Semester Three: “The Flavour of Australia” & Navarin of Lamb

After a long break it’s good to be back at college. I have a new Chef, I’m in a much bigger kitchen, the pace is much faster, there are greater expectations of my work performance and the presentation of my finished dishes. Pre-work is essential; workflow needs to be completed for each dish and research needs to be done on presentation. My focus needs to extend beyond simply cooking a good plate of food; I will be measured on presentation, time management (service times must be met), organisation & cleanliness, as well as team work. Yes indeed folks, I have arrived in the major league, so deep breath and positive thoughts!

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Lesson Plan

The first week of ‘Meat’ was focused on lamb, an Australian favourite hence the title. As a child I was served lamb once if not twice a week, but now it is quite expensive, so any wastage must be minimised. The lesson included identifying the types of lamb cuts, the best cooking method for each cut, the different types of lamb by age and you guessed it, some butchering (apologies to my vegetarian friends). There were three recipes using meat from a full lamb leg.


There are four ages of lamb; Young or ‘Spring Lamb’, which is up to 7months, the ubiquitous ‘Lamb’, which is under 12 months, ‘Hogget’, which is between 12 and 18 months and ‘Mutton’, which is over 2 years (it’s a bit on the nose so it lends itself to a dish like curry to mask the smell). We worked with ‘Lamb’ – a whole leg with the shank attached. The first job was to break the leg down to arrive at the 3 cuts needed for the recipes; shank, silverside and the muscle. It was quite physical, especially sawing the bone, but I was pleasantly surprised at how relatively easy it was to break down, simply follow the bone structure and continue to separate the meat from the muscle as you work. After the fat has been trimmed, a cut was made through the joint/knuckle, and the shank was removed, cleaned and ‘frenched’ (clean scrape the bone). The other cuts of meat were diced.


The first dish was Lamb Shank and Puree Potato. It needed to be put on quickly as it takes minimum of 3.5 hours in the oven. Where as it was the first dish in the oven, it was the last dish out, and only Chef had time to plate– all of ours went straight into containers to sell at the college kitchen shop. Chef chose to plate his dish in what I would refer to as ‘cave man’ style but as my meat fell off the bone, had I got to plate it wouldn’t have been the same. Regardless of the plating, the dish was absolutely delicious.

eZy Watermark_07-02-2019_11-40-11am

Busy workstation



The second dish up was a Lamb Navarin (recipe below), a slow cooked lamb stew made with the tougher muscle cut. It needs to cook in the oven under a cartouche and lid until tender, which will take a minimum of 1 hour. Notice on this one we channel cut the sides of the carrots…. very fancy!

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Navarin of Lamb

The third and final dish was the first we plated, Salad of Marinated Lamb, Roasted Baby Beetroot, Spinach and Feta. After marinating the meat for an hour in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and fresh oregano, it was cooked on a French Grill.  The best cut for this type of cooking is a primary tender cut of the short leg, we used the silverside. Whilst the meat was cooking, the roasted beetroots were skinned, the walnuts finely chopped, the feta cut, and the vinaigrette made. Once plated a final flourish of grated Feta was dusted over the top before presenting the dish to Chef. Now, here is a good tip, to successfully grate Feta, freeze it first…it works like a dream!


As you can tell by the photos, there was little time to take ‘good’ ones, in fact the 6 hour class went by so quickly it was a blur. I will continue to try to at least get photos of the finished plate, as my focus will be just that – the finished plate. As I said to Bell as we exited Kitchen 11 at the end of the lesson, ‘buckle up, it’s going to be a wild ride’!

Finally, I wanted to say thank you for the kind comments to my last post regarding Mum’s and my birthday. As you can see from these few photos,  she had a wonderful time, and whereas it would have been lovely had all the Grand-children been there, with my Bella in L.A and my sister’s children in another state, it was not to be.




Bon Appetit

Kathryn 💙👩‍🍳

Navarin of Lamb
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins

A delicious Lamb Stew. 

