Monthly Archives: June 2013

Greek slow-roasted leg of lamb

On a day like today when the rain is pelting down outside, all I can think of is popping the oven on and cooking something hearty and absolutely delicious for a few hours…  the original recipes calls for roasting potatoes on high in the lamb fat once the meat is done – so of course that is what we did – but I also made some pitta to roll around the juicy lamb, along with some tzatziki, some crunchy rocket, and also a fresh tomato, cucumber and onion salad to squash in too. Sounds like a lot of work but not really… and so worth it! Do it, do it!

So here follows the recipe for the lamb, the potatoes, the tomato salad and the tzatziki. The pitta bread recipe has been posted separately!

Recipe source: (many thanks for this recipe, it was truly scrumptious)
Serves: 8-10 (or 4 with loads left over for the next day!)

1 leg of lamb (bone in) 2½ kg to 3½ kg
1 head of garlic
fine sea salt
fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 medium onions, peeled & quartered
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
2-3 bay leaves
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
hot water or stock
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel the skins off the garlic clove and slice them into slivers. Stick a paring knife into the lamb and make a hole, then slip a sliver of garlic. Repeat and insert as many slivers of garlic as you can.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to the highest possible temperature and place the rack in the middle position. Drizzle your lamb with some olive oil and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place the leg of lamb in a roasting pan that just fits the leg. Place in your pre-heated oven and roast uncovered for about 10-15 minutes or until browned, then flip the leg and roast for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove the lamb from the oven and reduce the heat to 180C. Place the quartered onions around the lamb, add any remaining slivers of garlic, add the herbs (thyme, bay, rosemary, oregano) and squeeze in the lemon juice and pour the wine into the pan. Add the olive oil and enough hot water or stock to cover a third of the lamb.
  4. Cover and place the lamb back in the oven for 2 hours (add more hot water or stock if needed), baste the lamb once an hour. After two hours, flip the leg of lamb (add more water if necessary and adjust seasoning of liquid with salt and pepper).
  5. After 3 hours, the leg of lamb should be a deep brown and the bones will be exposed and the meat will be falling off the bone.
  6. Remove the lamb from the oven, baste with liquid and allow to rest. Serve with roast potatoes tossed in lamb drippings* & with pita bread & tomato salad!

Roast potatoes: Have some peeled & quartered potatoes to roast in another roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour enough pan juices from the lamb leg to come up a third of the way on the potatoes and toss to coat. Taste, adjust seasoning and crank your oven up to 220C and place the potatoes in the oven to roast for 35-40 minutes or until fork-tender (the lamb will stay warm covered in the roasting pan on the stove-top).

Tomato, cucumber and onion salad: Chunky-chop 2 or 3 vine-ripe tomatoes into a bowl and add a similar amount of chopped cucumber (peeled if you like or not!). Add half a finely chopped red onion, a bunch of washed and finely chopped coriander stalks and stems, a squeeze of fresh lime, a sprinkle of flaked salt, grind of pepper and half a teaspoon of chilli flakes (if you like some heat). Toss and serve.

Tzatziki: Peel and finely chop half a cucumber and add to a bowl with a small tub of Greek-style yoghurt. Add a clove of garlic, very finely chopped, and a sprinkle of flaked salt and stir well. This can keep for a few days so make beforehand if you need.

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Cath Claringbold’s pitta

These are great to wrap around salads and especially the Greek slow-roasted lamb featured in this blog! As long as you give it enough time to prove, the rest is easy. The dough can be frozen too – I drizzle a little olive oil into a plastic bag, pop the dough in & tie it tight with a little room to move. It only needs a couple of hours to defrost…

Recipe source Cath Claringbold, published in Good Weekend magazine July 2010
Makes 12 individual pittas


  • 1¼ cups tepid water
  • 1½ teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons caster sugar
  • 460g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ cup olive oil

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and leave in a warm spot for about 20 minutes or until the mixture foams.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt, then make a well in the centre. Add the olive oil and the yeast mix, and combine. Work the dough until it comes together, then turn out onto a lightly floured bench and and knead for a few minutes until it becomes silky and smooth. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a towel and leave it to prove for 15-20 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the barbecue to medium or heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. (Note: I used a ridged cast iron skillet, worked a treat!)

Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each piece into a flat, thin, even disk about 16cm in diameter.

Brush a flat bread with olive oil and place it, oil side down, on the bars of the barbecue. Gently brush a little oil on top as well. In seconds, the bread will start to puff. After 20-25 seconds, flip it over and cook for 20 seconds more. Do not cook for too long or the bread will dry out and become crisp. Repeat with the remaining disks.

Stack the cooked breads and wrap them tightly in a clean tea towel or even cling wrap to keep them warm. Serve with yummy ingredients & roll up to eat!

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Kitchen garden news – 28th June 2013

So here we are the end of Term 2 with winter well and truly upon us.  At least winter solstice has been and gone so the days are getting ever-so-slightly longer now…. I do love this time of year though: the oven on and slow-cooking anything in my path, and parking spaces to be found readily around Bondi, and with an almost leisurely commute to school in the mornings!

This week we’ve taken a break from the usual routine to welcome the Year 1 classes to the Kitchen Garden program… it has been lovely to see the wee ones down here and also to say hi to the new wave of Future Volunteers (!) We made some delicious crusty bocconcini and garden herb pizza and slurped some creamy green soup: landcress, potato, rocket and leek this time… I think we all had a great time… And the little aprons looked very cute indeed!

And with a tear in my eye I farewell lovely Ella and her family for the time being… Have fun in New York – I can’t wait to see your photos and to hear all about it!

Bye bye lovely Ella!

For loads of great photos from the week and recipes updated fortnightly, subscribe here to this blog by clicking the Sign Me Up button on the right!
Cheers all & happy hols! Melissa x

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Creamy rocket, potato and leek soup

This soup just morphs every time we have a new garden veg to use… as long as the base includes aromatic veggies like onions, garlic and leek, along with something to thicken like potato (or barley, or rice) and some fabulous vegetables – you can pretty much add anything you like! I served it to the year 1 students to have with their pizza – a taste of soupy things to come!

And if you prefer to have no dairy, then simply substitute the butter with olive oil and omit the creme fraiche… still delish.

From the garden: rocket, landcress, leeks, onion, potatoes, chives, garlic, bay
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 8 or 24 tastes


  • Chopping board & knife
  • Scales
  • Small paring knife& scissors
  • Potato peelers
  • Kitchen paper
  • 1 heavy-based stockpot & lid
  • Measuring jug, tablespoon
  • Wooden spoon
  • Stick blender
  • 2 teaspoons
  • Serving bowls

  • 3 large bunches landcress
  • A small bunch rocket
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 leeks
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Small bunch chives
  • 100g butter
  • 1½ litres vegetable or chicken stock (or 1½ litres water and a tablespoon and a half of bouillon)
  • 150ml crème fraîche
  • Flaked salt and black pepper

What to do:

  • Fill up the kettle and set it to boil.
  • Wash the landcress & rocket well and shake dry. Trim any brittle stalks and chop the leaves.
  • Peel and finely chop the onion.
  • Wash the leeks well, inserting a slit down the middle of each and rinsing out any dirt. Trim and chop finely.
  • Peel the potatoes over the sink and wash thoroughly. Chop into 2cm cubes.
  • Wash the chives, carefully shake dry & roll up in a piece of kitchen paper to dry. Snip or chop finely.
  • Melt the butter in the large thick-based saucepan, then add the onion, prepared leeks, potato, garlic and bay leaves and stir them around so that they’re coated with the melted butter. Next sprinkle in some salt then cover with a lid and let the vegetables sweat over a very gentle heat for about 15 minutes, giving the mixture a good stir about halfway through.
  • Meanwhile prepare the stock: Measure 1½ tablespoons of bouillon into the measuring jug and then carefully add a litre and a half of boiling water into it, and stir. You may need to do this in two lots.
  • After that, add the stock, bring everything up to simmering point and simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are quite tender.
  • Add the landcress and rocket and simmer for a further 3 or 4 minutes.
  • Then remove the pan from the heat and when it’s cooled a little liquidise the soup with the stick blender and season to taste.
  • When ready to serve, swirl in three tablespoons of crème fraîche. Then pour in to bowls and garnish each one with a little extra crème fraîche and some snipped chives.

