This is my first ever instructional video explaining How to cork a wine bottle.
The bottle corker
Why do we bottle wine
Putting wine into a bottle with a cork is an excellent way of keeping the wine until you want to drink it. When wine is stored it should only have a very small amount of oxygen available. Uncorking a bottle of wine is a pleasant ritual which many prefer to using a screwtop bottle. The corks seen in the video are number 9 corks and are they are the most common. They should last 10 years with no problem.
When to bottle wine
The simple anwser is when no more gasses will be created which could cause the bottle to explode. Wine made from Grapes is picked in the Autumn. The initial very vigourous primary fermentation when most of the sugar is converted into alcohol, lasts about 10 days. The fertmentation then slows down and then many people say that the wine should be kept in a cool place for the first winter. The cold temperature seems to help the wine clear. The wine is just about drinkable by March of the following year and by May it should taste good. However, wine is not generally bottled until at least one year after it was first picked because sometimes more subtle types of fermentation can occur such as maleoactic fermentation. This could create carbon dioxide which may cause the bottle to explode. Other types of wine such as champagne and fizzy wine can be bottled when fermentation is still active but they need high pressure bottles and a special cork. It is possible to stop a wine fermenting when it is still sweet by adding Potassium Sorbate which stop the yeast reproducing. However we never put chemicals of any kind into our wine.
Where the cork is crushed.
The video below explains how we put cork into the bottles. For a very small producer like ourselves, a small floor mounted hand corker is enough for our needs. In reality we store a lot of our wine in recycled 5 litre plastic containers. However, a bottle of wine with a cork and a label is a pleasant object so we always bottle some to give away as gifts and to add a sense of occasion when sitting around the table etc. By the way the sphincter like crusher in the centre is called an iris. It dilates and reatracts a bit like the iris in an eye.
Everyone has their own idea of what should or should not go into a salade niçoise. I wanted to prepare it with things we have to hand at the moment so this is my take on this classic dish – not so much niçoise but definitely nice.
Tuna is sometimes added but as I didn’t have any I used tinned sardines instead.
We’ve recently harvested the potatoes and so have lots of small, red-skinned ones. I cut them into bite-sized pieces and boiled them until tender.
We also have abundant green beans so I cut them into 5cm pieces and then steamed them for 5 minutes.
large lettuce leaves
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs per person, quartered
tomatoes, cut into sixths or eighths depending on their size
green beans, cut into 5cm lengths and steamed for 5 minutes
2 cloves garlic
handful of basil leaves
4 tablespooons olive oil
½ tablespoon vinegar
chives, finely chopped
On a large plate, arrange the lettuce leaves and season with a little salt.
Arrange the potatoes on the lettuce, then the beans, tomatoes and tuna. Finally arrange the eggs on the top.
Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a small container and blend well. Spoon over the salad and sprinkle over the chives.
By using extra virgin olive oil, this carrot cake had a great taste, was seriously moist and one of the nicest carrot cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m a bit concerned about the amount of sugar in the cake itself as 500g seems a lot and so next time I might try using less sugar – possibly 350g.
I’ve just realised that I never say anything about heating the oven to 180ºC. When I bake cakes, I use the wood-fired oven after making pizzas for lunch so it’s more a case of waiting for the temperature to drop from over 350ºC to around 200ºC. Normally this takes about four hours or so and then the temperature will remain constant.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
500g brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
125g walnuts, coarsely chopped
500g carrots, coarsely grated
125g salted butter
250g light cream cheese
250g icing sugar
grated zest of 2 large oranges
Line a deep-sided roasting tin with baking parchment. The size of the tin I used was 32cm x 22cm.
In a large bowl beat together the olive oil, sugar and eggs. Slowly add in the flour, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add the grated carrot and walnuts and give the mixture a good stir.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile make the icing. Cream the butter in a bowl and then add all the other ingredients. Mix well and then keep in the fridge until needed.
Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to cool completely and then spread over the icing.
This year I have put three of the hens in a pen in the bottom field. The idea was that this would be their final resting area but I’ve since changed my mind. Two of the hens are from the eggs that I incubated by crossing our hens with the neighbour’s rooster and I’ve become attached to them so they’ve been granted a wildcard to old age.
The white posts mark the borders of the pen and you can see two of the black hens together. The lines of vegetables to the right of the tractor are potatoes.
In their summer residence, they are protected by an electric fence surrounding a walnut tree and have free range of the first hen house that John built for them. Although they were reluctant to venture in at first, they are now happy to lay their eggs in one of the partitions. They tend to sleep, however, on some of the branches of the tree above it. This is good news and makes me happy. The other day on our morning walk to Marchalejo, we saw a pack of three foxes and then a single fox so it is good that we have the three types of fox-protection: electrocution, canine and flight.
Today was a balmy hot day at the Cortijo and temperatures are abnormally hot for this time of year. The lavender is in full bloom and there are loads of different butterflies and bees collecting pollen from it. One of these days we will have our own colony of bees so that we can reap the benefits of this hive of activity.
There are also some beautiful flowers on the way to the swimming pool:
Apparently cabbage is very popular in Denmark and this dish is similar to coleslaw but without the mayonnaise. This recipe for aromatic cabbage salad combines the cabbage and dried fruit with a simple olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice dressing.
Thinly chopped cabbage
Star anise, ground
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
Dried fruit (e.g. plums, figs or prunes), chopped
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Every country has a different recipe for potato salad and each household makes it their own. In this Danish potato & radish salad, the potatoes and radishes are combined with onions, chives and garlic and dressed with a mixture of sour cream or Greek yoghurt and mayonnaise.
1 kg of new potatoes, cut into chunks and cooked
Radishes (as many as you like), thinly sliced
3 spring onions or 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 handful of chives, chopped
2 tablespoons home-made mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt/sour cream
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Anna and Sebastian, two Danish workawayers, prepared these Danish vegetarian dishes for Sebastian’s birthday meal. I loved their idea of preparing a delicious vegetarian meal with a Danish theme but using as much of our home-grown vegetables and produce as possible. All of the dishes are vegetarian and the patties are vegan.
The main course consisted of spicy lentil patties with a Danish potato salad and a cabbage salad, along with our normal green salad and pan-fried courgettes. Sebastian made some fresh mayonnaise in advance. He some in the potato salad and added some chilli powder to the rest and thinned it down with some lemon juice for a spicy dipping sauce for the patties.
This was followed by Danish-style pancakes with raspberries and cream.
To see the recipes, click on the photos below.
Dried, rapid green lentils were used for these patties and cooked in advance before adding the onions and spices. The patties are actually vegan and some of the tastiest I’ve ever had.Ground star anise and dried plums were added to this Danish-style coleslaw.In Denmark, sour cream is generally used for this potato and radish potato salad. However, as it’s impossible to buy that here, Anna and Sebastian used Greek yoghurt instead.
Self-raising flour was used for the pancakes instead of plain flour and they were lovely and fluffy. They were flavoured with ground cardamom. Once they had been cooked, they were served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
Use a measuring jug to measure out the ingredients. We used a mixture of walnuts and almonds for the nuts and seeds.
200ml dried green lentils, boiled until tender
100ml nuts or seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder
3 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together. Heat some oil in a frying pan. Make the mixture into small patties and fry on both sides until crisp and heated through. Put on a plate and cover to keep warm.