07 May 2010

New kitchen, new inspiration!

Again a long gap between posts. But perhaps with a little context the lapse can be forgiven. Shortly after Christmas we entered renovations hell...first the main bathroom, then promptly on to the kitchen. The bathroom didn't take away from my cooking, just took away from my free time. But the kitchen, well, we're talking down to the bare skeleton - in fact, we went further.

One staircase, four walls of plaster and a ceiling replaced, plumbing moved, and all new electrical...new joists, even, under half the kitchen floor. We were also having imperfections fixed in the room next to the kitchen - which was the original kitchen on the house, and easily was the worst victim of plaster damage of all our rooms.

We're lucky I'm sure that it only took 9 weeks to complete. Kudos to the contractor, and to us for keeping our eyes on the prize and not making any major changes to slow things down!

At any rate, it's done, and we're the proud owners of a new custom kitchen - with our own unique touches, including an exposed brick wall. What we learned in the process? The original kitchen was added to the house in 1930. Surprises abound, even when you're expecting them, in renovating a very old house. Our contractor is a very good man. And no matter how big your basement kitchen, you'll soon grow tired of making do with it.

So here we are, celebrating new kitchen, new lounge, and in fact, increasingly "new" house. She's not looking bad, for an old lady built around 1900. Housewarming and reno unveiling party is tomorrow, and though the guest list for this, our first party back in Guelph, is looking a wee bit small, we're still doing the customary full out spread of home-made, delectable treats both savoury and sweet.

From the savoury side, this one is an easy "why didn't we think of this before" recipe that takes your standard shrimp ring and blows it out of the water. I quite honestly just thought of it as I stared down the multiple jars of roasted red peppers in our pantry one evening (one of those things I always think we need when I'm at the store...usually erroneously so!).


3 full red peppers
1/2 cup prepared horseradish (strong or regular)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp white sugar
black pepper

Either roast 3 cored/seeded red peppers (cool, then remove skins) or drain a medium sized jar of roasted peppers.Only use about three or four of the peppers from the jar.

Roughly chop the peppers up into small pieces. Dump in a smallish but deep bowl, with horseradish and tomato paste. Give it a quick stir.

Using an immersion blender (if you don't have one, go get one. It's your soup-making friend! Or just use a blender.) blend the pepper mixture until it's relatively smooth. Add your sugar and about three good shakes of finely ground black pepper. Mix well, taste, adjust as needed.

Makes approximately 1.5 cups of sauce. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Should keep about 1 week.

I'm serving this with shrimp - and a chopped fresh parsley overlay - in shooter glasses, no less, so everyone's got a few shrimp and their dip to wander around with as they admire the house. But I'm thinking it would also be good with a nice white fish on the grill -- just not too much as it's quite strong.

'Til next time, bon appetit.

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