Baklava is one of the most-loved Greek desserts. With origins in the Ottoman cuisine, it is prepared all around Greece, Turkey, and many other countries of the Levant, the Balkans and beyond.

We’ve tasted some delicious Turkish baklava with pistachios, while in Greece walnuts are preffered. Some more ‘modern’ versions which were popular all around Athens in the 90s-2000s used hazelnuts. Diverting from traditional recipes, for us, the selection of nuts is a very personal choice, and in this recipe we’ve actually used a mixture of all three: pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts.

When it comes to the layers of filo, there are, again endless variations. If you love a tall baklava, double the recipe, or prepare it in a smaller baking dish. In ours we used one pack of filo and a 32x26cm dish and the result was a thin baklava. Ideally a metal baking dish is preferred as the distribution of heat is optimal for the baklava. However, we tried baking ours in a classic baking dish and it worked just fine.

For the syrup, we used our wild flower honey to sweeten ours, which adds a wonderful depth of flavour. When it comes to pouring the syrup over the baked baklava, there is a great debate around the ideal temperatures. We found that cooled down syrup poured over the hot baklava, just as it comes our of the oven gives a wonderfully crispy filo.

1 pack filo (450g)
350g nuts (we used raw pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts)
100g white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
250g clarified butter (or simply melt butter)

For the syrup
250ml water
200g white sugar
200g wild flower honey
2tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
lemon peel

Syrup: In a medium sized pot and over medium heat add the water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and peel, and cinnamon stick. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick and set aside to cool.

Preparation: Preheat your oven to 190C.

Working in batches and using a pestle and mortal or blender, grind your nuts until they resemble coarse sand. Whisk in the sugar and cinnamon and set aside in a bowl.

Place the sheets of filo on the table over a kitchen towel and cover with a damp kitchen towel.

Melt your butter and place it on the table.

Assembling: Brush the bottom and sides of your pan with butter. Place one layer of filo, trimming the ends if needed. Drizzle some butter and add another layer of filo. Repeat until you have four layers of filo at the bottom.

Sprinkle a thin layer of your nut mixture. Cover with a sheet of filo and drizzle with butter. Repeat the process with a thin layer of nuts, then filo then drizzled butter, until you are left with three sheets of filo and no nuts.

Drizzling butter in between the sheets of filo, cover the top of the baklava with the remaining three sheets. If you have any butter left then pour it over your baklava.

Using a sharp knife cut in a diamond-shaped pattern (or squares or whatever you prefer). You can place the baklava in the fridge for the butter to set if you are finding it difficult to cut.

Baking: Bake at 190C in the bottom rack of the oven for 30-40minutes, until the baklava is golden and cooked underneath as well (check by gently lifting a piece from the corner).

Remove from the oven and immediately pour over the syrup. You will hear it making a beautiful sound. The syrup might seem a lot but let it cool and it will absorb most of it.

Tip: Baklava is always better the next day, so if you can, be patient and wait at least a few hours before serving it.

 


In Greece, Easter is perhaps the biggest celebration of the year. Amongst the traditional mageiritsa offal soup, the tsoureki brioche bread, and of course the much loved easter lamb, Greeks also prepare Easter eggs.

Traditionally, on the Thursday before Easter, the day of the crucifixion of Christ, eggs are dyed red, the red colour symbolising the blood of Christ. Today, many dye eggs in various colours, and decorate them with stickers.

The eggs are then kept until Saturday night, and after the resurrection of Christ at midnight egg tapping takes place, or “tsouggrisma” as it’s called. This is when two eggs are tapped together, as people exchange Easter wishes.

We love this Greek tradition, so this week we’ve decided to share it with you. In the sprit of sustainable living, we are only using natural dye, which gives the eggs a lovely spring colours, as individual as nature itself. You can also use onion peels, red cabbage leaves, turmeric and lots more to dye the eggs naturally!

12 eggs
1 pack (3 sachets) natural egg dye
2.250 ml water
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

The process is very straightforward. Select good, free range or organic eggs (even if just for this Easter).

In a stainless steel pot (a casserole might stain), add three sachets of dye and the water. Stir and place over medium heat. Add the vinegar and stir again.

Gently submerge the eggs in the cold water.