Servings: 2
  • 250 gm Lamb – muscle cut
  • 40 ml Olive Oil
  • 20 gm Unsalted butter
  • Pepper – white to taste
  • Salt – to taste
  • 1 Carrot (medium)
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 25 gm Plain Flour
  • 35 gm Tomato Paste
  • 150 ml Red Wine
  • 500 ml Brown Stock (veal or beef)
  • 1 Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay leaf, Thyme)
  • 60 gm Frozen Peas
  • 10 gm Parsley, fresh
  • 3 sprigs Thyme, fresh
  1. Heat oven to 185C

  2. Trim the fat from the lamb and cut into 2cm dice

  3. Heat the oil in a heavy based fry pan, when hot add butter and the cubed, floured and seasoned meat. Do this in stages to ensure all meat browns. Remove the meat from the pan.

  4. Add the diced onion, carrot and garlic and brown.

  5. Drain the surplus fat and and add the browned meat and vegetables to a suitable sized casserole pot.

  6. Add the remaining flour to the pan in which the meat was browned, add the tomato paste and the red wine. Mix to combine and allow alcohol to cook out before adding to the casserole. 

  7. Add the heated stock to the casserole whilst stirring with wooden spoon.

  8. Bring the stew to the boil on the stove top, skim and add the bouquet Garni. 

  9. Placed a cartouche and lid on the casserole and cook for minimum 1 hour or until the meat becomes tender.

  10. Add the thawed frozen peas, adjust the consistency and seasoning as required and finish dish with chopped herbs

Posted in Commercial Cookery, Culinary School, Recipes | Tagged | 14 Comments

You say it’s your birthday…it’s my birthday too …yeah! – Easy Butter Cake

I’ve been taking a wee break from blogging since the first year of my course came to an end in early December, but I think it’s time to dip my toe back into the ‘blogging’ water. The title of this post was inspired by the opening lyrics of the song “Birthday”, written by the Beatles in 1968, which seemed apt for the occasion of my birthday, which is today, and the occasion of my mother’s 80th birthday, also this week.


Mum and me a few birthdays ago

Turning another year older and getting closer to the next big “0” birthday has caused me to reflect on my life, and my conclusion is it’s been pretty good & I’m grateful for the life I’ve had so far. Yes there have been ups and downs, but bumps on the road are to be expected when you are on a long journey – and I’m in for the long haul! I’ve certainly made some doozie mistakes, but I think I have learned from most of them. And, as my sister used to say, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a Prince, which is absolutely true in my case, but my “Prince” did eventually show up and we are entering our 10thyear of being together.

Whilst waiting for said “Prince”, I was lucky enough to raise, and be raised by, two incredible people, of whom I am most proud. They are simply the best thing I have ever done with my life and they never cease to surprise me, move me to joyful tears, and fill my heart with so much love (and pride) that I’m amazed it doesn’t burst. If this wasn’t enough, my life has been further enriched by my three lovely step-children.

And then there is the gift of friendship which has brought so much sunshine to my life. My friends are quite different yet all with common traits. They are smart, funny, resilient, intelligent, women…all talented in their fields and creative. I have travelled with most of them & they have supported me, encouraged me, surrounded me with love in the tough times and made me laugh until my sides hurt in the good times. A few of them speak a language other than English, all of them love to read & most of them enjoy cooking (I obviously have a type!). We have shared many (many) meals and many (many, many, many) glasses of wine together. Some of them, like me, enjoy dabbling in social media, blogs & IG. Look at the beautiful and naturally dyed paper and fabric creations which my talented friend, whose blog is a must see. She turns the paper and fabrics into individual personal gifts and cards, such as a few I have been lucky enough to be given. Another friend on IG is an amazing and self-taught chocolate maker, lustrechocolate.

So, as I approach another year, I count my blessings and suggest that a cake is in order.  Whereas I am not usually a sweet eater, I do like this simple Butter Cake, which I often bake and freeze for use when a birthday pops into the calendar. My wish, as I blow the candles out on my cake this year, will be more of the same please…with the exception of trees falling on our house…. I’ve had quite enough of that thank-you!


