Prawn and Spinach Pesto Pasta with Sour Cream

This is fast like a Chinese stir-fry, so it’s best to do a few practice runs for an understanding audience.

  • Pasta of your choice, best cooked beforehand
  • Prawns, peeled and deveined
  • Butter, olive oil
  • Pesto, your choice of colour
  • Sour cream
  • White wine or stock or Verjuice
  • Thick shallots
  • Red capsicum strips
  • Bunch of sweet peas or snow peas
  • Big handful of baby spinach
  • Dill, thyme, parsley, Italian herbs, lemongrass paste
  • Seasoning


This easier with left-over pasta from a previous meal, because this is hard work for the next 10 mins – it’s best to lay out the ingredients on the bench, ready to go.

0.00 – Warm the pasta up in the oven, with a little olive oil

0.03 – Add the leeks / shallots, capsicum strips and the thick ends of the asparagus to a big fry pan

0.06 – Add the prawns and the thin ends of the asparagus spears

0.07 – Sauté the spinach in a separate pan in butter for 2 – 3 minutes

0.10 – The prawns should be browning, now add seasoning and herbs. Add some white wine or stock or verjuice, then add 3 – 4  tbsp of pesto

Stir in sour cream, taste, add more seasoning and herbs if needed, add more liquid if needed, then add the pasta and combine. Add the spinach.


If the process gets too hectic, you can turn off the heat, take a deep breath, regroup and continue

How to Cook the Perfect Steak


There are so many ways to cook steak that people have written books about it – about the ideal cut of meat, the perfect fry pan, the right oil and the best technique. Here are 3 popular methods:

Traditional: fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Works best in cast iron, carbon steel pans or barbeques, with lots of oil, lots of heat, lots of splatter and lots of smoke. The fried steak smell hangs around days.

Reverse Sear – warm the meat in the oven for half and hour, then sear it in a hot fry pan. It’s effective and a lot less messy, just takes more prep.

Sous Vide – cook the meat in water in a sealed bag at precise temps, with an element in control, then sear it in a hot pan. It takes 1 – 3 hours, and is very involved.

Cold Sear – clean & easy, takes just 10 minutes, and turns the whole show on its head. Here’s how the Cold Sear method works

You add the steak to a non-stick fry pan, both at room temperature, and turn up the heat past medium but not full-on. There’s no need to add oil or butter since there’s enough fat in the steak.

After 2 minutes, flip the steak and cook for another 2 minutes. That’s enough for a crust to form and seal in the juices.

Now repeat the process with the heat turned down to medium. After 8 minutes, you’ll have a juicy medium-rare steak that’s cooked evenly right through. Cook for 2 – 4 more minutes if you prefer medium.

The steak is perfect, with no splatter of fat all over the stove, and not enough smoke in the kitchen to set off the fire alarm.

At America’s Test Kitchen, Lan Lam covers the different methods in a detailed, easy-to-follow video.

The Best Cut of Meat

The Americans reckon that rib eye is the best.  Down under,  it’s sold without the bone, and called Scotch Fillet.

Look for a piece that’s about 3cm thick, with a generous spread of marbling

Bon Appetit


Spicy Prawn and Bacon Stir-Fry

It’s a simple dish that’s easy to prepare. The trick is to get the chili right

Easy ASIAN Prep Time 10 mins Cook time 12 – 15  mins 2 people

  • prawns – see note in the box
  • Speck or chunky bacon pieces
  • Spring onions or thick shallots, cut into inch-long pieces
  • Sweet peas or snow peas, trimmed
  • Capsicum or red peppers, cut into slim pieces
  • ginger and garlic pastes
  • chili flakes or paste
  • coriander
  • dash of lime juice
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • dash of white wine or verjuice
  • 1 – 2 tblspoons of balsamic reduction
  • seasoning

Serve with rice or Asian noodles


  • Thaw the prawns, ideally in the fridge for 3-5 hours
  • Put Speck or bacon in the oven on 175 for 30 mins
  • Chop up the spring onions / shallots and trim the sweet/snow peas
  • Fry the veggies in sesame oil in a wok or hot pan for 3 – 4 minutes
  • Mix ginger and garlic pastes with some lime juice, and add to the pan
  • Add wine and balsamic reduction to taste
  • Add chili with care – see note in the box
  • Add the prawns after discarding any water, add seasoning and herbs, fry and stir or toss for about 3 – 4 minutes
Be careful with the chili flakes or paste. Once you’ve added too much, it’s hard to take it back. Better to blend chili into the pan little by little, and keep tasting until you’re happy.

I hate peeling prawns, so I use frozen ones. Karumba prawns are the best at this time, sourced from down under and even peeled and deveined here.


Dead Easy Lamb chops with chimichurri


Chimichurri is a fresh and spicy South American dressing for BBQed meats. You can use it on different cuts of lamb or beef or pork or chicken; I just had some lamb cutlets in the fridge and felt like trying this dressing.

