Simple Dinners 16 / Roasted Vegetable Salad with Quinoa

Roasted Vegetable Salad
It must just be this time of year, but I’ve been roasting everything in sight. From the last of the summer tomatoes (which are great in this other Simple Dinner recipe) to new season pumpkins and baby beetroots from the farmers market, I just can’t get enough. I have been making big batches of roasted vegetables every few days and using them in different dishes to make a bunch of quick and easy meals. This Roasted Vegetable Salad is a celebration of all that goodness, and one of my current favourite things.

Roasted Vegetable Salad
I love the glorious transformation that takes place in the oven. How a little bit of heat and time can concentrate the flavours in a strawberry or a tomato to make it an even more intense and delicious version of itself. This salad is a work of art, and I certainly don’t mean any fussy plating! The autumnal colour palette of orange, purple and red looks so lovely and elevates it to something very special.

Roasted Vegetable Salad
Served warm or at room temperature, it makes the perfect healthy dinner, with enough leftovers for lunch as well. I could eat this every single day. As we go into winter, this dish will strengthen both your body and soul – the roasted vegetables make it super comforting, but they are also packed with nutrients that will help to boost your immune system for the cold months ahead.

Roasted Vegetable Salad
I roasted pumpkin, cauliflower and baby beets with a good glug of olive oil, turmeric, cumin and fennel seeds. The warm spices are perfect with the earthy sweetness of the root vegetables. I tossed through some cooked quinoa for protein to make it a more satisfying meal, and then some feta, pomegranate and micro greens for some colour and freshness. I served it with a dressing of tahini, lemon and turmeric, which can be whisked together in just a few minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Salad
Of course this dish is a total blank canvas. Here are a couple of ideas for how to mix it up.

  • You can use any kind of roast vegetables that you like. Maybe you prefer sweet potatoes or baby carrots? Let the seasonal ingredients available guide you.
  • Serve as a delicious side for your favourite protein – chicken, steak, lamb or hot smoked salmon would all be great.
  • Use goats cheese or haloumi instead of feta
  • Top with chopped mint or parsley, or even a dollop of quick pesto
  • Stir through some baby spinach, rocket or chopped kale
  • Add a can of drained chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil to your pan of vegetables in the last 10-15 minutes of roasting time, they will crisp up wonderfully.
  • Add some roasted nuts or blanched green beans for texture
  • If pomegranates aren’t in season, add a drizzle of pomegranate molasses

Related: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta and Tabouli

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side dish

  • Half butternut pumpkin, cut into 4cm chunks
  • Half cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 bunch baby beets, cut in half if large
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 50g feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 pomegranate, arils removed
  • Micro herbs or finely chopped mint

Turmeric & Tahini Dressing (from Bon Appetit)

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat your oven to 170°C ( °F). Place the cut vegetables into a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin and fennel, and massage with your hands to cover evenly. Place into a large roasting dish and cook for 1 hour or until golden and cooked.

In the meantime, cook the quinoa according to packet instructions. Toss through the cooked vegetables and place in a serving dish. Crumble over the feta and scatter the pomegranate and herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To make the dressing, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric and water until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. This dressing will last 4 days covered in the fridge. Serve slightly warmed with the salad.

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float
Can we talk about my serious love for all things tea flavoured? As soon as the weather starts to cool down, my tea consumption goes way up and I start to have all sorts of ideas about how to use tea in cocktails, desserts and baked goods. You should see the document of winter recipe ideas sitting on my desktop. Or the cupboard in my kitchen that houses my tea collection. The door literally can’t close all the way. I mean, how much tea is too much?!

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float
I love Chai and Matcha, Rooibos and Chamomile, and of course French Earl Grey is a firm favourite. I’ve baked with it several times before and know that the floral tea makes an excellent ice cream and pairs especially well with lemon. It’s a pretty sophisticated flavour combination, so that’s why I made it into a fun and nostalgic Ice Cream Float or ‘Spider’ as we call them here in Australia. I used to love these as a kid, and now I love them even more as a grown up when I can add booze!

