Monthly Archives: April 2012

April 5th 2012

And here we are at the last day of term! What a lovely start to the year… some great cooking, fabulous volunteers & creative and delicious children! Thank you to everybody 🙂

This week has seen us celebrate our season with fabulous fat eggs from our five chooks – they are truly settling into their strides with huge beautiful offerings every day: over 50g each, just like in the shops! So in honour, we’re creating a Poached Egg Salad with Tarragon Sauce, Sean’s Sweetcorn Chowder, our version of Torta Pasqualina, a few handmade chocolate truffles – and the ubiquitous but nevertheless yummy hot cross bun (with a difference!) And here below is the recipe… happy holidays and see you next term! Melissa



  • 20g dried yeast
  • 100g caster sugar plus a pinch
  • 100g butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g apricots
  • 90g self-raising flour
  • 10g skim milk powder
  • Butter & jam to serve


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

What to do:

  • Mix yeast with 200ml warm water & pinch of sugar in a small bowl and leave in a warm place for 5 minutes to activate.
  • Chop the apricots.
  • Place butter, salt, cardamom, plain flour and remaining sugar in the mixer and combine.
  • Add eggs and activated yeast and beat until smooth.
  • Add apricots and when combined, leave in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours to double in size.

Start of lesson:

  • Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch dough down to its original size. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 12 even portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1cm apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  • Mix self-raising flour, milk powder and 100ml water together in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon into a small snap-lock bag. Snip off a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag. Pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses. Bake for 20 minutes until buns are cooked through.
  • Make glaze: Place 1/3 cup water and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Brush warm glaze over warm hot cross buns. Divide among serving plates & serve warm with butter & jam.

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March 22nd 2012

Well hello there! Harmony Day in the Cottage kicked off this week with a recipe for Harmony Carrots – our freshly dug carrots roasted with a little honey, olive oil and thyme… we’ve also been harvesting parsley, basil, mint, cucumber and tomato for the Quinoa Tabbouleh; still pounding basil for our warm salad of Roasted Pumpkin with Pesto & Goats’ Cheese; flexing our muscles for the Pizza with Radicchio & Thyme; and squishing into long, thin worms the Rosemary & Thyme Grissini to dip into Roasted Eggplant Relish… so as you can see we’ve been working the students – and volunteers as well!

Last week saw the children rolling pasta too and we have here some lovely shots of the classes – truly awe-inspiring work from our dedicated cooks… it really amazes me that time and time again the children put up fabulous dishes that are delicious and creative and also find time to pack away and help clear! I can’t believe sometimes that we manage to achieve what we do in the time that we have… Also illustrated here are the empty bowls of Radicchio, Gorgonzola & Pine Mushroom salad that got gobbled up in no time – truly grown up flavours?

And we’ve had even more new volunteers come to support us – I can’t stress enough how valued you all are & how the program benefits so much from your presence… thank you! And to all those considering coming along… yes, it can be daunting and chaotic at times (!), but is so much fun, AND you get to eat together at the end! And I’ve not yet had a group NOT put a delicious bowl or plate of something fab up yet.

And with that, hope to see you soon… Melissa

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March 7th 2012

Autumn – bang! And it’s here – the definite chilly mornings & nights, and crazy weather patterns of rain, rain, floods and more rain… and all the banging and thudding going on in the street outside makes me glad to be huddled inside the cottage with the ovens on, throwing pizza dough!

We’ve had such a great response from the wonderful volunteers so far this term – both connected to the school and also from the wider community – and so we’ve been able to make loads of delicious dishes with the children, and in smaller manageable groups. They love being with their mum, dad, gran, auntie, next door neighbour, best friend’s mum etc in the class, and amazingly, even cheeky behaviour suddenly seems to stop! And the mums themselves have been shocked to find that their allergic-to-vegetables child is wolfing down the autumn salad and the eggplant dip!

