The last week of November I was swimming in Greece.
No, I’m not crazy, it was sunny and I did not find the water cold … OK, I will accept that I come from Peru where the sea water is cold, even in summer!
Vilma and I went to Neo Itilo with Saimir and had an incredible time with his family. We could not have been more spoiled: ate octopus freshly hunted and cooked by Martin, we had a go at olive picking and saw the whole process to make olive oil, we learned how to make the deliciously light spanakopita with Marci (Greek spinach pie with filo pastry), drunk lots of Greek coffee (thank you Ola!), were amazed by the fairy-like Vychlada caves, did some compulsory honey and olive shopping at Areopoli’s Saturday market, visited the ruins of a castle located between the towns of Neo Itilo and Kelefa … and I converted a couple of ladies into Zumba addicts!
From the field to the market, olives and olive oil in Greece. Clockwise from bottom left: olive picking in Itilo with battery activated rake, market in Areopoli, olive picking with rake in Itilo, green Olives and olives market stall in Athens, machinery to make olive oil near Itilo.
I spent a few more days in Athens where Vilma would have gone crazy at the variety of olives on sale and I walked around the city following the itinerary tailored by my friends Panorea and Stavros.
Recipes and more comments on yummie food should follow soon, in the meantime if you are interested in olives and olive oil and happen to be in London this week you might want to go to Vilma’s free talk on this subject at the Natural History Museum. Vilma, please remind us the specific time and place.
Last week I was making a concotion with chickpeas, spinach and chorizo and decided to ‘save’ some freshly cooked chickpeas to make hummus. I love it with coriander but did not have any, so I made it with black olives. Here is the very precise recipe (I’ve measured everything) and this time I did not forget to take pictures !!!
2 cups/420 g cooked chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp olive oil
7 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup/135 g olives (106 g pitted olives)
1 1/2 lime juice
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds or tahini
The main ingredient of this recipe are the chickpeas (also called ‘garbanzo beans’ … ‘garbanzo’ been actually the name of the chickpeas in Spanish). I always use my pressure cooker for cooking beans, lentils and chickpeas soaking them the night before. Make sure you don’t add salt to your pulses until they are almost cooked as that makes the cooking process longer, in this case I did not add salt at all as that ingredient is added during the preparation of the hummus. If you prefer buy a can of ready cooked chickpeas (410 g chickpeas in a can, I think). Mix all the ingredients with a hand mixer and vary the consistency by adding more or less oil and water. Taste it while you make it so you add more or less of the spices, garlic and lime juice to suit your taste! You can make the basic hummus without the black olives, or vary the classic recipe by adding coriander leaves or roasted pepper. I have also tried hummus with pumpkin and with beetroot, both are sweeter than the classic version. Most of the recipes I have read use tahini, I usually have sesame seeds at home so I tend to use that ingredient instead (toasting the seeds a bit in a hot pan), after all tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds. Enjoy it and if you try other alternative ingredients to make a special hummus share your recipe with us !