Monthly Archives: March 2013

Nan Gua Bing (Chinese pumpkin pancakes)

Angela says, ‘Like a lot of Asian desserts the recipes aren’t really recipes but more like guidelines. The more often I make something the better I get at it. This truly applies to nan gua bing, the texture changes a little with the weather and humidity, I add the flour little by little so that I can feel the texture of the dough in my hands to know when it’s right. It’s like fresh pasta, it’s an ever changing friendship that weathers the seasons; my hands always know and keep the memory of when it’s just right.’

ourkitchengarden.net

Fresh from the garden: pumpkin
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe on angelamay.net
Makes: 12 small pancakes that we halved to share

Equipment:

  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Bowls – large, small
  • Steamer basket & wok
  • Baking paper
  • Scales
  • Measures – jug, cup, ½ cup, tablespoons
  • Mouli & metal spoon
  • A non-stick frying pan
  • Rolling pins
  • Serving plates
Ingredients:

  • 1 small pumpkin (kabocha or jap is ideal)
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1½ cups glutinous rice flour (not the rice flour for gluten-free baking)
  • Rice bran or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar for dusting

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What to do:

  • Carefully chop the pumpkin into 2cm wedges and then carefully peel the slices with a very sharp knife or peeler. Weigh the peeled pumpkin to yield 225g, then cut each slice into 2cm cubes.
  • Put the steamer basket into the wok and then using a jug, fill the wok with cold water to just touch the bottom of the basket. Remove the basket and turn the wok on to boil the water.
  • Line the basket with baking paper, then pop the pumpkin cubes in and place the basket on to steam for 20 minutes or until fork-tender, making sure the water doesn’t touch any paper or pumpkin.
  • While the pumpkin is still very hot pass it through the mouli so the pumpkin is smooth with no lumps. Then, working quickly to make sure the pumpkin stays hot, stir in all the sugar and flour bit by bit, mixing and kneading until the dough is slightly sticky yet smooth.
  • Shape the dough into small balls and then either using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten each ball out into a small circular pancake about ½cm thick.
  • Heat the frying pan on medium heat and pour in a thin layer of oil. Add a layer of pancakes and fry until lightly colored golden brown, flipping and turning heat down to medium low to cook through.
  • Transfer to serving plates and spoon the icing sugar into a sieve, lightly dusting over the pancakes – serve immediately.

Notes: What other vegetables can be eaten as dessert? What is a mouli?

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Perfect steamed rice!

So many fantastic home cooks I know are scared of rice! When it comes to steaming you really don’t need a rice cooker (unless you’re cooking for 100 people!) as a simple saucepan will do the job perfectly…

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Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 8 or 24 tastes

Equipment:

  • Measures – cup
  • Large saucepan & lid
  • Sieve
  • Knife
  • Serving bowl or small bowl and plates
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups jasmine or basmati rice
  • 4 cups cold water

What to do:

  • Measure the rice grains into the saucepan. Wash the rice with cold running water and swish with your hands. Drain carefully into a sieve and repeat 3 more times until the water is no longer milky. This helps remove excess starch and cleans the grains.
  • Empty the washed rice back into the pot and add the 4 cups of cold water. Turn the heat to high – when the water in the pot starts to bubble, stir then cover the pot and reduce heat to the lowest flame. Simmer for 15 minutes without disturbing.
  • After the 15 minutes is up, just turn off the heat without disturbing the saucepan. Just let it sit with the lid on for 5 minutes to finish the steaming process.
  • Using a knife, transfer the rice into a large serving bowl, fluffing as you go. Serve in one bowl, or alternatively cram spoonfuls of rice into a small deep bowl  – just rinsed & wet – until full and level, then place bowl upside-down onto a plate, tap and pull off the bowl leaving a bowl-shaped rice mound!

Notes: Where does rice come from? How is it grown? What other dishes can you make with rice?

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Stir-fried eggs with tomato and chilli soy

Jill says, ‘This is a simple dish of Chinese ‘scrambled’ eggs that tastes fresh, clean and light. Serve with rice and Asian greens to max it up into a bigger meal.’

