Smoked red pepper pesto

We were having a cook-in the other night and I’d had a hankering after some red pepper pesto. Luckily for me, my daughter Kaytlin is pretty enthusiastic about getting involved in cooking and I got her to make a batch while I did some other stuff. It was fab.

This has a wonderfully nutty, slightly burnt flavour which will brighten up your darkest winter evening. Great with fish or flesh, with fantastic peppery, smoky notes and a robust colour which looks great spread across a white plate.

3 large red peppers (capsicums), quartered
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 heaped tbsp pine nuts, toasted
50g Parmesan, grated
Best olive oil, a few splashes

Roast the quartered red peppers on a hot skillet until charred on both sides, especially the skin side. After a few minutes, put them in a plastic bag and seal, leave them cook a little longer in their own steam and ultimately cool off a bit. While this is happening, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, being careful not to burn them, because they’re very easy to burn. Back to the peppers: peel/scrape off the skin and discard because it is somewhat indigestible. Put the flesh in a liquidiser, chuck in the pine seeds, garlic and cheese and liquidise, adding enough oil to lubricate the process but not so that it’s too runny. It needs to be thicker than cream but thinner than nutella.

Bottle up and refrigerate.

Some people recommend adding basil and walnuts, paprika and other spices, but I think it over-complicates the recipe. I think the fact that I have such a high percentage of toasted pine nuts is enough to satisfy the palette.You can find more of these on

My daughter the violist

Kaytlin Chaloner viola player violist


My daughter Kaytlin has been playing the viola for a few years now and since today was the first time it’s been out this year, I thought I’d stick up a little post. It’s a pleasure to hear her play, although I think she finds it uncomfortable playing for me. But we’ll both get over that. I really enjoy what she’s doing. Her technique has come on in leaps and bounds, and the sound she produces out of an admittedly inferior instrument is really warm and mellow. The music (as distinct from technique and tone) is really beginning to happen too. I’m not sure if she’ll come across this post anytime soon, but hopefully if and when she does she’ll realise that I appreciate her (and her music).

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