Kitchen News 1st March

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A little individual gluten-free tart we made with a corn tortilla

Lots going on this fortnight – and lots of people helping which has been absolutely great!

Last week I sent an email out to each class in the SAKGP with all their lessons listed until the end of Term 2 – so that those who have busy schedules may be able to lock something in down the track. Please ask your class rep if you’d like to see it. There are only 6 or so kitchen lessons for each class until July so not that many!

Mish and the garden kids have been frantically getting new seedlings and seeds into the ground but for the moment we’re making the best of our late summer garden beds: the little baby wild tomatoes have been sliced into a flaky French tomato tart, the baby zucchinis we’ve been stuffing into the spiralisers for Zucchini, mint and feta salad with crunchy pangrattato, and we’ve tried to tame the feral celery into one of our faves, Celery and nutmeg soup.

A new recipe for us has been a veritable hit in the Cottage: crispy Red lentil fritters with green yoghurt, green from all the coriander, parsley and green chilli, and it’s a surefire winner for an easy midweek dinner! And to round out the menu, we’ve been chopping up rolling out crunchy and delicious Rosemary and thyme grissini breadsticks.

5P and 6Y had their first kitchen lesson this week due to Camp and other factors, so to welcome them back I surprised them with a special Pancake Day menu: Spinach and feta crepes with ratatouille (see, you can have savoury pancakes!), Oat pancakes with roasted nectarines and plums, and Pikelets with vanilla mascarpone and lemongrass syrup. Leftovers? Kidding right?!

So thanks for coming along in Kitchen, we all really appreciate it!

See you soon, Melissa

PS. If you have any unwanted forks at home please send them in to the Cottage! I’m having trouble finding any at Vinnies! x

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Kitchen News 14th February 2017


This article originally appeared in the school newsletter on 16th February.

Week 4 already! The Chinese Banquet Menu has reared its Roostery head again in Kitchen, with Chicken, spinach and coriander pot-sticker dumplings with honey soy on the menu, the children diligently filling gow gee wrappers with the blended green mush, and sealing the dumplings up tightly… the Vegetable spring rolls have the students preparing all the veggies and then stir-frying with rice vermicelli noodles in a big wok, then rolling up in the pastry and sticking firm with waterdrops, and serving with their homemade sweet green chilli sauce. I learnt today that my recipe is incorrect in chopping up the noodles as the long ones are supposed to signify a long life, and by chopping them up we have been shortening everybody’s lifespan! Sorry about that everybody!

Another success is the Shanghai-style eggplant. I cannot tell you enough how amazingly delicious this dish is! If you have a steadfast eggplant-hater in your life (as I do, two of them) then I implore you to try the recipe at home – it’s available on Edmodo via the SAKGP Bondi group page (see code below to join if you haven’t already). It’s a winner, and renders the eggplant almost unrecognisable. It’s like vegetable chocolate! (ish).

Kylie Kwong’s Chilled cucumber salad is brilliant, especially on a hot day like these, and we have now introduced Special fried rice to the list, with long grain rice cooked the day before and wok-fried with beaten egg and spring onions. Delish!

And served with a really delicate and powder-pink Chinese cup of Jasmine tea. Yum cha indeed.

By the time you read this we should have our timetables sorted and our class reps elected. Please look out for your next Class News with details of Kitchen Garden lessons, and if you can spare the time, please come along and help as we really do need you! Parents from Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 gratefully received too.

The SignUp link for all classes: – please remember to bring your Working With Children signed form to show the office if you haven’t already!


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Kitchen news 3rd August 2016


(This article first appeared on the School Newsletter on 5th August).

With NAIDOC Week we have been exploring bush tucker in our recipes: what it is, where it comes from and what we would have eaten in Bondi before the shops and houses and fast food places arrived. We talked about the planning needed to hunt, catch, prepare and eat a large animal like a kangaroo or crocodile, and the fact that none of the animal would have been wasted.

We discussed the similarities between bush tucker and the Kitchen Garden philosophies of eating local and seasonal foods, and most importantly about the knowledge passed on to recognise which plants, animals and fish were safe to eat.

I asked the children to smell the roasted and ground wattleseed I brought in and to tell me what they thought: Chocolate, coffee, Digestive biscuits, bread, peanuts and malt were some of the great suggestions. And so then the Carrots made some Wattleseed damper.

And I cut the finger limes we had in half and squeezed out the little lime ‘caviar’ balls for them to try. “WARHEADS!’ was the cry in most of the classes, sour as they were. The Artichokes made a Tom yum soup with finger limes with bok choi from the garden and mushrooms, and then squeezed in the little baubles as a citrusy garnish.