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Fresh from the garden: tomatoes, coriander, eggs, chilli, spring onions
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Jill Dupleix
Serves: 6 as a snack or 24 tastes

Equipment:

  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Salad spinner
  • Measures – 1/3 cup, tablespoons, teaspoons
  • Bowls – 2 large, small
  • Fork or whisk
  • 2 woks
  • Serving plates & small sauce bowls
Ingredients:

  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes
  • A small bunch of coriander
  • 1 long red chilli (or green if you don’t want too much heat!)
  • 2/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 x 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 spring onions
  • Flaked salt & black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (we use vegetable or Rice Bran oil)

What to do:

  • Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out and discard the seeds and juice, then finely chop the flesh. Set aside.
  • Wash and spin dry the coriander and pick out some juicy sprigs.
  • Slice the chilli in half lengthways and remove the seeds out by scraping each half. Slice the flesh really thinly and then mix the sliced chilli and soy sauce into 4 small sauce bowls. Set aside.
  • Wash and strip the first layer of skin from the spring onions and then thinly slice them. Crack 6 eggs each into both bowls, and then lightly beat each bowl. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil into each bowl, most of the spring onion, and some salt and pepper and combine.
  • Heat the 2 woks over high heat until hot, then add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add each bowl of egg mixture into the woks and leave for 10 seconds, then use a wooden paddle or spatula to slowly draw the outside of the egg mixture into the centre, allowing the uncooked egg to cook. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the egg is almost set, then scatter with the tomato. Lightly toss once or twice to warm through. (It’s important not to allow the tomato to cook for too long, or it will make the eggs too watery.)
  • Separate each wok mixture into 2 and then divide out between 4 serving plates. Scatter with the remaining spring onion and the coriander sprigs, then spoon over some chilli soy sauce and serve immediately.

Caution:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after coming in contact with chilli, as the capsaicin (the oil within the chilli) burns when it comes in contact with your eyes or sensitive skin.

Notes: Why do we discard the tomato seeds & juice in this recipe? Why do we scrape the seeds out of the chilli?

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Shanghai-style eggplant

Chris says, ‘This is a very simple and a traditional Shanghai home-cooked dish. Every family in Shanghai has their own way to cook it and uses the exact same ingredients. The woman in Shanghai who is the best cook for this dish is very special. She is my mum. So I believe the best seasoning in the world is memories.’

Melissa says this recipe is for Grace & Estella!

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Fresh from the garden: eggplant, chilli, garlic
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Chris Yan on sbs.com.au/food
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes

Equipment:

  • Paper towel
  • Bowls – large, small
  • Scales
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • A wok
  • Slotted & wooden spoons
  • Measures – jug, tablespoons
  • Serving plates
Ingredients:

  • 6 Japanese eggplant (also known as Lebanese) or 2 large eggplant
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red chilli (or green if you don’t want too much heat!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200ml water
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

What to do:

  • Wash and wipe dry the eggplant and cut off the stem & leaves. Weigh to make sure you have 500g. Then cut into 5cm thick pieces.
  • Wash and wipe dry the chilli and roughly cut into chunks.
  • Bruise the garlic cloves with your hand or the blade of a large knife and then peel.
  • Heat oil in wok until shimmering. Add chilli and garlic cloves and cook for 20 seconds. Remove the chilli with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  • Add the eggplant and gently stir-fry. When eggplants have soaked up all of the oil, add 1 tablespoon of the water. Keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time until eggplants are soft and you have used half of the water.
  • Stir in dark soy sauce and sugar. Stir well and add remaining water. Cover with a lid or foil and cook for 1 minute. Uncover, the liquid should have been absorbed.
  • Return chilli to wok, toss for 30 seconds and serve.
  • Eat immediately, but watch out the temperature very hot! Seriously!

Caution:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after coming in contact with chilli, as the capsaicin (the oil within the chilli) burns when it comes in contact with your eyes or sensitive skin.

 Notes: What does bruising a clove of garlic mean? Where is Shanghai? What food memories do you have?

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Pork and spinach pot-sticker dumplings with soy vinegar

Mastering the art of dumpling-making could well make you the most popular member of the family with a Saturday-morning home yum cha special!