Bring to a simmer, skimming any foam that might arise, and gently stirring.

Gently simmer for 20min. Remove from the pot and add the eggs in a bowl with ice cold water.

Drain and admire the beautiful colours.

Happy Easter!!


Tahinopita, literally meaning “tahini pie” is a well-loved Cypriot sweet bread/cake, traditionally eaten during Lent. Marianna, who is half Cypriot, grew up with tahinopita, be it from the neighbourhood bakery, or home-made by her mother and aunts. I, on the other hand did not, as tahinopita was not part of my culinary universe.

So when I was researching for this recipe I was, I must confess, not so enthusiastic about it. In its many versions, it read like a sweet bread with sweet tahini, which is a much loved combination, but nothing more than that.

Well. Let me tell you, I was standing in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, fragrant smells of cinnamon, mahleb and cloves all around me, tasting perhaps one of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever made.

The recipe is quite straightforward. You make the dough and the filling and then put them together. There are various ways to do so, and you can have a look at this video which is quite helpful. There’s also a much simpler way, which you can find here and which we used. It is very similar to making cinnamon rolls.

We got inspired by Georgina Hayden’s recipe who uses carob molasses in the filling and we absolutely loved the idea!

For the dough
350g flour
½ tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp aromatic spices such as mahleb, mastiha, vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
275ml lukewarm water

For the filling
200g tahini
125g white sugar
3 tbsp carob molasses
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
3tbsp water

To serve
wild flower honey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C.

First make the dough. Add the yeast to a jug with the lukewarm water and let it stand for a couple of minutes. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking soda, and all the spices. Add the yeast/water mixture and using a fork bring everything together. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until you have an elastic dough, around 10min. Dust your bowl with some flour and return the dough to your bowl. Let it rest in a warm place while you prepare the filling, around 15min.

To make the filling, gently whisk together the tahini, sugar, carob molasses, spices, olive oil and water. You should have a thick-but-not-too-thick paste. Set aside.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, around 2-3mm thick. Spread the filling on top. Then roll up the dough, cut in thick pieces, turn them on their side (like you would do with cinnamon rolls), and gently push them down, so that you have a small, round tahinopitas, resembling cookies. Alternatively, you can follow the traditional way: Fold the dough like an envelope, so that you have two layers of dough, with the filling in between. Roll up the dough and twist it around like a cheese stick. Roll it like a snail.

Place them in a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven at 160C for approx. 20minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey, if using. Enjoy!


April is here! The days are now officially longer (thank you daylight savings), and the weather is warm and sunny. This month we are getting ready for Greek Easter. Over the next few weeks, we will share with you traditional Greek recipes. We invite you to join us, cook with us and celebrate Greek Easter.

Easter Sunday is a day of celebration. Families and friends gather around the table, eating lamb, traditionally roasted on a spit. There are eggs died with red dye (watch this space for a how-to!). There’s also this lettuce and dill salad. Lettuce is in season in spring, and alongside dill make for a very refreshing side dish. Lots of vinegar and spring onions make this salad the perfect pairing to lamb. In my family we never add salt to the Easter salad, and we make it quite vinegary. You can add salt and reduce the vinegar to 1.5 tbsps if you prefer.

Serves 6

1 very large lettuce or 2 medium ones
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 large bunch of dill
6 spring onions
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sweet wine vinegar
salt (optional, to taste)

Finely cut the lettuce and add it in a bowl with cold water and ½ cup of red wine vinegar. This will both clean the lettuce, and according to some will add some more acidity to the salad. Drain well.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl.

Finely slice the spring onions and finely chop the dill. Add to your bowl.

Add the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt (if using) and mix everything together.

Serve with more vinegar and olive oil if desired.


Our recipe this week comes from the island of Sifnos. Melopita is a cake made with honey and anthotyro cheese, a soft white cheese resembling ricotta. On the island of Sifnos, as we learn in this video, it is is traditionally made during Easter, when households had anthotyro cheese around. Today of course we do have access to such cheeses all-year round, but it’s always interesting to see how seasonality is present in things one would least expect, like a dessert cake.

