Pan de Higo

Pan de Higo

Whenever I taste something delicious, I want to know how to make it, and this Spanish Fig Cake is no exception.  Turns out, it is the easiest thing in the world. However, there is a ginormous caveat here.  I have my suspicions that because it is so very simple, there is wild competition out there regarding the type of figs and almonds you use.  Apparently, it makes all the difference in the world to the taste.

Well, it may make all the difference to some people, but I just wanted to give it a go with the figs and almonds I can buy in the shop round the corner.  Which is exactly what I did.

It also seems to me, that once you have the basics – 1lb dried figs, 2/3 cup of almonds, 1 tablespoonful honey, 1 teaspoonful spices 2 tablespoonfuls of fortified wine or brandy – you can play around with the ingredients to suit yourself.

So, for example, I, in my first attempt, used ground cloves and cinnamon as my spices, and a lovely brandy called Lepanto that Shirley very kindly donated to us at Christmas.  Next time, I’m going to try a different combination.

Meanwhile, you are supposed to process the figs in a food processor, and then toast and process the almonds (you could, of course, use sliced almonds, but give them a cheekie quick toast anyway, as the heat brings out their natural oils). However, I don’t have a food processor, so I just used my beautiful mezaluna.  I then went on to read a blog by someone who cursed using a food processor on the figs as it nearly ruined his blades.  Who knows.  What I do know about using a mezaluna is that, through sheer laziness, I don’t think I chopped them enough.

It’s a learning curve.

So, when you’ve chopped, put everything into a bowl and mix together with your hands.  Get a piece of greaseproof paper and line a tin – I used a Victoria sandwich tin, but once again, I think it’s totally up to you.  The main thing is to push it all together, fold over the greaseproof paper, place a plate on the paper and something heavy on top of that.

Leave at room temperature for 2 days.  Yes, 2 days.

*twiddles thumbs*

Eventually you can open up the Pan de Higo, make a cuppa and cut yourself a slice.

I absolutely love it, and am desperate to try another combination of spices though I must remember to put more effort into the chopping this time.

Advertisements

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

pulled pork

 I know, everyone’s pulling meat these days.  So on the recommendation from one of our lovely friends, I thought I’d give it a go as I felt I couldn’t possibly miss out on this culinary zeitgeist.

Now this is the thing.  It involves placing a piece of pork in a bath of cherry coke, honey, BBQ spices and a little salt.

That’s it.

You place everything in a pot, put in the oven, and leave it for 6 – 8 hours.  Actually, when I say pot, what was recommended to me was a slow cooker, but I figured as I don’t have one of those any more because I broke the lid, I would just use a pot.

Despite my slight misgivings at cooking with cherry coke (I used the supermarket brand version) I decided that I needed to shrug off my misconceptions and venture out of my comfort zone.  So I did everything that was required and spent the rest of the day metaphorically navel gazing.

Well, to be honest, not completely, but it did feel strange having very little to do, culinary wise.

Meanwhile, we have had a strange incident involving the curtain rail in the wee boys bedroom.  Amazingly, despite both boys playing rather boisterously very close by to said curtains, when questioned, the wee boy declared that the rail, holding up his bedroom curtains, ‘just fell off’.

I understand a well known curtain manufacturer have declared a product recall on their curtain rails ‘just falling off’.  Which, obviously, explains everything.

Anyway, to compliment the pork I roasted some butternut squash, carrots, shallots, potatoes and aubergines.  When the pork had been lounging in a low heated oven for many hours, I took it out and, hey presto, the meat just fell apart.  And, as I am a lover of sauces, I created something delicious out of the meat juices, which also complimented the meat and vegetables perfectly.

Who’d have thought cooking with fizzy pop could be so successful?

Roasted Figs with Goats Cheese part 1

figs and cheese #2

Following on from my first fresh fig experience of the season, I decided to foray further into the fig world and have a go at roasting them.  As a strong supporter of buying local, I popped in to the market we have in the city, to pick up, amongst other things, a handful of figs.

Now this is the thing, every time I go to the market for fruit I forget the golden rule of market fruit.   Which is: all soft fruits bought from the market are to be consumed within a day, otherwise they begin the sorry state of decline so often found in fruit bowls across the country.  I have often been caught out by this market fruit propensity, having got used to buying fruit from a supermarket where they scare each piece into a state of suspended frozen shock, until it’s time to release them into the public domain.

However, I forget all of this and buy myself some gorgeous soft and hard fruits.

Ladened with figs and many other delicious items, I unload and arrange artistically, all the fruit in a bowl keeping the figs separately and, indeed, the plums. To be fair, I think I may have been egging the pudding slightly there.  There isn’t much to putting fruit in a bowl.

Moving on.

This is where I make two fatal mistakes.  Firstly, the figs lounged on a plate for over 24 hours on our kitchen table, and secondly, I balanced a bunch of bananas precariously on the edge of said plate.

‘And what,’ you may ask, ‘is the consequence of said action?’

My beloved figs have gone past the point of no return.  Overnight.  When my back was turned.

So now, having bought the goat’s cheese, I now have to buy more figs.  Could I be caught in an self perpetuating cycle of figs?  Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, apparently what you do is this:

Using a knife, carefully trim any tough portion of the stems from each fig.  Rub each fig all over with extra-virgin olive oil, then slice down through the stem about 2cm.  Make a second cut perpendicular to the first cut, so that you have an X-shaped cut in the top of each fig. (I love the word perpendicular).
Gently pry the edges apart and stuff each fig with about 1 teaspoon of the goat cheese. Place the figs upright on a baking sheet and bake until the figs are plump but have not burst, at gas mark 6 for about 10 minutes.
Drizzle the honey onto the serving plate and place the roasted figs on top of the honey.  Sprinkle with a pinch of the chopped rosemary; drizzle more honey on top if desired.  Serve immediately.*

I shall be endeavouring to rustle up this little number later on today.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

 

*Courtesy of http://www.grouprecipes.com

Tea and Toast

photo (59)

 

One of my favourite snacks is tea and toast.  It fulfils so many areas that a snack should.  It’s quick, comforting, filling, tasty, adaptable, warming, welcoming… I could go on.  But probably the thing I love about it most of all as a combination, is the emotional satisfaction it gives, every time.

So today the wee boy and I are cleaning.  We’re not just doing  ‘a quick flick around with the hoover’ as my mum used to say, oh no.  Today we are full on, no nonsense proper taking things out and putting them back, cleaning.

Every time I bring myself round to doing this most laborious of tasks, I reprimand myself at the lackadaisical attitude I have which has caused the unseemly fug surrounding all surfaces close to the cooker.  Well, not all, but those things like the ceiling and the lampshade.  As a consequence of not doing a regular wipe round I have to put a huge amount of effort into getting things to have the ‘tv sparkle’ I’m looking for.  Although in all honesty, I have never quite achieved that look.  However.

We have, so far, accomplished a complete clear out of the herbs, spices, oils, vinegars and unknown others cupboard and deep cleaned around the cooker. I say we, what I mean is I have done that and the wee boy has re-enacted many scenes from Star Wars.  Details aside, we took a break and indulged in the wonders of tea and toast.  Actually, the wee one enjoys a splash of honey on his, I am happy either way.  Satisfied and replete, it is now time to move on to the next job.

I think I’ll just make another cup of tea first though…