Baking | Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto … In season with bell peppers

“… the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds.” 
Michael Pollan

Roasted bell pepper pesto Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto is what my roasted bell peppers were headed for! It’s strange how winter in the subcontinent is different from winter in the west. Come winter and the local bazaars are flooded with the best of fresh produce. It’s the time of the year when colours paint the vegetable shops in brilliant hues. It’s time for bell peppers, celery, broccoli, strawberries, cape gooseberries, mustard greens, fenugreek, garlic greens, beets and beet greens, juicy tomatoes ... and of course truckloads of cauliflower!

herbs veggies fruitsThis year we’ve had a deluge of local bell peppers. At a dollar and a half a kilo, these beauties are a steal. I toss bell peppers into just about everything. The kids thankfully love them in every form, the dog is a willing accomplice too. Any obliging little bits that jump off the chopping board head straight into Coco’s greedy little mouth!

Roasted bell peppersEach time I bake something, I throw in a few peppers  to roast alongside. I love char grilling them; sometimes use the Air Fryer when the oven isn’t on! Roasted bell peppers work well in tossed into pastas, in salads, in sandwiches, on bruschetta, also in pasta sauces.

Roasted bell pepper pesto Which brings me to the pesto. It’s absolutely brilliant and so adaptable! Play around with the ingredients as you like. Use the pesto in a pasta sauce, as a sandwich spread, as a dip, thin it out as a salad dressing, add it to a chicken bake, in quesadillas, with kebabs, stuff it into roast potatoes, even add it to soup …. it never fails to please!

Roasted bell pepper pesto I LOVE it paired with peppery arugula which is growing with wild abandon in my very neglected patch. Add a little feta, maybe caramelised onions, some smoked chicken ham to please the kids …. and I’m in business! I love a good green pesto too, and you can well imagine where my next bunch of arugula is headed! What is your most fun way to use pesto? And which pesto do you love the most?

Nirlep Anodized CookwarePlease don’t forget to enter the ‘Nirlep Handi giveaway‘ if you have an Indian address. I’ve been cooking up a storm in mine. You could soon be doing the same very soon! The giveaway ends tomorrow!

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Baking| Garlic & Herb Whole Wheat Crackers with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip … SRC

“Without garlic I simply would not care to live.”
Louis Diat

Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipIt continues to be a busy month, where blogging seems to get to the back burner even though it rules my mind 24 X 7. In the midst of this, it’s time for the SRC, an event that I am committed to; a deadline that cannot be missed! So here on fast track is a beautiful and delicious Creamy Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip from my assigned secret blog – Sweet Beginnings a blog about sweet, sugary treats, and home cooked meals.

The Secret Recipe Club, the brainchild of Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin’. The idea behind the club – Each month you are “assigned” a participating food blogger to make a recipe from. It’s a secret, so don’t tell them you are making something from their blog! Click on the link if you want to join the fun!!

Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipOf late, the festival season has piled loads of sweet stuff upon our delighted palettes. So I explored Jaidas blog for savoury stuff, and happily, I found plenty! Loads of wonderful seafood, fish, chicken; posts tagged with inspiration of all sorts - Asian, vegetarian, What’s Baking, appetizers and then this wonderful creamy bell pepper dip which she served with a grilled chicken ‘sammich’.Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipThe grilled chicken sammich sounded just wonderful and I think what made it really stand out was this creamy red pepper sauce the talented girl created for a recipe swap. Of the sauce she says, ” The sauce is super-delish and also goes great with burgers…you should try it ASAP!” I did and it was yum!Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipFestival season, school holiday on every other day for one reason or another, a wedding in the family, the hub BUSY at work … and me dog tired like never before.  Yet I snatched a moment yesterday to make crackers as the kids were feeling deprived that their Mama doesn’t seem to bake that much any more. Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipThese are crisp easy breezy crackers from a Mark Bittman recipe that I adapted to include some whole wheat flour. It’s a wonderful basic recipe that is takes well to any flavour you might like. I used garlic and dried herbs, and next time might do sesame, or sea salt with black pepper, poppy seeds … or maybe the bagel spice I used on these Same Day New York Bagels. Roasted bell peppersGarlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipThe creamy roasted red bell pepper dip {sauce} is just what I wanted as a pairing for these crackers. Vibrant and delicious, I loved the way Jaida added cream cheese to it! I used a local substitute {cheese spread} and skipped the mayo as the dieting diva was dancing on my head!Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipIt still was every bit delicious as it looks. Simple and addictive, its a great sauce/dip for burgers, sandwiches, crackers, fresh veggies, crudites and possibly even wraps! I adapted the recipe a  bit, and I’m glad I got inspired  to follow Jaida’s basic creation.Garlic Herb Crackers with Creamy Bell Pepper DipAdd some balsamic or go with the mayonnaise, and do make sure you add the cream cheese … then sit back and enjoy! My kids loved these to bits. Crisp whole wheat crackers and finger licking good creamy roasted red bell pepper dip … healthy and addictive!

