Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Three Easy and Sophisticated Ice Cream Toppings

There is definitely a place for desserts that you’ve spent hours stirring, whipping, folding, baking and icing. But a simple dessert, one that is conjured up from the pantry with unexpected ingredients, oozes effortless cool. It’s all like “Oh this old thing? I just whipped it up. Prepare to have your mind blown.”

As a kid I had a very complex system for making my ice cream after dinner. The ice cream had to be a very specific degree of meltiness before I added a measured amount of hundreds-and-thousands (nonpareils for you North Americans). I then left the ice cream to melt some more before stirring the sprinkles through the now soft-serve-textured ice cream, turning it into a gloopy grey treat.

These three toppings are not as complex, and are definitely more sophisticated, and will turn the bucket of vanilla ice cream in your freezer into guest-worthy desserts, or simply improve a bad day. Make sure you splurge on the quality of your ice cream, it will help make these desserts even better.

Three Easy and Sophisticated Ice Cream Toppings1. Raw Chocolate with Strawberries

Have you tried raw chocolate, the sugar-free, dairy-free alternative to normal chocolate? My friend Casey is the creative force behind RAW Chocolate, a new raw chocolate brand. It’s velvety and rich, and unlike normal chocolate, raw chocolate doesn’t go hard and have a weird mouthfeel when paired with ice cream. Instead it remains smooth and mingles with the ice-cream to form a new flavour. Casey has been giving me bags of “shards”, the offcuts of the moulding process, and these shards have been topping my ice cream very nicely. Her peppermint and coconut flavour conjures up a childhood mint-choc-chip dream and offsets fresh, ripe strawberries beautifully. Check out your local health food store for raw chocolate and shave it on top of some ice cream.

Three Easy and Sophisticated Ice Cream Toppings2. Olive Oil and Sea Salt

The so-wrong-it’s-right pairing that I mentioned in last week’s Summer Entertaining Guide. The vanilla ice cream is still the dominant flavour in this combo, but the olive oil smooths everything out, confusing the tastebuds for a bit, coaxing them into a false sense of security before the sea salt crystals burst onto the scene doing what they do in salted caramel. You probably have these ingredients in your house right now. You should at least try it, no?

Three Easy and Sophisticated Ice Cream Toppings3. Almond Bread and Maple Syrup

My local independent supermarket stocks an excellent range of delicate, italian biscuits. A packet of their almond bread, also known as biscotti, is permanently in my pantry, ready for impromptu afternoon teas or after-dinner coffees. Smashing up a packet of almond bread is not only very satisfying, it makes an excellent ice cream topping with its subtle flavour and strong texture. Adding a generous slurp of maple syrup ups the indulgence factor.

 

Do you have a favourite ice cream topping?

 

The Simple Provisions Guide to Summer Entertaining simpleprovisions.com.au

5 weeks till Christmas. Argh! I’m hosting Christmas this year, which should be relatively stress free given our family has an all-in approach to Christmas cooking. But I’m still thinking about how I can make the day special.

Recently I was asked to contribute to an article that featured great ideas for throwing a simple and elegant party. I brainstormed with myself when coming up with ideas for the article, and have shared these ideas with you below.

Hopefully this collection will spark something in you and help make your silly season a little easier. Continue Reading

Asparagus Pasta with Poached Egg

I’ve been thinking about cooking a lot lately. Not the cooking I do for the blog, or the cooking I do for guests, but the everyday cooking that is more chore than pleasure. This year the well-understood rhythm of my life with my husband changed completely with the birth of our baby girl. The balance of the household shifted and that change has extended into the kitchen. Weeknight cooking, once an equally shared task, has now fallen mostly to me.

Some days I’m full of my own useful advice and can whip up a nutritious and tasty meal for us all without too much fuss. But other days 3pm rolls around and it feels like I’ve never cooked dinner before, my mind blank and slightly panicked at the thought of what will happen between 5 and 7.30pm when the kitchen is open for business.

I’m a food blogger, I love food, I read recipe books in bed and seek out new ideas in magazines and online constantly. If I have this stricken feeling about cooking for my family on a regular basis, then I imagine others have it too. Continue Reading

Green Kitchen Travels

Have you read the blog Green Kitchen Stories? It’s incredibly inspiring, full of delectable food photography and healthy, vegetarian recipes. It makes me want to be virtuous, aspiring to the easy-going, colourful, healthy lifestyle of the authors David Frenkiel and Luisa Vindahl.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made their Seven-Minute Choco-Almond Truffles (it’s a lot) and their Ginger and Turmeric Honey Bomb warded off several lurgies that threatened to invade my body this winter.

I’ve been a fan for awhile, and I was delighted to see that they’ve just released their second cookbook, this time taking their approach to food on the road and collecting beautiful vegetarian recipes from all over the world.

Would you like to win one of three copies of Green Kitchen Travels by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl? Then read on!  Competition now closed.