As you may know if you’re following this blog, when it comes to traditional Greek recipes, there are as many recipes as there are cooks. The one we have for you here is slightly adapted from Mrs Maria’s in the video, adding just a bit more anthotyro cheese and a few pinches of salt to bring out the honey’s sweetness. It somewhat reminds us of a honey cheesecake, but the texture is lighter and the flavour of honey is much more intense. We used wild thyme honey, a monofloral nectar honey from predominantly wild thyme flowers, as it’s both the honey used in Sifnos, but also one of our favourite ones!

Serves 6

650gr anthotyro cheese (you can replace it with any other soft white cheese like ricotta, or email us and we can order some for you)
250gr wild thyme honey
5 eggs
150g sugar
a few pinches of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
50gr semolina

Preheat your oven at 180C

In a large bowl, roughly mix the cheese, honey, eggs, sugar and salt with a fork. Using a food processor, blend the mixture in batches until smooth. If you have a large food processor, you can skip the bowl and simply add all the ingredients in the food processor. You should be left with a silky batter, slightly looser than cake batter.

Grease a large baking tray (we used a 30cm one) with the olive oil and add the semolina, so that the bottom and sides are covered. Pour in your batter. Your cake should be quite thin, around 2.5cm tall.

Bake for around 40 minutes, or until your cake is no longer wobbly. Serve cold.


On Sunday we celebrated Greek Easter! There are many traditions that go with this celebration. There’s the lamb on the spit, of course; our beloved tzatziki; dying eggs red; fasting for 40 days; eating loads of tsoureki, the traditional brioche-type bread; the traditional magiritsa soup, made of offal.

Galatopita is a tradition upheld at Marianna’s home, and in many other Greek hourseholds as I’ve discovered while researching for this post. Galatopita literally means milk pie. Its custard-like filling has a buttery, creamy texture and a subtle, comforting sweetness. It is made of milk, sugar, fine semolina and eggs. Some variations around Greece include filo, while others omit the filo. The recipe we’re using is by Mrs Kalliopi, Marianna’s mum. It was hand-written, with just a rough estimate of the ingredients, and no cooking instructions. More of a reminder for the experienced cook of what goes into the galatopita. We absolutely love such recipes!

In the past, this was traditionally made with fresh, unpasteurised milk. So if you can find some, do use it for this delicious dessert. We used goat’s milk for ours. If you try any plant-based milk, do let us know how it turned out! As this recipe only has very few ingredients, do try and get the best you can afford. Definitely get the cinnamon to serve, this is not optional, it’s part of tradition.

So let’s enter May, and celebrate spring with this sweet delicious dessert. Thank you Mrs Kalliopi!

Serves 10

1200ml milk (approx. 6 cups)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
200gr white sugar (approx. 1 cup), plus more for the baking tray
150gr fine semolina (approx. 1 cup)
6 eggs
Olive oil and more semolina (for the baking tray)
cinnamon (to serve)

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your milk in a large heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat. Add the vanilla and stir well. Add the semolina and sugar. Using a whisk, start whisking all the ingredients together. As the milk warms up and the semolina hydrates, you will slowly see the mixture thickening up. Do not forget to whisk the mixture, otherwise the milk will burn at the bottom of the pot – you do not want that. The texture we are going for is like that of a very thick béchamel sauce, or Greek yoghurt.

After the mixture thickens up, after around 15-20 minutes, remove your pot from the heat. Very slowly add the eggs, one by one, whisking constantly so that each egg is incorporated before moving to the next one. You should end up with a very smooth, silky mixture.

Butter or oil a shallow baking tray and dust it with plenty of semolina. Pour in your mixture. Sprinkle more sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake at 180C for 40-45 minutes, until the cream is set.

Serve with plenty of cinnamon.

 

 


Remember last week’s semolina halva? This week, continuing our journey to the magical land of halva, we are making sesame halva with honey! Traditionally this sesame halva is made with sugar and tahini. However, as many (including us!) prefer honey to sugar, many recipes now opt for sweet, runny honey instead. The texture is less crumbly and resembles that of toffee, which we must admit, we absolutely love.

