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.

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)
300g 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!


Fanouropita is a traditional Greek olive oil cake, made in honour of St Fanourios. The saint’s name, Fanourios, comes from the Greek word fanerono, which means to reveal; and this is where this cake’s name, fanouropita, comes from.

St Fanourios is celebrated on the 27th of August every year. On this day, many Greeks bake Fanouropites and take them to church to be blessed. The legend has it that these are in memory of the saint’s mother, who was a harsh woman, and whose salvation the Saint (and by extension the bakers) ask. So when one bakes the cake, one needs to say “God forgive the mother of St Fanourios”. Which is something I did not do, as I only found out about it during my research for this piece. So please, when you bake this cake, do it for me as well.

But fanouropita is also baked asking the saint to reveal items that are missing, or to bring people something that they want: Good health or “a good husband”, if one is single. So even though it is not August (yet!), this week we decided to make this cake and ask for health, and for finally being able to see, share food and hug our loved ones.

It is important to know that this cake is to be made with only seven or nine ingredients, symbolic numbers in Greek religion. Apart from the 7 key ingredients, we’ve added our delicious Corinth raisins and walnuts. The result is a rich and moist cake- and vegan! You can make it with sunflower oil, but we feel that the olive oil gives it a more robust flavour, so do give it a try!

Serves 8

150g super-fine white sugar
150g olive oil
350ml orange juice (from 3-4 oranges) and zest from 2 oranges
½ tsp baking soda
400g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps cinnamon
50g Corinth raisins
50g walnuts

Preheat your oven at 170C.

In a large bowl sieve the flour, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk the sugar and olive oil together until very well combined.

Mix the orange juice and zest and stir in the baking soda. Be careful as it will bubble. Slowly add to the olive oil-sugar mixture.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, until just combined (you do not want to overmix the flour). Add the raisins and walnuts and give it one final stir.

Your batter should look like a loose cake batter. Place it in an oiled baking tin and bake at 170C at the bottom rack for an hour, or until your knife comes up clean from the middle of the cake.

Remove from the oven and let your fanouropita cool in its tin. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 


Yesterday was a wonderful day of snow in London! The snow brought joy to many of us, and for  while, it made us forget all about the challenges of the past year. On such days, we absolutely love eating foods that bring us comfort. So this week we’ve got a hearty salad for you. We also love the colours in this salad, which is always a plus when preparing dinner!

We roasted a small cabbage with apple, and paired it with lentils and fresh seasonal greens. We’ve also used our favourite ingredients, grape molasses, aged balsamic and Corinth raisins. These add a hint of sweetness and depth to the roasted cabbage/apple combination and pair perfectly with our buttery brown lentils. Our lentils come from organic farms in northern Greece and are perfect for hearty soups or filling salads!

This dish is great for dinner or lunch as is, but also makes for the ideal side dish to accompany roast pork, white fish or a garlicky, roasted cauliflower.

Serves 2 for lunch

1 small red cabbage
1 green apple
a small handful of Corinth raisins
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grape molasses
1 tbsp aged balsamic
2 springs of rosemary
50g lentils
1.5-2 cups seasonal greens
salt, pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven at 200C.

Cut the cabbage and apple in wedges.
Place them in a single layer in a roasting pan. Scatter the raisins all around.
Drizzle with the olive oil, grape molasses and add 2-3 tablespoons of water.
Add the rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 30-40min, carefully turning over the cabbage and apple after 20 minutes. Remove the rosemary and let it cool down for a bit.

In the meantime, place the lentils in a medium-sized pot with water and boil for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Finely chop your greens.

Toss everything together, cabbage and apple, lentils, greens, using the juices of the pan as your dressing. Serve with more vinegar, grape molasses and olive oil, if desired.


Mulled wine is one of our favourite European Christmas traditions. This week, we’ve prepared for you our very special recipe for mulled wine, inspired by Greek wines, spirits and flavours.

As you may know, we love unique Greek wines and spirits, ethically sourced from small producers and vineyards from all over Greece. So for this special mulled wine, we’ve used the Sant’Or Krasis Red, an organic, biodynamic, natural wine, made wine with indigenous yeasts. Its rich red fruit flavours of cherry, plum and cassis and spiced notes of cinnamon, cardamom and rose wood pair perfectly with the winter spices we’ll use. And to make our mulled wine truly special, we are also adding Metaxa, a spirit laying somewhere between Cognac and Brandy, yet impossible to classify. Its toffee tasting notes and fruity finish are the ideal pairings for the Corinth raisins and citrus fruits we will be using!

