Halloumi is in store! A few weeks ago, we received our amazing halloumi from Cyprus, made purely from goats’ milk. For some reason, I have associated halloumi with summer. I am not sure why, it is equally tasty during winter: grated into pies, placed on top of winter vegetables and roasted in the oven, or as part of our winter salads. But this season somehow makes me crave it even more.

When thinking what to pair it with, my mind went back to summers past. A few summers ago, I worked for a brilliant Greek chef called Chrysanthos Karamolegos. He is a larger-than-life man, full of creativity and love for Greek cuisine. A cosmopolitan creature, he always takes unusual ingredients and puts them together, resulting in the most amazing flavour combinations. The recipe we have today for you is from my memories of his flavours, of my time with him, memories of life-changing culinary experiences that made life sparkle, bite after bite.

So if during summer, like me, you sometimes lose yourself in the slower pace of life, in the heat, or in the holidays away from home, this recipe is to remind us that there is always a bite of food that can let the light in.

Serves two as main
250g halloumi cheese
500g very cold cold melon
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
3 tsp white vinegar
1 red chilli
a few fresh basil leaves

Cut the melon into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, mix together the remaining olive oil, honey and vinegar. Finely chop the chilli and basil leaves. Add to your dressing. Toss together the melon and dressing and place on a plate. Slice the halloumi into thick slices and grill in a frying pan or griddle, using 1 tsbp of olive oil. Place the grilled halloumi on top of your melon and serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

 


This week, we’ve got a very luscious, spring recipe for you. We are using one of our favourite ingredients, artichoke hearts! Our marinated artichoke hearts come from the area of Kyparissia in Peloponnese. They are picked, cleaned and placed in glass jars with leeks, olive oil and sunflower oil. They are an ideal addition to your tarts, or as part of an antipasti dish.

Inspired by the much loved artichoke-spinach combination, this recipe is perfect for a cosy dinner for those days when the sun refuses to shine, and we still feel that we are more in winter than in spring. So what are we making? Oven baked wholemeal penne with spinach, artichokes, creamy Greek yogurt and galomyzithra cheese-all baked in the oven. And as always, it is really easy to make!

If you love artichokes as much as I do, then have a look at our Vegan Cooking Workshop in April, where you will learn how to prepare and cook fresh artichokes!

Serves 4

1 leek
1 jar artichoke hearts
200g galomuzithra
100g yogurt
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups fresh spinach
150g wholemeal penne
75g graviera cheese

Finely chop the leek and place in a large bowl. Drain the artichokes, reserving the oil and add to the bowl. In a non-stick frying pan, gently heat up the spinach, until just wilted. You should be left with one cup. Add to the bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the artichoke oil, galomuzithra and yogurt. Add the garlic. Mix well, adding 3/4 cup of water to dilute. You are to have a thin, creamy sauce. Worry not, the pasta will absorb it.

In an oven-proof casserole dish, place the vegetables, creamy sauce and pasta and toss everything together. Sprinkle some graviera cheese and bake at 180C for 40 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese has melted.

 


Valentine’s Day on February 14th is usually associated with romantic love. For us here at Oliveology it is indeed a day of love. Love is not only for lovers, but also for friends, family, yourself. It is also the day to indulge in the pleasures of eating-and cooking for that matter.

So this week we have prepared a recipe for you, using one of our very special ingredients! Black. Truffle. Sauce.

Our truffle sauce is made of champignon mushrooms, blended with black summer truffle, extra virgin olive oil, salt and spices. Each jar contains 10% of truffle, so the aroma is quite intense. You can use this sauce in various dishes, stir into warm pasta, add on omelettes or mix with cream for a delicious sauce. My personal favourite is simply spreading it on warm toast, with fresh herbs on top. Add a poached egg and you’ve got yourselves the most luxurious breakfast -or dinner for that matter!

But back to this week’s recipe. It is possibly the simplest way to use this delicious ingredient. Apart from simply spreading on toast, that is. You can swap orzo for rice, and if you want to complicate it a bit more, use vegetable stock instead of water. But for us, this version is ideal.

Serves two

1 medium red onion
2tbsp olive oil
150g orzo
½ jar black truffle sauce
300ml water
salt pepper
30g kefalotyri cheese, finely grated
springs of thyme (to serve)

Finely slice the onion. In a medium sized dish and over medium-high heat gently fry the onion in the olive oil until translucent and slightly caramelised. Add the orzo and stir until covered in the remaining oil and well mixed.

Add half of the truffle sauce and stir again.

Add the 300ml of water, season with salt and pepper and let it cook, half covered until orzo is al dente.

Remove from the heat, add the cheese and stir, adding a few splashes of water if needed.