With loads of requests from the students to pair the pesto with some pasta I felt compelled to dust the pasta machines off & we’ve been rolling, rolling, rolling this week in one group, whilst another pounds the pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and basil for the pesto; we’ve been baking the little Lebanese eggplants and parsley to make a spicy & garlicky dip and then using our knife skills to create beautiful and neat crudités with which to dip; the potatoes that we pulled up at the beginning of the term have been put to use on our crispy potato & rosemary pizza with landcress and wild rocket; and our now Autumn salad has been garnished with the last of the cucumbers, crunchy dwarf beans and the addition of brilliant-yoked (boiled) eggs the chooks are providing now that they are laying! They must be very happy in their new palace… Alas for them though the children eat pretty much everything on their plates!

So thank you to all the lovely students, let’s hope the rest of the year is as dynamic and inspiring! And thanks too for all the superb volunteers who are giving up their time to make our Kitchen Garden classes such a success in 2012! I look forward to seeing you all soon,

Yum! Melissa

PS I’ll have the coffee on in the cottage by 9.30 (at the latest…!) on Saturday if you’re dropping in to help with the garden working bee… and might even rustle up some banana cake too 😉

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February 23rd 2012

First kitchen news of the year and it’s already week 5, ooh la la!

Talking of which, we celebrated le jour de crepes on Tuesday here in the cottage with 5/6P & flipped up a revolution with spinach & goats’ cheese pancakes with ratatouille and pikelets with lemongrass syrup and vanilla mascarpone – served up with our ever-morphing salad, now with green beans, bush tomatoes, nasturtiums & tarragon vinaigrette…

I’m also continuing  my introductory talks with the children, recapping on safety issues and expectations of being in the kitchen and what I can promise for the year… those classes have been heavy on discussion (with plenty of arms raise for comment!) but we’ve managed to fit in some fun cooking at the end too – pounding loads of basil to make pesto; rolling out rosemary flatbreads to cook off in the pan; infusing vegetable oil with garden herbs to pop corn in (and exploding out like a never-ending  volcano in Ms Hamblin’s class 3E!); squeezing garlic & juicing lemons to wilt with spinach… lots of great cooking noises & ending in delicious dishes that we’ve all loved!

And I must say huge congratulations to all the students in classes 3E & 3H for gaining their Knife Licences! Each student demonstrated how to pick up & hold a big Santoku knife & show how to do the ‘Bear Paw’ (raaaahhhhh) and then pick and up and hold a small Paring knife and slice gently through a (very squashy) bush tomato without all the seeds oozing out. They all passed with flying colours with each student being awarded their own named licence – and will able to experience even more with each recipe from now on.

So all in all, lovely work these last weeks, and with the dappled sun shining through the trees and the birds singing their song, and the beautiful new deck and landscaping looking like they’ve always been here, life down here in the cottage is good! A big thanks to all the huge amounts of volunteers that have turned out to support the kitchen & garden classes so far in 2012 – we are so impressed and hope that you enjoy your time here!

Bon appétit! And don’t forget to check out the recipes on


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December 7th 2011

Orange pomander studded with cloves

Orange pomander studded with cloves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re on the home stretch now so trying to wind down the garden for the long summer break ahead, and use up all the lovely produce we’ve got now… alas the poor garden doesn’t know if it’s Arthur or Martha at the moment so we’re still pulling up leeks from the spring, and the summer basil and tomatoes are coming on…

So, finishing on a soup note (of course!) with carrot & leek – this has gone down so well this week that there has rarely been any left over for me! The children are gobbling it all! We’ve also been playing around with the pizzas and this week have tried out a base of wholewheat organic stoneground Demeter Farm Mill flour and a change of baking tray… all for the better too, especially with the last of our own March-picked olives. Check out our kitchen garden blog for these recipes and more!

We’ve also been baking up some lovely festive shortbread too – and one of our groups has been continuing the merry atmosphere by creating wonderfully perfumed & beribboned orange pomanders (cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg) as decoration, for each student to take home… let’s hope that the pomanders get a chance to dry out in this humid & rainy Sydney weather and don’t go mouldy… hmmm.

We’ve had a great time cooking this year, and I have had an excellent time, getting to know the names to all the faces, all the way down the hill in the Cottage…! Thanks to everyone who has made me feel so welcome and part of the Bondi Public School family, it’s been a blast – and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into it in 2012 (after a huge break ha ha!).