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float
A few scoops of lemon & earl grey ice cream and a quick and easy lemon curd get placed together in a tall glass and topped up with soda or lemonade. It fizzes up theatrically and creates a creamy foam on top. It’s half drink, half dessert, and very satisfying to sip with a straw and eat the rest with a spoon.

I’ve used my super easy no churn ice cream recipe, definitely my go to for consistently creamy and amazing ice cream. You don’t have to worry about egg yolks, making a custard or churning in an ice cream machine, seriously! The ice cream is also delicious on top of a warm fruit pudding or crumble. Earl Grey loves fruit, especially apples, pears and peaches. It’s the perfect accompaniment to many of your favourite autumn desserts!

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float

Makes 2 floats

Earl Grey Ice Cream (makes 1 litre)

  • 600ml thickened cream
  • 3 tablespoons loose leaf French Earl Grey tea
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

To make the ice cream, first infuse the cream. Place into a saucepan over medium heat with the tea and lemon zest. Stir to evenly distribute the tea leaves until just boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours. Strain through a fine sieve and refrigerate until cold. When the cream is cold place into a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. In another bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and vanilla. Fold the cream through the condensed milk until just combined. Place into a loaf pan or plastic container and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.

Lemon Curd (makes a little more than you need)

  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 80g chilled butter
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons

To make the lemon curd, whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve into a sterilised jar. Lemon curd keeps, covered, in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Floats

  • 4 tablespoons Lemon Curd
  • 4 scoops Earl Grey Ice Cream
  • Lemonade or soda to top up

Place 2 tablespoons lemon curd and 2 scoops of Earl Grey ice cream in the bottom of 2 tall glasses. Top up with lemonade slowly as it will fizz and foam. Enjoy straight away!

Summer Pudding French Toast

Berry Summer Pudding French Toast
The transition from Summer to Autumn has definitely begun here in Sydney, but secretly this is my favourite time of the year. I love it when the mornings and evenings are crisp enough to warrant a jacket but the days are nice and warm. I’m hoping to get in at least one last swim at the beach before it gets too cold!

We found the last of the summer fruit at the farmers market this weekend, but new season apples and pears are starting to make an appearance as well. I’ve already started cooking with pumpkin and making warm curries, dinner tonight will be a comforting beef ragu. But I had to farewell summer with something special – my own take on the aptly named Summer Pudding.

Berry Summer Pudding French Toast
A Summer Pudding is a classic British dessert and a celebration of berries. Typically it is made with stale bread which is soaked with berry juice and then used to line a pudding bowl. In the centre are macerated berries, and it is usually served with cream. I like to imagine it is always eaten in the garden. Sounds good to me!

As you might know by now, I do love a new and interesting twist on a classic dessert. In this case I’ve twisted it all the way to breakfast time. I’ve soaked slices of brioche in a homemade berry syrup, eggs, cream and lots of vanilla to make a pretty purplish-pink French Toast. I used fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, but the best part is that you could make this at any time of year with frozen berries.

Summer-Pudding-French-Toast-3
I tried both single slices and french toast “sandwiches” with berries and mascarpone inside. One tip I would give is to actually let your brioche go a little stale. The recipe was originally used to give a new life to stale white bread. Mine was bought the same day as I made this, and because it was fresh the sandwiches became quite difficult to flip over in the pan.

I cooked them on a very low heat and was hoped the brioche wouldn’t colour too much in the pan so the pink of the berry syrup would be obvious, but it did turn quite golden. However you could still see the pretty pink colour when you cut into the slices, which made me happy as I was eating them. I topped my stack of Summer Pudding French Toast with a scoop of mascarpone, extra berry compote and fresh berries. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a drizzle of maple syrup wouldn’t go astray either, if you’re feeling extra decadent!

Related: Mixed Berry Cobbler with Buttermilk Pastry

Berry Summer Pudding French Toast

Berry Summer Pudding French Toast

Serves 4

  • 1 punnet raspberries
  • 1 punnet blueberries
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 8 slices brioche (a little stale is best)
  • Mascarpone
  • Extra fresh berries, to serve

First make the berry syrup by placing the raspberries, blueberries and blackberries into a small saucepan with the sugar, vanilla and Chambord. Cook over low heat, mashing gently with a fork until the berries release their juices. Simmer until the berry liquid has thickened a little. Strain into a jug and allow to cool. Reserve the berries to serve with the french toast.

