Monthly Archives: June 2014

Kitchen news – 12th June 2014

Hooray for winter! Enough of this dilly-dallying around with 25 degree days and sea water as warm as a bath… it’s time for jackets and scarves & slow-cooked meaty stuff at home*! Finally the cool weather veggies are having the opportunity to grow and we can get excited about a new season of cooking…

So, the first recipes up are new ones for us. We’ve been playing with ready-bought puff pastry in the Turnip tops & silverbeet, herb and ricotta tart – sure to be repeated again with different arrays of leafy veg – and then Risi e bisi, the Venetian take on a soupy risotto, using 3 types of peas… Also we’ve been explaining the importance of delicate leaf handling with our Green salad of baby rocket, spinach, lettuces and pea shoots and a beautiful apple cider vinegar and honey dressing… and we reinvigorated Yotam’s hummus – always a winner – with hand-rolled Rosemary and thyme grissini to mop it all up. And washed down with a curative cup of steaming Lemongrass and lemon balm (also known as Melissa Officinalis he he) tisane, or herbal tea… Wonderful!

One more week of usual classes (looking forward to seeing you finally Mr Forbes and 4F!) and then we’re bringing the Year 1 kidlets in for a play… So see you next term – unless I see you in Vacation Care Cooking first!

Cheers, Melissa x

* Feather and Bone Sunday Night Lamb Shoulder Braise

Brown seasoned shoulder, set aside. Caramelise 2 chopped leeks, half a dozen peeled brown shallots and a head of garlic, peeled, in a heavy-based pot, then bung in browned lamb shoulder (on the bone) meat-side down along with 6 anchovies, a handful of thyme sprigs, some chopped rosemary and a spot of mustard and tomato paste. Add about 2 cups chook stock & same of white wine to come ¾ way up the meat. Cook at 150C for three or four hours. Stir in cooked peas right at the end. Serve with mash or gnocchi!

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Lemongrass and lemon balm tisane

Alice says: ‘A tisane is a fresh tea, an infusion of fragrant herbs, or flowers or spices, in boiling water. It is a soothing a refreshing finish to a meal, is complementary to most desserts, and offers a mild alternative to coffee. Tisane can be made from such flavourings as lemon verbena, mint, lemon thyme, lemon balm, hyssop, chamomile, citrus rind and ginger – alone and in combination. The one I make most is a combination of mint and lemon verbena. It is very beautiful made in a glass teapot so you can see the brilliant green leaves… I like to use small clear tea glasses, as they do in Morocco, so the lovely pale green colour is visible.’

Melissa says, ‘this is my tea! The botanical name for lemon balm is Melissa Officinalis – Melissa means honeybee in Greek, and so lemon balm was thus named as its white flowers attracted bees.’ Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Fresh from the garden: lemongrass, lemon balm
Recipe source: inspired by Alice Waters: The Art of Simple Food
Makes: 2 to 3 litres

  • Stockpot
  • Tea glasses


  • A bunch of lemongrass leaves
  • Several branches of lemon balm
  • 2 or 3 litres water

What to do:

  • Fill the stockpot with water and set it on high to boil with the lid on.
  • If you’re using lemongrass then take care as the leaves are sharp! Grab a bunch and tie together in a loop, then rinse the bunch well and shake dry.
  • Wash the lemon balm in cold water and shale dry. Strip off the leaves & discard the stalks.
  • Once the water is boiling, turn the pot off and carefully drop the herbs in.
  • Let the tisane steep for several minutes and serve, ladling the tea carefully into each glass.

Notes: What else is tisane know as? What other herbs or spices could you use? What are aromatics?

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Turnip tops, kale, herbs and ricotta tart

Yotam says, “It is possible to use a wide range of wild, cultivated or supermarket greens in this recipe. Consider nettles, beetroot tops, turnip tops, spinach or watercress, in combination.”

We say, ” This is DELICIOUS!”

Fresh from the garden: onion, celery, turnip tops, kale, silverbeet, herbs, lemon
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes

  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Large and smaller frying pans
  • Measures: tablespoon
  • Scales
  • Grater & microplane
  • Mixing bowls
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking paper
  • Large oven tray
  • Pastry brush
  • Fork
  • Serving plates


  • ½ a small red onion
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 8 large turnip leaves & silverbeet
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A small branch mint
  • A small bunch of parsley
  • A small branch of sage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 50g pecorino
  • 75g feta
  • 15g pine nuts
  • 1 lemon
  • 350g all-butter puff pastry (we use Careme)
  • 100g ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and black pepper

What to do:

  • Peel and thinly slice the onion. Wash and thinly slice the celery stalks and leaves. Wash the turnip tops and shake dry then finely chop, discarding any tough stalks. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Wash and spin dry the herbs then pick off the leaves, tearing the mint leaves and finely chopping the parsley and sage.
  • Place a large frying pan on medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, chard, garlic, mint, parsley and sage in the olive oil. Cook, stirring continuously, for 10 minutes or until the greens are wilted and the celery has softened completely.
  • Meanwhile weigh the pecorino and grate it. Weigh the feta and crumble it. Weigh the pine nuts and lightly dry toast in the smaller frying pan. Wash and wipe the lemon and finely zest using the microplane grater.
  • Remove the greens from the heat and stir through the feta, pecorino, pine nuts, lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a hearty grind of black pepper. Leave aside to cool for a moment.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Roll the pastry so it is 5cm bigger than your baking tray on all sides, and then cut the extra off in strips. Place the large pastry sheet on an oven tray lined with baking paper and lay the border strips on top of the edges of the pastry sheet. Spread the filling out on the pastry inside the borders and dot the filling with large chunks of ricotta. Lightly beat the egg, then brush the pastry borders with egg.
  • Bake the tart in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked on the base.
  • Remove from the oven and brush with a little olive oil. Divide onto serving plates and serve warm or at room temperature.
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Green salad