Thanks also to the huge support we get from Wholefoods House: every week I take my shopping list  down to the store in Woollahra & they fill up my shopping trolley – thanks to them we’ve able to supplement our fantastic garden produce with quality organic pantry staples and the like.

And to our brilliant volunteers: you know who you are! I send you thanks with all my heart & see you on the 14th

Have happy & safe holidays and eat great food! See you next year,


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November 24th 2011

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring… what crazy weather! Down in the Cottage we’re straddling the two extremes of temperature – in one lesson we’ve had chilled land-cress soup and our version of Eton Mess, and in the next it’s hot soup and carrot muffins with garlic butter… all dishes going down a treat however we’re starting to feel a bit Melburnian with all these ups and downs of climate! I’ve a mind to pull the gas heater out and plug it back in…

We’re also continuing the polenta theme as it’s a fab gluten-free alternative to pasta soaks up all the juices – with a recipe of soft parmesan polenta and braised celery and carrots… and also welcome back to the ever-popular dish of garden herb and red onion pizza. Yum.

And – hooray! Work has well and truly started on the lower playground: the diggers are in full swing with bashes and crashes from all angles and are tearing up the concrete like nobody’s business! There is no access to the cottage from that side so please come via the picturesque front gate, thanks.

My little sister Olivia came to help us out last week, all the way from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, in her first visit to Australia. She had a fantastic time volunteering at all the kitchen classes and is filled with amazement at the wonderful school we have here at Bondi, thanks to the beautifully behaved, talented and enthusiastic students who made her feel so welcome and helped plate up some truly deeelicious meals! She will be much missed.

A note for your diary: Wednesday 14th December 3pm – our Christmas Market Table! Come along to pick up a lovely treat for your Christmas table, tree or tummy… in the usual place, so please don’t forget your coins and shopping bags!

¡Gracias y hasta luego!


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November 9th 2011

Midterm and only five more weeks til the big holiday but we’re cooking on four burners here in the cottage: last week we gorged on house-made beetroot pasta with garlic and herbs; a luscious beetroot soup; Colcannon for Halloween; our braised spinach and silverbeet take on the North Bondi Italian favourite; the classes sampling the globe artichokes and of course our gorgeous spring salad made even more springy with juicy fat strawberries and late broad beans…

This week we’re celebrating our season with parmesan and polenta torte and ragout of artichokes, broad beans and peas; a stir-fry of bok choy, garlic and ginger; and inspired by Ligia, some pao de queijo – Brazilian cheese balls – dunked in creamy spinach soup with crispy kale. If this sounds like your kind of food, come along and volunteer and you too will get to eat it!

For all those asking about recipes, I will forward them to Emma this week for the blog and my apologies for not getting them to her before now…

The Big Ask: Volunteers for both kitchen and garden! We only need a few, and there are ONLY 5 weeks left! Do it for the team!

Tuesdays             1.30 = 2 or 3        garden & kitchen (alternating weeks)

Wednesdays      11am = 2 or 3     garden & kitchen (alternating weeks)

                                1.30 = 1 or 2        garden & kitchen (alternating weeks)

Thursdays           1.30 = 2 or 3        garden every week (alternating class)

Cheers all! Melissa

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October 26th 2011

First newsletter back and already it’s week 3 – how did that happen?! This week we’ve seen it all: summer heat & humidity; wintry storms & sleeting rain…  the garden is bursting with life and we’ve loads of great produce to inspire us!

The globe artichokes have been a massive hit with the children! Not only have the plants been astonishing to look at, the flower buds that we know as the artichokes have been a source of much surprise: in how bitter the stalks taste (rub your finger over one at the grocer’s and lick it – you will be amazed and revolted!) and by how delicious the nibbled petals are, dribbled in our lemon vinaigrette – and of course the wonderful surprise of the artichoke heart once the choke has been scraped off. I’d forgotten how totally yummy it is and have been almost begrudgingly handing the cleaned up and garlicky hearts over to the children…!

