Posts Tagged With: food

French tomato tart


The simple tarte à la tomate is a favourite French dish that makes use of all of those excess ripe summer tomatoes in the kitchen. This classic recipe is without cream or eggs in the filling but just a little kick of mustard smeared over the free-form pastry base.

Fresh from the garden: tomatoes, thyme, oregano
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe on
Serves: 4 or 24 tastes


  • Food processor
  • Measures: tablespoon, teaspoon
  • Plastic wrap
  • Mixing bowls – large, medium
  • Colander
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Salad spinner
  • Large baking tray
  • Rolling pin
  • Serving plates

·       300g (2 cups) plain flour

·       150g cold butter, chopped

·       1 egg

·       1 tablespoon cold milk

·       2 tablespoons whoegrain mustard

·       A couple of heirloom tomatoes

·       250g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes

·       4 sprigs thyme, plus extra to garnish

·       4 sprigs oregano, plus extra to garnish

·       Olive oil, to drizzle

What to do:

For the pastry:

  1. Process flour, butter and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add whisked egg and milk, and process until a dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you wash the tomatoes.

For the filling:

  1. Wash all the tomatoes and drain in the colander. Slice the large tomatoes into slices.
  2. Wash the herbs and spin dry. Strip off the leaves and reserve.

To finish the dish:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to form a 3 mm-thick round. Transfer to a large oven tray and remove top sheet of baking paper.
  2. Spread dough with mustard, leaving a 3cm border around edge.
  3. Arrange sliced tomatoes over mustard so they are overlapping, then top with cherry tomatoes. Pinch and fold over edge of tart, then scatter with thyme and oregano leaves.
  4. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp. Garnish with extra oregano and thyme sprigs.
  6. Serve cut into slices.

Notes: What is tomato in French? What does freeform tart mean?

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Special Fried Rice

The key to successful fried rice is to cook the rice the night before, cool, cover and store in the fridge – that way the grains have time to cool and separate. At home feel free to add in some cooked chicken or prawns.

Fresh from the garden: eggs, spring onions, garlic, ginger
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes


·       Chopping boards and knives

  • Peeler
  • Mixing bowls – large, small
  • Salad spinner
  • Large wok
  • Fork & knife
  • Measures – cup, tablespoon, teaspoon
  • Large saucepan & lid
  • Sieve
  • Serving bowls

·       3 cups long grain rice

·       1 litre boiling water

·       1 teaspoon of cooking salt

·       2 garlic cloves

·       2 tablespoons sesame oil

·       1 thumb ginger

·       2 eggs

·       3 spring onions

·       4-6 tablespoons soy sauce

·       Small handful coriander

 What to do:

To cook the rice:

  1. Fill the kettle to the 1 litre mark and set to boil.
  2. 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.
  3. Empty the washed rice back into the pot and carefully pour in the litre of boiling water. Turn the heat to high – when the water starts to bubble, add a teaspoon of salt, stir and then cover the pot and reduce heat to the lowest flame. Cook for 14 minutes without disturbing or taking the lid off.
  4. After the 14 minutes is up, turn off the heat without disturbing the saucepan. Leaving the lid on, just let it sit for another 5 minutes to finish the steaming process.
  5. When the time is up, using a knife, fluff the rice up in the saucepan, and then transfer into a bowl or tub, leave to cool for 10 minutes and then cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour to chill, preferably overnight.

To prepare the fried rice:

  1. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Using a peeler, peel the ginger and grate using the microplane grater.
  2. Wash, trim and peel the spring onion and finely chop, reserving the white parts and green parts separately.
  3. Wash the coriander and spin-dry, then finely chop stalks and leaves.

To cook the fried rice:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large wok on high heat.
  2. Add ginger, garlic and white part of spring onions and fry for a minute, stirring.
  3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add sesame oil and whisk lightly with a fork.
  4. Add the pre-cooked rice and stir-fry until rice is hot.
  5. Add soy sauce and green spring onions and heat through for another minute.
  6. Spoon out into serving bowls, then garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

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

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The Bondi Cook… at Home


For almost 6 years I have been working and playing within the Bondi Public School environment. I wish I had a dollar for every time a parent has said in a Kitchen Garden class, ‘I wish I could wrap you up and take you home!’

Well, now I, Melissa, A.K.A. The Bondi Cook is getting ready to offer you just that!
In 2017 I am launching The Bondi Cook… at Home. Delicious and nutritious home-made meals (by me!) for you and your family.  Don’t worry, I’m not walking away from Kitchen Garden classes, I am just hoping to turn my afternoons and Fridays into a local business, doing what I love most.