The title is simple but the ingredients are many and varied! Just take care when washing young delicate leaves so that they don’t get squashed…

Fresh from the garden: rocket, lettuces, pea shoots, baby spinach, kale, spring onions, herbs
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 4 or 24 tastes


  • Mixing bowls – 3 big, 2 med, 2 small
  • Colanders
  • 2 salad spinners
  • Scissors
  • Paper towel
  • Measuring – 1/4 cup, tablespoon, teaspoon
  • A small jar with lid
  • Bowlsto serve



  • A few stalks of kale
  • A large handful of rocket
  • A large handful lettuce leaves
  • A large handful pea shoots
  • A large handful baby spinach
  • A small bunch of spring onions
  • Edible flowers
  • A handful baby nasturtium leaves
  • A bunch of aromatic herbs: marjoram, basil, thyme, coriander
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • A teaspoon of honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaked salt & black pepper

What to do:

  • Wash the kale and shake dry. Cut the leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks. Roll up the kale leaves into a tube shape and then finely slice into very thin ribbons.
  • Wash all the leaves & pea shoots in several large bowls and many changes of cold water, filling up the bowls with the water and gently swilling the leaves around, draining in the colander and checking each time for any dirt left in the water. Spin dry in handfuls, reserving the leaves in a large clean, dry bowl.
  • Wash and trim the spring onions, discarding any roots and browning layers. Using scissors, snip into tiny discs and add to the bowl of prepared leaves and shoots.
  • Reserve the edible flowers and nasturtium leaves in a small bowl of cold water. When ready to use, drain on a piece of paper towel and use for the garnish.
  • Wash & dry the herb sprigs, leaving small leaves whole and chopping or snipping with scissors any large leaves and the coriander stalks into tiny pieces.
  • For the dressing, measure the olive oil, vinegar and honey and pour them into the jar. Add all the herbs with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then put the lid on & give the jar a good shake.
  • Drizzle the dressing around the leaves and gently turn the leaves with your fingers so that all the leaves are covered. Lift out and drain the dressed leaves, dividing into serving bowls.
  • Finish by popping the edible flowers and nasturtium leaves on top of the bowls of salad. Serve immediately!

Notes: Why do we have to be so gentle when preparing these leaves and pea shoots? What is vinaigrette? What do the edible flowers taste like?

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Risi e bisi

This soupy rice and peas dish originating in Venice amounts on the plate to so much more than its simple name suggests. Make sure you retain the pods of your peas as they are incorporated in.

Fresh from the garden: shelling peas, sugar snaps, onions
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe  by Stevie Parle on
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes

  • Mixing bowls, 5 mixed size
  • Scales
  • Measures – jug, tablespoon
  • Chopping boards and knife
  • Large stockpot & smaller saucepan
  • Large spoon
  • Stick blender with small blending bowl attachment
  • Spatula
  • Ladle
  • Sieve
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater
  • Serving bowls


  • 300g peas (combination of freshly podded, frozen and sugar snaps)
  • 1½ litres water
  • 2 onions
  • 75g butter
  • Olive oil
  • Flaked salt & black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons bouillon
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 75g parmigiano or grana padano

What to do:

  • Pod the fresh peas, keeping the peas and pods in separate bowls.Wash the sugar snaps, de-string and slice in half or into thirds. Weigh the peas and sugar snaps and then add frozen peas to make up the remainder of the 300g.
  • Measure the water into the smaller of the saucepans and set it to boil. Peel and finely chop the onions.
  • Melt the butter with a splash of oil in a nice big saucepan or stockpot over a low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and gently fry until very soft but not coloured (about 15 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, add the bouillon and the pea pods (not the peas) to the boiling water in the smaller saucepan and boil hard for at least 10 minutes until soft.
  • Stir all the peas and the rice into the onions and season well. Make sure everything is nicely coated in the butter, then add the reserved stock, gradually bringing it to the boil and stirring gently. Turn the heat down low so that it is gently simmering and leave it to bubble away, stirring occasionally until the rice is just cooked and the peas are soft (about 20 minutes).
  • When the 10 minutes is up for the smaller saucepan, carefully using the large spoon, scoop out the solids to the blending bowl of the stick blender, with a small amount of liquid. Blend them until you have a slightly stringy paste, then pass through the sieve so you have a purée. Add a splash of oil and a little seasoning and put to one side.
  • Grate the parmesan. After the 20 minutes are up for the stockpot, stir in the purée and parmesan, check the seasoning, and add a little more stock or hot water if the consistency is not soupy enough (you should need a spoon to eat it) then spoon into bowls and serve.

Notes: How many peas are in a pod? What does risi e bisi mean?

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