One of the things we enjoy the most during this holiday season is baking. There is something quite unique when the house fills with aromas. Especially when it comes to these spices we have associated with this time of the year. Yes, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper, all these fragrant spices make us feel even more festive.

This week we have prepared cookies! Soft and moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. But as cookies go, you can of course go for the crunch throughout. Just let them bake for a few more minutes. For these cookies we have used one of our favourite ingredients, grape molasses. When I was growing up, my father would prepare for me and my sister a slice of bread, with a thin layer of butter and grape molasses on top. The memory of this intense and strangely fragrant syrup always comes to mind when I open a bottle of grape molasses and smell it. And to this day, I find it very hard to describe its unique taste.

But back to the cookies.

The recipe below is adapted from Bon Appetit. We used a mixture of our favourite spices, but as always, feel free to substitute. If you love cinnamon, just use cinnamon, if you hate cloves, just make it without.

For 20 cookies you will need:

100g dark brown sugar
110g unsalted butter
½ egg
55g grape molasses
60g whole wheat flour
75g white flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spices (we used a combination of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper)

1 tbsp milk, 1 tbsp grape molasses and icing sugar (optional, to glaze)

 

Whisk together both flours, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and whisk just to combine. Add molasses and whisk again until incorporated.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to your mixture, carefully so as not to over-mix.

Place in the fridge for at least an hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using your hands, form small or larger balls and place them on your tray, leaving space in between your cookies as they will expand. Bake for 7-12 minutes, or until you have reached your desired softness.

If you want to glaze them, stir the milk and grape molasses until well combined. Slowly add powdered sugar until your glaze is thick and glossy. Drizzle over cool cookies.


This time of the year, we always look around for interesting recipes for Christmas stuffing. You can’t have a festive table without it, can you? In Greece, stuffing is usually made with mince meat and rice. Here in the UK, sausage meat is preferred. But if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, surely you will know by know how we love creating vegan takes on traditional recipes.

Remember last year’s rice stuffing? With that in mind, this year we decided to take stuffing to a whole other level. How? Well, we kept some of the Christmassy flavours and added a few new ones (intense red cranberries and roasted chestnuts have arrived at our shop at Borough Market, need we say more?). Oh, and we’ve swapped rice for our favourite bulgur wheat!

Truth is, this dish is not just for your Christmas table. As I prepared it for this post, a bit before Christmas as you can imagine, I found myself in the middle of December, carrying with me this fragrant dish for lunch, looking forward to eating it again and again. And I have to tell you, just make more. It makes for a wonderful addition to your favourite winter lunches. This recipe serves 4 people, because sometimes all you need for Christmas is these few people you love most. But if you are feeding many, just multiply accordingly. It works very well.

For 4 people you will need:
1 small leek, finely chopped
2tbsp olive oil
50g dried cranberries
50g mixed walunts and hazelnuts (or other nuts of your choosing)
100g roasted chestnuts
½ nutmeg grated
4 cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp dried thyme
salt
pepper
200g bulgur wheat
600ml vegetable stock
a few springs of mint (to serve)

In a medium sized and over medium heat pot place the olive oil and gently fry the leek until soft and caramelised. Add the bulgur wheat and stir until all grains are coated in oil. Add the cranberries, nuts, chestnuts and stir again. Season with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper.

Add the vegetable stock and stir until well combined.
Bring to a boil and lower the heat.
Simmer for 15-20min or until bulgur is cooked and flavours have blended.

Serve with finely chopped mint and lots of Christmas love!


You know, often one cooks the same Christmas recipes, year after year. It’s beautiful to keep these food traditions. We do have many loved ones, like the melomakarona cookies that we make every year. But at the same time, every year we try something new.

This year we have a lovely brussels sprouts recipe for you! You know there are some people who just loath brussels sprouts. We are definitely not those people. We absolutely love this winter vegetable. What’s not to love anyway? And as we are getting our recipes and foods ready for Christmas, we couldn’t but create a festive brussels sprouts recipe for our table.

The recipe below uses walnuts, dried oregano and rosemary and our winter favourite: walnut oil. This special oil is made from semi ripe olives crushed with walnuts, purslane, and wild aromatic herbs giving a fresh taste that is full of flavour. The result is a very warm, nutty, comforting dish. If you want to add some zingy notes, serve with some lemon juice. But we prefer it as is.

Serves 2

350g Brussels sprouts, shredded
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried rosemary
35ml 21 walnut oil plus more for serving
50g walnuts, crushed
salt
lemon juice (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the Brussels sprouts, garlic, oregano, rosemary and walnut oil. Season with salt. Place sprouts on a baking sheet. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Bake at 200C for approximately 20 minutes, or until sprouts are tender and slightly charred.

To serve, drizzle with walnut oil and lemon (if using).

 

 


Christmas is just around the corner and here at Oliveology we are getting ready for the day. Very interesting cheeses have arrived from artisan cheesemakers from all over Greece. They are made mostly with sheep’s and goats’ milk. Soft white galomyzithra from Crete, Ash Cheese and St. Isidore from the island of Naxos, matured feta cheese from Attica, these are just some of the options. Of course you can use them in cooking, preparing delicious festive recipes. But there is no better way to enjoy such excellent cheeses than on a cheese platter.

