I’ve been a loyal customer of OliveOlive for several years now, regularly stocking up on their excellent halloumi and extra virgin olive oil from Cyprus. I have the added foodie bonus that this Cambridgeshire based company is local to me so my orders are delivered by owners Pam and Rob Marsden – a nice opportunity for a little chat. I often see them at markets and foodie events too.
Their first press, unfiltered olive oil comes from Pam’s family farm in Cyprus. It’s produced in a coastal village using handpicked local olives and cold pressed within 24 hours. It really is of superior quality, including their olive oils fused with basil, chilli, garlic, lemon or oregano. Their Cyprus Village halloumi is handmade the traditional way by their friends in Cyprus, the Stefani family. It’s way better than the supermarket stuff. These personal connections are the best kind of quality control.
Our cooking often features their products so I was excited to learn that Pam and Rob wrote their own recipe book – The OliveOlive Mediterranean Cookbook, published by Meze Publishing. I was looking forward to checking out all the recipes so I was delighted when Pam and Rob gave me a complimentary copy.
The cookbook features 45 recipes contributed by Pam, her family, their friends, customers and chefs who use OliveOlive’s products in their restaurants. There is page after page of mouth-watering photography of the dishes but I also liked the personal photos… the family farm, Pam’s relatives (mum, dad, aunt and uncle) in Cyprus as well as Pam and Rob on the farm and in their kitchen.
I was very interested to read all about the processes that turn raw ingredients – from goats’ milk to fresh olives – into OliveOlive’s products. I appreciated this further insight into the authenticity of their olive oil and halloumi.
The easy-to-follow recipes are divided into three chapters: Starters, Sides & Salads; Main Meals; and Sweet & Savoury Treats. Their halloumi and olive oil are featured in all the recipes, showcasing how to make the most of delicious Mediterranean flavours in everyday cooking.
Some of the recipes include traditional Greek and Cypriot dishes such as Tava (slow cooked lamb and potatoes), Fasolakia Yiahni (fine green beans in tomato sauce, with chicken and potatoes), Patatosalata Me Avya (Cypriot potato salad with eggs), Keftedes (Cypriot meatballs), Cousin Costas’ Kleftiko (slow cooked leg of lamb), Mamma’s Traditional Eliopittes (mini olive pastries) and Yiayia’s Apple Cake. The contributions from Pam’s family are heartwarming to read.
The cookbook continues with appealing recipes like Halloumi Burgers, Souvlaki, Mediterranean Pasta Bake, Halloumi Orzotto, A Trio of Houmous, Autumnal Risotto with Halloumi and so much more. The step-by-step chef contributions seem quite do-able too!
The cookbook is a 128 page square format hardback and retails at £12. It can be purchased online directly from OliveOlive, Meze Publishing or the big book retailers. Read on for my giveaway – you can win a copy!
Pam and Rob Marsden have kindly given me permission to share their recipe for That Chicken And Olive Thing from The OliveOlive Mediterranean Cookbook. Pam says she made up the recipe several years ago and didn’t have a name for it, so they all just called it “that chicken and olive thing”.
The one-dish bake takes over an hour but it’s super easy to make and the oven does most of the work. We used smoked back bacon and boneless, skinless chicken thighs from Mill Road Butchers. We left each thigh flat (didn’t roll it) and whole (didn’t slice it). This way, the chicken thighs stayed nice and juicy in the oven bake.
We added a mixture of olives – black (Kalamata) and green (Manzanilla) – for a more pronounced flavour and different coloured peppers (red and orange) for visual contrast.
The chicken, bacon, garlic, oregano and black pepper were mixed in their high quality extra virgin olive oil for an initial bake. Then white wine was added to the leek, peppers and olives for another bake. Cooking with wine is always a bonus!
The diced Cyprus Village halloumi was added at the end. It’s not the type of cheese that melts so it provided a good bite with a bit of saltiness.
The dish was so full of flavour! The leftovers were even better the next day as all the delicious flavours had time to meld.
THAT CHICKEN AND OLIVE THING
(from The OliveOlive Mediterranean Cookbook)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
8 boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets (approximately 1kg)
12 rashers of smoked back bacon, roughly chopped (approximately 300g)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp dried oregano
Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, sliced
1 yellow or orange pepper, roughly chopped
2 red peppers, roughly chopped
250g pitted olives (I like to have a mixture of green and black)
150ml white wine
150g halloumi, diced
Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 180˚C fan / Gas Mark 6.
Place the chicken pieces, bacon, garlic, oregano, black pepper and olive oil into a deep ovenproof dish. Mix everything well and place uncovered into the centre of the preheated oven to cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and add the leek, peppers, olives and wine. Stir well, making sure that all the chicken pieces have been turned over, and return to the oven for 35 more minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time and turning the chicken pieces over again.
Remove the dish from the oven, turn the chicken pieces once more, then add the diced halloumi. Return the dish to the oven for a final 5 minutes before serving.
OliveOlive’s Pam and Rob Marsden have made it possible for me to host a giveaway for my readers in the UK. The winner will receive one copy of the book The OliveOlive Mediterranean Cookbook. To enter, simply leave a comment below (on this blog post). Anyone with a UK mailing address can enter (the prize can’t be sent to an address outside the UK). The deadline for entries is 8pm (GMT) Sunday, 8 August, 2021. The email address provided to leave a comment will not be visible to others. I will contact the winner via email at which time their UK mailing address will be requested. The winner’s details will be passed on to OliveOlive who will post the book directly. Good luck!
I received a review copy of The OliveOlive Mediterranean Cookbook. Recipe reproduced with permission from Pam & Rob Marsden.
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