Oh and did we mention that our mulled wine has absolutely no sugar? Yes, like in a hot toddy, we used honey to add sweetness and a splash of grape molasses to add depth. Trust us, it’s the most delicious mulled wine you’ll ever taste!

Serves 6

1 bottle of Sant’Or Krasis red
100ml Metaxa 7 Stars Love Greece
100gr orange blossom honey
1 tbsp grape molasses
60g Corinth raisins
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 oranges
2 tangerines

Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp small knife, remove large strips of the orange zest from the oranges and tangerines, making sure to have as little of the white pith as possible.

In a large pot place the wine, Metaxa, honey, grape molasses, raisins, spices, bay leaves and citrus peel.

Gently simmer over medium-heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the wine is lightly simmering.

Serve warm.


What we love most about autumn is the wonderful new colours at the market. Red apples, orange pumpkins, brown mushrooms and chestnuts! Fruit and veg in autumn always make us feel quite comforted and inspired. This week we got plenty of orange carrots from the market and decided to grate them. Somehow the idea of a grated carrot feels like a first step towards a very nutritious meal, wouldn’t you say? We’re making a salad, which is great for lunch, but it also makes for a wonderful side to some roasted chicken or your protein of choice. We’ve added bulgur wheat to make it more filling, raisins for some natural sweetness and a lemon-tahini dressing to add a…warm kick to it.

There is something nostalgic about this salad, as it somehow reminds us of when we first started Oliveology, 11 years ago. Back then, Greek tahini was rare to find, but such salads were gaining momentum, do you remember? Reminiscing of happier times past is comforting, and we couldn’t think of anything better than this recipe, to bring back some happy memories in the midst of this unusual autumn we are all experiencing.

Serves 4

50g bulgur, plus ¾ cups of water
4 large carrots
100g Corinth raisins
1 bunch of fresh herbs (we used dill and parsley)

Dressing
2 tbsp tahini
zest from 2 lemons
juice from 1 lemon
150ml olive oil
2 tbsp grape molasses
4 tbsp water
salt (to taste)

Place the bulgur wheat and water in a small pot and cook over medium heat until tender and all the water is absorbed, around 10-15min. Set aside to cool.

Peel and grate the carrots.

To make the dressing whisk together the tahini, lemon juice and zest. Add the grape molasses. Slowly add the olive oil and then the water, until you have a runny dressing. Season with salt.

In a large bowl toss together the bulgur wheat, carrots, raisins, dressing.
Finely chop the herbs and add just before serving.

Oh and this is great with some feta cheese!

 


For the third week in a row, we’ve got a very summery recipe from Amaryllis from The Tasty Other. Amaryllis is one of our favourite guest chefs in our dinner experiences cooking workshops. She has a pure love for food, a fascination with tradition and gatherings, and great passion about storytelling through photography. You can check out many of her recipes here, and of course follow her on instagram. So here it is, words and recipe by Amaryllis, right below. Enjoy!

Simple, straightforward and filled with flavour, this tomato salad comes together in mere minutes and is sure to be a summer staple, as a great alternative to the very popular Greek salad. It’s simply a variety of juicy tomatoes (try to use the best you can get your hands on, they will really make a difference), dressed in Oliveology’s best extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic, delicious petimezi (grape molasses) and a pinch of mildly spicy Aleppo chillies, and served with a big handful of sweet raisins and a generous dusting of dried oregano and lots of sea salt flakes.

Ingredients
20 cherry tomatoes (left whole, halved or quartered depending on their size)
3 medium tomatoes, cut in thick slices
1/3 cup Corinth raisins
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon grape molasses
1/2 teaspoons chilli flakes
A big pinch of sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Method
Place the tomatoes and raisins in a salad bowl; put the olive oil, balsamic, grape molasses, salt & chilli in a jar (or bowl) and combine well.

Dress the salad, add the oregano and toss gently. Taste and adjust the salt, vinegar and chilli flakes to your liking.

Serve cold (but not straight from the fridge) with a big piece of aged feta and lots of crusty bread on the side.


