Pan-Fried Manouri Cheese with Figs and Chios Mastiha Sauce
This recipe is essentially a variation of the classic Greek pan-fried cheese called Saganaki. Here, a mild, buttery, pressed sheep's milk cheese called manouri is used. If you can't find it, you may substitute ricotta salata.
For the pan-fried cheese:
- 4 medium fresh figs, cut into 4 wedges each
- 500 ml dry red wine
- 200 ml Mavrodafni wine
- 1 tbsp Greek honey
- 1/3 tbsp Green peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp ground Chios Mastiha or 1/3 cup commercially infused Chios Mastiha water
- 280 gr (10oz) manouri cheese, cut into 4 half circles
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dredging, or more as needed
- 100 ml olive oil for sautéing
Bring the wines, honey, peppercorns to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, add the fig wedges and simmer until the sauce is reduced by two-thirds. Skim the foam off the top of the sauce as it forms and discard. Add the Chios Mastiha water and continue simmering for one minute. Remove from heat. Fill a shallow bowl with cold water and empty the flour into another second bowl. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Dip the cheese pieces first into the cold water then into the flour and panfry, two at a time, flipping once, until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and continue until all the cheese is sautéed. Serve the cheese pieces on individual plates or on a large platter, surrounded by the fig sauce.
Makes 4-6 first course servings.
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Recipes for the World's Healthiest Spice
Mastihashop Chios Mastiha Essential Oil 50g
The Properties & Uses of Mastiha
Historical and Folklore References
Aretaeus, A physician from Cappadocia (2nd
century CE), recommends a poultice of dates pulverized
in wine together with mastiha and aloe to help the
patient regain strength after a heart attack.
Ar-Razl (868-932 CE), a Persian philosopher and
physician, considered himself the Islamic counterpart of
Hippocrates. He prescribes a mixture of potter's clay
and mastiha to fill decayed teeth as well as the chewing of mastiha as an appetite stimulant for pregnant
Abu Yusuf Ya'qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, a physician in 9th century in Baghdad, provides a formulat for an antidepressant "that makes those who drink it happy". It fortified the stomach, sweetened the breath, and aided the liver and contained rose oil, clove, valeriana, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, hazel nuts and mastiha.
Abu Marwan' Abd al-Malik or Avenzoar was born in Seville in 1091. In his text, Kitab at-Taysir, he prescribes a preparation of licorice, raisins and mastiha for liver problems.
Gilbertus Anglicus (England, 13th century), in his Compendium Mediciane, mentions a nostrum for the spleen. He calls it diacerasus, and it contains cherry juice, cinnamon and mastiha.
Giovani di Vigo (1469-1525) was personal physician to Pope Julius II. In his book, Practica in Arte Chirurgia Copiosa, he provides an anti-itching formula for that contains egg white, linseed, black hellebore, poplar buds and mastiha powder, beaten in olive oil.
Philip Thicknesse, in 1777, published his book. In it he mentions a powder called "coloradilla", used by Spanish surgeons, which was made from Myrrh, mastic and cinnabar.
The Capuchin Balsam, formulated in Austrian monasteries, was made from mastiha, storax, terebinth, myrrh, walnut oil, angelica root, saffron, amber and sandalwood.
Lady Webster's Dinner Pills, one of the most popular laxatives of the 19th century, contained aloe, mastiha and rose-oil.
Mastisol, a solution of mastiha in benzol, was used in surgery as an antiseptic dressing sticker.
Dioscorides (1st century BCE) notes that mastiha was
used in facial masks, and for sweetening the breath and
cleaning the teeth.
Aetius and Oribasius, personal physicians to the emperors Justinian and Julian the Apostate, prepared cosmetic creams and sunscreens using mastiha.
John Partridge (The Widowes Treasure, 1585), mentions an ointment that "heals chapped lips by wind and cold", which contains rose oil, beeswax, mastiha and frankincense.
In Manual de Mugeres (Manual for women), Spanish book of the 16th century, there is a formula for preparing soap with mastiha: two ounces white soap, one fourth mastiha, one eighth southernwood resin and one fourth borax.
Chypre Oiselets was a French formula from 1721 for a room deodorizer. It contained cypress resin, frankincense, storax, laundanum, mastiha, marjoram, cinnamon, clove, sandalwood and rose oil.
Francesco Placenca, "Mastiha is a stimulant that has a mysterious virtue and power to feed the
pleasures of Venus and to arouse in a remarkable way the most somnolent and numbed aphrodisiac appetites."
Thomas McGill, the 18th century English traveler, writes, "Some say that mastiha maintains clean teeth. Others claim that it incites debauchery. I'm of the opinion that because women in Turkey don't enjoy the same freedom of speech that they do in Europe, they use mastiha to keep their jaws in motion..."
Hellenic Pharmacopoeia, published in Izmir in 1835, offers a formula for "scented lozenges", a kind of incense in tablet form. It contained frankincense, storax, laudanum and mastiha.
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MASTIHA BEAUTY CARE
Chios Mastiha Oil Deodorant
30ml witch hazel extract, 30ml aloe vera gel, 30ml
mineral water, 1 tsp vegetable glycerine, 10 drops Chios
Mastiha oil, 10 drops bergamot essential oil, 5 drops
sage essential oil
Combine all ingredients stirring thoroughly and transfer deodorant into a bottle with a spray nozzle attachment. Shake very well before each use. If you will be exposed to the sun, replace bergamot with thyme essential oil, as the former increases the risk of sunburn.