Whisk the eggs and cream in a bowl or jug and add the cooled berry syrup. Pour into a shallow dish. If making French Toast Sandwiches spread one slice with mascarpone, top with the berry compote and another slice of brioche. Soak in the egg-cream mixture for 1 minute each side and cook in a pre-heated frypan. I used a non-stick pan over low heat so I wouldn’t have to add butter as I thought that might affect the colour. I cooked them for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining slices of brioche. Serve topped with a scoop of mascarpone or ice cream and extra compote and fresh berries.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut & Pretzel Bark

Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut Pretzel Bark
This year my sweet tooth seems to go bye-byes for extended periods of time, which is inconvenient for the frequent updates I hoped to make to this blog! When I do eat sweets, I like dark chocolate, fruit, or something with a good hit of salt to balance everything out. And that is where this delicious Peanut & Pretzel Bark comes in.

Chocolate Peanut Pretzel Bark
Chocolate bark is the easiest thing in the world to make but it’s really fun, tasty and adaptable. All you have to do is melt chocolate (good quality please!), spread it thin and scatter with your favourite toppings. After some time in the fridge to set, you can break it into pieces. Kids totally love it (remember my sprinkle bark cake?) but these days I prefer the more grown-up combination of salty peanuts, pretzels and choc-covered espresso beans with slightly bitter dark chocolate. It’s an amazing mix of flavours.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut Pretzel Barka
It would also make a lovely last minute homemade Easter gift for your friends. You know how I love edible homemade treats for the holidays instead of mass-produced chocolate! Get creative with the toppings and use fruit like freeze-dried raspberries and dried figs, shredded coconut, or any other nuts or chopped up candy bar your heart desires. How about a personalised batch for your best friends based on the flavours they love the most? The possibilities are endless so use your imagination.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut Pretzel Bark
I’ve paired the sweet-salty bark with an easy and quick (boozy!) chocolate espresso mousse for a fun and interactive dessert. It’s a fantastic last minute Easter dessert that will wow the socks off your friends this long weekend – you don’t need to tell them how easy it was to make! I love that it can be made in advance too. The flavours are a total knockout and the decadence is off the chart, but I love that because of the dark chocolate and salt, it isn’t overly sweet.

Related: Hot Cross Doughnuts

Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut Pretzel Bark

Chocolate Espresso Mousse

  • 120g chocolate (65% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liqueur)
  • 2 egg whites
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream to serve

Chocolate Peanut & Pretzel Bark

  • 250g chocolate (65% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • Salted peanuts
  • Mini pretzels
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon flaked seasalt

For the chocolate mousse, place chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk and and stir occasionally until chocolate is melted and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. Fold mixture into chocolate, then stir in the coffee liqueur and salt. Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into chocolate mixture, then divide it between 3-4 serving glasses. Refrigerate until firm, about 2-3 hours. Serve with whipped cream and shards of Chocolate Peanut Pretzel bark.

In the meantime, make the peanut & pretzel bark. Place a piece of non-stick baking paper onto a flat tray. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate into a thin layer onto the baking paper. Scatter with peanuts, mini pretzels, chopped espresso beans and the sea salt. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours until set. Cut or break into shards to serve.

 

Simple Dinners 15 / Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout
I don’t know how my mother put up with my fussy eating as a kid. She was a busy working mum and dinner time was a real pain point because I wouldn’t want to eat mushrooms, eggs, curry, any kind of seafood, any cut of meat with a bone. Peas were barely tolerated. As I got older and had a couple of basic cooking skills under my belt, I got bored of eating a similar thing every night and made her life difficult all over again!

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout
Now being a grown up and having to cook for myself every night, I really feel for what she must have gone through all those years, because feeding yourself something healthy and satisfying every night can be hard enough with a busy schedule and a budget, let alone with kids too. As much as I try to eat well, I really don’t like the thought of denying my cravings and feeling hungry, so this Simple Dinner fits the bill perfectly.

