toast! Oh and for future spring breakfasts, bee pollen is great sprinkled on Greek yogurt, porridge, cereals and salads or added in milk, juice or smoothies.

Spring bee pollen toast for two

1 large pear
2 slices of qood quality bread
60g of galomyzithra cheese
2 teaspoons of bee pollen
sage honey (optional)

Finely slice the pear. Spread the galomyzithra cheese on your bread. Place the pear slices on top. Sprinkle bee pollen. Drizzle some honey if using.


When our Lida wrote her blog post on wine and cheese pairings, we absolutely loved the combination of smoked graviera with a barrel fermented Assyrtiko or aged Xinomavro. The thought of melted smoked graviera cheese has been with us since. And although we were getting ready for spring recipes, the weather did us a favour to remain wintery for a bit longer.

So while we are enjoying the white snow in London, this week we have prepared for you a very comforting recipe. The last winter recipe probably, as we are officially into spring. It is March after all. And what better way to say goodbye to winter with our absolutely favourite cauliflower and cheese. But for this one we’ve used our smoked graviera cheese!

Made from sheep’s and goats’ milk, this cheese comes from Sfakia on the island of Crete. It is made with thyme, making it all more interesting. Herby, woody and smokey, it is the perfect cheese for this recipe. And for a barrel fermented Assyrtiko or aged Xinomavro of course.

Serves 4

1 medium cauliflower (approx. 700g net weight)
1lt whole milk
1 tsp whole peppercorns
½ bunch tarragon plus more to serve
½ tsp salt
1.5 tbsp butter
1/5 tbsp flour
100g grated smoked graviera cheese
Smoked chilli flakes (optional)
Tarragon leaves (to serve)
Olive oil  (to serve)

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Finely chop the stalks and separate the leaves. Add the cauliflower, stalks and leaves in a medium sized pot. Top up with milk. Milk should cover it completely. Add the tarragon leaves, peppercorns, salt. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer until cauliflower is cooked, but still firm when pierced with a fork. Strain and reserve the milk.You should be left with approximately 700ml milk. Discard the tarragon and peppercorns. Place the cauliflower in an oven dish in one layer. In the same pot melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until mixed. Slowly add the aromatic milk you have reserved until your béchamel is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Taste and season with salt. Add the smoked graviera and stir until melted. Pour the béchamel on the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes. Bake at 200C for 20-30 min. To serve drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some tarragon leaves.

 


Let’s discover more about fabulous feta and bring some wine to the party!

How much do you like feta? If that’s the case for Greeks, we seem to like it quite a lot, consuming about 10 kilos of it annually. Most Greeks can’t live without it, enjoying this cheese in various forms and textures. Most of us have a friend who is having some with every single meal, right?

This post is an attempt to uncover feta’s diverse character. Sure, its creamy, crumbly, grainy texture and its full-flavoured, salty, tangy flavour are glorious -nothing much one can say about it. But 2018 is a year of discovery. So let’s discover together how feta works as part of a dip, in a pie or whipped up as a mousse.

Allow us inspire you to eat more feta and pair these recipe ideas with delicious Greek wine as well. Let’s not forget, the most recognised Greek product, is a quite a wine-friendly cheese. So today we will look into three feta recipe ideas and how each pairs with a different variety of Greek white grapes: Assyrtiko, Malagouzia and Vilana-also explaining their flavour profiles.

-Turokafteri (spicy feta dip) with Assyrtiko 

The main ingredient for turokafteri –apart from feta, of course- is roasted Florina peppers. For this dip you will also need: extra virgin olive oil, chilli flakes, yoghurt, white vinegar and paprika. Add the feta and roasted peppers to a food processor, add the remaining ingredients to taste until you create a smooth dip.

The famous Assyrtiko (usually from Santorini) balances this spicy dip with its tangy acidity. Maybe the most popular Greek white dry wine, Assyrtiko is lemony and mineral. Although cultivated successfully in the mainland as well as in other parts of the world, the Santorini Assyrtiko is always a point of reference, a fascinating case of vine that was never affected by phylloxera. But let this be the subject of another blogpost.

-Turopitakia (cheesepies) with Malagouzia 

Think of small pastries with kourou dough and a melty feta filling. You can also use phyllo pastry if you don’t have much time. To make your filling, combine feta cheese with eggs -and you can add another cheese (like muzithra or graviera) in there too.

The pies are looking for something aromatic so we could not recall of a wine more appropriate than Malagouzia. Think of a white grape variety producing pale yellow wines with white flowers, herbs, citrus fruits and mature peaches -all these aromas pair perfectly with these little pies.

-Feta cheesecake with Vilana 

Not any cheesecake would do; but a cheesecake with a galomizithra and feta mousse, with a base made of rusks and some sautéed apricot would do the trick. Rusks are added to a food processor and whisked until really smooth. You can add a bit of honey and melted butter until the mixture solid and refrigerate it. In case you don’t have apricots, another similar summery fruit would be great as well.

Vilana grape, described by the famous Jancis Robinson as “relatively delicate speciality of Crete” produces fresh whites with soft acidity. Its citrusy, lemon tree flower and green apple notes; create the perfect balance for this not-so-sweet dessert.

Did you enjoy the recipes? Would you like more detailed descriptions? Please let us know.

What’s your favourite way of enjoying feta? How do you pair it with wine? We would love to know!

By Lida


Today we are going to have a closer look at the Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko produced on the Island of Crete, Greece. Vintage of 2015. The grape variety, Liatiko, usually has very dark skin and is traditionally used to make both dry and sweet wines.

Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko is a dry red wine made from 100% of the Liatiko grape variety. This species once had great importance to winemakers in Crete dating back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, however, only a few producers are making wines from Liatiko. This is why we are very lucky to have this one!

Located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, Crete is the largest island of Greece. The island has a Mediterranean climate, yet there can be significant differences between the coastal and the mountainous areas within the island. There is a drop of 6°C in temperature with every 1000m increase in altitude. Therefore, in hot regions like Crete, grape vines enjoy a cooler growing environment and better air circulation if the vineyards are on mountainous slopes. When it comes to the soil in Crete, this is normally rich in limestone, with variation in the portions of loam and clay. Limestone, together with the slopes, provide good drainage to the vines and thus contribute to the flavour concentration of the grape berries.

Crete saw the prevalence of modern winemaking in the 1970’s, and has four PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellations today: Peza, Arhanes, Dafnes and Sitia. Among these appellations, Dafnes is located in central Crete, is the only one that specializes in the Liatiko. All Dafnes PDO wines must be 100% Liatiko. And so is the wine we are presenting today.

The producer, the Douloufakis family has been dedicated to wine production since the 1930s. The winemaking traditions and philosophy has been greatly preserved and passed on. The winery has vineyards situated in hill slopes at the altitude of 350 meters in Dafnes.

The 2015 Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko perfectly presents everything you may expect from what has been mentioned above. It has a beautiful pale ruby colour with a garnet and orange edge. On the nose it has ripe red fruits such as strawberry and red cherry, with notes of toast, sweet cinnamon and caramel – hints of oak barrel. On the palate it is savoury and spicy, with a good acidity, between medium to full body, and outstanding tannins. It has an elegant release of its alcohol and relatively long finish, echoing the note of tobacco. Believe it or not, such a flavour profile just reminds me of a very excellent Barolo.

This wine is better served around 20°C — slightly higher than room temperature, in a large tulip shape glass. Decanting absolutely helps to soften the tannins and achieve a more rounded taste on your palate. With its complex and developing flavour profile, this wine goes well with duck, goose, or other gamy birds. It can also pair with salami or even pizza.

 

By Celine