Paul brought us in some branches of lemon myrtle from his garden and we used them in three of the recipes: the Tomatoes made Risotto of broccoli and lemon myrtle, with the leaves infusing in the hot stock, and the Olives made Lemon myrtle shortbread – blending up caster sugar with dried lemon myrtle leaves for a lovely lemony oil flavour – and we also made some Lemon myrtle tea by simply steeping the leaves in hot water. Delicious and very easy! Not like catching a kangaroo…

A pity that we’ve needed to postpone The Rocket movie fundraiser. We’ll wait until warmer weather and try again then.

To volunteer for classes or weekend chicken duty:

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Kitchen news 22nd June 2016


(This article originally appeared in the School Newsletter on 24th June.)

We’ve had an all-star cast of helpers these last few weeks – some of my original Kitchen Garden kids from 2011 have been in to assist the classes in the Cottage! It’s been great to see how beautifully they instruct the younger children and how far their cooking skills have come along after all these years. Taye, Mimi and Chandy (and their friend Elvenie) have taken care of quite a few groups over many lessons and we really appreciate it! And of course the food has been even more delicious than usual…

They have been helping some of the groups prepare the freshly picked cos lettuces, tossing them into a classic Caesar salad with anchovy and garlic-drenched crunchy baked croutons, and perfectly poached eggs plopped on top of it all.

Pumpkins are plentiful at this time of year – and really cheap at the shops: I saw some for 80c a kilo! So the big girls and the children have been carefully preparing chunks to add to sautéing leeks, thyme, ground cumin and coriander and then blending up into the Best pumpkin soup ever!

Mish and the garden crew have been harvesting carrots – and what crazy carrots they are! In class we’ve been laughing at the three-legged creatures, ugly as all get-out, and some looking like they desperately need to go to the loo! But of course they’re as delicious as can be, in Roasted winter veggies with rosemary and honey drizzle and crispy fennel bits, cauliflower florets and potato chunks.

We’ve also been experimenting with a different sort of bread too: Indian Garlic naan dough made with yoghurt and egg, baked briefly in the oven and then brushed with the garlic. Different from the usual magic dough we use, and fabulous served with Kerry’s tasty daal that some of the Broad Bean groups have made, with red lentils, mustard seeds and cumin, coconut milk, onion and capsicum. Creamily good indeed!

Next week we have the Year 1 kidlets coming to visit. Brace! Brace! Brace! Only joking – it will be lovely to see their little grobbley faces again – I’ve missed them since they moved up away from the kindy playground!

And then the week after that, holidays. A chance to recalibrate, fire up the oven and chill out a bit. Hopefully! And also Carolyn, Mish and I are running a school Kitchen Garden holiday program 13th to 15th July in the Cottage – check back for more details!

Keep safe! Mx

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Kitchen news 7th June


So finally we’re getting the cold weather we’ve been wondering about all autumn… all the wintry effects in one weekend even! One day we’re swimming down at the beach and only a week later we’re battening down the hatches against the #stormageddon! I do love the change of season (for about a week anyway) when the big casserole pot gets brought out for repeat usage on the stove and my pink fluffy slippers are unearthed from the back of the wardrobe.

Luckily in the cottage we had pre-empted the change to cool and had written up some delicious and warming dishes for the menu… Kale and potato soup with poached eggs for example: instead of sautéing off the onion and then sweating in the potato with garlic and other soupy mirepoix bits, in effect layering the flavours, we bung everything in at once, more or less, cook it up and then plop the eggs in to poach in the actual soup itself! The ingredients by themselves nothing to write home about necessarily, but together make up the most tasty and soul-warming combo… and I’ve even had a few parents stop me in the playground to say they had made it at home over the storms.

Moroccan chickpea hotpot has made a comeback too, all the lovely cinnamon, smoked paprika and cumin flavours mingling away in one chunky broth and then finished with my favourite herb of all: fresh coriander. Some kids are yet to fully grasp a love of chickpeas (my own included) but I’m giving it all I’ve got and won’t stop at yuck!

Pizza is back on the menu, this time as a tomato-less pizza bianca, with spinach, roasted garlic and ricotta and it has been going down a treat. Of course it would, it’s pizza!

And we’ve even managed a salad: A warm salad of bok choy, roasted eggplant, goats cheese and the last of the little baby bush tomatoes. The flavours sing with a basil-infused basting sauce, and a little sweet aged balsamic drizzle to finish.

A few groups finished off the current crop of rhubarb to bottle a gorgeous jam with vanilla bean to sell later in the year at Grandparents Day on Friday 16th September and at the Kitchen Garden stall at the Halloween Fete on Sunday 30th October… my store cupboards are looking very healthy already with stocks of bouillon, marinated olives, mandarine marmalade and the rhubarb and vanilla jam all ready to be labelled! So save your pennies for those…

Have a good week and stay warm!