Tree 1 / House 0

Happy 2019 all….

Bon Appetit

Kathryn 👩‍🍳💙

Easy Butter Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins

A tasty and versatile cake for single layer or tiers. Freezes well. This recipe makes 1  x 20 cm (8″) cake. 

Course: Dessert
  • 250 gm Softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar – caster
  • 2 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 4 Eggs Room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup Self Raising flour
  • 3/4 cup Plain (all purpose) flour
  • 3/4 cup Milk – full fat
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (360f)

  2. Grease and line a springform cake tin

  3. Sift the flours together and set aside

  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy

  5. Add the vanilla essence

  6. Add the eggs 1 at a time – ensuring each is incorporated before adding the next.

  7. Add the flour and milk alternatively – don’t overtax once flour is added

  8. Cook for approximately 1.5 hrs (depending on oven). When skewer comes out clean, remove from oven and place on cooling rack. 

  9. If using straight away, ice/frost the cake only when fully cooled, otherwise wrap, label and freeze for another occasion.

Posted in Cooking at Home, Recipes | 12 Comments

Seafood- Lesson 3: Mussel & Prawn Chowder

This post is quite late late as my husband and I had an extra, extra long weekend across the other side of Australia, in Perth, where I cooked, for his mothers 70th birthday party for group of 30 friends and family. So…I am only now getting to share with you what we did in the last week of my ‘official’ last lesson of 2018. I say ‘official’ because I need to do a make-up class of Seafood Lesson One given I missed it whilst in hospital. I can’t believe my first year at culinary school is almost at a close, it only seems like yesterday that I first put on my chefs whites (which I still get a buzz when I put on!). The year finishes with three review assessments, also known as Holistic Menus, in which I need to cook a menu of 3- 4 dishes demonstrating my competence in the techniques learned in second semester. I am actually writing this post after completing the first assessment, in which I am pleased to say I was found competent. Lesson Three was a Trio of Salmon, Fish and Fennel Pie, Prawn Cutlets with Tartare Sauce & Mussel & Prawn Chowder (recipe below).


The first task was to prepare the Trio of Salmon, which were Sous Vide, Gravlax and Smoked. For the Sous Vide, the pre-prepared salmon fillet, herbs and butter were placed in a bag which was vacuum sealed and placed in a water bath at 45 degree celsius for 30 minutes. For the Gravlax, the flesh of the salmon was covered with 150g rock salt, 150g sugar and some dill. It was wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, weighted down and left to cure for 4 hours. The dry smoked salmon was prepared by curing it in a 50/50 mix of rock salt and sugar for an hour before smoking over wood chips. It is interesting to see the change in texture in the fish from the different applications. For me, sous vide is the winner, the flesh is moist and tender and there is an integrity to the flavour. It is such a versatile cooking method and has become one of my favourite ways to prepare proteins at home. The Trio of Salmon was served with a simple crunchy salad of red onion, apple, reddish, parsley and horseradish with a dressing of honey, mustard & white wine vinegar.


Salmon vacuum sealed and ready for sous vide



Salmon three ways with crunchy salad

This class required a lot of preparation and chopping but it was so much fun. Next up was getting the base sauce for the Fish and Fennel pies done. The base comprised of a white roux to which sweated large dice of leek & fennel was added. The sour cream, mustard, chopped dill and lemon zest was then added, followed by the fish. The fish needs to be a firm one & the sauce needs to be quite thick. As the fish cooked in the sauce the pastry lids were prepared, complete with fish motif 🐠. In class the fish pies were made in foil tart tins but at home they could be made in ramekins, which would look very nice, especially with such pretty fishy lids!


