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Monday Morning Photo - Wisteria Time in Andalucia

How quickly spring comes around after the short winter here in the Sierra Sur de Jaén. After lots of very much needed rain we´re back to the normal cloudless blue.  My garden is shooting incredbily with the moisture and now sunshine. And my beautiful wisteria flowers grandly albeit it short-lived. The big black carpenter bees love it. Each flowering season reminds me of the Botanical Gardens in Malaga and the ´tunnel´ of wisteria that I haven´t yet caught in bloom. April is a good time to plan to go if it´s on your list.  Here´s the botanical garden link La Concepción Botanical Gardens. And a sneaky peak at the wisteria. See the Monday Morning Photos list.

Cooking in the Countryside of Malaga

If you ever thought Malaga was just an airport or beach location then think again. If you want a taste of real local home cooking not over-priced tourist grub or all-day breakfasts then a cooking-session-with-a-local in a lovely restored farmhouse surrounded by olive, almond, fig, pomegranate and nispero trees is needed to set the record straight.

Approach to Cortijo between Eucalyptus Trees

Having been invited by Mayte for a cooking session Malaga-style at her family's farmhouse I arrived with hubby, Nick, on a balmy August evening to a welcoming smile. Passing through fabulous ancient wooden doors (a weakness of mine) we entered the family home and out onto a pretty flowered-filled, sail-shaded, white-walled patio and a table laid with welcome drinks.

Central Patio, adorned for Malaga's fiesta

Cured Goat's Cheese tapa with two jams, Mulberry & Red Pepper

After a brief chat, Mayte speaks fluent English, and refreshing chilled beer the three of us headed out doors as hunter gatherers before our meal preparation. A variety of fruit trees, a vegetable bed and chicken pen provides inspiration for the kitchen.

Scalded Tomatoes ready for peeling & aubergines for Aubergine Chips

On our menu was Salmorejo, a personal favourite, with Aubergine Chips, Carne a la Malagueña - Malaga-style Pork in an onion, pepper and almond sauce with Rosemary Potato Wedges and for dessert Flan Inglesa with a Quince pastry dip.

Salmorejo on the Go

Having peeled and chopped the tomatoes they along with garlic, green pepper and soaked bread were whizzed together then extra virgin olive oil (from their own trees of course) a local wine vinegar and some salt were added and blended until a lovely creamy texture is obtained then chlled ready for sampling.

Ingredients for the Almond Sauce

Once the salmorejo was chilling we started on the almond sauce, frying the garlic, bread and almonds in the olive oil until brown, then removing them and frying the meat in the same oil until brown and removing it, then we fried the onions, when transparent added the peppers then the tomatoes and parsley.

Almond Sauce veg going into blender

Then all but the meat plus peppercorns and two different wines are blended together for a fabulous smelling sauce before being put back into the pan with the meat to gently simmer away.

Preparing Potato Wedges

Once the potatoes wedges were prepared, dressed and popped in the oven it was waiting time and what can you do while things are cooking away except enjoy a nice glass of white wine on the cute kitchen terrace looking over the quiet land dotted with trees. Mayte's friendly mum kept popping in, stirring a pot and proudly keeping an eye on things!

Serving Salmorejo with chopped hard-boiled egg to garnish

Mayte prepared the aubergine chips, a lovely crunchy change from rounds. It was all ready to sample. Our own work too! As usual once food arrives the camera is forgotten. A lovely evening and great food in charming company and a historic location.

Not a professional chef, Mayte has been cooking with her mother and grandmother since she was a child and loves to share her home, roots, traditions and food with all - a fun and informative cultural cooking experience.

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