Strawberry-lemonade nice cream.

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You all know that moment, right, when your stash of initially halfway greenish and still inedible bananas suddenly, and seemingly overnight, has turned into a bunch of freckled and speckled overripe fruit? My kids call them ‘rotten bananas’, but frankly, that’s a hyperbolically pejorative denotation that does not pay them the honour they actually deserve. Just have a look at  this long list of recipe ideas (some of which are vegan, plenty of which can be veganised).

Baking chocolate chip banana bread is my standard way to use up overripe bananas, and blending them into smoothies is my favorite second. When I don’t want to use them immediately, then I chop them up and freeze them. In this scenario also another option – something I should be doing more often – comes into the picture: making nice cream (aka banana-based ice cream), which is simple, sweet and satisfying. And a totally guilt-free way of enjoying ice cream.

So making nice cream is what I did last Sunday. I had some of spring’s first strawberries in the house, and wanted to add a lemony zing as well. So banana-strawberry-lemon ice cream it was, and really, it was goooood!

Usually, when making nice cream, I start from frozen banana chunks, but this time I reversed the order. I first blended the ingredients, then froze the (delicious!) cream until it solidified. The reason? I wanted to make popsicles. Not just popsicles, but beautifully decorated popsicles with heart-shaped strawberry slices. Not the worst idea ever, and it’s doable, but actually, next time I’ll stick to the usual order of things (as in the recipe below), and reserve my silicone popsicle molds for my regular, ice cream machine made ice cream.

Nice cream popsicles demand that you keep a very close eye on them, and regularly check when they are hard enough to remove from the mold, but not too hard that they’re icy. It can be done, but it’s tricky, as nice cream freezes less well than regularly churned ice cream. My regular ice cream contains arrowroot, an ingredient that prevents crystallization. Arrowroot requires boiling the liquid before cooling, churning and finally freezing it, and in the case of nice cream that process would undermine the exact USP of the concept: the fact that you can turn (frozen) bananas into nice cream in no time, with just a few whizzes of your blender.

In the pics below you can see that the popsicle my daughter holds has more or less the desired consistency. In the first pic, which was taken 1,5h later, you do notice that the ice cream has already turned rather icy.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: the ice cream tasted amazing, the children were happy, and this is definitely something I’ll be making again in the future, be it in the traditional way: freezing, blending, scooping, eating!

strawberry-lemonade ice cream

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 bananas (cut in chunks and frozen)
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (preferably frozen as well)
  • 2 TB vanilla soy yoghurt (can be omitted)
  • pinch of vanilla
  • 1 TB grated lemon (I usually keep lemons in the freezer, which I take out and grate when I need some lemon zest or lemon juice.)

Directions

Blend all ingredients until they have a soft serve-like consistency. If the mass is too soft, then freeze it for maximum one hour before eating it.

Enjoy!

 

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Liège waffles.

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A blog post on waffles on a Belgian blog – it’s the worst kind of cliché, but there’s hardly any way avoiding it. And why would one, actually? There’s a reason why waffles are as highly acclaimed a treat as they are, right?

Of course there’s no such thing as ‘the’ Belgian waffle. There are different types of waffles. They come in various shapes and consistency (rectangular, round, thick, thin, hard, chewy, soft and crisp), they can have a creamy vanilla, syrupy, or fruit filling, they can come with toppings (strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sugar,…), or they can just be eaten plain.

In this post I’ll restrict myself to the sturdy Liège waffle, which is the type of waffle you most commonly find in Belgian shopping streets, penetrating the air with their irresistible, seductive sweet smell, thus luring tourists to street vendors’ waffle stalls.

I won’t lie: I don’t have any street vendor’s recipe, though I wish I had. But I am also totally honest when I write that these waffles are totally awesome too. They have been multiply assessed and approbated by the most critical audience: children between 5 and 8, also those who are accustomed to the ‘regular’ waffles containing eggs and dairy.

So there you go, try for yourself!

Liège waffles

  • Servings: 16-18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 dl water
  • 1 dl soy milk
  • 500 g spelt flour
  • 6 TB aquafaba
  • 2 TB chickpea flour (besan)
  • 180 g unrefined cane sugar
  • 60 g pearl sugar
  • 175 g vegan butter, melted (or a combination of butter-flavoured rapeseed oil and coconut oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 package dry yeast (7 g – equivalent of 21 g fresh yeast)

Directions

Mix all ingredients, let sit for half an hour, and then bake away in a hot and greased waffle iron. You can eat them immediately after baking, or you can cover them with melted chocolate first, and then ket them cool. They can easily be frozen and thawed.

Leek-pea risotto with lemon & thyme.

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Spring has arrived, trees are blossoming all around, and then it’s almost time for asparagus. Roasted asparagus, asparagus salad, and -of course! – asparagus risotto. But we’re not entirely there yet. When I checked last week, our supermarket only had asparagus on offer with serious mileage attached. So I decided to wait until local green asparagus becomes available – which is like anytime now – and to cook a leek risotto instead, which, in fact, as far as I’m concerned, is every bit(e) as good and is, with its hint of lemon and thyme, equally capable of conveying a decent sense of spring.

Lemon, thyme, leek and peas make a pretty good combo, and it’s a child-friendly one on top of that. I remember that as a tiny one-year-old, my son would amaze me each time, eating no less than three portions of this risotto. It’s a dish he now, 6 years later, still loves. And so does his sister.

leek-pea risotto with lemon & thyme

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2,5 dl or 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 leeks (white parts; don’t discard the green parts: chop finely, wash thoroughly, and freeze for later use in e.g. soup)
  • 0,8 dl or 1/3 white wine
  • 6-7 dl (or 2,5 cups) vegetable stock (adjust the quantity to your need)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt (or more)
  • 0,5 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1,8 dl or 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 TB lemon juice (I usually have some lemons at hand in the freezer – next to fresh ones -, and you can just grate frozen lemon too, both the zest and the fruit itself)
  • 3 TB nutritional yeast, also called nooch amongst vegans 🙂 (make sure to use a decent brand, as taste varies greatly from brand to brand, and whereas some types are really awesome, others may be downright disgusting (at least according to my experience). I like the nooch from Vitam, but totally avoid the Rapunzel brand, for instance, which ironically is most widely available where I live.)

Directions

  • Heat the oil and add the arborio rice. Stir until the rice is translucent.
  • Add the wine, and when the wine has evaporated, move over to the leeks and some of the stock (not all of the stock, as you’ll be adding it in batches), as well as the garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper.
  • Stir until all liquid has been absorbed, then add some more. Repeat this process until all stock has been used, or until the rice has softened completely. Mind that the rice should not become mushy, but should still have some bite. If the rice needs more liquid, then add some more water, until the risotto has reached the consistency you’re looking for.
  • Bring to taste with lemon juice (or grated lemon, see ingredients), nutritional yeast, and perhaps more salt and pepper if you like. If you’re a fan of vegan parmezan (I am not ashamed to admit that I am!), you can of course cover your risotto with a decent layer of grated vegan parmezan. But if you’re not, or if you can’t get your hands on some where you live, then never mind: this risotto will do what it promises without the parm just as well :-).