Courtney Roulston And Stephanie Alexander Are Here With The Iso Recipes That Will Inspire The Junior MasterChef In Your Life
There’s something magical about the first dish you ever make all by yourself, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how it looked in the recipe’s glossy picture.
Stephanie Alexander, one of Australia’s most beloved food icons and author of culinary bible The Cook’s Companion, remembers plenty of kitchen mishaps when she first started baking.
“I think I made just as many failures as most young kids do,” Stephanie told 10 daily over the phone from her home.
“I have very strong memories of making a cake with cochineal [red dye] and it was sort of a lurid colour, like beetroot, and I didn’t make that one again -- but you learn by your mistakes,” she said.
The magic of learning and experimenting in the kitchen is something that kids and teens in over 2,000 schools across Australia have gotten to experience via Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden Foundation, which she founded in 2004 as a response to the obesity crisis.
The foundation’s philosophy of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing normally comes to fruition in early learning centres, primary and high schools but, after COVID-19 hit, Stephanie and her team had to completely re-jig their plan of attack.
In partnership with Coles, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has launched the Kitchen Garden At Home series, online resources that include some incredible cooking tutorials from MasterChef Australia alumni Courtney Roulston and Michael Weldon.
“It’s pretty exciting, actually,” Stephanie told 10 daily. “We get a bit of feedback from families and we also know that people at home are really looking for things to do that will be interesting, that bring families together and give them pleasure,” she said.
The tutorials are short, sharp and delicious and include easy-to-follow recipes like spinach and ricotta gnocchi, homemade pasta, potato and rosemary pizza and a dish that might pique the interest of any Pixar fans in the house -- ratatouille.
“They’re not always easy, easy but they’re delicious and they’re achievable -- that’s the message,” said Stephanie.
“Kids are so excited to think that they can make pasta, it’s almost universally their favourite dish and to think they can actually roll little bits of dough around a wire or put their fingers into a little bit of dough and make special shapes and things, that’s magic,” said Stephanie.
“It’s reinforcing the fact that real food isn’t something you see on a shelf in a shop.”
If you’ve been tuned in to this season of MasterChef: Back To Win, you’ll know that Stephanie’s wholesome style of cooking matches up very well with Courtney Roulston, who is one of the Kitchen Garden At Home presenters.
While Courtney, who you’ve also probably seen on Farm To Fork, is no stranger to cooking on the small screen, it’s the first time she’s specifically filmed recipes for children and, because of coronavirus, it’s the first time she’s had to do her job from home.
Set up on her balcony in Sydney, surrounded by her chilli plants, rosemary and mint, Courtney has been presenting her videos with just one trusty crew member behind the camera -- her fiancée, Sophie.
“She’s working from home, she works for a strata company so in between doing minutes for meetings and doing all of her regular work, I have to call her out to do the camera work,” Courtney told 10 daily.
“She’s gotten quite good, we’ve obviously watched cooking shows together for years never thinking that one day we’d be at home with her filming on the balcony -- but we’re making a good team so far.
“As long as I give her some food at the end, it seems to be working out alright, she’s not going to complain too much,” she laughed.
Just like Stephanie, Courtney has vivid memories of cooking when she was in primary school herself on her family’s isolated property in Kellyville, NSW.
“I’m the youngest of six and I reckon I started cooking at eight or nine years old,” Courtney said, adding that because her brothers and sisters were a bit older and her parents both worked, she often had free reign of the kitchen.
“I was the first one home from school and we had a Margaret Fulton cookbook, I think the same one that every Australian family had with the cover all ripped off it and I would just literally pluck stuff out of there and write a list for my mum to bring ingredients home the next day from work.
“I would just say, can you bring me stuff home? I want to cook this.”
That hunger to keep learning, creating and, most importantly, eating and sharing meals has continued as Courtney has been working her way through the Kitchen Garden At Home recipes.
“Any cook will tell you, there’s always something new to learn, even with kids’ recipes, they’re really simple, about five or six ingredients, not too many processes and they really do focus on fresh food.
“They sound really simple but I mean, I’m 40 years old and we’re really enjoying the recipes at home.”
You can find Courtney’s videos (and plenty more) via the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation website or via the Coles YouTube Channel.
You can also find out more about getting your school involved in the Kitchen Garden Program here.