For this, we’ve used our whole tahini, but you can use the classic one as well. We’ve also used a combination of strawberry tree (Arbutus) and orange blossom honey. Both coming from the Peloponnese, arbutus is a rare “bitter” honey made by bees feeding on the Arbutus unedo tree flowers (strawberry tree), while the orange blossom honey is a delicate, sweet honey with a citrus taste and a light amber colour. They pair perfectly in this halva!

This is the basic recipe, to which you can add cocoa or chocolate, various nuts (almonds are a classic!), or sesame. We love pistachios, as they have this beautiful pink-green bright colours which make the halva not only taste, but also look delicious!

This is a quite filling snack, so a little goes a long way. Cut it in small square pieces and enjoy with your afternoon tea, for breakfast or as post-dinner dessert!

 

280g tahini (whole or white)
280g honey (we used both strawberry tree honey and orange blossom honey)
80g raw, unsalted pistachios or any other nuts of your choosing

Place your pistachios at the bottom of a non-stick cake tin. You can finely or roughly chop them and/or roast them if you prefer. We left them raw and whole.

Stir well your tahini in the jar and add it in a small saucepan. Over low heat warm it up for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan and over low hear warm up the honey, until bubbly and caramelised. To check if it’s ready, drizzle a bit in a glass with cold water. It should shape as a soft ball and not be runny. If you have a candy thermometer, you should aim for 115C.

Once your honey is ready add it to the tahini. Using a wooden spoon, stir everything together. Almost immediately, you will see the mixture changing texture, as the ingredients come together. When it gathers around your wooden spoon and not touching the sides of your bowl you are done!

Carefully pour the halva in the cake tin over your nuts. Let it set for a few hours. Cut in small pieces and serve!

 


Halva is a category of desserts which are very popular in the Balcans, parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There are many variations, flavour combinations and textures. Today we are preparing halvas simigdalenios, literally translated as semolina halva. It is a dessert served all throughout Lent in Greece, and in many other occasions throughout the year.

It is also known as the 1-2-3-4 halva, as the key ingredients are measured by volume: 1 x olive oil, 2 x semolina, 3 x sugar, 4x water. In the classic recipe, the olive oil is mixed with the semolina, the sugar with the water and then the two come together. We’ve simplified the recipe, simply adding everything gradually in the same pot. We’ve also weighed the ingredients, so that it’s easier for those of us who do not like measuring things in cups. And reduced the sugar a bit, so that it’s not too sweet.

The traditional recipe calls for the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and orange. We’ve also added almonds and raisins. You can add your preferred spices, use whichever nuts you prefer and other dried fruit instead of raisins.

Serves 6

100g olive oil
200g coarse semolina (you can also use fine, or a mixture of the two)
250g sugar (we used light brown sugar, but white sugar works as well)
400g water
1/3 tsp ground cloves
2/3 tsp ground cinnamon
zest from 1 orange
50g raw almonds (you can also use any other nuts you prefer)
50g Corinth raisins (you can also use any other dried fruit you prefer)

Roughly chop the almonds, so that they are the size of the raisins. Or however you prefer, it’s a personal choice, really.

In a bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, orange zest. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot and over medium heat pour the olive oil and semolina. Stir until the semolina is golden-brown, around 10 minutes.

This step is crucial. So leave all distractions outside the kitchen. Take your time in “roasting” as we say in Greek the semolina, and your halva will have a nutty, intense, wholesome flavor. But this step needs lots of care, so stay with it for those minutes, stirring and contemplating the beauty of the heat, as it transforms the white-yellow grains into golden brown. Or the beauty of those moments of stillness.

Once the semolina is ready, add the sugar-spice mixture and stir for a minute. Add the almonds and raisins and stir for another minute, smelling as the aromas come together.

Remove from the heat and very, very slowly add the water. It will splatter, so be careful.

Lower the heat to its lowest setting. Return the pot to the heat and stir until the mixture thickens up, around 15-20 minutes.

Again, do not leave it alone, the halva doesn’t like that. Yes, this is a recipe that takes time and care. But you will be rewarded. Soon, you will have a delicious halva. But as you may have realised by now, these moments of stillness, as you stir the halva, smell the aromas and breathe -without any distractions- are perhaps even more precious than the halva itself.

You will know it’s ready when it’s quite thick and there is resistance as you stir.

Now there are two schools of thought here.

