My trusty Magimix Cuisine Systeme 5100 is about 15 years old. It's had several replacement blades and bowls, and once had a trip to the mender's after Other Half tried to make carrot juice and managed to burn out the engine. The 'pulse' button has sprung out and is held in place with sticky tape. Other than that, it still works a treat.

When I bought my matt grey Kitchenaid, in that fervour of excitement that followed Nigella's first TV series (where one could regular enjoy seeing her draw the curved bowl of her Kitchenaid to her ample bosom), I thought the Magimix would be redundant, but while the Kitchenaid is brilliant for bread dough, cake mix and the lightest, most heavenly meringues, I doubt I could ever find another kitchen gadget that does chopping and pureeing as well as the Magimix. I can make pesto in moments, hummous in the blink of an eye, whizz up a garlic sauce, or mayonnaise "just like that"! The only down side of it, is that it lives at the back of one of my cupboards and has to be hauled out every time I want to use it.

After a day spent practising Bach and Debussy, trying to think myself back into piano teacher mode (students are back from half-term hols tomorrow) and doing "creative thinking" jobs for other people, an hour cooking-while-listening-to-Radio-4 was the perfect way to wind down. First, I made a slick of oily black olive tapenade. Redolent of summer days and lazy lunches, this garlicky bitumen-black paste from Provence, is delicious spread on toasted sourdough and topped off with a dollop of creamy, soft goat's cheese. After that, I decided it was time for those artichokes, which had been lurking at the back of the fridge for a day too long, to go into the Magimix. I toasted some pine nuts, added a garlic clove and a generous shaving of Pamesan. The result: artichoke pesto. Later, I'm going to make a pea puree to serve with grilled salmon, fragrant with basil and garlic, a welcome nod to Spring in its fresh green colour and flavours.

Black Olive Tapenade & Artichoke Pesto

Basil and Black Olive Tapenade

Small bunch of fresh basil
50g can anchovu fillets
100g pitted black olives
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp capers
Grated zest & juice of lemon
Olive oil

Put all the ingredients in the food-processor and blitz together to a consistency to your taste. Keeps in the fridge for about a week in a screw-top or Kilner jar.

Trying the Tapenade!

The artichoke pesto was of those "handful of this, and a spoonful of that" concoctions, so I suggest you just do an Google search for your own recipe, and experiment until you find one you like.


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