5 Minutes In The Kitchen // Black Hen Kitchen
A move to the country has meant that Bec Bradshaw has been able to realise the dream she had to cook for people while spending time with her young daughter.
Bec started Black Hen Kitchen, based in Exeter, a few weeks before she gave birth to her daughter Matilda (known as Tilly) in August last year.
So, what possessed Bec to start a new business while heavily pregnant and about to give birth???
“Insanity!” Bec laughs.
“My husband, Sean and I moved to the Southern Highlands in April last year. Black Hen Kitchen is a way I can cook for people, have a young family and live in the country.
“Balance is a tricky thing, for sure, but I want to stay home with Matilda as long as I can. Black Hen Kitchen and a LOT of help from my family has allowed me to do that.”
We chatted to Bec about her food philosophy, where her love of cooking began and got the lowdown on the dishes she cooks for her own family. Bec is also sharing two recipes with The Fold, both of which draw on her strong connection to her Mediterranean heritage.
WHERE DID IT ALL START?
My Mum is half Greek and half Croatian, and my Dad is South African and English, so quite the multicultural mix.
My Yiayia (my maternal grandmother) influenced my love of food and cooking. She was pretty pivotal in that!
Yiayia taught me how to cook. She lived at the bottom of our street in Sydney. She was at our house every day or we were at hers. And we were always cooking together.
TELL US ABOUT THE RIZOGALO AND LABNE RECIPES YOU’RE SHARING WITH US TODAY.
Rizogalo is rice pudding and super cheap and easy to make. You can serve it warm in the cooler months which makes it a yummy winter dish – it’s a family favourite. The labne is a strained Greek yoghurt. I’ve used Country Valley products for both these dishes because it’s local. As the business gets more momentum, I want to support local and only use produce within a 100 kilometre radius. It’s something that’s very important to me.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
I strongly believe you should pay attention to your family’s food. Cooking the recipes that have come down the ancestry line is a way you can remember people and create new family memories. My Yiayia is still very much alive but no one else really cooks in our family so I’ve taken on that mantle from Yiayia.
My love for cooking is also a way I can feed my family, know what I’m feeding them, which is really important these days, and keep those family traditions going.
Tarama (a Greek fish roe dip) was one of the first things Tilly ate. She loved it! She might not look like me with her red hair and blue eyes but I’m glad she’s inherited my palate!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL TO COOK FOR THE FAMILY?
It has to be Keftedes which is Greek meatballs. Guaranteed empty bowls. Another favourite is Mujadara which is a lentils and burghul dish. It’s a simple and nutritious meal. Everything has become a lot simpler and more nutritious since Tilly turned up in our lives!
Food shouldn’t be intimidating. I’m not big on using loads of ingredients. If you use good quality produce, you don’t need lots of ingredients.
Food should be accessible to everyone, and sometimes simple is best.
WHERE CAN HIGHLANDERS FIND YOU?
The main focus is catering for private events and markets at the moment. I am at the Bowral, Berrima and Exeter Markets every month and you’ll often find me at special events like Bundanoon Winterfest – we had so much fun there the other night!
I’ve been doing a lot of birthdays and small family events which I love because the style of cooking I do is family focused – big mezze share plates, generous portions, not plated and very casual.
I always create something bespoke for my catering clients. We have lists on the website for people who want something quickly or to give potential clients an idea of what I cook, but I love working with clients to create something special for their significant event – it ties into the style of food I make and how I eat.
My food and the way I cook is focused on generosity. Because that’s how you love people.
Download the two lovely recipes HERE!