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Kitchen news 25th May 2016


It seems we’re straddling the seasons right now with cool nights and still lovely warm days, so we’re trying to reflect this in the menu we’re preparing in the cottage: some lovely light dishes with fresh herbs and citrus, a few crispy and delicious fritters and also something heavier to make you think of open fires and warm jumpers…

So we’ve rolled handmade pasta into something light, fresh and slightly spicy with Sean’s linguine with rocket, lemon, parmesan and chilli oil – a big dish to get made from scratch although we cheat slightly by using the pasta dough made by the class before, and then when the linguine has been cut and the rocket ready, we make the dough for the next class. There is a lot to do in a short time but every class has managed to achieve the bowls of steaming hot and fragrant pasta well in time to eat it!

Another Bondi chef features on this menu too, with Bill’s famous sweetcorn fritters with avocado, lime and coriander salsa – a generous dad brought in a bag of avocadoes from his trees and they were fab mashed up with a little red onion too.

Autumn nights always make me feel like something a little richer, so we steeped some bay leaves in milk to whisk through polenta, and then added mascarpone and parmesan and finished with crispy sage leaves. Total comfort food – and totally gluten-free too! I reckon a slow-braise of lamb one weekend lunch soon would do just the job to match…

The Stage 3 kids have been talking in classroom activities about Asia, so to correspond with their lessons we’ve been wok-tossing Nasi Goreng – working out what the words actually mean – and also about how many languages put the noun first and the adjectives afterwards. And we’ve also been chatting about the nationalities that eat savoury food like rice and noodles for brekky instead of sweet cereal or toast and jam.

And finally we’ve been using up the popping corn we grew last term! The children have plucked and threshed the kernels from the cob, and made two flavours of popcorn: one with a rosemary and thyme oil, and the other with a spiced butter of cinnamon, smoked paprika and cumin. Delicious and fun… Sounds like the whole program to a tee!

Chooks: Thank you very much to the families that have signed up recently to feed and water the chooks or tuck ‘em in to bed! It’s great to have such community minded folk around!

Edmodo: do you want the recipes in advance of the lessons? Join the SAKGP group – ask me how!


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Kitchen news 6th April 2016


We returned to a garden split between the last harvests of summer and the new plantings of winter, so we’ve an eclectic menu up on the board – Middle Eastern, Thai, Italian and olde English flavours mingling bizarrely but happily together on the tables…

The Olive group’s Quinoa tabbouleh has the knives sharpened to make light work of all the parsley, mint and basil that needs chopping and is the perfect dish to use up all the tiny baby tomatoes sprouting from absolutely everywhere in the garden!

The Tomato group is also chopping and blending frantically to make the paste for their Thai eggplant in coconut curry – and the results have been delicious and have had even the most reluctant child trying a little spoonful and agreeing it really is quite good indeed!

The Carrots have been very busy too, baking up some fabulous little parmesan biscuits and also marinating our own Bondi olives (picked in April and brining since) with orange zest, fennel and rosemary.


We’ve had so much rocket rocketing up Mish has been pulling up whole clumps for the Artichokes to wash, chop and blend up with potatoes and silverbeet for a silky autumn soup, and finally the Broad Beans have been peeling, finely slicing and jamming up a ‘set’ for Mandarine marmalade – it has taken this long to be finally picking mandies from the tree at the front of the cottage. So exciting! I’m hoping there will plenty of jars of the marmalade and the olives for sale on the Kitchen Garden stall at the Halloween Fete!

 Cluck cluck! We really need ongoing help with the chickens on Saturdays and Sundays to open and feed in the morning, or close them up in the evening. Please sign up if you’re close by and can help! Please speak to Mish or email me if you can help.


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Kitchen news April 6th 2016


We have made it! Term 1: ticked off the list of things to do. We’ve gone out with a bang this week with several new recipes that knocked our socks off with deliciousness. I love it when a new recipe works – success mainly due to the wonderful helpers who watch over our young students by encouraging, guiding and gently suggesting whenever needed. We know your time is limited and that you’re needed in a hundred places at once, but it’s worth coming along , even if once or twice, to see the magic that actually happens in your child’s lesson. Can the older students work by themselves in groups without adult supervision? Well yes, a few of them certainly can, but even they benefit from your support and experience in the class. And goodness knows there’ll be a time very soon that they won’t want you around much at all, so why not take us up on the offer soon?

