You know, it has been a while since we made something sweet for our blog. And as October has just come to an end, we couldn’t think of a better moment. Weather is getting colder and colder. What makes up for cold weather? Comforting, vibrant, sweet smells.

So how do we go from grey cold weather to a warm house that smells (dare we say) like Christmas?

Walking around the market, we got some lovely local pears. Yes, there are so many varieties to choose from-but wherever you are, go for the variety that’s closer to home. Today we will poach them. But if you’ve been with us for long, you should know by now how we love using grape molasses instead of sugar. Remember our petimezopita cake? Or the vegan mastiha and petimezi cookies? In this specific recipe, grape molasses offer a deeper, more intense flavour. Try it and you’ll know what we mean.

And of course, you need plenty of aromatic, warm spices. Below is our favourite combination, but as always, you can substitute whatever you don’t like. Just keep the pink peppercorns, they add something really unique to your poached pears.

For 5 pears you will need:

5 firm but ripe pears
1lt water
250g grape molasses
½ nutmeg grated
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
15 cloves
20 pink peppercorns

Peel the pears, keeping their stalks intact. As you are peeling them, keep them submerged in cold water.

Place the water, grape molasses and all the spices in a small pot. Bring to the boil and immediately turn down the heat. Once the aromatic liquid has warmed up, and the grape molasses have melted, slowly place your pears in the pot. They need to be completely covered by the liquid, so place a small heatproof plate on top of them to keep them in under-water-love. Simmer at low heat for 30-40min, or until pears are soft and the house smells like Christmas.

Remove the pears from the aromatic liquid. You can serve them with the flavoured water, or if you prefer, turn up the heat to reduce it into a syrup. You can also keep it separately and add to your tea or coffee! These pears pair perfectly with Greek yogurt. Enjoy!


Many say that Mastiha is an acquired taste. As an ingredient, these little rocks look like blurry diamonds. It is quite bitter in taste and very, very aromatic. So one needs to use it with care. A little goes a long way. You can make cakes with mastiha, cookies, use it in cooking as well (it actually goes very well with chicken).

When discussing recipes for this blog post, we decided to go for cookies. But not any cookies. These ones are made with olive oil instead of butter, grape molasses instead of sugar. And orange juice! I call them cookies because they have a very soft and chewy interior. I think the secret is the combination of olive oil, grape molasses and water. Oh and yes, these cookies are vegan too!

They are quite something. You can play around with the dough and make smaller cookies, or, experiment a bit. Shape the dough like a bagel by taking a large round ball and making a hole. Just make sure to bake the larger cookies a few minutes longer. You can eat them as is, or try them with our soft, creamy galomizithra cheese  and some orange blossom honey. And before you start gathering your ingredients, have a read at the story of mastiha. Somehow, images of mastihohoria, the villages on the island of Chios that produce mastiha from centuries ago give this resinous sap a whole different aroma.

For 45 cookies you will need:

1 cup olive oil 

1 cup grape molasses 

1 cup water

1 orange (both zest and juice)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mastic tear drops (ground)

700g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

You can buy mastic tear drops from our shop at Borough Market. These can be ground using a mortar and pestle by adding a few pinches of sugar, so that they don’t stick together. Alternatively you can add 1/4 teaspoon (3-4 drops) of our pure mastic oil. Taste and add more if you want a more intense flavour.

In a bowl, whisk together your olive oil, grape molasses, water, orange juice and zest, until you have a smooth mixture. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and mastiha. Mix until well combined until just smooth. Be careful not to over mix the dough.

Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients onto your wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon. You should have a slightly sticky dough that you can easily shape. Using a bit of flour, make small round balls, or larger bagel-shaped cookies.

Place some greaseproof paper onto your baking tray and place the cookies on top, leaving a few centimetres between them.

Bake for 10-15min at 180C until they are lightly brown – the centres will be soft. Once your cookies have cooled down a bit, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can have them straight away (please do!), or keep them in an airtight container.

 


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.


Have you ever thought making a cake without any added sugar? This is an ancient and very simple recipe that varies in different regions or different islands of Greece. People used back then grape molasses or petimezi as sweetener in baking, and it does work wonders.

Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil
1 ½ cups grape molasses
1 cup orange juice
peel from 1 orange
3 cups flour
1tsp baking soda
1tbs baking powder
1tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ cup crushed almonds or walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

Mix the olive oil with the grape molasses. Add the soda into the orange juice, orange peel, spices, then add into the olive oil and molasses mix. Add the baking powder into the flour and then stir into the molasses. Combine slowly until a thick batter forms. Pour the batter into a well greased pan and bake for about 1 hour into a preheated oven at 180 oC.

Buy our grape molasses


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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