Roasted tomato, pepper & garlic soup

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It’s New Years Day 2016; the start of a new calander year for us all. Despite a very late night watching a film with my family into the ‘wee small hours’, the body clock kicked in and wouldn’t let me have a lay in, sadly, so it was time to get up, have breakfast and create my first dish of the new year then!

Roasted tomato, pepper & garlic soup

Having bought 3 nets of reduced tomatoes in Tesco a couple of days ago (29p/pack), as well as a pack of Romaro peppers (reduced to 39p), along with a couple of yellow peppers and garlic from my fridge, basil growing in a pot on my kitchen windowsill and some fabulous basil infused extra virgin olive oil from Pomora that I picked up at the BBC Good Food Winter show in November, I set about prepping and making a delicious soup for today’s lunch.  Measurements aren’t an exact science here; it’s more about the flavour and your own personal taste guiding you through to the finished product, but to give you an idea what I threw together to make my soup, here’s what I used:

25 salad tomatoes

2 Romaro red peppers

2 Yellow peppers

4 cloves of garlic

6 Stems of fresh basil (stalks and leaves)

15ml Pomora basil extra virgin olive oil

Pinch sea salt

15ml Tomato puree

15ml Sugar

5ml Turmeric powder

Black pepper

15ml Balsamic vinegar

 

1. Preheat your often to 180℃.

2. Halve the tomatoes. Remove the stalks, seeds and pith from the peppers. Peel the garlic and put all of these into a large, heavy based roasting dish (my Le Creuset roasting pan is ideal for this).

3. Throw in the basil, then sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with oil.  Toss or stir together until all the vegetables are coated in the oil.

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4. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy and the peppers and garlic are cooked.

5. Remove the tomato skins into a sieve and squeeze the juices from them back into your roasting dish (no point in wasting that delicious, roasted flavour, eh?!)

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6. Transfer the roasted tomatoes, peppers, garlic etc. from your roasting pan to a blender (I use a Kenwood blender jug attachment on my trusty Kenwood Major Titanium stand mixer).  Add the tomato purée, sugar, turmeric and a good grinding of black pepper, then blitz until smooth.

7. Pour the soup into a saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar and heat through, tasting and adjusting your seasoning if required.

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8. Serve with a splash of double cream and some lovely, crunchy croutons.

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The Pomora Extra Virgin Olive Oil was a free sample I picked up at the BBC Good Food Show.  It was not provided in order for me to develop or publish a recipe on behalf of Pomora.

Have a happy, tasty new year!

Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce

A favourite in our house that I’ve been making since my son was a baby 18 years ago. Over the years I’ve changed it slightly and added a little chilli to make it for a more grown up palette, but feel free to exclude the chilli (or even add a little more if you prefer).

500g Minced beef
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1tsp ground Garlic
1tsp dried Oregano
1tsp dried Mixed Herbs
1tsp Chilli powder
50g Breadcrumbs
1 Egg
2tbs Rapeseed oil
Sauce
1 Onion, roughly chopped
540g Passata sauce
2tbs Tomato purée
1tbs Balsamic vinegar
1tsp dried Oregano
1tsp dried Mixed Herbs
1tsp Sugar
1. In a blender, place your onion, Passata, tomato purée, balsamic vinegar, herbs & sugar.
2. Blitz all these together until smooth (alternatively you can put your sauce ingredients straight into your saucepan and use a stick blender).
3. Pour into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cover with the lid whilst you make your meatballs.

4. In a large bowl, place your minced beef, onion, garlic, herbs, chilli, breadcrumbs and egg.

 

 5. Mix together until thoroughly combined.

6. Form small balls (you should be able to get 30-40 out of this mixture).  I generally use a 15ml (tbs) measuring spoon to portion my mixture out before rolling them into balls and setting to one side.

7. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry your meatballs in batches of 8-10 until browned all over.  Don’t add too many into the pan or they’ll steam rather than brown.

8. Tip your browned meatballs into the sauce and gently shake the pan to submerge them.

9. Continue to fry the batches of meatballs until they’re all browned and you’ve transferred them all into the sauce.
10. Simmer the sauce and meatballs, without the lid on, for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.  Try not to stir the meatballs as it may break them up, instead give the saucepan a shake every so often.

11. While your meatballs are cooking, you have time to bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook your spaghetti until ‘al dente’, then drain.

12. Serve the meatballs on a bed of spaghetti, sprinkled win some freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano.

FREEZE: Once cooked, you can cool & freeze the sauce and meatballs for up to 3 months.  Allow to thoroughly defrost and then heat through gently in a saucepan until hot.  Serve with fresh pasta.

This is the perfect recipe to double up for another day’s easy meal.

Apple & Sultana Chutney with a Chilli Kick

My basic apple & sultana chutney with a little bit of a ‘kick’.  This is great to cook if you need to clear your head.  Remember to put the extractor fan on high though!

1.5kg Cooking Apples, cored and finely diced; no need to peel
750g Light Muscovado sugar
500g Sultanas
1 Medium white onion, finely chopped
1 Medium red onion, finely chopped
10ml Mustard seeds
10ml Ground Ginger
10ml Ground coriander
10ml Garlic powder
10ml dried Chilli flakes
5ml Salt
300ml Cider vinegar
300ml Red Wine Vinegar
150ml Balsamic Vinegar

1. In a large, heavy based pan, combine all the ingredients.

2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently until thick & syrup-like.  Remember to keep it moving every minute or so as it gets thicker to prevent it sticking to the pan.

3. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a while.
4. Decant into hot, clean, sterilised jars and seal.

5. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks for the flavours to develop fully before enjoying.

 

Quick Red Onion Relish

This is a great & quick dish to serve alongside any dish of meat, or even with some cheese & a wedge of bread.  Very versatile indeed!

2 Red onions
25g Butter
1 heaped Tsp Sugar
10ml Balsamic vinegar

1. Slice the onions.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
3. Fry the onions until they soften.
4. Add the sugar and cook for a few minutes until the onions start to break down.
5. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook further for a few minutes until the relish becomes sticky & syrup-like.
6. Serve hot as an accompaniment with a meal or allow to cool and serve with cheese & cold meats.