Serve with the remaining black truffle sauce and fresh thyme.


Manouri is one of our favourite cheeses. Why you ask. Well, its flavour is magnificent, with sheep’s and goats’ milk balancing the tanginess and smoothness. Texture wise, this semi-hard white cheese manages to exist perfectly between creaminess and firmness. More than this, when grilled, this balance transforms into a more intense play between a near-crispy exterior and a smooth interior. You know, almost anything grilled is better.

So this week we decided to get our griddle pan out of the cupboard and grill everything for this dish. First things first though. Manouri pairs perfectly with both salty flavours and sweet. Another balance we love. In this recipe we went for sweet, pairing it with summer fruit and chestnut honey. This interesting combination of ingredients makes this dish ideal for either a starter or a dessert. Yes, another perfect balance, don’t you think? I’m telling you, manouri has that quality. But just between you and I, this dish is actually perfect for a summer dinner. Don’t ask me why, just give it a try and you will see. Somehow it makes you feel full, body and soul.

For 2 people you will need

2 thick slices of manouri cheese (approx. 5cm each)
4 tbsp of olive oil
2 apricots
1 peach
1 nectarine
1 red chilli, finely chopped
a few springs of mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp chestnut honey
black pepper

Place your griddle pan over medium-high heat and let it heat up. Gently rub the olive oil around the manouri.

Cut the apricots in half, the peach and nectarine in quarters, removing –and discarding – the pits. Rub the rest of the olive oil on your fruit.

Place the manouri and the fruit on your griddle pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Put the cheese and fruit on a plate. Sprinkle the chilli, springs of mint. Crack some black pepper and drizzle with honey.

Let us know if you prefer this for a starter, dessert or as a main!


Yes, we’re cooking again with spinach this week! Did you make our spinach and rice stew last week? This week we felt it’s time we did something less traditional. Recipe books call these little thingies that we are making this week gnocchi or dumplings. We are not sure which word we prefer, but they do look like golf balls, hence the name on the title.

We are using fresh spinach from the market and our two favourite cheeses. Manouri, a creamy semi-hard white cheese and kefalotyri, a more piquant yellow cheese. Both are made from goats’ and sheep’s milk, from two small producers in Greece. We love them both equally. Manouri adds silkiness to the balls and kefalotyri adds the necessary saltiness.

For two people you will need:

400g of spinach (leaves only)
100g manouri cheese, grated
50g kefalotyri cheese, grated
2 egg yolks
60g all-purpose flour
black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (to serve)

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, running the leaves under cold water. Squeeze the spinach with your hands, so that all the water is removed. You should be left with a couple of handfuls of spinach. Finely chop. Squeeze again to remove any excess water.

Place your spinach in a large bowl. Add the manouri cheese and the kefalotyri. Using a fork mix all ingredients together. In a separate bowl break the egg yolks. Add them to the spinach-cheese mixture and stir well. Slowly add the flour. You should have a slightly sticky dough. Add black pepper to taste.

Place it in the fridge for an hour. It will become firmer.

In the meantime, set up for cooking: Place a large pot with salted water over medium high heat and bring to the boil.

Once the dough is cold and firm, using your hands shape round balls. In batches, drop them in the boiling water but be careful not to overcroud the pot. The balls will rise to the surface. Once they do, let them swirl there for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove from the pot.

Serve warm, with extra virgin olive oil and more black pepper.

 

 


This week we are cooking asparagus again! You see, the beauty of waiting all year long for a vegetable or fruit is that you can then enjoy it to the fullest. This week we have decided to make something simple. As we are busy preparing for our upcoming cooking workshop in mid-May, and many new exciting things for this autumn, we often find ourselves very tired at the end of the day.

On days when the idea of cooking something elaborate for dinner seems absurd and you come home late from work (or worse, you have more work to do like we often do), this simple recipe will make you happier. Making it only takes a few minutes, enough to relax you from the day’s stress.

For this one we’ve used St Isidoros cheese, a smooth and intense goat’s milk cheese, made on the island of Naxos and matured for 400 days. Come by Borough Market to taste it!

So here we go, ingredients and recipe for two people:

4 eggs
½ bunch asparagus
a couple of pinches of dried thyme
1 small leek
3 tbsp olive oil
100g St Isidoros cheese, grated
salt, pepper

Turn on your oven to grill.
Finely slice the leek. Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut each in half.
Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for two minutes.
In an oven proof skillet gently fry the leeks with the olive oil until softened.
Set aside and sprinkle half of the cheese.
Mix the eggs, salt, pepper and the rest of the cheese in a bowl, whisking with a fork.
Pour the egg mixture on top of the leeks and scatter the asparagus.
Place it under the grill for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

We hope that by now you have relaxed. Set the table and serve with a simple green salad.


