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 goat 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.


Luxury is quite a complex word. When it comes to cooking, it’s usually associated with expensive or rare ingredients. Something most of us don’t usually incorporate in our daily cooking routines.

But you know, expensive can be relative when it comes to food. And luxury doesn’t have to be something we save for special occasions. We can add small notes of it in our daily cooking. I’ll explain.

How? Well, all one has to do really is source some good ingredients and combine them in clever ways. And most of these luxury foods go a long way. Saffron is the ingredient we love today. Why? Because of its red, gold colour. Because of its warm, slightly metallic flavour. Because a few threads are enough to add its unique aroma to your food. Plus, it makes us feel luxurious, doesn’t it? The one we are using is from Greece and oh, it’s organic too!

This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s flavour combinations.

Feeds 2-3 people:

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions
200g orzo
700 ml water
100g sun dried tomato paste
4 generous pinches of saffron
4 cardamom pods
100g galomyzithra or other soft white cheese
salt, pepper

Preheat your oven at 200C.

Boil your water and add the saffron threads. Once they release their colour, add the sun dried tomato paste and stir. Pop in the cardamom pods.

Finely chop the onions and gently fry them with the olive oil until translucent. Use a heat-proof casserole over medium low-heat. Add the orzo and stir, until the grains are coated in oil. Pour the saffron/sun dried tomato liquid over the orzo. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer your casserole to the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until orzo is cooked and liquid is absorbed, around 20-30 min. Check halfway through and add a bit more water if needed. A few minutes before your orzo is ready, add the galomizithra cheese and fold through so that some lumps remain. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the cheese melts. Can you smell the red-gold luxury?

This dish is great served with a simple green salad.

 


This is a blog post to share with you some of the magic which exists in Greek cheese. Most of us often see cheese as an interesting ingredient to cook with or have as part of our cheese platter. And it is of course that. But so much more.

Next time you get a piece of cheese, before you eat it or start grading it, stop. Look at it. Smell it. Cut a small piece and put it in your mouth. When you taste cheese, an entire world opens up. The cheese that you taste is more than its taste and aroma. It’s more than an ingredient to be used in salads or soufflés. It carries within it all the characteristics of the place where it is coming from. Of the animals whose milk created it. Of the time of the year when it was made. Of the cheesemaker whose art turned the milk into cheese. Of the culture of that place in the world where it comes from. Each cheese carries a story. If you pay close attention, you can experience it.

Today we will share with you the story of our graviera cheese from Naxos.

The cheesemaker Emmanuel Koufopoulos lives on the island of Naxos. His cheese room operates from 1990 in the area of Saint Isidoros Galanadou at the intersection of Melana and Potamia. You know, if you are ever around. His graviera cheese has been awarded protection under the European Union’s Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) status. What does this mean? It means that only the cheese produced there can have that name.

Koufopoulos puts together family heritage and modern technology and creates his cheese using local cow’s, sheep’s and goats’ milk. Almost daily, he collects milk from his own cows, and from animals living in the mountains of Naxos. Kinda gives you a glimpse of how cheesemaking was done in the past. He also uses vegetable rennet (yes, this cheese is vegetarian!). Of course, there are no preservatives or additives.

He usually talks about his love for cheese, which, yes, comes through once you taste it. Aged for minimum one year, this cheese has a semi-hard texture and a rich aroma, a creamy and buttery mouthfeel, and a mellow peppery taste with nutty undertones.

There are various ways to enjoy this cheese. You can include it in a cheese platter. You can enjoy it in a sandwich, smothered with some chutney or pickled onions. You can use it in cooking. Grade and sprinkle over pasta. Make soufflés, quiches or pies. Cut in cubes and include it in salads. Melt in a cast iron skillet and serve with pickled cucumbers.

Yes, there are many ways to enjoy this cheese. But if you ask me, the best way to savour it is the simplest one. With some good crusty sourdough bread. You can then experience properly this graviera from the island of Naxos.


Serving homemade condiments is a brilliant way of showing your guests that you have made an extra effort cooking for them. Pairing the main course with homemade chutney will make your guests, really intrigued. It can be made in advance but if not, it will fill your kitchen with wonderful smells, which your guests will find extra appetising.

According to its definition, this spicy condiment contains fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. It can vary in texture from chunky to smooth and in degrees of spiciness from mild to hot. Chutney is a delectable companion to curried dishes. The sweeter chutneys also make interesting bread spreads and are delicious served with cheese.

Toast 70g of Aegina pistachios in a preheated oven in 160°C for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the yellow skin from a mid-sized quince with a vegetable peeler and and peel it chunky.

Sauté a finely chopped onion in a pan, with 40ml evoo. Keep stirring in low heat until it caramelises. Add the peeled quince, a teaspoon of chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons of honey, 50g sugar, a cinnamon stick, a star anise, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 50ml of apple juice. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until it forms a jam-like texture. Check the mix frequently and add water only if there is no liquid left.

Add the pistachios to a food processor (or blender) and pulse it to chop them coarsely. Add some freshly ground pepper, stir it well and serve. Alternatively, pour into sterile jars and use within six months.

We can’t help but thinking the wonderful sandwiches you can have with your leftover Sunday roast, Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey. Of course, we find this quince condiment perfect with a cheese board and/or charcuterie. Enjoy!

A while ago we wrote a blogpost on pistachios explaining what makes our Greek pistachios from Aegina Island (P.D.O) so special. You can find them online or on site in three different forms: roasted and lightly salted, roasted and unsalted and raw unsalted kernels.