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).

 

 


Autumn is the time of the year when I get most..snacky. It could be the cold, slowly preparing us for winter, the gloomy weather, or the fact that most of us are getting busier and busier at this time of the year. But even when I’ve had a good breakfast or lunch, I always feel hungry in between. Hungry is not the right word probably. Most of the time I feel like I need to snack on something. And most of the time I’m craving something sweet.

But you know, usually sweet things make your cravings even bigger. And then you find yourself snacking throughout the entire afternoon. So I am always in search of interesting things to have with my tea or coffee. Like our mastic cookies, the oat bars with chocolate and tahini, or even some plain raisins.

This week, inspired by our home-made hazelnut butter, we are making intense, flavourful energy balls! What are we using? Oats, honey, hazelnut butter, and lovely dried cherries from our Borough Market shop!

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

Makes 18-20 small energy balls

50g wild flowers honey
1 generous pinch of ground nutmeg
1 generous pinch of salt
80g creamy hazelnut butter
50g oats
60g coarsely chopped dried cherries

In a large bowl mix honey, hazelnut butter, nutmeg and salt. Add the oats and dried cherries and mix everything together, using a wooden spoon or your fingers.

Taking a teaspoon of the mixture, form small balls. Store in an airtight container and consume throughout the afternoon. Or you know, whenever you get snacky.


The naming of all nut butters is quite clever if you think about it. Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter. You read these words and immediately your mouth is filled with the creamy taste of roasted nuts. You can almost feel it melting in your mouth, the smell of nuts filling the room.

There are all sorts of nut butters out there. But you know, not all of them are good for you. Read the labels before you buy anything. It’s a nut butter, the only ingredient it should contain is nuts. Maybe a pinch of salt. But nothing else. So next time you go shopping, try to source the nut butter that only has nuts inside.

Or, if you are a bit like us, you can make your own. Seriously, this recipe is very, very simple. Why not give it a try? As with all recipes that consist of few ingredients, you need to get the best quality nuts. We’ve got some lovely hazelnuts at Borough Market, straight from Greece. For a very smooth hazelnut butter, we will remove the skins from the nuts. But between you and I, if you can’t be bothered, just leave them on. This recipe includes roasting them. But again, you can get roasted ones. But as I replied to a friend when she asked why do I bother roasting my nuts for this recipe: can you smell the kitchen? This is why. So go on, give it a try!

For 1 jar you will need

500g raw hazelnuts
a pinch of salt

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Place your hazelnuts on a tray, all in a single layer. Roast for 10-15 min, checking regularly. You need your hazelnuts to have a golden-brown colour. But be careful not to over-roast them, otherwise they will become bitter.

Lay a clean tea towel on your table. Once the hazelnuts are roasted and still very hot, remove them from the tray and place them on your towel. Carefully wrap the towel around the nuts, holding it by its ends with your one hand. With your other hand roll the towel around, so that the hazelnuts grind against each other. After a few minutes, most of the skins will have fallen off, leaving you with lovely golden hazelnuts. If skins still remain you can transfer all your nuts to a clean tea towel and repeat for a few minutes.

Once your hazelnuts are skinless, pulse in a food processor. In the beginning you will have the texture of breadcrumbs for what seems like an eternity. Be patient, it takes only 4-5 minutes of pulsing. And then, magically, you get a smooth, creamy butter! Add a pinch of salt and blend for one last time. Transfer to a sterilized glass jar.


Granola is of course not Greek. Growing up in Greece plain oats were available, but to my understanding I was the only weird kid at school who occasionally had porridge for breakfast. Unlike the UK, oats were not that popular in Greece. But let’s begin by what granola is and we will get to our Greek summer version. Granola is basically a mixture of oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, baked in the oven -you’ll see how right below.

So what makes this recipe a Summer Greek granola? Well, summery Greek ingredients and flavours. At the shop we just received some lovely dried nectarines. Plump and juicy, with a pink-peachy colour that makes you want to just look at them for hours. They are hand picked and air dried, with no added sugar or any bad oils. It’s just the fruit, really. The perfect ingredient to make granola, wouldn’t you say? Inspired by the Greek nectarines, we created this recipe for you this week.

I’ll give you the measurings in cups as it’s way easier to assemble your mixture that way. Also, this ain’t baking, so if you fancy adding more nuts, seeds or fruit go ahead. But this ratio is very balanced I find. Please don’t go for the blanched almonds, the ones with skin taste better. You can serve your granola with milk, kefir, yogurt and fresh fruit for a lovely summery breakfast.

For a large jar of granola you will need

2 cups of oats (200g)
½ cup chopped almonds (70g)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
a few pinches of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey
1 cup dried nectarines (120-150g)

Start by mixing your oats, almonds and seeds in a bowl and place them on a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Then, in a separate bowl mix your olive oil, honey, cinnamon and salt (if your honey is not runny, warm it up a bit).

And now, for the fun part: Drizzle the olive oil/honey mixture on top and mix with oats (the olive oil and honey might not seem enough for that amount of oats, but it really is).

Very carefully make sure to mix everything really well using your fingers until everything is covered in olive oil/honey (you could use a spoon, but then you won’t be able to lick your fingers, you don’t want that).

Right, now for the baking: at 150C, stirring every 10min so that it evenly cooks.

Oh, and whatever you do, when you take the granola out of the oven to stir do not taste: Laugh not, it is very inviting, granola makes the house smell like honey and spice and everything nice but it will burn you (yes, I did get burnt, so be wiser).

So, after about 30-40min, when your granola is golden, remove from the oven and let it cool, mixing in your dried fruit after it’s cooled down.


