This week in kitchen we are continuing our virtual culinary journey which started in Asia. We migrated further west across the world map and looked at the Middle East. We talked about different foods, spices and ways of cooking and serving food. Our menu began with a mezze selection which included spiced pita crisps, falafel, hummus, pickles and dolmades. We also made a tomato based soup using various spices such as cinnamon, cumin and smoked paprika and we added couscous to this broth. We talked about tabbouleh and Middle Eastern salads and then made our own ‘Australian’ version of quinoa tabbouleh using lots of herbs and vegetables from the garden. Another station was a very popular Jewelled Rice dish where we cooked vermicelli with the rice and added lots of fragrant spices and then caramelised onions, ruby red cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds as the ‘jewels’. For our final dish, we made use of the wonderful citrus fruit we have been harvesting and baked cookies fragrant with mandarin zest as well as cardamom, nutmeg and ginger.  All in all a very enjoyable cook and feed for the kids and wonderful parent volunteers. Next week we move further across the globe to the Mediterranean…

Tomato & Couscous Soup


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, grated

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 bottle of tomato passata (or 2 can chopped tomatoes)

8 cups vegetable stock (3 cubes + 8 cups water)

125g Israeli couscous

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley to garnish



Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and carrot and cook on a low heat until onion is glassy. Add cumin, cinnamon and smoked paprika and cook for a few minutes.

Add tomatoes, stock and couscous and simmer 20 minutes.

Add sugar and season with salt and pepper.

Stir well. Serve and garnish with parsley.



Mezze Platter

Hummus (see recipe)

Pita Crisps (see recipe)

Falafel – cut in half and divide into 3 bowls

Pickles – cut in hales or pieces and divide into bowls

Dolamades – open can, cut dolmades in half, arrange in bowls and squeeze over fresh lemon juice.


Arrange mezze platters to each have 1 bowl hummus, 1 bowl pita crisps, 1 bowl pickles, 1 bowl falafel, 1 bowl dolmades


Pita Crisps


1 packet of pita flat bread

olive oil spray

1 teaspoon of cumin

Maldon salt


Preheat oven to 180C.

Line a few trays with baking paper.

Cut pita into half and then into pizza slice shapes.

Spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and a tiny bit of cumin.

Bake for about 7 minutes or until golden.

Allow to cool and serve with yummy dips (or another time broken up into a salad).





2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup of tahini paste

juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove

2 teaspoons Maldon salt

1 cup of very cold water


to serve

olive oil

small handful of parsley (finely chopped)

a teaspoon of paprika



Place everything but the cold water in a food processor and blend until smooth. With the motor still on, slowly add the water through the chute until you get the hummus to the desired consistency (you may not need all the water). Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

To serve, remove the blade from the food processor. Use a spatula to spoon the hummus into 3 bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over paprika and parsley.



Jewelled Rice


2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well and drained

200g egg noodles

2tbspn rice bran oil

1 tspn Maldon salt

I tspn cinnamon

1 tspn cumin

1 tspn ground coriander

4 cups of water

1 chicken stock cube

1 large onion, halved then finely sliced

1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup dried cranberries or barberries

½ cup pumpkin seeds



Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the noodles until they are golden. Add the rinsed rice, spices and salt and stir well to combine.

Add the water and crumbled up stock cube. Cover and allow to simmer on low until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, fry the finely sliced onion in 1 tbspn on rice bran oil over medium heat until it is golden and caramelised. Do this slowly to prevent the onion burning.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in 1 tspn of oil until they are puffed and golden.

When the rice is ready, stir through the onion, cranberries (or barberries), pumpkin seeds and parsley and serve.



Quinoa Tabbouleh


1 cup quinoa

1½ cups water

1 tspn salt


2 cups chopped parsley

1 large handful of mint leaves, chopped

1 cucumber peeled and diced

1 carrot, grated

2 spring onion, finely chopped

1 beetroot, grated, rinsed until water runs clear, and dried

2 tomatoes, diced

salt and pepper

zest of 1 lemon and juice of 2 lemons

¼ cup olive oil


Rinse quinoa and place into a pot with water and salt. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then fluff up grains with a fork and transfer to a large bowl or tray to cool.

Add veggies and herbs and lemon zest to quinoa. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and gently toss.



Orange (Mandarin) & Cardamom Cookies


3 cups plain flour, plus extra

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cardamom

250g butter, softened

1½ cups brown sugar

1 orange, zest and juice (or 3 mandarins)

1 egg, separated

¼ cup granulated sugar



Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking trays.

Finely zest the orange, then cut in half and juice.

Sift the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom into a large bowl.

Place the butter and brown sugar in the mixer and beat until pale and creamy.

Add 3 teaspoons of the orange juice and all the zest and mix well.

Using a large spoon, slowly fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

Sift some extra flour over a clean dry surface and knead the dough for 30 seconds.

Roll the dough out to 5mm thick and cut the biscuits into shapes. Or alternatively, roll into logs and use a knife to slice rounds.

Crack the egg and place the white into a small bowl. Lightly whip the egg white with a fork, then use a pastry brush to coat the biscuits with the egg white then sprinkle over some granulated sugar.

Place the biscuits on the baking trays with enough room between them and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool on a wire rack.