Did you know that the origanal name for the town of Zahara de la Sierra was ¨Azahar¨ which means ¨orange blossom¨ in Arabic.When you drive through this beautiful white village or ¨pueblo Blanco¨ its not hard to see why the Moors gave this name to the out post situated between Ronda and Sevilla.The orange trees that line the gently winding streets that snake their way up to the town center are heavy with oranges.You can often see wayward fruit rolling down the middle of the streets.
Here at Al Lago friends and ¨vecinos¨ are bringing in crates of them so I thought I would give a few recipies to help you use them up.
The white spongy membrain that surounds the fruit is a great source of pectin.Pectin is used in making jellies and preserves.Orange Marmalade is easy to make and you can motor through bushels of oranges in no time.I start by washing the oranges in cold water.Then bring a big pot of water to boil and dump in the oranges.You want to cook the oranges untill they are tender,about ten minuets.Remove the oranges from the water and leave to cool.Once cooled slice them in half and scoop out the ¨inards¨ Tie up the pulp and white membrain in cheese cloth and tie with string.You need roughly equal parts sugar to orange peel.Bring the mix up to a boil with the bundle of pulp in side,squeezing every so often to release the pectin.When the mix turns a golden carmel color its ready.
Like wise the oranges can be preserved in the same way as lemons.By spilting the oranges into quarters and sprinkling the inside liberally with salt they can be shoved into clean jars and sealed.These will last for months and add a fantastic orange essence to soups and sauces.Simply remove a bit,dice it up and add in.
As we drive into Zahara de la Sierra around the lake these days we see people standing with bundels of Wild Asparagus for sale.You should pay around seven euros per kilo.Dont be alarmed when they ask for more,its called barganing.This wild asparagus is full of flavor and very good for the liver and kidneys.
By bending the asparagus gently the tender upper stalk will break from the woody base.The tender bits can be grilled,sauted or roasted.The bases can be boiled up to make a stock for asparagus soup.