Saturday, 23 August 2014

Axarquía Harvest - Figs and tomatoes

I have returned to Spain - oh happy days - and to my favourite part, Axarquia
Axarquía is rich in fruits, both wild and cultivated, and agriculture forms a large part of the area's economy alongside tourism. Previously, I lived in Sedella, some 600m+ above sea level, where the mountainside was dotted with almond, avocado and olive trees whilst vines twisted their way along the ground or along wires, and goats climbed trees and leaped among the rocks in search of edible greenery.





My current home is Cajiz. Considerably nearer to the sea, the hillsides are more verdant, though the same produce grows among them. My landlord, as was the previous one, is a farmer but his produce varies slightly - he has poly-tunnels in which he grows tomatoes, and mango trees are bejewelled with their heavy fruit, purpling under the Andalucían sun - at the moment small, hard avocados bounce off the side of the car when we park in the shade of the trees.




Tomatoes modelled by Stefano



The tomatoes are, as Juan told me, full of 'zumo rico' (rich juice) and are perfect for making gazpacho. I have altered my gazpacho recipe since the last posting, based on the richness of these tomatoes (and my very real dislike of the fruit!). I have used more cucumber and added a soaked chunk of bread to the mix; the result a gazpacho that all the family liked.














Gorgeous Gazpacho - revamped recipe

Ingredients:
2 lbs ripe tomatoes - roughly chopped
1 and 1/2 cucumbers - peeled and chopped
1 large red pepper - seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic - chopped
50ml of red wine vinegar
240ml of olive oil
1/2 white onion - roughly chopped
3-4 inches of day old baguette (or similar)
pinch of salt



Method:
I've lost my big food processor!
Hands are a blur as I make do with my little blender. 
  1. Soak the bread in water. When it is saturated, squeeze all the water from it; and I mean squeeze...hard.
  2. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Cool in the fridge.
Eat as and when you want. This should last for about a week, provided you don't keep returning to the fridge for a sneaky spoonful.


Tip:
Check the sourness of your cucumber before throwing it in with the rest. A sour cucumber will ruin the soup.











My garden is a haven for the cook; amongst the hibiscus there are fig, lemon, orange, pomegranate, mango, almond and lime trees. 











No wonder Adam and Eve used fig leaves to
cover their embarrassment - look at the
size of those leaves.




Dinner under the fig tree is both wonderful and an exercise in avoidance. The spread of the tree and its large leaves offer blissful shade from the August sun, but you do need to check your chair for random figs before sitting and hope that the falling ripe figs miss your plate and, more importantly, cava! 











To limit fig damage I have harvested quite a few of them, some have been added au naturel to salads, others have been baked in the oven with a little balsamic vinegar and then adorned with some crisped jamon serrano for a healthy, tasty tapas. 

The majority of them have become chutney; a sweet accompaniment to the strong goat cheese I am rather partial too. 


Fig Chutney

Ingredients
850g fresh figs (dozen or so)
150ml balsamic vinegar
100ml red wine vinegar
300g soft brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
260g red onions (2)
10g fresh root ginger or 1 teaspoon of dried ground ginger
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Method

  1. Peel and thinly slice the red onion, peel and grate the ginger, remove the stalk from the figs and cut them into quarters. Zest and juice the lemon.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and then put in the onion. Fry the onion for 5 minutes until it has softened and turned translucent and slightly caramelised.
  3. Add all the other ingredients to the pan. Bring it up to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once the syrup has reduced, stop cooking!
  4. Pour into sterilised jars.

Well, I had to try it!


¡que aproveche!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful fruits you kindly supplied me with after my recent visit, figs devoured with salad and goats cheese plus, Mango Chutney now bubbling away gently. Will bring some next time I come up. xxxx

    ReplyDelete

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