January 1st, 2015 § 0

Making your own olive oil soap with daphne oil

December 3rd, 2014 § 0

Recently I explored to make home made soap with the olive oil we produced.

All you need is lots of olive oil and caustic soda. The caustic soda in Greek ???????? ???? meaning burning soda, also known as lye or sodium hydroxide is an inorganic compound.

It is used in many industries like in manufacturing of soap and detergents. The caustic soda is dangerous to work with, if it contacts with skin, may cause burns.

It is recommended to use gloves, eye protection and a mask. We produced our soap at the garage/store to avoid any risk.

Generally vegetable oils and animal fats are saponified. But for soap making, certainly olive oil is preferred.

Measure the caustic soda and water amount. Carefully add caustic soda to the water and stir until the water is clear.

When the caustic is mixed with water it will heat up and fume for a while. It is not allowed to clump on the bottom, because it can heat up and may cause explosion.

Stirring the mixture, the fume, the caustic soda packing and the curious Hectoras!

Melt the measured olive oil and combine to the mixture. Stir continuously until you are sure that they are submerged fully.

When the soap become thick, add your preferred fragrance oil. We added daphne oil. Hand stir it.

Then, pour the mixture into a plastic soap mold. Tamp the mold to release any air bubbles.

Although the caustic is dangerous to work, after it reacts with olive oil – which is called saponification – no caustic will remain in the home made soap.

Allow the soap to stay in the mold for 2 days.

Unmold and cut to shape your soap. Besides the classic rectangular mold, I also tried out single silicone mold, which finally was unpractical!

We made our soap opera all together….

Cookies with grape must

November 5th, 2014 § 0

Before ending the grape season, I bought seedless grapes from the market, to make a grape must cookie.

Baking soda is the primary ingredient of this recipe. It is used in recipes that contain an acidic ingredient, like grape must.

It gives tenderness to the soda cookies and when it is sealed in a container, has an indefinite shelf life.

Because of the grape must, these cookies are dark brown in colour.

  • 250 ml grape must (roughly press 500 gr seedless grapes)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 250 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. soda
  • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cloves
  • 1/4 cup cognac or brandy
  • 1 1/2 cup flour

Combine grape must, olive oil, soda, sugar and honey.

Stir cinnamon, cloves and cognac.

Sift together flour, baking powder.

Slowly add sifted flour to grape juice mixture. Add cognac mixture and mix until you get a soft dough.

Using pieces of dough, roll snakes and press the two ends together forming oval wreaths.

You can shape the cookies with a piping bag.

Place them on a parchment covered baking sheet.

Bake at 180° C for 30 minutes or until they are done.

Home Grape harvesting~September 2014

October 10th, 2014 § 0

Wine is so vital in Greece that many families have a small wineyard which harvest each year. So, most countrysides including the islands, produce their own wine.

The grape harvest season is in the late summer and early fall, like we harvested this year in early September.

The weather shapes the timetable of harvesting with the treat of heat or rain which can damage the grapes.

The ripeness of the grape like its sugar, acid and tannin levels are also determine the time of the harvest. The grape must be at its sweetest during harvesting time.

Sugar is not what makes a wine delicious, but it is a potential alcohol.

Grape picking means a little bit dirt, sticky hands, sometimes bees! But don’t worry, with folks many hands make light work!

After picking the grapes, we placed them gently in baskets.

For red winemaking, first the stems of the grapes are removed.

The grape skins give the wine its colour, for that reason, we put the grape skins in the must.

The pulp (grape skins) and the juice are allowed to ferment for several weeks, before being transferred to another barrel for aging.

The must is made and stored at the storage or most likely the garage. Because it is a dark and a cool place that has all the conditions of a wine cave.

Grilled stuffed red pine mushrooms with cheese

September 29th, 2014 § 0

Autumn is the time for mushrooms.

The saffron milk cap or red pine mushroom (in Turkish melki and  Λακτάριος ο σολομόχρωμος in Greek) grows under pine trees during Autumn after a good rain.

In Turkey, this type of mushroom can be find in Balıkesir region as well as Western Blacksea like Bolu or Mengen.

It is also known as milky saffron mushroom, as it exudes a milky orange to apricot fluid when cut. The damaged mushroom turns to green colour.

These orange coloured mega mushrooms can be grilled and served as a savory food.

  • 1/2 kg saffron milk cap mushroom
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 gr Cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 50 gr Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Clean the mushrooms, but never soak in a bowl.

    Coat the mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil. Shake on a bit of salt and pepper.

    Fill each mushroom cap with generous grated Cheddar and Parmesan cheese.

    Place the mushrooms stuffing side up and grill them for about 20 minutes.

    Serve immediately.