Preparation done and ready to start cooking


Baked Fish pies

Whilst the chowder cooked, we prepped and cooked the prawn cutlets…this is very straight forward and needs no explanation except to say, always, always, always de-vein the prawns. As we butterflied ours, removing the vein was easy but chef also showed us a good ‘chefs hack’ on using a bamboo skewer (or tooth pick) to remove the vein which keeps the whole prawn in tact…( I love tricks).


Prawn cutlets with Tartare Sauce

A chowder always has a base of leek and potato, and this one was particularly tasty. Interestingly, Chef substituted a light chicken stock for the fish stock listed in the recipe, this made it less ‘fishy’ and more subtle in flavour (love Chef Michael – he knows his stuff!). Under his guidance we left the prawns whole….as… who doesn’t like to get a whole prawn in a soup? Chef also changed the recipe in other ways, omitting the garlic and basil, & the end product was not only very attractive, it was also delicious and will be on high rotation in my kitchen.



Mussel and Prawn Chowder

This post might be my last for 2018 from a ‘cooking school’ adventure perspective….I’ll see how the make-up class goes. As far as documenting the assessments, I doubt that I want to divert my attention from the task/s at hand so as to snap photos as I go. At the beginning of the assessment, Chef tells us when each dish needs to be presented. But (oops shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘but’), as the first assessment is behind me, I can tell you that at 10.30 am I served Eggs Benedict (the hollandaise was the best I have ever made ☺️), at 11.30 am served crispy pan fried Chicken Supreme with pan roasted potatoes and a salad (a chicken was broken down for the Chicken Supreme and a stock was made from the wings, legs and carcass – to be used in the next assessment). Finally at 12 noon I served a wedge of Polenta Cake with Lemon Syrup garnished with julienned lemon zest.

At the beginning of the year I was Kathryn to the chef’s under which I was learning, at the end of the year I am now called ‘chef’ by the other chef’s. I am not fooling myself, there is still such a long way to go but I can honestly say that next to motherhood, this is the most satisfying journey I have consciously embarked on….. it’s never too late to start.

Bon Appetit

Kathryn 💙👩‍🍳

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Seafood – Lesson Two: Calamari & Stir-fried Vegetables with Chilli and Lime Dressing

Finally I have returned to college after an unexpected break. I missed the first lesson of Seafood as I was in hospital, but luckily I am able to do a make up class in a few weeks, which is a relief as the first class of Seafood is a foundation lesson to the block. The second lesson had such recipes as, Trio of Salmon, Fish and Fennel Pie, Prawn cutlets (yum) and Mussel and Prawn Chowder (double yum), but none of that arrived in the kitchen on the day….instead the ingredients for lesson three was delivered….so change of plan (which chef said is an everyday event in a restaurant kitchen). Lesson three was, Octopus in Red Wine, Calamari and Stir-fried Vegetables, Ceviche of Snapper and Oysters – Natural & Kilpatrick.


As always I was impressed with the quality and freshness of the ingredients we were provided to work with and with the generosity of spirit (and at times patience) of our teaching Chef. As we are required to know how to handle and prepare Seafood, we need to learn how to take the whole animal and break it down for the dish we are making. We started with the slow braised Octopus in Red Wine and today we used baby, uncleaned, octopus, which are very easy to prepare. Cut the head off under the eye line, poke the beak through and remove and cut the body in half. If you want to use the head, which you can, (and we did), it’s a messy but easy job (I suggest food handling  gloves). Hook out the contents of the head, which includes the ink sac (hence the gloves). Wash and cut to open flat.

With the ingredients for the braise and a cartouche made, the octopus was left to gently simmer on the stove top under the cartouche over a low heat for just over an hour. The cartouche ensures the liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly, important as not only is the liquid needed to cook the octopus but also forms the dressing for the finished dish. The octopus was served with a salad of mesclun leaves, green beans, tomatoes, yellow capsicum and parsley. The garnish was finely finely julienned yellow capsicum and a cheek of lemon.


