I’ve decided that August is all for rest and fun. Well, as much rest as one can have with an 18 month old toddler to run around with all day, but more fun and none of the added-work stresses that have been fairly abundant over the past couple of months. I get so excited about summers arrival, booking every weekend full of festivals, gatherings and trips to the beach that I often get left feeling burned out. Not what summer is supposed to feel like! So in contast to the usual busyness of August and non-stop vibe that we are accustomed to during these months, I’ve pressed paused and am simply enjoying the simple pleasures. I can already feel he pace picking up next month when I have my retreat to prepare for and a few other catering jobs lined up, so I am taking this valuable slow time to stop and enjoy all of summers gifts, of which there are so many.
My simple pleasures include reaping the harvest of my spring sowing efforts, and finding new ways to enjoy our runner-beans, courgettes and tomatoes which are in full abundance right now. Also foraging daily in our beloved woodlands that surround our village. Blackberries in particular are falling at our feet as well as some specific mulberry trees that I have gotten to know well over the years. Blueberries a plenty and currants which are still hanging onto their long stalks. Baking, even though it’s hot out always makes me feel grounded. I think it’s because I spend so much of my time standing in front of noisy blenders and food processors for my work, that the practice of beating, kneading and watching things rise gives me sense of calm that I don’t often get from raw-food prep. Creativity and high-vibes yes, but not the same zen that baking gives me. Walking to our local river with Fern and throwing stones and wading through the water and watching fishes. And reading some of my favourite new recipe books which have arrived this month, this and this in particular. Taking the time to relish in these simple pleasures has made the fast-paced summer days slow down to a much more relaxed pace and I’m feeling good for it.
Another simple pleasure of mine has to be dessert. We eat something sweet almost every evening in our house, which could mean a simple bowl of fruits I’ve gathered that day, a slice of cake or some cookies if I’ve had one of those baking days I told you about, or something like this. But more often than not of late, it’s ice-cream. I’ve actually never been a huge fan of ice cream in the past (strange I know!) but that all changed when I discovered the phenomenon of the (insert hashtag) nanaicecream. In other words, ice cream made from simply bananas, nothing added unless you feel like it and oh so damn good! My man who is a big ice-cream fan said he’d never guess that this was made from just bananas, and given that you can make it from scratch in pretty much 2 minutes, it has to be the simplest and healthiest ice-cream ever. No crazy ingredients, no churning, no waiting for it to freeze. Just whizz pre-frozen bananas in a food processor and you’re done! I take no credit for this genius idea, it’s probably the oldest raw-food trick in the book and seems to be spreading mainstream too which is awesome. But given that it is my month of acknowledging simplicity, what better dessert to represent effortless-pleasure. We’ve jumped on the #nanaicream bandwagon, and I’m sure you will too after reading this!
I’ve teamed this ice-cream with a simple salted caramel. Salt+sweet=magnificent in my book and I urge you to try it even if you feel a bit dubious. Remember those sweet hummus blondies I made a while back, topped with tahini-miso caramel frosting? I’ve run with that idea again and this time made a pouring sauce which can be served warm over the cold ice-cream or kept cool. White miso has a naturally sweet taste due to its short fermentation time and being lower in salt than dark miso, it works amazingly in sweet dishes to add an umami twsit. Miso is full of belly-friendly bacteria which keep our digestion in check and can even improve immunity again disease. The sauce is completely dairy free and sweetened with coconut sugar which is unrefined and adds to the deliciously rich caramel flavour. All in name of experimentation, I tried coating some cashews in the caramel sauce and roasting them in the oven as a crunchy topping. They were an absolute hit and I’ve had to hide the extras away to stop me from eating the whole jar in a sitting.
So in honour of the simple pleasures in life, I give you dear friends, banana-ice-cream with miso-salted caramel. Not only will your mind and soul feel relaxed after whipping up quite literally the simplest dessert ever, so will your body for feeding it such a simple combination of ingredients with added happy-belly bacteria and taste-curiosity from the secret ingredient (cheers miso!) I must tell you that I have had a jar of the caramel sauce in my fridge for the past few days, and have enjoyed it poured over banana cake, on top of porridge and with fruit dipped in. Yup, It’s that good : )
Banana-Ice-cream with Miso-salted caramel sauce
Notes: The only preparation you need to do in advance for this recipe is to peel and freeze some bananas. Make sure they’re super ripe (no spotless yellow bananas please. Wait until they go nice and spotty so that the natural sugars are released and they’ll make the creamiest ice cream). The caramel and roasted nuts can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve with the ice cream.
4 really-ripe bananas, peeled, chopped and frozen until solid
3/4 cups coconut sugar
1/4 cup water
1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1-2 tablespoons white miso
Start off by making the caramel. Add the coconut sugar and water to a small saucepan and set over a medium-high heat. leave undisturbed until the mixture begins to boil. When the syrup becomes a rich brown colour and smells like caramel, remove from the heat (this should only take a few minutes).
Open your can of coconut milk and scoop the top half of the contents into the pan. This should be thick and creamy, and you will be left with the bottom half of the can containing the liquid coconut water + a little cream which you will save to add to smoothies or another dessert. Stir the coconut syrup and cream together until the cream dissolves and the mixture looks like caramel. Pop back onto the heat if you need help in dissolving the cream.
Now take 1 tbsp of white miso and mix it with a little of the caramel in a small bowl until it is also dissolved and there are no lumps left. Spoon it back into the caramel and taste it. It should taste sweet, caramelly and a bit salty. Now add up to 1 tbsp more miso to your taste. I like just short of 2 tbsp, but it really is a matter of taste. When you have reached your perfect salted-caramel taste, pour into a jar and transfer to the fridge.
Now make your banana ice cream. Place the frozen bananas into a food processor with an S-blade and begin to process. You may need to pulse it a few time to get it going, but once the bananas are broken down they will begin to turn smooth and creamy. Check the progress every 30 seconds or so. You want there to be no lumps left but not so smooth that it begins to melt. Once you’re there, scoop into bowls and grab your caramel from the fridge.
Pour the sauce over the ice cream, or heat it through in a saucepan if you prefer a warm sauce with your cold ice cream. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the caramel nuts or any other sprinkle of choice!
1/4 cup miso-caramel sauce
1/2 cup nuts of your choice (I used cashews)
Pre-heat you’re oven to 180 deg C. Mix together the caramel and nuts in a bowl until the nuts are well coated. Spread out onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake for 10 minutes or until the nuts are golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before scattering over your ice cream or storing in a jar for future desserts.
Happy summer friends! Do let me know if you give this a try and let me know your favourite ice-cream toppings! I wanna try yours!