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.

 


Greek Orthodox religion calls for fasting during the Holy Week. The week before Easter, most families in Greece would opt out of using most animal products, meat, fish, dairy. In a country where eating is very much based around vegetables, this week is not much different than others when it comes to main meals. Instead of preparing slow cooked meat, one eats slow cooked vegetables. But of course, as with any dietary avoidance, new ideas need to come forward. Cooks use ingredients in different ways to create new recipes.

For us at Oliveology, baking is the thing which changes the most around this time of year. We have already shared with you Kalliopi’s Olive Oil Cake which uses olive oil instead of butter, but alas include eggs.

This week, we have a vegan recipe for you. One that uses no animal products whatsoever. It is made with tahini, orange juice, spices. And of course sugar and flour-it is a cake after all. You can add nuts or raisins if you wish. But you don’t have to.

You can incorporate it in your cooking rituals this Holy Week. But it’s so interesting that I know you will definitely make it again. After all, changing your diet every so often is a good thing. No matter what the reason behind it.

So let’s bake this cake and get ready to celebrate Easter!

You will need:

300g tahini
350g orange juice
300g sugar
400g flour
30g baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
zest of 1 orange
50g raisins (optional)
50g walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven at 180C.

Beat tahini and sugar until sugar dissolves completely. You can use a mixer or a fouet. Add the orange juice and stir. Sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to your mixture. Make sure everything is properly combined and there are no lumps of flour. Add the orange zest and raisins or nuts if using. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Grease a baking dish with some olive oil and sprinkle with flour so that the cake does not stick. Transfer your cake mixture into your baking dish. Bake at 180C for 30 min and then lower the temperature and bake at 160C for another 30-40min.

Happy Easter Everyone!


People often wonder what Greek food is all about. For us here at Oliveology, and for most Greeks maybe, it’s about two things. Greek food is about simplicity. Dishes usually use few ingredients. This is why one should be very careful when selecting these ingredients. When there are only onions, fava and olive oil in a dish, these better be some damn good fava (split yellow peas; not to be confused with fava beans).

The other thing is about simplicity in the cooking method. With a few exceptions recipes don’t usually require spending hours in complex preparations or involve elaborate steps in the cooking process. However, cooking takes a long time. Why is that? Well, we Greeks associate cooking for a long time with care. The food needs to spend a good time in the oven or hob. It needs to become soft and mellow. You need to keep an eye on it, show your care.

This recipe we have for you this week combines both these elements. It only has three main ingredients. Fava, olive oil, onions. You may add some thyme, and of course salt and pepper. Having this solid base, then you can really let yourself be creative with what you pair it with. Caramelise some onions. Chop some raw red onions for an extra kick. Add salty juicy capers. Try different oils. Definitely lemon juice. How about truffle oil even? There are many things you can do with fava. We like onions, capers and lemon. But it’s really up to you.

400g fava (yellow split peas)
200ml olive oil 
2 medium onions, finely grated
salt
fresh thyme (optional)
lemon (to taste)
capers (to taste)
red onions (to taste)

Rinse the fava under running cold water, until water runs clear. Place the fava in a large saucepan and add cold water. The volume of water you add must be approximately the same as the volume of fava. Bring to the boil, removing any white foam as the fava heats up. Once your fava starts boiling, lower the heat to the lowest possible setting. Add the onions and olive oil, thyme if you are using. Salt to taste but bear in mind, the flavours will concentrate. You can add more salt later.  Let the fava cook at very low heat, until it looks like mashed potatoes, stirring occasionally. Yes, fava magically breaks down into mush. If needed add a bit more water as you go along.

Serve with olive oil and lemon juice, capers and raw onions.


The New Year is here! The beginning of the year is usually the time when we make plans for the future. Away from the sparkle of the holidays past. In January, we promise ourselves that we will be better. That we will do better this year.

For that, we often turn to healthy food. To go with our resolutions. But we also need comfort food. After all, New Year’s resolutions can be challenging.

Good grains and pulses are what comes to mind when we think of good, comfort food. Today, we’ve selected for you a very interesting recipe. Leeks, sweet potatoes, and lentils all come together for a unique take on the (let’s be honest), sometimes boring lentil stew.

This warm and hearty soup is the perfect accompaniment for your new years resolution planning. And a tip for you: When serving, drizzle some aged balsamic vinegar on top. It makes all the difference in the world.