Pesto is one of the things we love. And we also love playing around with it. Use different herbs. Different nuts. Different types of cheese. Always keep the extra virgin olive oil though.

This week we got inspired by our pistachios. With beautiful pink exteriors and vibrant green kernels, these little gems from the island of Aegina are sweet and intense in flavour. Nothing to do with your supermarket stuff.

This recipe is so versatile. You can make a large batch and then use it in so many different recipes. Mix with warm pasta shells, put a dollop over baked potatoes, mix it into your favourite soup, mix with some Greek yogurt for an easy dip. The combinations are endless. These are the recipes we love. Few, good ingredients. Easy to make. Easy to use.

Makes one cup of pesto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 
½ cup unsalted pistachios kernels
½ cup basil
½ cup parsley
1 tbs grated St Isidoros cheese* (or parmesan)
lemon juice to taste
pinch of salt

Pick the leaves from the herbs and save the stalks for stock. You can dry fry the pistachios in a frying pan if you like, but raw are better if you ask me. In a blender or with a pestle and mortar place the herbs and pistachios. Blend, adding slowly the extra virgin olive oil until your pistachios are crushed and combined with the herbs. Add the cheese and stir. Season with salt and squeeze generously the lemon juice to balance the nuttiness of pistachios. If you don’t use it right away, store in a jar in the fridge, pouring some olive oil on top.

*St. Isidoros is a goat’s milk hard cheese from Naxos Island. Come and try it at our shop at Borough Market.


Some flavour pairings are very familiar to us. Take chocolate and nuts for example. It’s everywhere you look, from the artisan hand crafted truffles to the cheap candy-store bar. You probably have thought of pairing honey and nuts. Being used to these flavours it so happens that often we crave for something different. Something completely new. Something that we haven’t tasted before.

Indeed, the thought of pairing tahini, chocolate and honey may never have entered your head. Until now. Until you taste them together. Then you will be in love.Put together the exciting bitterness of dark chocolate, the comforting nuttiness of the tahini and nuts, and the sweetness of honey and you have something truly unique. Oh and gluten free!

As always, we’re here to inspire you. So go ahead, gather your ingredients and as you are melting the dark chocolate think of how exciting experimenting can be. And you know what they say, once you’ve tried something so exciting, you are already on the other side.
For a small tray you will need:

140g tahini
60g honey
100g dark chocolate (we used 85%)
40g pistachios, walnuts or other nuts
200g oats

In a saucepan on very low heat or using a bain-marie melt the chocolate, tahini and honey. Be very careful not to burn the ingredients. Remove from the heat and add the nuts. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add the oats and stir until all oats are covered in chocolate and mixture is compact. Place in a baking tray and press the mixture firmly together. Let it cool. Once cooled down, cut in the shape of your choosing (rectangular, squares). Savour with your eyes closed.


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!


Ingredients:


4 large eggs at room temperature, separated
150 g good – quality dark chocolate, broken  (I used Piura Porcelana by Original Beans. Just note : being raw, it WILL keep you up at night (but it works perfectly with this fruity, award -winning olive oil)
70 ml 17oC lemon & thyme infused olive oil
70 -80 g caster sugar (depending on cacao content of chocolate used)
Pinch of instant coffee granules
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp sumac and a little bit extra to garnish
Chopped, toasted pistachios

Method :
Melt chocolate in microwave (20s blasts, stirring in between), or in bain marie. 
Allow to cool slightly.
Beat egg yolks, 30g sugar, sumac, salt and coffee granules until pale yellow and fluffy. Whisk in olive oil. Slowly whisk in melted chocolate. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Taste chocolate mixture.

Add 40-50g sugar to egg white mix depending on desired bitterness of mousse. 
Beat until hard peaks form. Mix a large spoonful of egg whites into chocolate mix until completely incorporated. Pour chocolate mix into egg white mix, fold in gently. Pipe into desired glasses (as in photos), or into a big sharing bowl and leave to set for a few hours in the fridge /overnight.

Garnish with sumac pistachio mixture. Serve with shortbread (or pistachio biscotti, perhaps?)

by Jackie


How can you not love pistachios? They are a wonderful snack, the main ingredient to crunchy and flaky baklava, make an exquisite ice cream, they lift the flavour and texture of every food they are added to, from dressings to salads, casseroles, puddings and baked goods.

The pistachio is “technically” not a nut. The seed, commonly thought of as a nut, is as a matter of fact a culinary and not a botanical nut. The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed, which is the edible portion. The English word pistachio is derived from the ancient Greek word pist.kion (πιστάκιον). The main producers of pistachios worldwide are Iran, United States and Turkey, while China seems to be the first consuming country. The pistachio tree is native to western Asia and Asia Minor, from Syria to the Caucasus and Afghanistan. Several cultivars exist however, the most popular variety grown for commercial purposes is kerman.

What is so special about the Greek pistachios? It appears that pistachio trees came to Greece from Western Asia. The unique cultivated type of pistachios from Aegina, has been awarded a Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O) product status, since 1977. It has an almost-white shell, a sweet taste, a red-green kernel and a little bit more closed-mouth shell than the variety found in the United States. The ideal climate conditions of the island and the composition of the soil give these pistachios from Aegina the aroma and taste that make them stand out The specific variety has been systematically cultivated in Aegina since the 1860s. Nikolaos Peroglou organised the first pistachio orchard in Aegina, in the area of Limbones, by the sea, in 1896. He is considered one of the most infuential figures in the island as he dedicated his life to the cultivation of pistachio trees. Author of the book “The Pistachio Tree”, he documented everything that the cultivation of the pistachio tree needs. Determined that the Aeginitans should plant pistachio trees, when he wanted to give a present, he would give a pistachio tree sapling.

Continue reading →