One of the most exciting moments when I was little was when, on particularly hot afternoons (of which we had one or two in Perth!), the milkshake cups came out of the cupboard. These wondrous creations looked like they’d stepped out of an American diner and into our Australian kitchen.
Sleek and smooth, they were an upside down tall triangle shape perched on top of a steel stem. There were 4 cups and 4 colours; the perfect number for 5 children in the house, with only 4 of milkshake drinking age.
The cups were cool to the touch, even cooler with a chilled drink inside, and gleamed in their coloured metal coating. It was a high point in the Whitely household (at least to the children) as we carried them, reverently, to sit on the kitchen worktop and readied them to receive their milky filling.
And the most exciting part? Getting to choose a colour. My favourite was the red, but green or yellow would do sometimes. Never the blue though. I’m sure there were occasional arguments, but these fell by the wayside once our ‘milkshakes’ were ready. We were more concerned at this point that there were equal amounts in each cup, whatever the colour.
This was before the word smoothie existed, but actually that’s what they were. Bananas, ice cubes, milk, and sometimes if we were extra lucky, a bit of vanilla ice cream. And they were bliss! Especially when sipped from the chilled rim of our special cups.
I think we all felt a little sad when, many years later, the bottoms started to leak and eventually they were consigned to milkshake cup heaven.
It was probably my first inkling of the joy of colour in the kitchen. I mean, we could have had the milkshakes in a glass, but that was nowhere near as exciting as these beautifully coloured, enticingly shaped milkshake vessels. It somehow added even more excitement to a delicious and refreshing drink in the heat of summer.
Get some summer colour in your kitchen
While some people have been grumbling a little at the recent heat, I’ve been in small bliss with the unusual English warmth. It has taken me right back to warm afternoons, banana milkshake smoothies and the pleasure of summer colours.
However what now gets me excited at this time of the year, rather than banana milkshakes, is the colour of all the beautiful ingredients that are in season. It’s instantly uplifting!
Colour is just one of the areas that I touch on in The Joy Of Eating, but it’s one of the elements that makes me most happy. This week I therefore want to share the result of one of the challenges I include in the programme.
This is a creative cooking challenge called ‘Build A Rainbowl’. It involves layering up different ingredients, textures and flavours using a minimum of 3 colours – but ideally at least 5. You can also download a few of the pages from the programme booklet and have a look at some colour inspirations – and maybe even create your own summer bounty bowl. I’d love to see your combinations! (Jump to the bottom of the page to download the workbook)
My latest recipe goes for the maximum colour combos, mostly using what was in my organic veggie box this week. I love the creativity of delving into the box and thinking about what I can create.
I always have a set of my ‘flavour essential’ ingredients in the cupboard so I can easily create recipes with whatever arrives each week. One of these is tahini, which I mentioned in my June joyful picks, and is delicious drizzled over most rainbowls! And it’s exactly what I’ve used in the recipe for my own seasonal summer combo.
So, get ready to layer up with my summer bounty bowl….
Summer Bounty Bowl
Serves 2 (Vegan, Gluten Free)
1/2 cup (75g) brown basmati rice
1 medium courgette, cut into thin strips using a peeler or mandoline
100g mushrooms, sliced (I used oyster mushrooms, but any type will work)
2-3 medium carrots, cut in angled slices
2 generous handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 romanesco red pepper, cut into rings
Splash of tamari soy sauce
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling and frying
Sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
Juice & zest of 1/2 lime
2 tspn (10ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs (15ml) water
1 tspn maple syrup
1/2 tspn chilli flakes
1/4 tspn Himalayn pink salt or sea salt
A little black pepper to season
1. Start by cooking up your rice. Rinse it well and then place in a saucepan with about twice the volume of water to the amount of rice (about 225ml). Put the saucepan over the heat and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and put the lid on the saucepan, leaving it to simmer for 25 minutes. After this time, take it off the heat with the lid on and leave to sit for 5 minutes. Once it’s ready take the lid off, fluff with a fork and drizzle a little olive oil through.
2. The next few steps can be done in tandem while the rice is cooking. Put a griddle pan for the courgettes over medium to high heat and another medium frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil over your courgette slices and layer them in a single layer in the griddle pan once it’s very hot. You will need to do this in a few batches. Once you can start to see the griddle lines through the courgette turn them over and cook for another minute or two. When they are cooked, put them on a plate to the side.
3. Meanwhile add the mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for about 5 minutes until nicely browned, stirring regularly. When they’re almost done, add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of black pepper. Stir and then put in a separate pile on the same plate as your courgettes. In the same frying pan, add a little more oil and then the carrots, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes until slightly browned. As with the mushrooms, add a little soy sauce near the end and remove from the pan.
4. While the carrots are cooking, make the dressing. Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until everything is combined. Add a little water to loosen if it seems a bit thick for drizzling.
5. To make your summer bounty bowl:
– line 2 bowls with a layer of spinach leaves
– spoon half the rice into each bowl and add a good dessert spoon of the dressing over the rice
– top with small piles of the mushrooms, carrots and peppers, draping the courgette strips around the edge
– sprinkle over pumpkin seeds and drizzle half of the remaining sauce over each bowl
Sit back and enjoy!
Additional flavour options:
– swap the lime for lemon in the dressing
– use your favourite nut butter instead of tahini
– add a teaspoon of oregano through the rice before spooning into the bowl
– use strips of aubergine instead of courgette
– sprinkle some toasted walnuts over the top
– top with slices of tofu