Next we turned our hand to the Calamari….where as in the recipe I provided below asks for cleaned whole calamari, we had to clean ours! This entailed cutting off the tentacles, which were retained for the dish, pulling the head out (hopefully with ink sac attached), removing the wings and skin, removing the cartilage and any remaining intestinal matter. Once was calamari was cleaned and opened (sliced on the side which has the fold) it was very gently scored. The calamari was cut in random diamond shapes and cooked as per the recipe provided.


The last two dishes were more about the technique of handling the seafood than the cooking, which was minimal. First we needed to fillet the snapper for the ceviche. A couple of tricks here are; once you remove the fillet on the first side and turn the fish over to remove the second fillet, allow the head of the fish to hang off the board, this will allow easier access to remove the second fillet. Also, remove the skin before you start to pin bone – the bones stick to the skin (who knew?)!  It was then a simple task of curing the diced fillet and adding it to the brunoise onion, chilli & corriander.

Chef decided to throw back to the 80’s and serve the ceviche in an avocado ‘rose’. Please see below Chef’s finished dish (beautiful) and my poor attempt…not so much a rose as…I don’t know what I would call it!. To be fair, Chef said he has made 100s of these and I was pressed for time, so the required finesse is clearly lacking. Regardless of how mine turned out, I have tried to show you the idea….you need to slice the avocado thinly (but not overly) and then make a long open tail of the slices (mine was not open enough) then roll it in on itself. Move it to the plate with a fish slice before filling with the ceviche.

Last were the oysters. I love them as they are…I don’t require any adornment apart from seasoning and a squeeze of lemon. The real lesson here was how to shuck an oyster. We had two different types, Sydney Rock (my oyster of choice) and Pacific. Chef showed us how to ‘attempt’ shucking without stabbing ourselves….these little devils are hard to open! First wash your oysters to remove any grit, then fold a tea-towel across your bench as this forms a ledge on which to rest the oyster and provides a protective cover for your other hand which holds the oyster in place. Starting at the base, insert the oyster knife and push in using all your weight, when you feel the knife has broken through start to wiggle the knife to release the foot. Your reward for this hard work hopefully is a beautiful oyster, which you need to bathe in salted water using a pastry brush to remove any grit, loosen with the flat edge of a bread and butter knife and flip over to serve ( for appearances sake).

I am so glad I am back and can’t believe I only have one more class for the year, followed by three weeks of assessments. I still haven’t secured a placement, but now I am returned to health I can start working on that again. Hope to see you next week!

Bon Appetit

Kathryn 👩‍🍳💙

Calamari & stir fried Vegetables with Chilli and Lime dressing
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins

A beautifully colourful, tasty and quick dish...nice for a light summer lunch with a crisp white wine.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 2 people
  • .5 Cleaned whole Calamari
  • 3 Limes (fresh)
  • .25 bunch Corriander (Cilantro)
  • 1 Small red chilli
  • 30 mls Fish Sauce
  • 30 gms Palm Sugar (can substitute white sugar)
  • 100 gms Snow peas
  • 100 gms Bean Sprouts
  • 100 gms Zucchini (Courgette)
  • .5 Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper)
  • .5 Yellow Capscium
  • .25 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tsp Light Soy sauce
  • 1 tblsp Sesame oil
  • 50 mls Peanut oil
  1. Cut the vegetables (snow peas, capsicums and zucchini) into medium sized uniform shapes and deseed and finely chop the chilli.

  2. Make dressing by grating the palm sugar and mixing with approximately 30 mls of lime juice and the fish sauce.

  3. Cut two lime cheeks for garnish and takes corriander leaves from the stem.

  4. Heat wok with half the peanut and sesame oil until smoking, add the vegetables , soy sauce and five spice. Sauté until cooked but still crunchy Remove from heat & place in a bowl.

  5. Dry the calamari and cut down crease side to open up. Gently score the inside flesh being careful not to cut through, lightly season. 

  6. Add remaining oil to the wok and bring it back to high heat. Add calamari and  chilli keep moving so as it cooks/browns but doesn't stew. 