As we are slowly getting back to some sort of new normal, this week we have a baking recipe for you. The other day we got some lovely strawberries from the market and made a delicious strawberry compote! And what pairs perfectly with strawberries? Scones of course!

But these are no ordinary scones. They are made with kefir! They have a beautiful texture and a more complex flavour. We also used our beloved Corinth raisins. They come from a small unique variety of grape endemic to the Corinthian region of the Peloponnese. They are small in size, which makes them perfect for baking. And they have this toffee-like flavour that you’ll never forget. So let’s bake these unique scones and get ready for afternoon tea in the park!

Makes 10-12

50g Corinth raisins
250g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 pinch of salt
65g butter
100ml kefir, plus a bit more for baking (You can find our Kefir in our Borough Market shop)
50ml water

In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
Add the butter and using your fingers, rub the butter and flour mixture together until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Mix the kefir and water together, so that you have a milk-like liquid.

Add the liquids into your bowl and mix using a fork until just about combined. Kneed it just a bit so that your dough comes together, but do not overmix!

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s 4cm thick. Using a round cutter or a glass, cut off rounds of dough.

Place on a baking sheet that you’ve covered with greaseproof paper.

Brush the top of each scone with a bit of kefir. Bake at 200C for around 13 minutes, or until your scones are golden.

Serve with Greek yoghurt and last week’s strawberry compote or with butter and honey!


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.


Christmas is now slowly coming to an end, but somehow we are still feeling festive. The New Year is after all very close!

This week we have selected a wonderful recipe that will certainly fill you with warmth. A honey & spices granola! It is filled with fragrant spices, such as cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg and sweetened with vanilla fir honey. And because we’re feeling very festive, we’ve used our apple oil to give our granola a wonderful subtle aroma. This granola makes for a perfect gift for the New Year. Just put it in a lovely jar with a colourful ribbon.

But it’s also the ideal way to use up any leftover nuts and dried fruit you may have from Christmas. And as the year is coming to an end, we love the idea of clearing out our kitchen cupboards and starting fresh. So have a look, gather all leftover nuts and dried fruit, and join us, as we say goodbye to 2019 with one last recipe.

Makes one large jar

200g oats
100g mixed nuts (we used walnuts and hazelnuts)
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
3 tbsp apple oil
4 tbsp vanilla fir honey
50g dried fruit (we used raisins)

Preheat the oven at 160C.

Roughly chop the nuts. Place them in a large baking dish, along with the oats.

In a small bowl, whisk together the apple oil, honey, spices and pinch of salt.

Pour over the oats and nuts and using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix everything very well together, until all oats and nuts are coated in the aromatic olive oil-honey.

Bake at 160C for around 30min, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and add the dried fruit.


This week we’ve got a very aromatic spring recipe for you. We are using one of the most seasonal ingredients, rhubarb. The first time I tasted rhubarb was poached, with cinnamon and loads of sugar. I didn’t think much of it. The second time I tasted it, it was raw, thinly sliced, and with a little bit of sugar, just to take the sourness off. It was an intense experience. It tasted like snails in grass. It was fascinating. Indeed, rhubarb is quite unique and stirs up passionate reactions. There are those who love it and those who hate it. We belong in the second category.

The recipe we’ve prepared is quite unique too. We are not using any sugar to sweeten our rhubarb. Just grape molasses and Corinth raisins. What are we making? The most interesting chutney-like creation. It lays somewhere between jam and chutney. You can have it with bread and butter, but also with cheese and oily fish. You can taste the sweetness of the raisins, the depth in flavour of the grape molasses, the fruity rhubarb notes and there is still a hint of sourness still remaining. And, like last year’s poached pears, we’ve paired these three ingredients with fragrant spices, just to give you a slightly more complex creation.

Makes 2 jars

500g rhubarb
100g Corinth raisins
170g grape molasses
300ml water
¼ tsp cinnamon
10 cardamom pods
¼ tsp ground cloves
5 black peppercorns

Cut the rhubarb in 5cm pieces. Place the rhubarb in a pot, along with the raisins, grape molasses, water and spices. The liquid should just cover the rhubarb. Bring to the boil and then immediately lower the heat. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 min, stirring occasionally or until the rhubarb has soften, the raisins have soak up the juices and all the flavours have blended together.

Keep in jars in the fridge and serve on toast, with graviera or manouri cheese and oily fish.