Monthly Archives: May 2012

Soft parmesan polenta with poached eggs and sage

From the garden: sweetcorn, eggs, sage

Recipe source: adapted from a recipe on the Wholefoods House website


This is such a vibrant and comforting dish, with the frizzled sage leaves giving everything a crispy, colourful lift. Just be sure the eggs are very fresh!


  • Chopping board & small knife
  • Grater
  • Scales
  • 1 heavy-based saucepan & lid
  • Garlic press
  • Measuring jug
  • 1 small saucepan
  • Salad spinner
  • Paper towel
  • Wooden spoons
  • Bowls – 4 small
  • Medium frying pan
  • Serving bowls

  • 1 large corn cob
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 100g coarse polenta
  • 50g grana padano
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 very fresh large eggs
  • 75g goats’ cheese (or other soft white cheese)
  • 30 sage leaves
  • Flaked salt and black pepper

What to do:

  • Remove jacket and silk from corn, and with a small sharp knife shear the kernels off. Add them to the heavy-based saucepan.
  • Peel and crush the garlic with the garlic press and add it to the corn with 500ml water and bring to the boil over a moderate flame.
  • Rain in the polenta, stirring. Cover & reduce to a mere simmer 15 mins, stirring every few minutes. Grate the parmesan.
  • When the polenta is ready, remove the lid, beat in the parmesan and season well.
  • Meanwhile, to poach eggs, fill the medium sized frying pan 5cm deep with water and bring to a simmer. Fill the large bowl with cold water. Carefully crack each egg into a small bowl without breaking it and then carefully slide into the water. Let the pan sit for 4 minutes before removing each egg into the bowl of cold water with a slotted spoon.
  • Wash the sage leaves and spin them dry. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage and cook, stirring, for about a minute or until they are dark green, crispy and fragrant.
  • To serve, divide polenta among serving bowls. Crumble goats’ cheese over then place an egg on top of each serving. Season generously and scatter with the frizzled sage leaves & scented olive oil.

Notes: What is polenta? What is cooking by ‘absorption’ method? Why shouldn’t we break the eggs when poaching them? What does ‘fragrant’ mean?

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May 24th 2012

With a sniffle and a snuffle we’re slowly making our way into winter – one more week to go chaps! – with cold nights and misty mornings, and my scarf wardrobe getting a workout… we’ve been late-autumning it up a bit in the cottage: last week the classes made the hearty ribollita soup from Tuscany (cavolo nero, overnight-soaked cannellini beans, carrot, tomato, celery, onion, stale ciabatta) and warmed up with a hit of chilli oil in Sean’s Panaroma’s recipe of handmade lingine with rocket, chilli, lemon and parmesan… alas the children ate all the linguine and left little for the grown-up volunteers… not even the chilli held them back! There was a little rhubarb for some crumble (of course!) and a drizzle of crème Anglaise for a lovely and rare sweet treat 😉

So we’re continuing on this week with the dried bean obsession – cooking off soaked borlotti beans in water with lots of sage and garlic until soft, then dousing in some rosemary-infused olive oil and finishing with a sprinkle of parsley. So simple and sooo good. Only bettered by spreading over buttered Iggy’s country sourdough! And jazzing up a crunchy radish salad with poached eggs and tarragon sauce – and we’ve now finished off the olives we picked in March in some hand-punched olive and rosemary foccacia.

To finish: for those cold nights with the heater dusted off and turned up to 11, we heartily recommend the rocket and coriander soup we’ve been making this week. Recipe to follow!

Keep warm out there… Melissa

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School Holiday Program 2012

How exciting! We’ve just announced our inaugural School Holiday Program for 2012… Head on over to the School Holiday Program page to see the deets but I can also say we’ll be cooking (and digging!) up a storm!