Garlic & Herb Whole Wheat Crackers with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 4

Garlic & Herb Whole Wheat Crackers with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

Crisp whole wheat crackers and finger licking good creamy roasted red bell pepper dip … healthy and addictive! Crackers from Mark Bittman Dip from Sweet Beginnings

Ingredients

Garlic & Herb Whole Wheat Crackers

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 cloves garlic {+/- depending on your love for garlic}

1 tbsp dried Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

About 1/4 cup water, plus more as need

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 roasted red bell peppers

4 tbsp cheese spread {or cream cheese}

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Dash white wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

    Garlic & Herb Whole Wheat Crackers
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Place the flours, salt, garlic, herbs and butter together in a large bowl or in the container of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend with a fork or pulse, until the flour and butter are combined. Add about 1/4 cup of water and blend, then continue to add water until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.
  3. Thermomix:Place all ingredients except water and run at Speed 6 for 7-8 seconds until breadcrumb like texture. Add water, run for another 5 seconds to combine. Then add 1/4 cup water and knead for 2 minutes. {Check by pinching dough between fingertips to see if it holds together; add a little more water if required}.
  4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick, or even less. Don't worry about overhandling-add flour as needed, and keep rolling.
  5. Cut into strips with a pastry cutter {or pizza wheel}, and transfer to baking sheet with the help of a flat spatula. {You can even cut them after transferring the rolled out dough to the baking sheet, or roll out the dough on parchment and transfer the sheet to the baking tray.}
  6. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature , or store in a tin.
  7. Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip
  8. Mix all ingredients together in food processor until well-blended. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2011/11/baking-garlic-herb-whole-wheat-crackers-with-roasted-red-bell-pepper-dip-src.html




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Baking/Cooking| Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…”
Oscar Wilde

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceHaving kids completely changes the meaning of the word Mondays, and the meaning of manic as well. Before ‘they came along, I never had an issue with Monday, e v e r,  since the airline industry where I worked with worked the year around on rotating rosters. The cliche “I Hate Mondays” and “TGIF” made little sense to my existence. Not so now. I meant to post this yesterday for Meatless Mondays, but drama is part of our lives. All night Sunday the daughter threw up incessantly … which meant LAUNDRY {that was my first thought!},  and mopping and cleaning till kingdom came. It also meant a 6am dash to emergency to get her a couple of shots to stop the ‘volley‘  {Just as well, there’s nothing almost nothing that an injection can’t fix!!} Yesterday was B A D, but all is well now!

