I bought a new gadget recently. I’d been vaguely wanting it for a while and then found myself in the cookshop next to Glasgow’s Central Station with some time to spare, and my credit card in my pocket. I didn’t need my credit card though, did I, because this isn’t an overly expensive gadget,
It’s the Kenwood Mini Chopper. Some of you may be aware that I’m a fan of Kenwood, and would loyally buy their products over any other for no other reason than that my mother had a sturdy Kenwood mixer (1962 vintage) which I used when I learned to bake. It’s still going strong, although it gets little use these days (my mother occasionally uses the mincer attachment, because life might be too short to stuff a mushroom or to bake your own cakes in my Mum’s world, but never too short to mince your own meat. Go figure).
Anyway, you’d think that as soon as I got the mini chopper home I’d be chopping everything, wouldn’t you? But no. It just sat there at the edge of my vision for some weeks. And then it went into the cupboard under the drinks cupboard. You’d think that would mean it would never ever get used, but I think I was just waiting for the perfect moment.
I didn’t have to wait for long.
Rick Stein created that perfect moment.
He has a new TV series out, From Venice to Istanbul. I only caught a couple of the episodes, but it included Paddy Leigh Fermor’s Moussaka, and I was smitten. This Moussaka was made for PLF by his cook, even though he had stated he didn’t like Moussaka. Of course he loved this dish and finished it all off and then asked what it was. Or so the story goes. Anyway, she puts potatoes in the bottom of the dish and whisks up the cheese sauce in a lovely light whippy sort of a way. Buy the book, it’s great. I did. Of course.
And I discovered this lush red pepper paste. It’s seriously to die for, and I’m likely to use it in almost everything for the next few weeks, until I find the next thing I love most.
I’m reproducing the quantities for the recipe exactly as I find it, but with my own narrative.
Lush red pepper paste
- 660g red peppers (I use those long pointy ones which have such good flavour)
- 50g tomato puree
- 1tsp cayenne pepper ( I’ve used sweet paprika instead)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 30ml olive oil
- Cut the peppers into big chunks and place them skinside up under a super hot grill till the skins are blackened. You may need to do this in batches
- As soon as they are blackened, pop them in a bowl and cover with cling film, till they are cool(ish)
- Using your fingers (there really is no other way to do this) slip slide the skins off the peppers and pop them in your mini chopper
- Add all the other ingredients and zizz to your hearts content.
I’ll be honest, I have no idea if I have made this with 660g of peppers or not. I’ve used a couple of peppers with about an inch or two of tomato puree squeezed out of a tube, a good shake or three of paprika and a healthy old glug of olive oil.
And what to do with this mixture? Well here are some suggestions:
- mix it with mayonnaise and make a dip for crisps, chips or crudites if you’re doing the healthy thing
- add it to any tomato-y stew or ragu to give an additional depth
- spread it lightly on sourdough bread, and then add goats cheese
- make sweet wee canapes with teeny tiny oatcakes, chicken liver pate and a wee dollop of this on top
- mix with yoghurt to make a salad dressing
- use it like a pesto
- make savoury muffins, once you’ve made the batter add 2/3 into each muffin case, then add a dollop of red pepper paste, then add the final 1/3 of batter. Cook as usual. This works brilliantly with these Parmesan and Courgette Muffins