These are some of the fab activites we’ll be doing:

Rolling hand-made pasta and throwing pizza dough for lunch –

Earning your own Our Kitchen Garden knife licence as we chop, slice and dice the organic herbs and veggies we’ve harvested from the garden –

Meeting and feeding the chooks –

Planting seeds for a take home ‘watch & grow’ project so bring your own plastic bottle destined for recycling or landfill –

Creating your own seasonal, local and organic morning tea and lunch while learning some amazing life skills in the kitchen and garden –

And of course, having fun!


DOWNLOAD Our Kitchen Garden booking form HERE!

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May 10th 2012

Well what a gorgeous start to the term: late autumn and we’ve got cool nights but warm, sunny days and the rays of sunshine are cascading over the stripy cottage tables and honeyed floorboards… it’s a beautiful place to be!

And with those cool nights my thoughts turn to warming dishes, and being autumn, mushrooms… we’re yet to find a dark enough place to cultivate our own here but I couldn’t let the season go past without experimenting with a mushroom ragu! This we matched with our own hand-rolled bigoli, a long thin pasta, originally from the region of Veneto in Italy. We’ve had discussion in class about this term’s theme in stages one & two: Local Places and Local Environment, as similar pasta is made in other regions but called different names, as pici from Tuscany and stringozzi from Umbria.

Also on the menu this last fortnight has been parmesan polenta with our own poached eggs and crispy sage; garden herb pizza with bocconcini and rocket; the perennial favourite – soup – with spinach, potato and landcress; a truly delicious lemony leaf salad with the last faithful cucumber; and just in time for the Mothers’ Day Tea (as we’re making extra!) some mini frittate of spinach, pumpkin and feta. Delicious!

I’ve been so impressed with all the kitchen classes, but especially 2F who were incredibly self-motivated and able to complete the recipes beautifully without much help at all! And they cleaned up (in every sense!) And thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who have pledged their support again for another term… Our success is all down to you!

And here below are the much-requested recipes for the bigoli with mushroom ragu. Happy Mothers’ Day to all!


Guy Grossi – Recipes From My Mother’s Kitchen

‘Bigoli is a specialty pasta from the northern Italian region of the Veneto. It is similar in shape to spaghetti, but slightly thicker. And unlike other forms of pasta, it includes butter in the dough.’ Other regions in Italy make similar types of noodles too, for example in Umbria they call them stringozzi, and in Tuscany they call them pici.

2 cups plain flour

Pinch salt

100g butter chopped

1 egg

¼ cup milk

 Place flour on a clean workbench and sprinkle with salt. Gently rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre; add egg and milk, then knead for 10 minutes until smooth.

Flatten out dough, cut into quarters then roll each quarter into a sheet about 3mm thick. Using a pizza cutter, slice into spaghetti-like lengths about 3mm wide, then roll each length between your hands and the workbench so that they’re slightly wider than spaghetti.

Place bigoli on a floured baking tray, cover with a tea towel and set aside.

Cook bigoli in a large saucepan of plenty of salted water until al dente (2 to 3  minutes depending on thickness of pasta), then drain. Add bigoli to sauce and toss to coat.

 Mushroom ragù

Alice Waters – The Art of Simple Food

 1 large onion

1 large carrot

2 celery stalks

6 thyme sprigs

6 parsley sprigs

1 bay leaf


Extra-virgin olive oil

75g diced tomatoes

900g mushrooms – a mixture of 2 or 3 types

25g butter

100ml cream or crème fraiche

 Wash the carrot, celery and herbs. Spin dry the parsley and thyme, picking their leaves and finely chop the parsley.

Peel the onion & carrot then finely dice them with the celery.

Carefully clean the mushrooms then chop finely.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in one of the frying pans and add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and cook over gentle heat until very tender but not browning.

When cooked add the thyme, parsley and bay leaf, and after a minute add the tomatoes.

In the other frying pan heat up another 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the butter and add the mushrooms, sautéing each type until tender and lightly browned.

Once all the mushrooms are cooked, combine with the vegetables and herbs and add the cream and 225ml water or chicken stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Taste for salt and add as needed. Moisten with more liquid if too thick.

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