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Fresh from the garden: Chinese leaves, spinach, spring onions, ginger
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Ken Hom on bbc.co.uk/food
Makes: about 35 dumplings

Equipment:

  • Bowls – large, small
  • Fork or chopsticks
  • Scales
  • Kettle
  • Measures – jug, tablespoons, teaspoons, ½ teaspoon
  • Tea towels
  • Salad spinner
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Peeler & ruler
  • Rolling pins
  • Large baking trays
  • 2 non-stick frying pans with lids
  • Slotted spoons
  • Serving plates & small sauce bowls
Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 280g plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 250ml very hot water

For the stuffing

  • A big bunch Chinese leaves or spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small spring onions
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 220g minced pork (not extra lean)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

To cook

  • About 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 75ml water

For the dipping sauce

  • 90ml light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chilli oil

What to do:

For the dough

  • Fill the kettle and turn on to boil. Place the flour into a large bowl. Carefully measure the hot water and stir it gradually into the flour, mixing all the time with a fork or chopsticks, until the water is incorporated. Add more water if the mixture seems dry.
  • Tip the dough mixture onto a clean work surface and knead it with your hands, dusting the dough with a little flour if it’s sticky. Continue kneading until it is smooth – this should take about eight minutes.
  • Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a clean damp towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

For the stuffing

  • While the dough is resting, wash and spin-dry the spinach, removing and discarding any large stalks. Finely chop to yield 150g.
  • Wash and peel the first layer from each of the spring onions. Finely chop to yield 3 tablespoons.
  • Peel the skin from the ginger and finely chop to yield 2 packed teaspoons worth.
  • Combine all veggies and the rest of the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Set aside.

Preparing the dumplings

  • After the resting period, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it again for about five minutes, dusting with a little flour if it is sticky.
  • Once the dough is smooth, shape it into 2 rolls about 23cm long and about 2cm diameter, using your hands.
  • With a sharp knife, slice each roll into 16 equal-sized pieces (each piece is about 15g). Using your hands, roll each of the dough pieces into a small ball and then, with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a small, round, flat and thin ‘pancake’ about 9cm in diameter.
  • Arrange the round skins on a lightly floured baking tray and cover them with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out until you are ready to use them.
  • Place about two teaspoons of filling in the centre of each ‘pancake’ and moisten the edges with water. Fold the dough in half and pinch together with your fingers.
  • Pleat around the edge, pinching with your fingers to seal well. The dumpling should look like a small Cornish pasty with a flat base and rounded top.
  • Transfer each finished dumpling to the floured tray and keep it covered until you have stuffed all the dumplings in this way.

To cook

  • Heat a large lidded non-stick frying pan until it is very hot. Add the vegetable oil and place the dumplings flat-side down into the pan.
  • Reduce the heat and cook for about two minutes until they the dumplings are lightly browned. Add the water, cover the pan tightly and simmer gently for about 12 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Check the water half-way through and add more if necessary. Uncover the pan and continue to cook for a further two minutes.
  • For the dipping sauce, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

To serve

  • Remove the dumplings from the pan with a large slotted spoon onto serving plates and serve with the dipping sauce.

Notes: Why do we let the dough rest? What does to yield mean? Why are there different soy sauces? Why are these called pot-stickers?

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Steamed eggplant siu mai with ginger and chilli dipping sauce

We love making any sort of dough here but if you’re not up to it or are short of time you can always substitute gyoza, gow gee or wonton wrappers…

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Fresh from the garden: eggplant, coriander, ginger, garlic, chilli, lemon
Recipe source: adapted from vegetariantimes.com
Makes: about 30 dumplings

Equipment:

  • Bowls – large, small
  • Fork or chopsticks
  • Scales
  • Kettle
  • Measures – jug, tablespoons, teaspoons
  • Tea towels
  • Salad spinner
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Peeler & ruler
  • Garlic press
  • Rolling pins
  • Large baking trays
  • 2 large woks
  • 2 large steamer baskets
  • Baking paper
  • Serving plates & small sauce bowls
Ingredients:For the dough

  • 280g plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 250ml very hot water

Dumplings

  • 2 eggplants
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • A small knob ginger
  • A bunch of coriander
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • Cornflour for dusting pan

Chilli Sauce

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli

What to do:

For the dough

  • Fill the kettle and turn on to boil. Place the flour into a large bowl. Carefully measure the hot water and stir it gradually into the flour, mixing all the time with a fork or chopsticks, until the water is incorporated. Add more water if the mixture seems dry.
  • Tip the dough mixture onto a clean work surface and knead it with your hands, dusting the dough with a little flour if it’s sticky. Continue kneading until it is smooth – this should take about eight minutes.
  • Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a clean damp towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