Notes: What is crème fraîche? What is the difference between landcress and watercress? What is bouillon?

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Bocconcini and garden herb pizza

The year 1 kids came to visit – and this is what they made!

Fresh from the garden: fresh herbs, onion, garlic
Recipe source: Melissa
Makes: 1 large pizza


  • Bowls – 1 medium, 2 small
  • Salad spinner
  • Grater
  • 1 large oven tray
  • Wide egg lifter
  • Large wooden board
  • Pizza cutter
  • Tablespoon measure, scales
  • Kitchen towel
  • Tongs
  • Metal spoons
  • Serving plates
Ingredients:For the pizza topping:

  • 1 quantity Hugh’s Magic Dough
  • ½ tub bocconcini
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Small handful mixed herb sprigs: thyme, marjoram, parsley
  • 20g parmesan
  • A small bowl of prepared tomato pizza sauce
  • Flaked salt and black pepper

What to do:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C. You can prepare the topping now while you wait for the oven to heat up.
  • Wash and spin-dry the herb sprigs – pick the leaves, discarding the stalks into the compost.
  • Tear each ball of bocconcini in half.
  • Grate the parmesan and reserve.

 Assembling the pizza:

  • Scatter some flour on the table and roll the dough out to form an even rectangle to cover the baking tray.
  • Assemble the pizza directly onto the tray, flouring the tray well first.
  • Using the metal spoon, swirl a couple of spoonfuls of tomato sauce onto the pizza bases, spreading so that they become totally covered.
  • Layer the bocconcini on top and season well, then scatter the herbs over the pizza.
  • Drizzle the pizza with about a tablespoon of olive oil, then slide it into the oven.

 Baking the pizza:

  • Bake the pizza for about 12 minutes or until the edges are very crusty and the cheese is bubbling.
  • You may want to slip the pizza off the tray onto the rack for the last few minutes, so that you get a really crusty base.
  • Once the pizza is done, transfer it to the large wooden board using the wide egg lifter.
  • Cut the pizzas crossways into small squares, and lift onto serving plates.
  • Sprinkle the reserved parmesan cheese over the slices and then get ready to eat!

Notes: What other sort of vegetables could you use in a pizza? What sort of other pizza could we make?

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Hugh’s Magic Dough (for 1 pizza)

The Year 1 kids came to visit and made the pizza dough for the next group, while using the dough that the class before made…

Squishing and squashing the dough

Recipe source: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Veg Every Day
Makes: 1 large pizza


  • Scales
  • Bowls – large, medium
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measures – tablespoon, teaspoon, ½ teaspoon
  • Cling film

  • 125g plain white flour plus extra to flour
  • 125g strong white flour
  • 1 level teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for oiling
  • 160ml warm water

What to do:

  • Weigh the two flours into a big bowl and then add the salt and yeast. Mix well using the wooden spoon.
  • Measure out the warm water and then add the water and the oil to the flours and mix to a rough dough. Knead for a few minutes and then turn out onto a lightly floured table and knead again for about 10 minutes, until smooth. This is quite a loose and sticky dough, which is just as it should be – you get better-textured bread this way – so try not to add too much flour if you can help it, it will become less sticky as you knead.
  • Trickle a little oil into a medium bowl, add the kneaded dough and turn it in the oil so it is covered with a light film. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size – at least an hour, probably closer to two – or if using the next day, wrap bowl in cling film and put straight into the fridge to prove slowly.
  • When the dough is well risen and puffy, tip it out and ‘knock it back’ by poking it with your outstretched fingers until it collapses to its former size. It’s now ready to be shaped to your will.

