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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Or in my case; lemon soufflé or tart au citron……

So today is the unofficial start of my new chapter.  The holidays are just a distant memory.  All I am left with is dry skin & a few extra pounds too many of the wrong variety & less pounds of the right variety.  Still it was quality holiday time with ones I love, which I find more important these days especially as I had to wave goodbye to my eldest this morning heading back to uni for her second year.  She’s taken her car & never even driven on the M25 before.  I did have a little tear in my eye this morning as the summer hols are too long & I get used to having her around again.  Still, she left with a newly acquired skill this morning, scrambled egg ala microwave.  Progress.

So how did I get here?

To cut a long story short, I’m a redundant middle aged ex banker looking for a new direction which I think I’ve found in the form of a supper club/demonstration cookery.  We had a new dining room built last year & I had this vision of hosting dinner parties in it on a regular basis.  I love the new space & I would love to dine in it if I were a customer.  Google kindly advised me of a few similar ventures of which I visited & my vision was born.  Coupled with a visit to Le Cordon Bleu in London, which reminded me of the set of Masterchef, I HAD to sign up.  I wanted some kind of credential behind me so on 29th September I am going to be a mature student & study basic cuisine.  I may or may not go back & study the other two parts of the Grand Dimplome which then gives me a chef’s diploma qualification.

So now I’ve got four months to host two trial nights, redecorate my downstairs loo, complete my basic cuisine qualification, practice cooking dishes like crazy & purchase a ridiculous amount of plates, cutlery & other useless kitchen gadgets that I think will enhance my cooking when in fact will end up in the cupboard next to all of the other useless items I’ve ever purchased.  No pressure then.

My parents grown their own fruit & veg.

It’s lovely, don’t get me wrong but sometimes there are limits to how many tomatoes one can eat before they go off.  I suppose the good thing is, they make a lovely passata which I make when they are starting to go too soft.  I don’t really have a recipe as such but I’ll give you the basic idea.  Using tomatoes as the biggest quantity, I spread them out over a baking tray leaving the small ones wholes & chopping the larger ones into quarters.  I add to this peeled garlic cloves, chopped peppers, chopped red onion & a host of fresh herbs from my garden.  Mainly thyme, rosemary & oregano.  Drizzle with olive oil & cover with salt & pepper.  You can improvise & add more or less of the flavours you like but tomatoes should be the strongest flavour for passata but again, who says?  You can make it any flavour you wish.   Bake at around 180 until soft & not too coloured.  Leave to cool & then blitz in the blender.  You may want to add some water to thin if too thick but that’s really down to personal taste.  I keep this in the fridge for a few days if I plan to use it that week or freeze it if I’ve no plans for it immediately.  Makes a lovely base for a host of recipes such as lasagne, bolognaise or meatballs to name but a few.

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