  7. Add the dressing, taste for seasoning and adjust as required. Return the vegetables to the wok and toss quickly.

  8. Serve on a large platter and garnish with corriander leaves and a lime cheeks.

Posted in Commercial Cookery, Culinary School, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Catch-up Spatchcock & Corn and Coriander Puree

As per my last post, I missed the last week of Cooking School due to an unexpected stay in hospital. The only way to gain credit, and pass the Poultry Dishes component, is to demonstrate that I have cooked the recipes. So once back from our week away in Perth, I turned my hand to the two recipes of Week 3; Grilled Spatchcock with Corn & Coriander Puree & Balsamic Glaze and Pot Roasted Poussin with Sage & Walnut stuffing.

Spatchcock is both the name given to a young chicken of around three weeks of age, and a cooking preparation technique involving cutting the bird almost in half but leaving the two parts connected. It is as easy as taking kitchen shears and cutting the back bone out of the poultry to be cooked. The removed piece can be used in stock – simply freeze for later use if you don’t have enough ‘trimmings’.

temp (20)

Where as I needed to make all the components of the recipe to demonstrate I had made what would have been normally done in class, I changed the recipe, as I usually do. My husband has always called this the “Kathryn in the Kitchen” treatment and it’s how my moniker came about! I made the balsamic glaze but choose not to use it as I preferred to coat the spatchcock in a small amount of truffle oil, truffle mustard (purchased on our trip to Perth) and crushed garlic. Once coated and rested for 30 minutes, the spatchcock was grilled on the BBQ. I served it with steamed vegetables and the Corn and Coriander Puree (recipe below).

temp (15)


Poussin is a term used by butchers to describe a young chicken which is around 4 weeks at time of slaughter & weighs around 450 grams, i.e. fairly interchangeable with the term spatchcock. For the Pot Roasted Poussin the bird was kept whole, stuffed, placed on a bed of mirepoix (carrot, celery and onion), smothered in butter and cooked with the lid one for around 40 mins before removing the lid to allow the bird to brown. The stuffing was delicious….onion, garlic, chicken livers, panko bread crumbs, fresh sage and thyme, roasted walnuts and some bacon. I overstuffed my bird which led to the skin splitting, next time I will use less in the cavity but will make some balls with what is left and cook along side the bird – it is too good to waste!  I served my Poussin with cauliflower puree and roasted vegetables.


temp (26)

So recipes made and photos taken, I trust Chef will mark me as competent in Poultry. There is a mid semester break now, the first week was spent with my husbands family in beautiful Perth and the following photos are just a few of the meals and outings we enjoyed whilst there. It’s been a crazy few weeks and I look forward to getting back to School to start the final component of Year 1….Seafood.



Bon Appetit

Kathryn 💙👩‍🍳

Corn & Coriander Puree
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins

An alternative to straight corn on the cob & a delicious accompaniment to grilled, barbecued or baked meat or fish. 

Course: Side Dish
Keyword: Sweet corn,
Servings: 2 people
  • 2 cobs Corn
  • 1 Onion
  • .5 bunch Coriander (cilantro)
  • 50 grams Butter
  • 250 ml Chicken, vegetable or made from the corn cobs
  • Salt & Peper to taste
  1. Remove corn kernels from the cobs. The easiest way to do this is placing an inverted bowl within a lager bowl to catch the ricocheting kernels. 

  2. If using corn cobs for the stock add an hour to the preparation time. Simply place the denuded corn cobs in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil, then gently simmer for around an hour. 

  3. Sweat the chopped onions & cleaned & chopped corriander roots and a few of the stems the butter until soft.

  4. Add the corn kernels and stock to the onion and corriander mix and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until soft and most of the stock has evaporated

  5. When corn is cooked and stock has reduced, blend to make a puree. You may need to drain some of the stock. Once pureed, bring back to the boil, season to taste and finish with some chopped corriander leaves. 

  6. Serve warm as a side dish to meat or fish.



Posted in Commercial Cookery, Cooking at Home, Culinary School, Recipes | Tagged | 12 Comments