When one moves into a house that could most-flatteringly be described as a ‘fixer upper’ one is bound to make some interesting discoveries. Such has been the case since we moved out of the RV and initiated the renovation process at our new place. Some of these discoveries have appealed to the retro enthusiast in me – like the page from the Toronto Star newspaper from 1971 that Mike found stuffed behind the drywall in one of the bedrooms. We were also surprised to find some well-preserved and very of-its-time gold and beige linoleum underneath the teal coloured carpet. Teal! Whoever lived in this house previously obviously had an obsession with this colour, as it features in practically every room of the house, much to our combined amazement!
Other discoveries have been more dubious in nature, like the crow bar marks on the front door frame – creepy reminders of the house being broken into a few years ago. I’ll admit that knowledge of this break-in has launched me into full-on ‘neighbourhood watch’ mode. I find myself regularly on the lookout for ‘suspicious behaviour,’ often peeping through the blinds like a paranoid recluse to see what’s going on outside the house. We have an old rocking chair that we’ve been using until we move the rest of our furniture out of storage, and I’ve even caught myself seated in it on occasion, sinisterly panning the road outside. All I need is a set of curlers in my hair and a rolling pin on my lap and I’ll have officially achieved the status of neighbourhood crazy lady.
Mike happened upon a massive spider nest while he was tearing down the valence in the bedroom over the weekend. He immediately assessed the nest – rather dramatically – as that belonging to a Black Widow – but I’d like to think he’s wrong seeing as he doesn’t have any formal training on arachnids or their dwellings that I’m aware of. I KNEW something was in that wall ever since I heard an aggressive scurrying sound as I was falling to sleep the other night. Mike seems to think he scared the spider into the attic – which is fine by me, as long as it stays there and doesn’t decide to pay us a visit at some point.
Given all the activity around the house I haven’t been keeping up with my rigorous (ya right) once- or twice-weekly blogging schedule (if you can even call it that), but here you have it – my latest creation, a yummy tapenade! I’ve had hazelnuts hovering in the back of my mind for some time now, ever since I spotted this
recipe for dukkah – an Egyptian spice blend made up of hazelnuts, seeds, fresh herbs and spices – on the amazing Cook Eat Live Vegetarian
blog. I was already planning a roasted red pepper and olive tapenade but felt the urge to a little something-something to this classic Mediterranean pairing. Enter hazelnuts! They give the tapenade a fantastic nutty crunch, while the sweetness of dried figs offsets the pungency the black and green olives. I also threw in an entire bulb of garlic – which, when roasted, turns smoky and sweet and gives the tapenade a nice depth of flavour.
This recipe is prepared in a blender or food processor so it’s easy to control the consistency of the tapenade. I left mine a bit chunky so the different ingredients could be differentiated – but if a smoother spread is more to your liking, simply blend for longer.
Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper and Olive Tapenade | With Hazelnuts and Figs
Makes about 1 cup
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 1 medium bulb of garlic
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup chopped Manzanilla olives
- 4 dried figs, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place whole red peppers in an oven-proof dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 40 minutes – turning peppers over half-way through – or until peppers are soft and skin is blackened. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
2. While peppers are roasting, peel outmost layers of skin from garlic bulb and place bulb on a piece of aluminum foil (foil should be big enough to bundle around garlic). Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto bulb and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bundle foil firmly around garlic and place in a small oven-proof dish. Place dish in oven alongside peppers and roast for 30 minutes, or until garlic cloves are tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
3. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove stem and seeds and peel off blackened skin. Once garlic is cool enough to handle, separate garlic from skin. Transfer peppers and garlic to blender or food processor.
4. Blend peppers and garlic together until a smooth puree forms.
5. Add chopped hazelnuts and pulse until broken down into smaller pieces.
6. Add figs, both types of olives, oregano, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse until ingredients are incorporated, scraping down sides of blender as necessary. I left my tapenade a little chunky. If you prefer a smoother texture simply blend for longer.
7. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary (I found the olives alone made the tapenade adequately salty).
8. Transfer tapenade to serving dish. Serve with crackers, warm bread or crostini. This tapenade would also work well as a spread in a grilled vegetable sandwich or panini. Eat!
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