Notes: Why do we leave the dough to rise? What is this process called? What does to knock it back mean? What will you make with your dough?

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Kitchen garden news – 13th June 2013

Lemongrass, cumquat peel and apple thyme for the tisane

Ha ha! Winter has finally hit but we’re safe and secure down here in the Cottage of the Steamy Windows with ovens baking, soups stirring, eggs poaching and herbal teas brewing… the garden has been flooded with rain this week: great for our broad beans and other spring crops already planted. We still have the odd summer plant yet to give up the ghost – every time Ligia plans to pull them out they throw up another handful of delicious veggies – zucchini and their flowers, snap & snow-peas, basil… they’re hanging on for dear life!

So to our menu this week: a hearty Cabbage, barley and coriander soup, an unblended soup this time & left in all its chunky glory; Pizza with broccoli, garlic and anchovies – amazing how so many children say they don’t eat fish ‘cos they don’t like it – but then scoff this pizza in fistfuls as it comes to the table!

We are mixing the aforementioned cross-seasonal veggies in our Ragout of (winter) vegetables, and serving this alongside Creamy polenta with poached eggs & sage – I beg you to try this recipe if you haven’t already made friends with polenta! And to finish, some Lemon butter biscuits (thanks Shelley for the lemons, I must get some bikkies up to you!) & Herbal tisane: our ‘tea’ of lemongrass, cumquat peel and apple mint. Yum yum, all of it!

I will do my best to get the recipes posted by the weekend – if you’re keen to receive the recipes straight to your inbox then subscribe to this site (there is a button on the right of main screen) for all new posts – updated fortnightly!

And one last thing: next term we want to start a weekly Fruit & Veggie Box Scheme for BPS families – seasonally sourced from the Sydney area to avoid road & air miles and mainly organic with a little conventional added in (PS this is NOT our Kitchen Garden produce!).

A-one-size-fits-all-box: Fifty bucks, pick up from the Cottage on a Monday arvo, proceeds going directly to the SAKGP! Who’s in? We should be able to do up to 40 boxes – first in etc. Speak to Grace or me at school if you’re interested and we will let you know deets once we have more info.

Cheers all! Melissa

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Lemon butter biscuits

Jamie says, “These biscuits are dead easy to make and perfect for a simple gift. If you fancy jazzing them up for Christmas, try using an orange in place of the lemons and add a pinch of cinnamon to your demerara – lovely and festive!”

Fresh from the garden: lemons, egg
Recipe source: Jamie Oliver on
Makes: 30


  • Stand mixer & bowl
  • Microplane zester
  • Scales
  • Measures – tablespoon, ¼ teaspoon
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling pins
  • Biscuit cutters
  • Baking paper
  • Baking trays
  • Wire rack
  • Serving plates

  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 200g plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 lemons
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons demerara sugar

What to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  • Measure out the butter and sugar in to the bowl of the stand mixer and then beat until creamy.
  • Beat in the egg until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Meanwhile zest the lemons with the microplane.
  • Add the flour, lemon zest, baking powder and salt to the butter mixture and mix until you have a ball of dough. Cover and place in the fridge for about 30 mins (or at home for 2 hours until firm).
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface until ½cm thick. Line your trays with baking paper. Cut out shapes and place on the trays. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Divide among serving plates & eat!

Notes: Why do we let dough rest? What happens if we don’t? What is zest? What does demerara look like?

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Ragout of (winter) vegetables

Half veggie stew, half side-of-mixed-veg, this dish can be added to or subtracted as the fancy takes you… we’re clearing the beds of the last summer and autumn crops at the mo – hence zucchini, beans etc – but otherwise pop in some tasty cauliflower & cabbage?