Some prefer the halva hot, so in that case you are done and you can serve immediately. Others however prefer the halva cold. It’s a big debate in Greece, you must know. So if you want to serve it cold, pour the halva in a greased cake tin (even better if it’s non-stick), and let it cool down a bit. Place in the fridge to let it cool completely. Remove from the tin and serve.

After you are done, take a walk around the house. Perhaps the most rewarding thing when you make halva is the smell that fills your home.

Let us know which of the two ways you prefer (hot/ cold, or maybe at room temperature!) and in any case, do serve with extra cinnamon!


Last week we celebrated Greek Easter. Celebrations this year were very different, with large family gatherings being replaced by phone and video calls, baskets filled with food gifts and love shared from a distance. It was a strange Easter, no doubt.

With our families often far away, we spent a lot of time preparing old family recipes. You see, food always makes us feel closer to home. In my family, we made the traditional mageiritsa soup, a soup made with offal and lots of spring greens. Marianna made her mothers’ traditional recipe of flaounes. Flaounes is a cheese-filled pastry from the island of Cyprus, that is traditionally prepared for Easter. Marianna’s family usually makes flaounes on the Thursday before Easter, and eats them on Easter Sunday – and the entire week after!

Marianna’s mother, Mrs Kalliopi does all sorts of amazing dough-based recipes. Remember her olive oil apple cake? And her kourou dough?

So this year, she sent us from Athens her hand-written recipe of flaounes, which we couldn’t but share with you this week! I always find it exciting to get hand-written old family recipes, don’t you?

This recipe makes more flaounes than you can eat (around 12). This is because making them is a communal process, where neighbours come together and all cook together. Now, at times of quarantine, make the whole recipe and share the flaounes with your neighbours!

Dough
1kg all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp mahlepi, ground (we got ours from Spice Mountain)
½ tbsp mastiha, ground to dust with ½ tbsp sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Filling
700g graviera cheese, grated
2 pieces of halloumi, grated
10 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup Corinth raisins
3 tbsp dried spearmint

1 egg and sesame (for baking)

In a large bowl, sieve together your dry ingredients: flour, baking poder, salt, mahlepi, mastiha.
Add the butter and using your fingers, mix everything together, until you have a texture that resembles small breadcrumbs.
Whisk the milk and eggs together and add to your mixture.
Kneed until you have a dough that is not sticky.

Let it rest for an hour, in a warm place.

Preheat the oven at 170C.

While your dough is resting, make the filling: grate the cheeses all together. Whisk the eggs, adding the baking powder and spearmint. Mix together the cheeses, egg mixture and raisins. You should have a filling that is slightly dense in texture.

On a clean surface, dust some flour and using a rolling pin, roll out your dough. Cut large rounds of dough, using a small plate as a guide.

Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling in each round, and fold the ends inwards, so that you have a neat parcel – but not all the way, you should be able to see some of the filling in the centre. Pinch the ends with a fork, to ensure the dough will hold its shape during baking..

Place the flaounes in a buttered baking tray. Whisk the egg and brush generously over each flaouna. Sprinkle with sesame.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.


Greek Easter is here! It is one of our favourite holidays of the year. Following 40 days of Lent, tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and we are very much looking forward to sitting around the festive table with friends and family.

Every year, we paint red eggs, bake the traditional tsoureki, have lamb and salads with spring greens and, of course, tzatziki! Remember our pink tzatziki from last year? This week we’re making the classic version for you.

As you surely know, this dip can be enjoyed all year round. It is quite refreshing and goes very well with the Easter lamb. But also it makes for a wonderful addition to vegetarian dishes, sandwiches and salads.

So join us, for a celebration of Greek Easter by making the classic tzatziki recipe tomorrow! And a couple of tips: Make sure to use thick Greek yogurt and to squeeze your cucumber, so that you end up with a thick, creamy tzatziki.

500g Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber
1 small bunch of dill
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt, to taste
dill, olive oil (to serve)

Grate the cucumber. Squeeze it to remove excess liquid. Finely chop the dill. Mince the garlic with salt. Mix everything together and add the vinegar. Serve with more dill and olive oil.

Happy Greek Easter everyone!!

Get our tzatziki as part of our Trinity of Holy Greek dips!