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Traditional Lemon Cordial | Simple Provisions

It’s the time of year when lemons arrive on the doorstep. Those lucky people with lemon trees in their yard find themselves with a glut and suddenly get generous, offering their crop to anyone who’s willing to relieve them of their bounty. It’s a tradition that I wholeheartedly support, having never had a tree, I rely on others’ citrus abundance to kick off the start of my spring. And what better way to celebrate finer weather, and use up a bunch of lemons, than with a refreshing glass of cordial. Continue Reading

Broccoli, Pea and Giant Cous Cous Salad with Green Yoghurt Dressing

I’m ever so grateful to the previous owners of our house, because they planted a gorgeous crop of vegetables before they left. The weather this year must be on the side of the lazy vegetable gardener because without too much effort, these vegetables have thrived. Happy, fat worms are going about their business in the rich soil while broccoli kicks on from winter and the spring produce starts to poke its head up. With a handful of broccolini from the garden, a bag of frozen peas and an impulse buy of moghrabieh, or giant cous cous, this salad came into being.

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Rural Escape: Pitstop Snacks

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

It was the kind of weather that makes vinyl seats a problem. My sticky bare legs make a sucking noise when attempting to shuffle to the middle of the back seat of the car to make way for my Mum on one side and my Great Gran on the other. My Grandparents are in the front of the Sigma, ready to drive us eight hours to Adelaide. I have a broken arm that is itchy as hell under the hot plaster. The car windows have been rolled down in an attempt to provide relief from the heat, and to blow Grandpa’s pipe smoke beyond our immediate vicinity.

We’re en route to our first stop, where, despite the searing temperatures, Grandma will produce a thermos of hot tea and a roll of moist date and walnut loaf, sliced and slathered in butter. This is tradition, a family favourite that is so much a part of road trips that even radiating heat can’t alter the menu for a roadside stop. When thinking about my food memories related to cars for the Paint the Town Ford Challenge, I knew I had to recreate this family tradition. Continue Reading

No Churn Coconut Choc Ripple Ice Cream | Simple ProvisionsAs a teenager I worked in an ice cream shop and I made a lot of waffle cones. A lot. I wore a turquoise visor, white cotton gloves and rolled hot, sweet waffles around a metal mould to make cone, after cone, after cone. But I never made ice cream, and I haven’t since, because I don’t have an ice cream maker, nor the patience to stir or shake something every hour for too many hours.

Then I read about the magical combination of whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, and a dash of alcohol. When frozen, this concoction turns into an indulgent, luscious, creamy ice cream, no machine or stirring required. If you can whip cream and have a freezer, you can make this ice cream in the morning, go on with your day, and serve up delicious home-made ice cream in the evening. And do it all again tomorrow, as I have done for the last three days…
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Weekend Getaway: Retro Motels and Breakfasts

Macadamia, Honey and Thyme Granola

A few years ago I stayed at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It’s a mid-century motel in the middle of the desert that has been updated to a trendy retro hotel full of hipsters lolling by the pool sipping pink cocktails. It’s super cool. Ever since, I’ve fantasised about buying a motel in a small Victorian country town, doing it up lovingly and running a weekend getaway for all the Melbourne hipsters to visit.

When Ford offered me the opportunity to drive the Ford Kuga Titanium for awhile and blog about it, I decided to live out a little bit of my motel dream, because the thing about motels is that they’re of the era of the classic road trip. Having a pair of hot wheels to hit the open road with is essential. With the Kuga’s giant sun roof open, the Ford navigation lady telling me where to go, tunes playing using SYNC voice control (talking to my car and it listening is really quite cool) and luggage stowed in the roomy storage spaces, I sought out the perfect motel.

The best kind of motels are well preserved relics of the 60s and 70s, complete with drive-through check in, a car park directly outside your room, painted brick walls, avocado-coloured bathroom suites and the essential hole-in-the-wall breakfast door. The latter was my inspiration. I can’t buy a motel, but I can create an awesome, updated retro motel breakfast.

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Parsley Oil | Simple Provisions

This week we came home to find our pantry in disarray. Jars were smashed, sugar and barley and pasta and other hard-to-clean-up things were strewn across the floor, appliances were knocked over and a shelf that had been holding my cookbooks was no longer on the wall.

I had overloaded that shelf with far too many books, and it crumbled under the weight. It was not the shelf’s fault. It had done a valiant job of holding the books up for almost three months, but it could take the strain no more, and politely waited until we were safely out of the house to collapse, sending all the books tumbling to the ground.

The pantry has been tidied, but the books need a new home. While I was stacking them in a temporary corner, I picked out my favourites to sit at the top, and thought I’d share them with you. I’ve created a page with my go-to cookbooks listed. If you like the recipes I post on Simple Provisions, then you may be interested to see my favourite books, as they are what influence my cooking.

There are some classics like Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion, which nearly every Australian household has, and Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi, which everyone who likes food bought in 2012. But a relatively new book has rocketed to the top of my pile in the last few weeks. Continue Reading

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