green bean, pea + asparagus salad with vanilla vinaigrette

I’ll admit I’ve never felt strong feelings towards green beans, most likely something I’ve carried through from childhood. Surely the only green things children like are green snakes, green smarties, green leaves (yeah, not that spinach stuff, I mean the sugary spearmint leaves) and so on and so forth. I often scream with excitement when my children eat a couple of green peas (on the inside of course; on the outside I’m truly too scared to even breath or even move in case they sense my satisfaction and then proceed to spit it out and completely ruin my moment of triumph). So when my son saw me eating my vanilla greens, he was quite confused as to how it wasn’t in the shape of a cake. Can you blame him?

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I thought it was about time I put my big girl pants on and acquaint myself with green beans, because if I can love other green veggies, why not spread the love ’round? And if there’s a recipe for persuading even the most stubborn greens eater, this is the one. The warm vanilla vs the zingy apple cider vinegar vs the mint…it just works. These three greens go fabulously together but you can choose whatever you like, such as leek, snow peas or even just simple spinach. I’ve served this salad with fish and even red meat, but it is delicious in it’s own right, not to mention super healthy. It’s safe to say I won’t be neglecting the humble green bean anymore.

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green bean, asparagus + pea salad with vanilla vinaigrette – serves 1, or 2 as a side

you’ll need…

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 100g green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder, or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • handful of mint leaves, to serve

here’s what you do…

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil and add a few pinches of salt. Once boiling, pop in your asparagus, beans and peas and put your timer on for 3 minutes (if your asparagus is quite thick, you might need to cook for longer, in which case put it in before the beans and peas and time accordingly). Drain and refresh in cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, for the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar and vanilla and season well.
  3. Assemble greens on the plate, slicing some asparagus spears and beans lengthways in half for presentation. Drizzle over the dressing, scatter with mint leaves and season accordingly.

honey + roast macadamia ice-cream

I was scared of the dark, as most wee ones are, with each and every bump in the night amplified in my head. I would often have a sleepover at my Nonna’s house, and with my Nonno having passed many years earlier, her queen-size bed was only half full. It was my spot when I’d come to stay. She would let me cuddle up next to her, allay my fears by promising (read: fibbing) her toy poodle would scare off any monsters, and just before bed, we’d have a mug of warm milk and honey. Milky-sweet and soothing, it was to help me sleep, and it often did. If I could embody this home remedy in an ice-cream, this is the one.

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Although it’s only the end of winter, I felt it fitting to use up the egg yolks in my fridge in this ice-cream recipe I’ve wanted to try for years. The page had been ripped from a very old issue of New Idea (thanks, Mum) and has significantly yellowed, totally vintage. Creamy, rich and oddly warming, the roast macadamias give it a real grown-up touch, perfectly complementing the honey. Try to use good-quality honey that can lend a distinctive taste as well as sweetness. Serve in your finest waffle cone, or eat straight from container (guilty, as charged).

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honey + roast macadamia ice-cream – adapted from New Idea – refined-sugar free, gluten free

you’ll need…

  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 4 whole eggs, plus 2 extra egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup good quality honey

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place cream into a medium-sized sauce pan and gently bring to a simmer.
  2. Place nuts on a baking tray and roast for 8 or so minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. You want them to be slightly golden brown. Chop roughly.
  3. Place the eggs, yolks and honey in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until combined. Once cream has come to a simmer, slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so as not to curdle the eggs. Pour the entire mix back into the saucepan, and place over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens (about 5-8 min). You want the mix to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Strain the custard and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions, popping the nuts in about 10 minutes before the end of the freezing cycle (once the ice-cream has significantly frozen and thickened up so the nuts don’t fall to the bottom of the mix). If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, pour into a deep tray, cover and freeze until there is a solid rim of frozen custard around the rim. Transfer to a chilled bowl, beat vigorously with electric beaters, and stir in the nuts. Return to the tray and freeze until firm.