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout
Pesto is one of my go-to dishes whenever I have a few half-bunches of various herbs in the bottom of my crisper drawer. I’ve made it with all sorts of herb combinations over the years but lately I keep seeing interesting looking pestos made with other things like kale and watercress.

For the indulgence factor, I was lucky to receive some samples of the Hot Smoked range from the lovely people at Petuna, and the Ocean Trout paired perfectly with the kale pesto. I loved the way it flaked and the gentle smoked flavour was delicious. I have also enjoyed the Hot Smoked Salmon for breakfast, flaked with avocado and tomato on toast. But you can also feel good that they are high in Omega 3, protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout
You need not worry that a kale pesto is bitter and gross, it’s actually one of the best things to come out of my kitchen in recent times. I added some lemon juice and zest for a bit of zing that went really well with the ocean trout, but if you can’t find it, grilled chicken or prawns would be a fine substitution. I topped the dish with rocket leaves and cherry tomatoes for some extra added freshness. We all really loved it and I’ve made it once more in the meantime. Kale Pesto Spaghetti is definitely being added to my repertoire of quick and simple weeknight dinners! Enjoy!

Related: Ottolenghi’s Herb Pie + 7 Ways to use Leftover Herbs

I received complimentary samples of Petuna Ocean Trout used in this recipe. All opinions are my own.

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout

Kale Pesto Spaghetti with Ocean Trout

Serves 4

Kale Pesto

  • 3 cups kale, removed from the stem
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Finely grated zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 portion Petuna Hot Smoked Atlantic Salmon
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Rocket leaves

Place a pot of lightly salted water on to boil for the spaghetti. To make pesto, place ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined to taste. Over low heat, add the pesto to a pan with the cream and cook for 5 minutes.  Season to taste.

When the spaghetti is cooked al dente, drain well and then add it to the pan with the pesto sauce. Stir the pesto sauce into the pasta and serve, garnishing with flaked ocean trout, cherry tomatoes and rocket.

How to Make a Fruit Shrub for Cocktails

Make a Fruit Shrub
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that my housemate and I are massive vinegar nuts. We have a whole cupboard of them – at least a dozen kinds. So when I first read about fruit shrubs, you bet I was going to try it myself and we totally fell in love. Ever since, we usually have at least one kind on hand in the fridge at all times for summer evening drinking.

Today I’d love to show you How to Make a Fruit Shrub of your own. As summer draws to a close, now is the perfect time to be preserving your favourite fruit in shrub form. We love them mixed with vodka and soda like a grown up cordial, or used in a cocktails like the Peach Melba Smash.

So what on earth is a shrub?

I touched on this briefly in my last post, but if you missed it, a ‘shrub’ is a fruit syrup that uses vinegar to preserve it. Also sometimes known as ‘drinking vinegars’ they go waaaay back in history and have been making a comeback in recent years with bartenders including them on cocktail menus, and lots of people trying them out at home.

Where you can get really creative is the pairing of different fruits with different vinegars. For my peach version I used a white wine vinegar and for the mixed berry I went with a nice balsamic. But think of how lovely champagne vinegar would be with strawberries or sherry vinegar could be with cherries. The possibilities are endless and there’s tons of room to experiment and try out your favourites. Almost any fruit would work and your future cocktails will thank you.

How to Make a Fruit Shrub

How to Make a Fruit Shrub

You will need

  • 1-2 cups of fruit (your choice)
  • Equal amount of sugar
  • Up to 1/2 cup vinegar

Equipment

  • Airtight glass jar with lid
  • 1L jug
  • Fine sieve

How to Make a Fruit Shrub
Step 1. Prepare by sterilising your jar. I like to fill a sink with boiling water and submerge the jar and lids, then leave to dry for a few minutes in a low oven. Give your fruit a quick wash and pat dry. Chop fruit if necessary and place into the jars. I used 2 peaches and about 1 cup of mixed berries for the two kinds we are making today.

How to Make a Fruit Shrub
Step 2. You will need roughly equal quantities of chopped fruit and sugar. Place the sugar into the jar with the fruit and give it a shake. Leave on your kitchen counter for 2-5 days depending on the temperature where you live. The process will be quicker in warm weather. Give the jar a shake whenever you think of it.