And what better to accompany them than a home made chutney. This one is easy to make, as it doesn’t require much chopping or preparation. Gather your favourite spices and get cooking. We are using of course our succulent dried figs. Carefully hand-picked and selected for top quality, they are dried naturally under the Greek sun, with no additives or preservatives. The figs are harvested from the fertile Messinia region in the Peloponnese, which is famous for its high quality figs. Together with our aged balsamic vinegar and grape molasses, this chutney is both sweet and vibrant.

Just one bag of our figs makes a jar of chutney!

You will need:

1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1tbs ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bag (250g) coarsely chopped dried figs
160ml balsamic vinegar
70ml grape molasses
200ml water
Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a saucepan add the olive oil and in medium heat stir in the ginger and coriander, until fragrant. Add the dried figs, vinegar, grape molasses and water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let your chutney simmer. Add more water if needed until the figs are soft and the liquid is thick and glossy. Let cool and place in sterilised jars. Enjoy with your cheese platter or offer it as a delicious edible gift.


Melomakarona is one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the festive season.Their intense homely smell makes every house smell like Christmas! This is an easy, healthy and easy recipe based on olive oil and honey.

Makes: 20-25 cookies

½ cup olive oil (175ml)
½ cup brown sugar (100g)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (120ml)
1 tbs orange zest
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda

2 tbs brandy
4 cups flour (about 450g)
1 cup (120g) chopped walnuts
(½ for the mix ½ for topping)
2 tbs cinnamon (½ for the mix ½ for topping)
½ tsp powder clove (½ for the mix ½ for topping)

For the syrup:
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of water

This is a traditional Christmas cookie recipe. You will find it in every home in Greece at Christmas time.

Mix the flour, baking powder in to a bowl. Mix baking soda into the orange juice. Mix the oil, sugar, orange juice, brandy and orange zest and pour gradually into the flour mixture. Mix all the ingredients gently, without kneading to create a soft dough. Add cinnamon and clove in the mixture.

Make the dough into little cookie balls. Remember that these will rise so keep them small. Put the cookies into a tray covered with greaseproof paper. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile make the syrup. Put the honey, sugar and water into a large pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes skimming off the froth. Let it cool down a little bit. Take the cookies out of the oven and put them in a large plate. Pour the syrup immediately over them while they are still hot. When all the syrup is absorbed turn them over. Repeat the same procedure a few times until almost all of the syrup is absorbed.

For the topping mix cinnamon, clove and chopped walnuts and sprinkle over the top of the cookies. Let them cool down and store them away. They usually taste better a few days later and as they age. They can last up to 3 weeks.


Leftovers can be the best and the worst part of a festive meal. Yes, let’s be honest, after a couple of days of luscious Christmas food, returning home to reheated turkey or mash doesn’t sound very appealing. But if Christmas is the time of the year to be merry and bright, then the days after Christmas are there to get us ready for the New Year.

This week is for us to reflect on the year ending and the new one beginning. And of course to sort out all the leftovers from the last few days. We’re here to inspire you for both.

Below is a recipe for leftover potatoes. But not only that. It is also something to inspire you to be different in the new year. To not waste food. To treat leftovers with care and see them transform. To begin 2017 with a new, no-waste philosophy.

But we wouldn’t want you to eat dry old potatoes. We want you to turn these potatoes into a new dish. To not waste anything and at the same time enjoy the food that you create. For this recipe you can use any potatoes you’ve got. Roasted, boiled, already mashed. Take them out of the fridge, gather the few ingredients listed below and get ready to be amazed.

We will use truffle butter to transform humble leftovers into yet another festive dish. With real truffle pieces inside, this butter is so aromatic that only a couple of teaspoons work wonders.

Truffle Butter Potato Croquettes
(For 2-3 people)

350g potatoes, mashed
3 eggs
30g of truffle butter, melted under gentle heat
30g flour
Salt and pepper to taste
A cup of breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil for frying

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Christmas is the time of the year when families and friends come together around the table. Back in the day things were simpler. There was meat, potatoes, vegetables, maybe stuffing.

Today things are a bit more complicated. People love different things. People hate different things. People have food prohibitions they bring to the table. Each guest may need something different.

Yes, cooking for different people can be tricky. But we’re here to help you with that. Choose easy dishes that will satisfy everyone. And maybe bring to the table some of your own food memories.

In Greece stuffing is made traditionally with mince meat, turkey liver and rice, amongst other things. This Christmas however we opt for a vegan version. A simple, delicious recipe with the aroma of tradition. Minus the meat and liver that is. Try it and you will see your vegan and non vegan guests with full bellies.

In the recipe which follows, the measurements are indicative. You can add or substitute according to your taste. Add more nuts, more raisins, chestnuts. Or remove anything you don’t like. It’s up to you. It is Christmas after all.

This quantity is for stuffing one medium turkey.

A few gulps of olive oil
200g rice
50g raw pistachios
50g walnuts
40g raisins
20 chestnuts
1 small stick of cinnamon
5 cloves
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1lt of vegetable stock
salt and black pepper to taste
½ bunch of parsley, leaves only (use the stalks for stock), chopped

In a large casserole over medium heat pour the olive oil. Add the rice, nuts, raisins and stir until the rice is translucent. Pour the stock and stir. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the rice is cooked but not cooked through. Add the cinnamon, cloves, chestnuts, fresh parsley and stir.

Stuff the turkey or continue cooking in the hob until all liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through, adding more stock if needed. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve. Merry Christmas!