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!

Kenwood Major Pasta Maker Attachment

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I’m a lover of my Kenwood Major Titanium mixer. I have a few attachments that go with it; namely the glass blender jug, the food processor, the mincer and the food mill. I was lucky recently to be invited to a PR event for the launch of the new Kenwood Chef by Clarion Communications. They’ve launched a new retro look Chef in three new colour combinations; white with either ASTRO BLUE, CALYPSO ORANGE, PINTO GREEN.
I (cheekily) asked to borrow a pasta maker for my own Kenwood Major Titanium to try out, which Clarion Communications (PR Company for Kenwood World) very kindly arranged to have sent to me.
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After it arrived, I was itching for the weekend & my chill out time in the kitchen to arrive.
Inside the box you will find a multi-lingual leaflet detailing a diagram of the pasta maker and a recipe for making your pasta. The pasta maker comes with 6 ‘screens’ which allow different shapes to be extruded:
Spaghetti
Macaroni
Rigatoni
Tagliatelle
Lasagne
Large macaroni
These are easily fitted and secured with a locking nut in front of an internal screw, which moves your pasta dough through the machine from where you drop it into the hopper to the screen at the front.
Eager to try this out, I made some pasta & formed it into spaghetti.
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And into macaroni tubes.
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I then bought a very thick slice of ham to make a Milanese sauce to go with my spaghetti for dinner.
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Kenwood Boutique Event

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I was lucky enough to be invited to the Waitrose School of Cookery by Kenwood for the launch to food bloggers of their vibrantly coloured Boutique range of KMix.
Now I’m a real lover of Kenwood food preparation equipment. Not only do I have the hugely powerful and versatile silver Kenwood Major Titanium stand mixer, but I have the smaller almond coloured KMix hand mixer as well as the almond coloured KMix tri-blade stick blender which comes with 2 tri-blade heads, a whisk and small food processor.
To say I was amazed by the vibrancy of the new boutique colours was an under statement. Wow! You almost needed your sunglasses on when we walked into the cookery school to be greeted by the lovely staff from Kenwood, their PR company and the cookery school staff as well as these tables of food preparation finery & co-ordinating props.

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The magenta is such a girly girl colour.

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Whilst the blue offers a more masculine alternative.
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The orange reminds you of somewhere hot & tropical.
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The yellow is so zingy you can almost sense your taste buds tingling!
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The green is like a fresh cucumber on a hot day.
After cocktails or soft drinks, we were treated to a fantastic macaroon making class using the Italian meringue method. No waiting around for the shells to set with this recipe; you simply make and bake! Between the 24 attendees we made several different flavours, including pistachio, strawberry, apricot, liquorice and black currant. It was heaven in an almond flavoured shell!
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Being the first time I’ve made them (and quite frankly, this will not be the last time I’ll make them), I was really surprised at just how easy they are to make, especially under the expert guidance and instruction of our lovely chef.
I have to say a BIG thank you to the Waitrose School of Cookery staff, Clarion Communications and especially to Kenwood for their generosity afforded to all the participants in offering us an item from their new Boutique Range. I can’t wait for my Magenta hand mixer to arrive so that my daughter can learn to cook and bake alongside me using her own mixer.
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Carmela consults our lovely chef.
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Julie hard at work mixing the almond paste.
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The finished Italian Meringue ready to be mixed with the almond paste.
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Our piped macaroons.
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Chef’s baked macaroons.
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Pistachio, strawberry & lemon macaroons.
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Apricot & blackcurrant macaroons.

Ndali vanilla gift swap

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I’ve been invited to take part in the Ndali Vanilla Swap that’s taking place at Fortnum & Mason’sprestigious store in Piccadilly, London on Monday 24th September. The event is also in association with Kenwood and The Fair Trade Foundation and has been organised by Vanessa Kimble, author of Prepped.
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The criteria of the afternoon involves us making or baking a product, or products, in up to 4 categories:
1. Biscuits
2. Cake/cupcakes
3. Sweets
4. Preserves
I’ve chosen to enter the biscuit & the cake categories with two recipes that I will share with you here.
For my biscuit recipe, I’m making a rustic vanilla, oat, cranberry & white chocolate biscuit. Whilst my cake is a rich vanilla infused elderflower sponge with a vanilla bean frosting and decorated with fondant.
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IMG_0976 IMG_0975  As the name suggests, it’s a gift swap in as much as we produce our creations to go in to a draw, according to the category entered. We are then lucky enough to draw an equivalent gift which has been lovingly created by a fellow attendee which we will no doubt marvel at and possibly enjoy on the train home later that evening.
We each have some wonderful Ndali vanilla product to use in our creations. I really can’t recommend their vanilla powder enough! The fragrance is sublime, whilst the taste is incredibly intense, yet gentle at the same time; a truly amazing product! Along with the Ndali vanilla, we will be using Fairtrade products where possible.
To give you a potted history of Ndali vanilla; Lulu Sturdy inherited a former tea plantation and, after experimenting with other crops, settled on vanilla. She now grows premium quality Fair Trade vanilla on her organic 1,000 acre mixed tropical farm, Ndali. She also processes the individual vanilla crops of hundreds of small farmers who she has helped to gain Fair Trade deals. Growing, hand pollinating, harvesting and processing are all highly labour intensive. The cream of the crop is packaged under the Fair Trade ‘Ndali’ brand for retail. There are still a lot of farmers in the area who do not have Fair Trade deals.
Fair Trade makes an incredible difference to the lives of producers; it’s not just a brand. Learning about these growers has convinced me that the deals brokered through Fair Trade make a huge difference to the lives of the farmers and their families. Many are subject to exploitation by unscrupulous traders.
You can’t fail to be moved by one farmer’s statement: “We don’t want charity, we just want a fair price for what we have grown”
Demand for vanilla outstrips the supply of vanilla beans and, sadly, most UK vanilla flavouring is synthetic with the vast majority of it going into manufactured foods. In home baking, we can avoid this ‘vanilla essence’ and buy pure vanilla in pods, extract and powder form. Of course, its more expensive than it’s synthetic substitute, but in terms of quality and flavour, there really is no substitute worth considering. Next time you shop for vanilla please consider not only the quality of the product that you’re buying, but also the life changes you are helping to make for the Ugandan vanilla growers and pay a fair price.