Fresh from the garden: bok choy, pencil leeks, zucchini, beans, snap peas, lemons, tarragon, parsley
Recipe source: Melissa from an idea by Stephanie Alexander
Serves: 8 or 24 tastes


  • Colander
  • Chopping board & knife
  • Bowls – large, med
  • Salad spinner
  • A small saucepan
  • A medium frying pan with lid
  • Scales
  • Measures – jug, ½ cup
  • Wooden spoon
  • Serving plates

  • 1 or 2 heads of bok choy
  • A small handful pencil leeks
  • 1 or 2 zucchini
  • A handful of beans & snap peas
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup light stock (or ½ cup boiling water and a teaspoon of bouillon)
  • Small bunch French tarragon
  • Small bunch parsley
  • Flaked salt & black pepper

What to do:

  • Separate out the leaves of the bok choy and wash thoroughly to remove the dirt. Leaving small stems whole, chop the remaining stalks & leaves into large bite-sized pieces.
  • Cut the roots & the very tops from the leeks and strip back the top layer to remove any dirt. Leave whole.
  • Wash and chop the zucchini into large bite-sized pieces.
  • Wash & dry the herbs, pick from the stalks and finely chop.
  • Place the garlic cloves (in their skin) into a small saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil on low-medium heat. Drain then repeat. Slip the garlic skins off & set aside.
  • Melt half the butter in the frying pan on medium heat.
  • Once frothing add the leeks and the whole cooked garlic cloves & sauté until the leeks are golden flecked.
  • Then add the 1/2 cup stock & the zucchini, the beans and snap peas and cook, covered, for about 3 minutes.
  • Uncover the pan, scatter over the bok choy pieces & cook for another minute, shaking the pan gently. Using the microplane, zest the lemon and add to the pan.
  • Should be very little liquid now, if so turn up the heat to high & continue shaking gently.
  • Add the remaining butter in cubes and the herbs and then grind over pepper and a sprinkle of salt and divide among serving bowls.

Notes: Why do we cook the garlic twice? What is bouillon? What does ragout mean? Why do we need to use French tarragon?

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Creamy polenta with poached eggs and sage

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 – and then there’s no need to add vinegar or do any of that silly swirling stuff!

From the garden: eggs, sage, garlic
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 4 or 24 tastes


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

  • 250ml milk plus extra 100ml on standby
  • 250ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup fine polenta
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone
  • 50g pecorino
  • 25g butter
  • 4 very fresh large eggs
  • A branch of sage leaves
  • Flaked salt and black pepper What to do:

  • Bring the milk, water and bay leaf to the boil in the larger saucepan then remove from heat and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain and discard the bay leaf, bring to the boil again, pour in the polenta and stir continuously until it thickens, about 10-20 minutes, depending on the variety of polenta.
  • Meanwhile grate the pecorino and measure out the mascarpone.
  • When the polenta is cooked, add the mascarpone and grated pecorino and mix until well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. The polenta should be soft and creamy and only just hold its shape. You may need to add a little extra of the standby milk to loosen up the polenta if it becomes too stiff – this will also depend on what brand of polenta you use. You want a sloppy, porridge type consistency.
  • About 5 mins before the polenta is ready, poach the eggs. Fill the deep-sided frying pan 5cm deep with water and bring to a simmer. Carefully crack each egg separately into a small bowl without breaking it and then carefully slide into the water until they’re all in. Let the pan sit on a simmer for 4 minutes.
  • Pick the sage leaves, then wash and spin them dry. Heat the butter in the small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook, stirring, until they are dark green, crispy and fragrant.
  • To serve, divide polenta among serving bowls. Lift the eggs out of the water, drain, and then place one on top of each bowl. Season generously and scatter with the frizzled sage leaves & browned butter.

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

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