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.

 


We are in the midst of winter and cheese and wine pairings are our go-to way to entertain. We are here for those of you who want to try new flavours and texture combinations or understand how to create a fun cheese platter. Let us take you through some “pairing rules” as well as highlight important factors that you need to consider. Each case is followed with few examples in order to inspire you to taste new flavours.

-As a general rule, white wine is easier to pair with cheese than red. A cool white wine with strong acidity and fresh scents will “cut through” cheese’s natural richness.
Take Metsovone, a PDO Greek cheese or  Smoked Graviera for example, a smoked cheese from Crete, just in at our shop at Borough Market-look for an aromatic white or a red that will bring out its bold flavour. This cheese is brilliant with a barrel fermented Assyrtiko. When gloriously melted, an aged Xinomavro (or a Ximonavro blend) will be a great contrast -and match-to your Metsovone, especially when paired with sausages and garlicky potatoes.

-Red wine pairs mostly with hard aged cheese. It’s not just the texture but also the aromatic and flavour complexity of an aged cheese that asks for something bold and full bodied as a partner.
Graviera is a PDO cheese produced in various parts of Greece, the main of which are: Crete, Agrafa and Naxos. We would pair the one from Naxos -produced exclusively from cow’s milk- with Agiorgitiko. On the other hand, the one from Crete -made from sheep’s milk or sheep’s and goat’s milk- with Xinomavro.

-Is the cheese cooked or not? The aromatic and flavour profile of a cheese changes and more layers are added. Are we grilling the cheese, pan-frying it (saganaki) or serving it as a soufflé?
Kaseri, a PDO cheese made from 100% goat’s milk, or Kefalotyri made with milk from the island of Evia are a great pair to Cretan Vidiano. In case we stuff red Florina peppers with it and have some rusks on the side we’re looking for a Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

-How can we approach the usual stars of cheese boards with a fresh eye?
Just when you think that you had parmesan with every single wine, you start wondering what this cheese is really looking for. Try pairing parmesan, pears and prosciutto with the aromatic Malagouzia for a truly unique combo.

-How do we pair blue cheeses?
Mavrodafni, a PDO fortified dessert wine is a beautiful companion to strong and spicy Stilton.
The famous dessert wine from Samos, Moschato with its aromas of apricot jam, overripe melon and butterscotch candy, is wonderful with Roquefort.

-Still wondering what to drink with feta?
The most popular Greek cheese loves retsina. Retsina finally makes a comeback to the wine world with a newfound vitality. It is the perfect choice when you’re feeling summery or wanting to bring some warm sunshine a la table. For example, think no further when you decide to prepare a Greek salad or a Cretan dakos salad.

So many pairing rules, so little time! We’ll be back with more exciting flavour combinations and more Greek cheeses and wines, soon. In case you want to read our Greek wine related posts, follow the link.
Tweet us your cheese board and favourite pairings; we always love new ideas! Last but not least, do you find is there a wine or a cheese you struggle to pair with? We’re here to help!

by Lida P.

(photo by Amaryllis)

 


January is in full swing, with gloomy wet weather (which however the writer of this blog post happens to adore). January is the month when we all decide we will take better care of ourselves. With the feasting of the holidays now way past us, we make promises to eat healthier, better. What healthier and better means may differ for each of us. For us at Oliveolology it is eating fresh vegetables, food made with care, good olive oil.

But you know, you have to have exciting flavours too. So this week we are playing with one very special ingredient. Kalamata olives with orange and herbs. These olives are marinated in orange juice, zest and wild aromatic herbs from our farm. Try to imagine the meatiness of the kalamata olives together with the citrusy orange. Absolutely delicious.

And what these olives pair perfectly with? Beetroot! You know we love this vegetable and there is something very satisfying to roasted beetroot. Remember our beetroot dip? How about last year’s lentil and beetroot salad?

To bring everything together we’ve selected kale and our organic goat’s cheese.

Serves two as side or one as main

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet red wine vinegar
1 grape molasses
1 bowl/plate/bunch/bag of kale leaves
2 large beetroot
½ tub orange olives
¼-1/2 pack goats’ cheese
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 200C. Scrub your beetroot under running water. Wrap each one in tinfoil and place them in a baking tray. Roast them until cooked through, around an hour.
In the meantime, wash and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, sweet vinegar and grape molasses, salt.
Once cooked, remove the beetroot from the oven. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, unwrap them and using your fingers peel the skin off. You can of course leave the skin on. Slice the beetroot or cut them in wedges. Gently toss together beetroot, kale, orange olives, dressing. Lay on a plate or bowl (we used a chopping board). Crumble the cheese on top.