How to Make a Fruit Shrub
Step 3. After a few days you will see the syrup has extracted from the fruit. I waited 3 days. Using a fine sieve, strain the syrup into a 1L jug, pressing down on the fruit to extract as much juice as possible.

How to Make a Fruit Shrub
Step 4. Add vinegar to taste. For the peach version I used White Wine vinegar and for the Berry one I used Balsamic. You can start with 1/4 cup and add more as you need. Keep tasting and tweaking the syrup until you’re excited about the result.

Store in an air-tight glass bottle or jar in the fridge for up to 3 months. They generally keep very well, but use your judgement. If it goes cloudy or doesn’t smell right after a while, throw it out. Use it to make the Peach Melba Smash or just enjoy with soda.

Thursday Tipples 12 / Peach Melba Smash

peach melba smash
One of the most exciting things I’ve made so far this year is a Shrub. If you’re completely confused, don’t worry because I’ll be talking much more about them in my next post and sharing complete step by step photos and instructions for how to make them. All you need to know right now is that in this instance a ‘shrub’ is not that bush out in the garden. It’s an old-school preserving technique where fruit is macerated with sugar until a syrup forms and then it’s fortified with vinegar. Shrubs are making a comeback big time. You can make them using almost any fruit (or combination of fruit and herbs) that you like or is in season.

peach melba smash
They are lovely mixed with vodka and soda like a grown up cordial, or used in a cocktail as I’ve done here. My favourite shrub experiment so far has been the peach version, which I’ve already made several times. The flavours just scream summer. The vinegar brightens the fruit syrup, giving it a funky tart edge that is perfectly balanced. Mixed with soda or tonic water, I think it’s a perfect aperitif because it really gets your tastebuds going and ready for the meal ahead.

peach melba smash
I’ve long loved the combination of peaches and bourbon, but I also love peaches and raspberries together as in the classic Peach Melba dessert. This month’s installment of Thursday Tipples is a celebration of just that, all smashed together in a lovely summer cocktail. The drink had a pretty pink hue because of the raspberries and was completely delicious and a little surprising. The shrub goes so wonderfully well with the bourbon, giving it an intriguing quality that will have all your friends asking for your secret ingredient. I’ll definitely be making this again and again. Stay tuned for my next post all about Shrubs with a full tutorial of how to make your own!

Related: Peach Melba Panna Cotta

peach melba smash

Peach Melba Smash

Serves 1

  • Handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 yellow peach, cut into slices (or use the macerated peaches from the shrub)
  • 45ml Peach Shrub (full recipe in next post)
  • 45ml Bourbon
  • 30ml Chambord
  • Ice cubes and crushed ice
  • Splash of ginger beer, optional
  • Extra raspberries, to garnish

Fill a glass with crushed ice. Place raspberries, peach slices and peach shrub into the glass of a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add bourbon, Chambord and ice cubes and shake hard, until the shaker is too cold to touch. Double strain over crushed ice, add a splash of ginger beer if you like and garnish with extra raspberries.

Anti-Hayfever Smoothie

anti-hayfever smoothie
I have had hayfever for as long as I can remember, caused by certain plants and pollen. In no way is it life threatening, but it’s a miserable thing when your eyes are itchy and watering and you can’t walk away from the tissue box for even five minutes. Boyfriends are off the hook buying me flowers as I seem to be allergic to a lot of them. I can’t even be in the same room as a lily. The smell of freshly mowed grass is literally my nightmare.

So what is hayfever and why does it suck? When your highly sensitive immune system reacts to pollen, dust or other irritant thinking it is a dangerous invasion, it releases histamine. This  which causes inflammation of the nasal passages, watery eyes and a heap of sneezing to flush itself out. I’ve tried most brands of anti-histamines, but even the non-drowsy ones leave me feeling groggy and muddle-headed so I try to avoid them.

