JUST COOK Healthy Ageing Masterclass

November 2017: Christmas Masterclass

With the change in seasons has come the desire to trial new Healthy Ageing activities to keep older people motivated to cook. The NZNF ran its first Masterclass cooking programme in November 2017 designed to give people fresh ideas for cooking summer or Christmas meals. The class was a triumph with over 30 participants enrolled to watch trained chef and nutrition graduate, Rachel Titchener prepare and cook a 3-course celebration meal. Participants enjoyed fabulous food, good company and a generous “goodie” bag courtesy of corporate members. Programme evaluation has shown that people want more of this style of learning.

CROSTINI with FIGS, FETA and PESTO – makes 24 canapés

Here is one of the recipes from the Christmas Masterclass for you to try:


  • 6 dried figs
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 strips of orange peel
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 24 thinly sliced rounds of small baguette
  • Oil spray
  • ¼ small block of Feta cheese
  • 12 walnut halves
  • 4 Tbsp. pesto
  • Basil or parsley sprigs for garnish


  1. Place the figs in a small pot with the rosemary, orange and fennel seeds.  Just cover with water, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes.  Leave to cool in the liquid.  This step can be done a day or two in advance.  Store the poached figs in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  3. Lightly spray a baking tray with oil and lay baguette slices in a single layer.  Lightly spray the tops of the slices.
  4. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until pale golden in colour, turning halfway through so that they cook crispy and evenly.  Allow to cool.  These can be done a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.
  5. At the same time, put the walnuts in a small ovenproof dish and bake for 8 – 10 minutes until toasted and golden.

TO ASSEMBLE – just before serving:

Cut the figs in quarters.  Spread ½ teaspoon of pesto on each crostini and top with a fig piece.  Press a small piece of feta onto each one.  Garnish with a piece of toasted walnut and a fresh herb leaf.

Last modified: January 27, 2022