For 4 people

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil 

1 small leek
2 small sweet potatoes (approx. 250g)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
150gr lentils (+link if we have)
1.5 lt of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf, thyme (optional)

To serve (optional):
Balsamic vinegar 
Fresh parsley

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them in small cubes. Finely slice the leek. In a large saucepan, and over medium heat, pour the olive oil. Add the leaks and stir until soft and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic, sweet potatoes and lentils and still until covered in oil and well mixed. Add the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and add the herbs (if using). Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer until lentils are cooked through, adding more liquid if needed. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and fresh parsley.


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!


Did you know that chickpeas are one of the earliest known cultivated legumes, tracing their ancestry back at least 7,000 years to the dawn of agriculture?

The Greeks seem to have quite a passionate and long-lasting love affair with the bean, as chickpeas have been found at Thessaly in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BC) Greece. It is also known that the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates made reference to the nutritional value of hummus in their writings. The humble legume, together with wheat, a variety of beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas, “form the very foundation of the Greek diet and have done so since Neolithic times” according to Diana Farr Louis of Culinary Backstreets.

Health wise, chickpeas are an excellent source of high-quality protein, with a wide range of essential amino acids. Like most legumes have long been valued for their fibre content; in this case, between 65-75% of the fibre found in chickpeas is insoluble*. Chickpeas are a source of 10 different vitamins and essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

Lately, it’s all about aquafava, that some go as far as saying that it actually is the new kale. This chickpea brine makes baking, cooking and cocktails without eggs much easier for vegans, those with allergies or looking for lighter options. This will be the subject of a future post however, in the meantime let’s enjoy this easy and nutritious recipe.

Chickpeas with spinach

Ingredients

300g chickpeas
1 kg spinach
1 onion (you could also add a couple of garlic gloves, if desired)
3 grated tomatoes
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil – we recommend using our 27oC evoo
Salt, pepper, oregano (you could also add cumin and paprika, if desired)

Method

Initially, soak them overnight in a bowl of water and drain them the next day. In a pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion (and garlic) until soft. Add chickpeas, tomato and water to cover and cook until chickpeas are almost cooked. Wash and chop spinach and stir in the mix. Cook until wilted and bright green. Finally add salt, pepper, oregano and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. It goes without saying that feta goes perfectly with this dish. Of course, try it with our raw Kalamata olives; we would recommend our wild green lemony ones or those with lemon and herbs

You can find Greek chickpeas in our new shop at Borough Market, along with a great variety of pulses, such as lentils, giant beans and fava split yellow peas. Soon all available online.

Insoluble fibre is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.


These biscuits are perfect for Holy Week’s frugal diet – especially Holy (or Great) Friday’s. Many devout do not cook on Holy Friday, but if they do, traditional foods are simple, usually boiled in water (without oil) and seasoned with vinegar – like beans – or thin soups like tahinosoupa, a soup made with tahini.

Petimezi Biscuits are often prepared in advance and pair wonderfully with homemade jams or raw honey. We love having them with olive leaf tea, mountain tea or wild mountain herbs, like sage.

Preparation: 30’ Wait: 1 hour & 45’ in total Baking: 45-50’

Ingredients

1 portion of dry yeast
500g all-purpose flour and 500g soft flour sifted and mixed
200ml evoo –we recommend using our 22°C
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 glass of petimezi/ grape molasses

Method

Sprinkle yeast over ½ cup of lukewarm water and let it stand for 10 mins. Afterwards, add 2 teaspoons of flour, stir to combine and leave it to rise for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl combine flour, drizzle some evoo and knead it until it looks like tiny pasta. Add spices and yeast to the mix and stir to combine. Later add petimezi to the mix, stirring between additions and knead gently. The dough should be smooth, elastic and firm. If needed, we can add some water – or flour- to achieve the desired texture. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 mins.

Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead the biscuits to the desired size and form. Place the biscuits on a large baking pan (covered with lightly greased baking paper) in about 5cm apart as they really grow in size. Cover loosely with a towel or plastic wrap, let them rise for about 45-50’ and preheat the oven in the meanwhile. Finally, bake the biscuits at 180°C for 45-50 mins. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

Inspired by Voutsina E. (2009, April), Easter at the countryside, Gastronomos,  36.]