Partly out of interest and mostly from desperation I did some research into the fruits and vegetables with nutritional properties that could help the symptoms of hayfever and inflammation, which led to me turning them into a delicious smoothie. Of course I’m not a doctor and I’m not qualified to give any health advice but I believe in trying a natural remedy where ever possible, and if you can help what ails you with food, then I’m all for that. Even if you don’t suffer from hayfever, this smoothie is a delicious start to your day that will give your immune system a boost as well.

anti-hayfever smoothie

Vitamin C

We know that vitamin C is great for our immune systems, but it’s also a natural-anti histamine with anti-inflammatory properties. Kiwi fruit (yellow kiwi especially) is particularly high in Vitamin C, but other great sources include papaya, mango, oranges and other citrus fruits.

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric is my favourite superfood right now for it’s amazing healing qualities that are too numerous to list. I could write a whole post about it. It has especially powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which can help to decrease your nasal congestion. Chamomile tea also has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant effects – all good things!

Anti-histamine

Histamine fighting foods will also greatly help to reduce the symptoms of hayfever. Some incredibly powerful foods include apples, pineapple, chamomile, ginger, turmeric, and peaches – all of which are delicious too!

Vitamin A

Found in lots of orange coloured fruits like such as papaya, mango, apricots, as well as vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin and leafy greens. Vitamin A helps to support healthy immune function and also does it’s part to reduce inflammation in the respiratory system.

Avoid Dairy

Instead of milk or yoghurt that can exacerbate mucus production (bleh!) try using a dairy-free liquid such as almond or coconut milk, or I like to use chamomile tea for it’s other great benefits listed above.

Local Honey

I haven’t tested this personally but it has been said that honey produced locally to where you live that contains small doses of the same pollens you react to can help to de-sensitise your immune system to their effects.

So taking this information, I made a delicious smoothie that really did help my hayfever. I’ve been drinking this smoothie (or some incarnation thereof – depending on what ingredients I have in the fridge) most days and have noticed my symptoms start to improve. A huge relief so I can get on with my day! See below for the recipe but feel free to change it up to use any or all of these anti-hayfever ingredients.

anti-hayfever smoothie

Anti-Hayfever Smoothie

Serves 2

  • Half papaya, seeds and skin removed
  • 2 thick slices of fresh pineapple, skin removed
  • Half yellow or green kiwi fruit
  • Small piece ginger
  • Small piece fresh turmeric (or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Chamomile tea, brewed and cooled

Cut the papaya, pineapple and kiwi fruit into even sized pieces, about 3cm. Place everything into a blender. The amount of chamomile tea you add will depend on how thick you want your smoothie to be. Start with 1 cup and add a little more if you like. Blend until well combined and serve immediately.

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches (No Churn!)

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches
This seems to happen every single year. I don’t plan on baking something specifically for Valentines Day, and then I end up posting something pink, red or chocolatey completely by accident! I had originally made these Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches in the hopes of sharing them before Christmas, but the new blog design wasn’t quite ready yet. After a crazy busy week in which I baked nothing new, here we are with this decadent recipe. For Valentines Day… or not.

As I’ve said before, I dislike the extreme commercial nature of this ‘holiday’ but I can absolutely and whole-heartedly get behind making something homemade and heartfelt for your partner or your friends. Cooking for my friends is my personal favourite way to show them that I care. I invite them over for a home cooked lunch, bake them a little something nice just because, or express-post cookies to my interstate friends. But it definitely doesn’t have to be edible – use your creative skills to make something special.

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches
In early December we took a trip to Orange – an utterly charming town in the country – for a weekend of cherry and berry picking. We picked several varieties of cherries at Hillside Orchards, and then rewarded ourselves with wine tasting across the road and a spontaneous picnic by the lake. It was tremendous fun, and of course I was looking forward to making some amazing things with the cherries!

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches
I took a few cherries, pitted and roasted them slowly with a little sugar, vanilla and a splash of Chambord (although you could use red wine or your favourite booze here). The roasting seems to concentrate their delicious flavour even more. Once they were cooled, I folded them into my favourite no churn ice cream and served it between rich brownie cookies. Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches. A seriously delicious dessert.