We’ve made some fabulous salads using up the broad beans that have been springing up, Jack and the Beanstalk-like, in the last weeks, with shaved radish and the skinny leaves of wild rocket… the normal rocket has grown crazily and the large leaves are now too spicy for our salads so we’ve made a sauce by wilting them with a little garlic, mixing in some ricotta mixed with lemon zest and tossing it in our hand-rolled rustic spinach ‘corzetti’ coin pasta…

The garden beds have been bursting with beetroot so we’ve been a bit cheeky and made treats of beetroot and chocolate cupcakes dotted with whipped cream and edible flowers – delicious and beautiful too!

So, for the next menu I think borscht will be the go – steaming hot if this crazy cold weather continues or chilled if we get the summer heat back (!) made with our own carrots, leeks & veg stock – loads of silverbeet and spinach for some spanakopita… and hopefully some more artichokes for the classes that haven’t yet had!

The Big Ask: we’re on the lookout for large colourful side-plates to use as our share plates so if you’re thinking of updating your own or you see any going op-shop cheap, please think of us & drop ‘em in!  Also I must say a big thanks to all the volunteers who have seamlessly slipped over to us in term 4 but as always, we do need a few more saviours who are able to commit to a term’s worth of sessions… Wednesdays 11am & 1.30pm and Thursdays 1.30pm are most in need so please send along anyone that is vaguely interested!

Cheers & buon appetito! Melissa

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September 14th 2011

Here we are two weeks into Spring and 27 degrees forecast for the next few days… now I remember all about the warm weather! Long days with early evenings at the beach; warm mornings; clothes dry on the line within hours and lovely salads on the table… And we’re almost at the end of term – thanks as always to our heroic volunteers: I’m very much looking forward to planning our Cottage Morning Tea next term to thank you for all your time, patience and delegating skills!

We have been busy these last few weeks: we’ve been bottling our school olives – picked in March and brining sleepily ever since – in a bath of orange peel, fennel seed, rosemary, thyme, chilli and olive oil, and also sharing them at the table with crunchy parmesan biscuits… a few of these made it on to our inaugural Market Table too last week with the jars of olives and some beautiful dried pasta made by the children, with dinky bags of dried herbs, some bouquet garni, a few pots of strawberries and some aloe vera… thanks to all who came up to have a look and especially those who splashed some cash!

A hit with everybody in the Cottage this fortnight has been the broad beans on garlic bruschetta… This is such a simple dish, with lovely flavours of the blanched beans lightly mashed with pecorino, thyme and olive oil and spread on toasted Iggy’s sourdough rubbed with garlic. Springtime in a mouthful! And we’ve also been rolling up our own individual Sang Choi Bao of Cos lettuce with wok-fried cabbage, mustard leaves and mushrooms: drippingly good! And stirring through the last of the broccolini into creamy risotto with crispy kale (thanks Mette!). What’s very exciting too is that we are expanding our salad-ingredient-repertoire, with inclusions of strawberries, baby broad beans, snap peas, crazy long radishes and newly sprung rocket. Yum! Recipes up soon,

And lastly, thanks to all who have put their hands up for Sunday’s working bee too, I’ll see you there!

Cheers! Melissa

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31st August 2011

Spring has sprung, hooray! I love these days of crisp mornings that turn into warm afternoons, especially being in the cottage with all the beautiful sun shining through the windows and the doors open and breeze flowing all the way through, so lovely…

We’ve been cooking some great food this last fortnight: loads of broccoli with anchovies and garlic on pizza and also tossed in our own hand-rolled wholewheat linguine: our muscles are getting a good work-out on the pasta machines! The cabbages are going crazy in size (and slugs…) so we’ve chopped off their heads, washed them well and made soup with carrot and caraway seeds, and also dressed some more lovely green salads with crunchy croutons… and we’ve been experimenting with dairy- and wheat-free orange and vanilla biscuits too using olive oil and spelt instead – quite delicious!

Thanks to more and more gorgeous volunteers appearing at the door as we’ve had some fab classes these last weeks with all stations filled (meaning five different dishes and lots of food on the tables!) and many hands making the clean-up work lighter…!

Sorry for the delay in the getting the market table up and running – watch this space or keep your eyes open in the next few weeks… In the meantime have a great & happy fathers’ day and see you soon!

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