The Bondi Cook… at Home will focus on yummy stuff for your fridge and pantry, ready to heat and eat, or freeze for another night.
Fresh, seasonal, homemade and free from any baddies!
I’m running a trial for the rest of this term and then will start properly in 2017.  I am hoping to have a fancy website and a great ordering system but all that will come in time.
Meanwhile, I’ll be sending an email out every Sunday for the next few weeks, with a small menu of four or five items for you to reply back to with your order if interested. I’ll cook on Fridays and discuss pickup instructions with you. Easy!

Dishes might include:
*Herbed labneh with lemon and garlic
*Korean-style kimchi
*Rosemary spiced nuts
*Luxurious chicken liver pate
*Pork and spinach pot-sticker dumplings
*Curry of chickpea, potato and cabbage
*Spanish lentil and chorizo stew
*Salmon and coriander fishcakes
*Fresh pizza dough balls ready to roll, top and bake
*Super-sugo sauce for pasta & pizza
*Yemeni chicken curry
*Greek slow-roasted leg of lamb with tzatziki
*Crunchy granola suite… and other tasty treats!

If you like what I’m doing, sign up to the newsletters! Or follow my page here:

And you can see one of my newsletters here…

Much love x

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Garlic naan


We use a number of different dough recipes at Bondi Public, but this one is perfect to mop up sloppy sauces! We use the dough made by the previous class, and then make the new dough for the next.

Fresh from the garden: garlic
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe on
Serves: 8 or 24 tastes


  • 2 or 3 baking trays
  • Scales
  • Chopping board & knife
  • Small saucepan
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measures: jug, 1/2 cup, tablespoon, teaspoon
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pastry brush
  • Serving plates



  • 80g butter or ghee at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 egg

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place oven trays into the oven to preheat.
  2. Use your fist to punch down the dough. Weigh the butter or ghee, and then add half to the dough and knead for a further 5 minutes or until ghee is well incorporated into the dough.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and finely chop. Melt the remaining ghee in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Remove from heat.
  4. Divide dough into 8 even portions. Press or roll each portion into a 15 x 20cm tear shape, about 3mm thick.
  5. Sprinkle with the nigella seeds and gently push into the dough. Bring the preheated trays out of the oven and carefully place the naan onto them, and bake in oven for 6-8 minutes or until slightly puffed and golden brown.
  6. Use this time to make the dough for the next class: Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the egg lightly and then add to water, yoghurt and egg in a small jug. Add to the flour mixture and stir until mixture just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for at least 30 minutes to rise or in the fridge overnight.
  7. Remove the baked naan from oven and immediately brush with the ghee mixture. Cut into chunks and serve immediately.

Notes: Where does naan bread originate? What is ghee?

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Kylie Kwong’s chilled cucumber salad

Kylie describes this dish as taking on whole different tones, being slippery, silky, yet still crunchy. It is very refreshing, and wonderfully easy to make.
Fresh from the garden: cucumbers, ginger, garlic
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Kylie Kwong in Simple Chinese Cooking
Serves: 6 as a side dish or 24 tastes


  • Peelers
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Teaspoons
  • Measures – tablespoon, teaspoon, ½ teaspoon
  • Bowls – large, small
  • Teaspoon
  • Serving bowls


Ingredients:For the salad

  • 5 small or 2 large cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pinch of ground black pepper

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil

 What to do:

  • Wash the cucumber, then peel and cut in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds using a teaspoon. Place cut-side down on a chopping board and cut on the diagonal into 1.5cm pieces.
  • Place cucumber in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and salt and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile to make the dressing, peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Peel and finely dice the ginger to yield 1 tablespoon. Place the garlic, ginger and the rest of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  • When the time is up, drain the cucumbers, and using your hands, gently squeeze out excess liquid.
  • Place back into the bowl, combine the chilled cucumber with the dressing and toss to incorporate.
  • Divide among serving bowls and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve immediately.

Notes: What does the sugar and salt do to the cucumber? Why do we scrape the seeds out? How does it feel the squeeze the cucumber pieces with your hands?

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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…

Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 8 or 24 tastes


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

  • 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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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!

Fresh from the garden: eggplant, chilli, garlic
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Chris Yan on
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes


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

  • 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!


  • 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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Kitchen Garden News – 14th March 2013

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

Dumpling heaven…

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