I fried the cutlets 3 -4 minutes on each side, then put them into a serving dish, spooned the sauce on the top and put it into the warm oven while I sorted out the steamed veggies.

I used the chirrichurri as a sauce for this dish, but mostly it’s served on top of the meat – your choice.

The ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Dash or two of white wine or verjus
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Some finely chopped shallots (from the green end)
  • teaspoon of red pepper flakes or a pinch of chili flakes
  • Some garlic – I use paste these days
  • Fresh or dried oregano
  • Lemon juice, zest and / or lemongrass paste
  • seasoning

I blended this lot with the bar mix, adding liquid when needed. This recipe says using a blender is not traditional – it’s up to you. You can play around with the ingredients, but you want to aim for a fresh dressing to contrast with fatty meat. It’s a brilliant match with lamb.


Singapore Noodles / Singapore Mei Fun

This has been one of my favourite Asian dishes since I was a boy. You can get it in Asian restaurants all over the world except in Singapore. The dish was created by Asian cooks in western countries. So then story goes.

This is a Lego dish, assembled from a few building blocks. The essentials are protein, noodles, Asian sauces, colourful veggies, egg, curry powder and aromatics. The rest is flexible; it’s a leftovers dish made from food left in the fridge, and condiments from the larder.

Variations on the theme

All the recipes out there insist on rice vermicelli, but you can use other Asian noodles of your choice and even angel hair Italian pasta (my choice).

The protein is your choice too – prawns, pork, chicken or tofu, or all of these. Most recipes call for sticky char siu (Chinese barbecued pork), but that’s not easy to find where we live so I use bacon. I tried char siu sauce in a jar not long ago, but was too sweet and gloopy for my taste.

I avoid sugar in cooking, and use Balsamic reduction instead which works well with Asian dishes. Great fusion! Same with wine: I use cheap McWilliams medium sherry instead of Rice wine or Shaoxing wine or sake – again it’s your choice.

One more thing: I find chopping up garlic and ginger really boring, so I use Masterfoods for convenience – the contents resemble a thick sauce, which is easily blended with Asian dishes.

Basic Ingredients

  • Prawns
  • Bacon / pork /
  • chicken
  • Shallots / leek
  • Snow peas
  • Sweet peas
  • Capsicum/peppers
  • (Bean sprouts)
  • Eggs

Image source:

The Rest

  • 2 tsp Keen’s curry powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Standard soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Medium sherry
  • Sesame oil
  • Rice wine / Shaoxing wine
  • Wine or water if you need more liquid


Mix the sauce before you begin to cook. You’ll need soy sauce, oyster sauce, Sherry, sesame oil, lime juice, seasoning and balsamic reduction instead of sugar.

  1. Cook the noodles, set aside
  2. Chop up the protein and the veg
  3. Make a 2-egg omelette and chop into bite-size pieces
  4. Prepare the sauce – 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp medium sherry, dash of Balsamic reduction, seasoning
  5. Make a paste with ginger, garlic and chopped shallots, add curry and tumeric powders and a tsp or 2 of sesame oil
  6. Fry in a hot wok until fragrant (a minute or two). Set aside
  7. Put everything together in the wok – start with the veggies, then add the protein, the paste, the omelette and the sauce, then mix in the noodles.

Don’t overcook the veggies, we want the colours to stay fresh to provide contrast to the yellow noodles.

Dead easy vegetarian pasta with roasted pine nuts, asparagus and goats cheese


The way I work is often chaotic. I rarely follow a recipe; instead I have a general idea in my head, sometimes triggered by searches for ideas using key words like those in the heading above. I check the list of ingredients in the most interesting recipes, and gradually the idea takes shape.

The ingredients:

  • Pasta
  • Pine nuts
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms – seasoned in chili oil
  • Sugar snaps
  • Thin strips of red capsicum
  • Semi-sundried tomatoes
  • Caramelized onion
  • Goats cheese
  • Butter, sesame oil, chili oil
  • Half a cup of white wine
  • Thyme, basil, rosemary
  • seasoning

I often set myself a challenge: to make a meal with what’s in the fridge. On this occasion, I found some Papardelle pasta – fair chance since I’m a pastaholic – some leek (another staple), sugar snaps, asparagus, half a red capsicum, a few Swiss-brown mushrooms and some semi-sundried tomatoes. The pine nuts came from the larder.

The Process:

  • Roast a cup of pine nuts in a fry pan in sesame oil until they’re dark brown. Set aside.
  • Soak the sliced mushrooms in a few tbsps of chili oil, add some Rosemary and seasoning, combine well and set aside. Add a few chili flakes if you want to spice it up
  • Stir-fry the rest of the veggies in sesame or olive oil, adding the semi-sundried tomatoes, the caramelized onion, the soaked mushrooms and a little wine where necessary
  • Stir in the cooked pasta
  • Add the pine nuts, herbs and seasoning
  • Crumble the goats cheese over the top just before serving.