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches
We all loved the ice cream and cherries are still in season here for a little longer, so I’d definitely recommend giving this recipe a try. You could also use strawberries if you can’t find cherries. Roasted strawberries are amazing. I really encourage you to make something homemade for your Valentine this year and skip the mass-produced chocolates. It doesn’t have to be elaborate and complicated, and clichés aside, it’s totally the thought that counts.

Related: Raspberry Ricotta Doughnuts & Churros with White Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 1 litre, 15-20 sandwiched cookies

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream

  • 500g cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • Few sprigs of rosemary or thyme (optional)
  • Splash of Chambord, wine or your favourite booze
  • 2 cups (500ml) pouring cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Brownie Cookies (from Donna Hay)

  • 350g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 40g salted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup (150g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (35g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder, sifted

To make the roasted cherries, line a shallow ceramic baking dish with non-stick baking paper. Stir the sugar, half of the vanilla, herbs if using and splash of booze through the cherries, place in the dish and bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool.

In the meantime make the ice cream, Whisk together the condensed milk and remaining vanilla seeds in a large bowl. Whip the cream to soft peaks in another medium bowl and then gently fold into the condensed milk until combined. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture into a loaf tin or plastic container. Layer some cherries and syrup on top, and repeat in 2 more layers of ice cream and cherries. Freeze overnight.

To make the brownie cookies, preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place 200g of the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 15 minutes or until pale and creamy. Stir through the flour, baking powder, chocolate mixture and remaining chocolate and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Spoon tablespoonfuls of the mixture, at a time, onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on trays.

Sandwich the cookies with a large scoop of roasted cherry ice cream just before serving and enjoy straight away.

Thursday Tipples 11 / The Garden Party Cocktail

the garden party cocktail
I’m always juggling various obsessions in different proportions. My slightly OCD personality often sees me eating/listening/wearing/doing the same thing over and over until I get completely sick of it, and then moving on to the next thing. At the moment my rotating favourite things include bircher muesli for breakfast, this album and pastel blue nail polish. But I have a feeling that my latest favourite obsession will stick around for a while. Flavoured Ice Cubes. They’re a complete revelation!

the garden party cocktail
Instead of ice cubes watering down your drink and making it sad and flavourless, these are the exact opposite. By freezing juice or cordial, herbs, fruit, flowers, etc into ice cube trays, they actually enhance your drink as they start to melt. It all started last month with lychee juice, mint and berry ice cubes in a delicious iced tea punch with a whole lot of fruit. This drink was seriously delicious, a total crowd-pleaser. Every single person asked for the recipe afterwards. Flavoured ice cubes are so easy to make and the possibilities are virtually endless. I’m super excited to try espresso or chai flavoured ones next. If you’re fancy you could just add them to a glass of water.

the garden party cocktail
If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know that Pimms is one of my favourite summer tipples. I first made this Pimms and Elderflower cocktail – which I’ve named The Garden Party – over a year ago and have been wanting to share it here ever since. I even took photos of it, and it was really delicious, but there was something missing. A cocktail called The Garden Party has to look beautiful and girly, right? The pretty floral ice cubes were exactly what I needed to elevate it to something really special.

the garden party cocktail
The elderflower cordial enhanced the flavour in the drink wonderfully and the brightly coloured petals were very pretty. I can just imagine this cocktail being served at a garden wedding or even just a girly lunch. I know my Pimms-loving friends would totally dig this! I’ve given the recipe below to serve 2 but you could scale up the quantities and serve it in a pitcher for a larger group.

the garden party cocktail

The Garden Party Cocktail

Serves 2

Flower Ice Cubes

  • 400ml water
  • 80-100ml elderflower cordial
  • Edible petals

Cocktail

  • 60ml Pimms
  • 60ml Gin (I used Hendricks)
  • 60ml Elderflower cordial or liqueur
  • Sliced Cucumber
  • Lemonade or soda, to top up

To make the ice cubes, mix the water and elderflower cordial in a jug to taste. Place a few petals into each ice cube section and then top up with the cordial. Freeze overnight.
To make The Garden Party cocktail, place half the quantities of Pimms, gin, elderflower cordial or liqueur and sliced cucumber in each glass. Add 3-4 ice cubes to each glass and top up with lemonade or soda. Serve with a pretty straw.