Eggplant chips with fennel yoghurt was a new starring recipe this week – lots of work for the Artichoke team who sliced perfectly rectangular batons, dipped them in the holy trinity of flour, egg and panko crumbs and then fried them until crispy. A freshly whipped fennel and coriander seed mayo and yoghurt dip totally perfected the dish. The Carrots this week chopped up a fabulous Pistou soup  – a French soup of zucchini, carrot, potato and celery with macaroni and the addition of a super-aromatic basil, garlic and parmesan pistou sauce dolloped on at the end. The Olives whipped up an eggy batch of Veggie patch and feta fritatte, using up all the last odds and sods of the remaining summer crops. The Tomato group punched and pummelled their way through a recipe of Rosemary and tomato focaccia and sliced up perfect squares of fluffy warm bread, and the Broad Beans zested and rolled up some of the famous Ava’s orange Anzac biscuits, just in time for the big day on the 25th April.

And a group of Year 6 boys also helped me process a huge bowl of just-picked olives by slicing, brining and bottling the little black jewels. They will be ready to do the next stage of marinating and preserving when we come back!

Talking of which, the schedule for next term is being finalised as we speak and will be emailed out to current volunteers as soon as it’s done. I will also include it in the first Class News of Term 2 so please look out for it there too. Have a great holiday and see you next term!

Holiday chickens? We have spaces over the Saturday, Sunday and Anzac day slots of the holidays to open and feed the school chickens in the morning, or close them up in the evening. Please sign up if you’re not going away and can help! Message me if interested.


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Kitchen news March 22nd 2016


It has been ‘Leftovers Fortnight’ in the Cottage with the Movie Night dough being reused for the pizza and the tomato sauce also being used for spinach and ricotta cannelloni as well as the pizza. Some of the children have been learning to make homemade ricotta from scratch too, patiently waiting a whole hour for the temperature to gradually reach 95C and the curds separate from the whey. And what do we do with the whey? Well apparently as it is a fermented product it’s great to splash on your skin (on your face OR your feet!) or to drink when you’ve an upset tummy. Or to use as the water part when making bread or pizza dough. And most of all it’s great for citrus trees. So that’s where ours has been going!

Last week we also harvested a massive watermelon from the desert-like bed that runs between the Cottage and D Block. The watermelon was orange when we opened it up! Pale but juicy, perfumed and ripe – and I lifted a fab recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty for it: Watermelon and feta salad with red onion and rocket. Try it and see what a great combination it is!

And a massive hit again with the kids has been the Sean’s Panaroma sweetcorn chowder: a tricky recipe with a few twists and turns. But that’s how we roll baby.

Some lucky students got to flex their knife-wielding muscles this week too and reprised the Cornersmith’s bouillon recipe to replenish our bare shelves. Chopping onions, celery, carrots and their green tops, parsley, coriander, fennel and loads of garlic (and other secret herbs and spices, natch) and then blending it all up into a paste with lots of salt to make into our version of stock cubes, and then squishing into sterilised jars to waterbath and preserve. The bouillon keeps for at least 6 months, unopened in a dark and cool cupboard, and at least 3 or 4 months in the fridge once opened.


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Kitchen News 8th March 2016


These next few weeks mark my 5th birthday at Bondi! How fitting that today Mr Forbes brought me in some popping corn that they had just harvested. ‘Our Very Own Popping Corn’ recipe – with one part with rosemary and thyme-infused olive oil, and the other a sweetened cumin, paprika and cinnamon butter topping – was on my very first menu! Also featuring was a recipe for ‘Juicy Juice’: preparing and peeling a combo of beetroot and carrot chunks, spinach, silverbeet, cucumber, celery, apples, tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, ginger and soft herbs. And also on the extensive menu of three dishes (!) Insalata Caprese, with tomatoes, bocconcini, basil and rocket… (a surefire winner of a salad that we’ve repeated lots of times, no less in the last menu!). The littlest cooks at the time, the Year 2 kids, are now in Year 7 and flown away, and that for me is the biggest sign of change, when children grow so quickly but everything else remains the same…

Fast-forward to 2016 and it’s pounding our paste and bruising the lemongrass stalks for Tom Yum soup, and scooping, mouli-ing and microplaning nutmeg for Potato gnocchi with burnt butter and sage, and also tossing the remains in olive oil with rosemary and flaked salt to make the crispiest Potato skins ever – an original Harry C-N idea..! We’re soaking, boiling and blending for our old fave: Ottolenghi’s hummus, and carefully refreshing heat-wilted leaves, in Rocket salad with poached eggs, and an initially stinky but ultimately delicious and savoury anchovy, lemon and olive oil dressing… and talking of recipes past, we revived the Brazilian Pao de queijo cheese balls that Ligia – our gardener from 2011 to 2103 – inspired from back in the day… And yes it does sound like a crazy menu but somehow it all works – chilli, cheese and all…

And thanks to all who responded to this column and came along to the tasting on Saturday 5th. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of dirty glasses! Watch this space for the next event.

And so happy Bondi birthday to me 🙂

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