For the stuffing

  • Meanwhile, wash then peel the eggplant. Finely chop until you have 4 full cups (about 500g).
  • Peel and squeeze the garlic through the press to yield 1 tablespoon. Peel and finely chop the ginger to yield 2 teaspoons.
  • Wash and spin-dry the coriander, then finely chop to yield about 4 tablespoons.
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat in the wok. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the eggplant and stir-fry over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes until very soft, adding a little water if needed. Add soy sauce, bean sauce, sesame oil, and coriander and cook, stirring, until thick for about 1 minute. Let cool while you prepare the wrappers.

Preparing the dumplings

  • After the resting period, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it again for about five minutes, dusting with a little flour if it is sticky.
  • Once the dough is smooth, shape it into 2 rolls about 23cm long and about 2cm diameter, using your hands.
  • With a sharp knife, slice each roll into 16 equal-sized pieces (each piece is about 15g). Using your hands, roll each of the dough pieces into a small ball and then, with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a small, round, flat and thin ‘pancake’ about 9cm in diameter.
  • Arrange the round skins on a lightly floured baking tray and cover them with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out until you are ready to use them.
  • Dust another baking sheet with a little cornflour. Arrange several ‘pancakes’ on your work surface. Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the centre of each, then pull up sides into pleats, and plop onto the baking sheet, flattening the bottom and leaving the top open so you can see the filling.
  • Transfer each finished dumpling to the floured tray and keep it covered until you have stuffed all the dumplings in this way.

To cook

  • Put the steamer basket into the wok and then using a jug, fill the wok with cold water to just touch the bottom of the basket. Remove the basket and turn the wok on to boil the water.
  • Line base of the steamer baskets with baking paper. Place dumplings in a single layer into the baskets. Carefully place the steamer baskets over woks, ensuring the dumplings don’t touch any water. Steam dumplings for about 8 minutes until tender and cooked through.

Chilli sauce

  • Meanwhile make the chilli sauce: Peel the clove of garlic and squeeze through the garlic press into the medium bowl. Peel the piece of ginger and rub over the microplane grater to yield one teaspoon. Add the ginger to the garlic.
  • Cut the lemon in half and juice one half to yield 1 tablespoon of juice. Add to the bowl.
  • Carefully slit the chilli in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds of one half, discarding the seeds. Finely slice that half and add to the bowl.
  • Mix all the remaining ingredients in and transfer to little dipping bowls.

To serve

  • Carefully remove the baskets, drying off the bottoms first with a dry tea towel if needed, and serve direct to the tables with the dipping sauce.

Caution:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after coming in contact with chilli, as the capsaicin (the oil within the chilli) burns when it comes in contact with your eyes or sensitive skin. 

Notes: What is a steamer basket? What other ingredients could you use as filling? How else can you spell siu mai?

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Kitchen Garden News – 14th March 2013

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Kung hei fat choi!

We have been swimming in delicious, heady flavours in the cottage these last two weeks – dark and light soy, sesame oil, black bean sauce, rice wine vinegar, chilli oil, fresh chillies, coriander, ginger and garlic – and all the woks and steamer baskets have been working overtime as we launched our Chinese Banquet Menu! All in all I think the cottage oversaw roughly 650 dumplings rolled & filled over the course of eight classes’ sessions… and they all got gobbled up! The children did a sterling job and were super-adventurous trying dishes they hadn’t before – and the grown-up volunteers were fabulous in their support and ability to assist us in what was a huge menu… so to it!

Not only Steamed eggplant siu mai with ginger and chilli dipping sauce and Pork and spinach pot-sticker dumplings with soy vinegar, but also Chinese pumpkin pancakes (Nan Gua Bing), Kylie Kwong’s chilled cucumber salad, Stir-fried eggs with tomato and chilli soy, Perfect steamed rice, Shanghai-style eggplant and finally a little cup of Jasmine tea, of course… all in the same class! I’m looking forward to calming it down a bit in the next menu – we’ve got leeks, carrots and plenty of rocket to come!

