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.


Are you familiar with the song: “Sugar is sweet/ But not as sweet as my baby/ Honey’s a treat but it/ Can’t compete with my baby”? It seems like they have never tried grape molasses! In Greece when we want to say that something/ someone is really sweet, we say they are sweet like petimezi. One great thing about our health awareness and sugar rush/ tax era is rediscovering excellent ingredients like this one. Grape molasses or petimezi, is an ancient food, popular for its nutritious qualities and delightful flavour. Before establishing the use of sugar, petimezi was very commonly used across the Mediterranean and especially Greece, not only as a sweetener but as a remedy as well.

Petimezi’s flavour is sweet with a hint of spice and its aroma is pungent, potent and so incredibly tempting. This excellent product comes from boiling grape-must in low heat for a long time. It is rather expensive since the production process is long and the yield is small. Its texture is quite similar to aged balsamic vinegar; if you are an Ottolenghi fan, then you are definitely familiar with pomegranate molasses and can use petimezi, accordingly.

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