We don’t want a sauce here, just a nice coating on everything so keep it moist. The stir-fry shouldn’t take much longer than 5 minutes in a non-stick pan if you use thin asparagus, or just the top half. You can also cut the think ends in half lengthways.

This is an open recipe, which means you can substitute the ingredients with others of your choice, except for the core ones in the heading.

Kim’s Über Omelette


This is the Full Monty, a feast fit for king and queen. Here are the ingredients for 2 omelettes and a few veg on the side to keep you regular.

I stir-fry coarsely chopped leek or thinly sliced onion, Swiss brown mushrooms, sugar snaps or snowpeas – whatever is handy. Use butter or oil of your choice, plus rosemary and thyme, and seasoning. You can do the frying while you cook the omelette, or do it first and then keep it warm in the oven.


  • 4 x 700g real free range eggs – Kangaroo island, Kangaroo Valley, Bum Nuts – IGA and Harris Farm tend to have a good choice
  • A generous knob of butter and 2 spoonfuls of Olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 tbsp of creamy blue cheese (like Castello)
  • 1 tbsp of fine goats cheese
  • Half a cup of grated parmesan
  • Half a smallish avocado, sliced
  • Optional: A few slices of smoked salmon or ham or salami
  • Generous seasoning


Crack the eggs and stir until mixed , then add the all the cheeses.

Put butter and oil in a medium size fry pan – non-stick is easiest. Add about half the egg / cheese mixture for one omelette

When it starts to froth, add the spinach and fry for a minute or two – I like it on the outside of the omette but you an add it to the inside too

Add the egg & cheese mixture and cook for about 4-5 minutes on low-to-medium heat – adjust the timing to suit your taste, less if you like it runny, more if you don’t

Add seasoning, salmon / ham / salami strips on top, then the sliced avocado

It’s a bit thick so it’s not easy to fold over – I find it’s easier to serve it open.

Put the first omelette onto an oven-proof plate and keep it warm in the oven.


At Last – Perfect Roast Potatoes


It’s taken a long time, but it was worth it! I tried most of the recipes on the web, and then some more.

Here’s the secret to making perfect roast potatoes, crisp and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside.

  1. cut washed potatoes (with skin on) into large chunks and boil for 8 minutes.
  2. After draining the water off, put the lid back on the pot and shake to break up the soft edges.
  3. let the potatoes cool down for 10 minutes on a tray
  4. Fry them for 10 mins in duck fat (or a mix of duck fat and butter)
  5. Put them on a roasting tray and into the oven at about 200 degrees for about 45 mins.
  6. Voila!

Please bear in mind that stoves and ovens vary a great deal, so you’ll need to adjust the times quoted above to suit your environment

Duck with Caramelized Red Cabbage and Crunchy Potatoes


It’s an easy dish best made when you’re not pressed for time. I make it easier by using luv-a-duck precooked Marylands, often bought for half the usual price at Woollies ($7 for a 500g pack of 2 pieces). I soak it for a while in some white wine with a few additions – see below.


It’s an easy dish but fairly time-consuming. The potatoes are the most fiddly; deep frying them would be a lot quicker. Anyhow, it’s done in a few easy steps.  Once the potatoes are in the oven, you can get the red cabbage going. While it is cooking, you can make the simple marinade for the duck. 15 minutes from the finish line, you put the duck and the cabbage in the oven while you fry the potatoes.

  1. Potatoes

They take the longest, about 90 minutes all up.

  • Cut them into big chunks and boil them for 8 – 9 minutes
  • Drain them and toss them in the pot with the lid on until the edges are fluffy
  • Set aside and let them cool. Turn on the oven
  • Spread the potatoes on a baking tray and add some duck fat or butter and olive oil
  • Bake for about 45 mins at 200 degrees
  • Add coarse salt, black pepper, oregano and thyme
  • Fry them for 10 – 15 minutes on high heat, tossing frequently
  1. Red cabbage

This takes about 40 minutes

  • Slice a couple of Spanish onions into narrow strips
  • Cut up some of the leaves into finger-length pieces, avoid the think white bits
  • Add them to a non-stick fry pan, along with butter, olive oil and balsamic reduction
  • Fry on low to medium heat, stirring often, adding more lubrication as needed (yes you can add a little wines as well)
  • Add seasoning, Rosemary and Thyme half way through the process
  • When done, put the lot into an oven-proof dish and keep it warm
  • The best time to do this is just after you’ve taken the potatoes out to fry
  1. The duck

Not a lot to do here since it’s already cooked. I let it sit in a simple marinade it for 30 – 45 minutes –  a little white wine, some ginger, a few shallots, rosemary and thyme, seasoning, Beerenberg beetroot relish and balsamic reduction (that’s why it looks pink in the photo). Then it goes into the oven for 15 minutes.