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceRecently read that quote above @ Barbara Bakes and it fit right in when I saw Sara’s post on beautiful One Tribe Gourmet. I forgot about my last VERY disastrous experience with gnocchi, the elusive little pillows of heaven, which had floated away in oblivion. I forgot that my last attempt, as part of a Daring Cooks challenge, left me crying copious tears of grief, while the sympathetic family slowly slurped the salvaged clouds from deep platters. Remind me never to try gnocchi again I ordered Mr PAB!Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceHe walked into the kitchen, saw me elbow deep in flour, and gave me a quizzed horrified look. Yes, he has the memory of an elephant. “What’re you making today? Haven’t you made this before?”, he said trying to keep it ‘mild’.  I suspect he saw my pale face and did the disappearing act, past memories quite obviously reflected in his expressions. Why O why, I kicked myself, did I have to get tempted again? A 2 year gap must have honed my culinary skills in some good way I pleaded with my inner self, yet dashed off to beam the One Tribe Gourmet girl in from twitter! I needed H E L P & a boost of twitter self-confidence!Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceLuckily she was there, and halfway through my tediously sieved boiled potatoes {I still can’t believe I sieved 3 pounds of boiled potatoes, while Man Friday stared at me bemused!} Bet he never thought anyone would ever push boiled potatoes through a sieve. Well, neither did I, but here I was. Man Friday knows better than to question me when I am elbow deep in dough, so he returned to humming his irritating songs and returned to do the dusting! Tweet-time ….’Sara, help! Am I right or am I wrong? Consistency of the dough? Help help help!’ YIKES, I had done it again! There was no backing off as by now I had the potatoes done & the peppers roasted.Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceGnocchi is fiddly, but not as fiddly as macrons. Keep in mind that you must not boil them aggressively on a full rolling boil. A mild simmering boil is good for these pillowy whimsical creatures. You must read Sara’s advice for the perfect gnocchi, and if you still are unsure, catch her on twitter. She is most helpful and one of the sweetest girls around. If you say you know Shahrukh Khan, she might even fly down and make gnocchi for you in your kitchen … she’s his biggest fan!! Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceSurprisingly enough gnocchi keep well. We had them for lunch and I boiled some and kept them flat out on a tray for the kids for dinner as they were in school. I thought I’d reheat them, but had second thoughts and decided to make them a little luxurious. So I simmered some unsalted butter with Tuscan spices that my younger sis had brought for me recently, and gently simmered the ready gnocchi in the flavoured butter. The daughter was over my shoulder with a fork, and dug in every 2 minutes to have another! The kids really enjoyed them too, and the sauce with a dash of Worcestershire sauce! It was worth all the hard work, and a great meatless meal. Of course I served it with a char grilled broccoli salad, my favourite winter side from Ottolenghi!

Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream SauceHomemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce
Adapted minimally from Sarah’s post @ One Tribe Gourmet
Recipe Adapted from Ron & Colleen Suhanosky’s book Pasta Sfoglia
Potato Gnocchi
3 pounds Idaho Russet Potatoes { I used our local variety}
3 cloves of garlic, minced
50gms grated cheddar
1 1/4 cup all purpose Flour {extra for dusting} {Original recipe has 1 cup APF}
2 tsp salt
1 egg
Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce -makingMethod
Boil or pressure cook the potatoes until tender. {Use a knife to determine if the potatoes are tender}
Drain, peel the potatoes and pass them through a ricer, food mill or a sieve. {I sieved them, a first for me, and though it was hard work, the result was unbelievable smooth}.
Spread all purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface and place the potatoes on the flour. Add the salt, egg, minced garlic & cheddar.
Knead the dough gently into a 10 by 8 inch log. let it rest for 2 minutes.
Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Cut the log into 4 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a 1 inch thick rope .
Cut the rope into 1/2 inch wide gnocchi.
Mark the gnocchi with rolling it over back of a fork. {These marks help the sauce cling to the gnocchi}
Boil the gnocchi on medium high heat. Drop few gnocchi pieces at a time. Let the gnocchi come up to the top and drain.{I fished them out with a tea strainer}
Add to the sauce.
Roasted Pepper Cream SauceRoasted Red Peppers & Cream Sauce
4 red bell peppers, roasted
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce {optional/to taste}
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup low fat cream
Fresh Basil, few springs, chiffonaded
Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the peppers on a baking sheet, coat them with a little oil.
Bake until skins are blistered. Take out of the oven and let them cool covered in a glass/steel bowl covered with a kitchen towel/napkin.
Peel & seed the peppers. Add the pulp into a blender and process until smooth.{I used an immersion blender}
Sauté onions & garlic in the olive oil.
Add the pepper mixture and Worcestershire sauce. Mix.
Add salt & pepper, and then add the cream and basil leaves.
Saute for 2 more minutes over low heat.
Drop the gnocchi into the sauce and mix gently to coat.
Serve with a garnish of fresh basil.
Homemade Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

This recipe is off to Val’s event Best Thing I Ever Ate (recently) challenge at More Than Burnt Toast.

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