So with that I bid you adieu, I hope you have a lovely weekend and look forward to seeing you next week! And also promise that the recipes for the Chinese feast will be up here as soon as humanly (and homeworkly!) possible…

Cheers! Melissa

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Dumpling heaven…

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School holiday program!

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Getting stuck in!

I’m so excited to be able to announce 2 new dates for the Our Kitchen Garden school holiday program!

I’ll be opening the cottage in the autumn holidays on Tuesday 23rd April and  Wednesday 24th April for 2 full-day sessions – for students aged 7 to 12 – for more details click out the School Holiday Program tab at the top of the page!

And if you need any convincing, take a look at the photos and recipes from our previous classes in this blog – these kids love rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty!

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Beans and beans

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Quick pesto!

This popular sauce is, of course, perfect for steaming hot pasta – but what about as part of an antipasto plate with feta or goats’ cheese, roasted capsicum and garlicky bruschetta? Or even added to a toasted cheese sandwich mmmmm… And the Quick part? At school we usually work the children’s muscles in pounding the leaves, but here is a no-fuss food processor option for home… I mean, why bark when you have a dog? Woof.

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Basil!

Fresh from the garden: basil, garlic
Recipe source: Melissa

Equipment:

  • Scales
  • Bowls – big, medium
  • Salad spinner
  • Grater
  • Small frying pan
  • Food processor
  • Chopping board and small knife
  • Spatula
  • Measuring jug
  • Tablespoon & jar if needed
  • Serving bowls if needed
Ingredients:

  • 1 big bunch basil, to yield about 100g
  • 50g parmesan or grana padano
  • 80g pine nuts
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Flaked salt
  • 200ml extra-virgin olive oil plus extra

What to do:

  • Wash and carefully dry the basil, picking off the leaves and discarding the stalks. Weigh to make sure you have the correct amount and then wash in cold water in a big bowl and spin dry thoroughly.
  • Weigh then grate the parmesan.
  • Heat the frying pan on a medium heat and lightly dry-toast the pine nuts, shaking regularly so that they don’t burn.
  • Peel the garlic clove, chop it into small pieces and place in the bowl of the food processor with a good pinch of salt. Blend these to a paste and then add the pine nuts and blend again. Stir in the parmesan.
  • Tear the basil leaves and put them into the mixture. Blending, gradually pour in all the olive oil. Scrape down with the spatula once or twice.
  • Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.
  • Serve, or if using later, spoon into a jar, pour in a thin layer of olive oil to cover, add the lid and refrigerate for up to 3 or 4 days.

Notes: With what else can you use pesto? What also goes with well with basil? Why do we toast the pine nuts? What could you use instead of pine nuts?

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Marinated feta

This recipe is super-easy – it’s lovely to spread on bruschetta, or to add to a frittate recipe, or delicious on it’s own with some roasted chicken & salad… and will also last in the fridge for a week or so, in a jar just covered with a thin film of olive oil.

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Excuse me do you have the thyme please?

Fresh from the garden: thyme, lemon thyme, garlic, lemon
Recipe source: Melissa

Equipment:

  • Chopping board & knife
  • Bowls – large, med, small
  • Paper towel
  • Peeler
  • Salad spinner
  • Measuring jug
  • Serving bowls
  • Small jar & lid if needed
Ingredients:

  • 200g Danish feta
  • A lemon
  • A small handful thyme (or lemon thyme) sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper

What to do:

  • Unwrap the feta & cut into 1cm cubes.
  • Wash and wipe the lemon dry. Using a peeler or a small sharp knife, carefully cut thin strips of yellow flesh from the lemon and add to the feta.
  • Wash the thyme, spin it dry and then strip the leaves from the stalks. Add the leaves to the feta,
  • Peel and chop the garlic into thin slivers and add those to the feta, with a grind or two of the black pepper.
  • Measure the olive oil and then pour it over the feta. Carefully fold the ingredients together without mashing the cheese, then spoon into serving bowls. Leave for a few minutes for the flavours to marry – or if using later, pop in to a clean and dry jar and cover with the lid.
  • Note: the olive oil may solidify and go cloudy if kept in the fridge, so let the jar come to room temperature for 30 minutes or so before you need it!

Notes: What animals’ milk makes feta cheese? What’s the difference between Danish & Greek styles of feta?

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