Rice, noodles, pasta & bread

This duck ragout is to die for…! It’s so delicious and comforting. An absolute gem for winter 🙂

This recipe is from ‘My Kitchen Rules’ program in channel 7; a cooking game show where the contestants are 10 teams of two people from the states of NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and WA. The teams competed against each other to transform an ordinary home into an instant restaurant.

This duck ragout recipe is from team WA, Holly and Grace. We absolutely love this dish, girls!!

The dish needs about 3 hours to cook, but it’s very easy to make. Easy preparation, the majority of the time is to let the duck with the rest of ingredients simmer and mingle! 😀

I used dry pasta from the supermarket. Of course you can make fresh pasta yourself as per the original recipe.

Pasta with duck ragout

(recipe from ‘My Kitchen Rules’, by Holly and Grace (team WA))

(serves 4)

  • 4 duck marylands
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • fresh parsley, to garnish
  • 500 gr pasta. I used dry spaghetti from the supermarket.

Step 1. Place the duck, wine, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, bay leaf and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour. Drain duck and vegetables, reserving marinade.

Step 2. Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan. Add duck, in two batches. Cook until browned all over and sealed. Remove from pan.

Step 3. Add vegetables to same pan. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Return duck to pan with tomato paste, stock and reserved marinade. Bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 ½-3 hours or until duck is very tender.

Step 4. Remove from heat. Discard the bay leaf and remove the duck. Cover to keep warm. Simmer sauce, uncovered, until thickened. Remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.

Step 5. Meanwhile, remove soft duck flesh from bone and shred. Return to the saucepan.

Step 6. Cook the pasta as per packet’s instruction in salted boiling water in a large saucepan. To serve, divide the pasta over plates and generously spoon over the duck ragout. Garnish with fresh parsley.



This vegetarian dish is so fulfilling and perfect for winter. It’s hearty, flavoursome and full of goodness from the vegetables; and the colour is gorgeous too! I used sweet potatoes, onion, asparagus and leeks; but other vegetables such as pumpkin, potato, zucchini, carrot can also be used.

Combined with pasta, it makes a complete dish for dinner. The cheese sauce is very delicate and does not overpower the vegetables. The vegetables when roasted give a nice caramelisation; the sweetness from the vegetables really match the cheese sauce.

The dish is very easy to make and you can keep the leftover in the fridge for the next day. Just need to heat it up in the microwave for the next day’s meal. It’s so great! 🙂

Roasted vegetable and pasta bake

(recipe from ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’, Reader’s Digest, 2004)

(serve 4 – 6)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 5 cm cubes
  • 2 red onions, cut into large chunks. I used 1 red and 1 brown onion.
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 large leeks, thickly sliced
  • 170 gr asparagus spears, cut across in half
  • 300 gr rigatoni

Cheese sauce

  • 600 ml low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 70 gr cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • pepper to taste

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the sweet potato and onions in a roasting pan and scatter oven the garlic. Drizzle with the oil and season with pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil, then place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Step 2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the leeks and asparagus. Toss gently to mix with the other vegetables, then return to the oven. Roast for a further 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.

Step 3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 – 12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

Step 4. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, measure 4 tablespoons milk into a jug, add the cornflour and stir to make a smooth paste. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until almost boiling. Stir the hot milk into the cornflour mixture, then return to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and add two-thirds of the cheese and the mustard. Season with pepper.

Step 5. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Drain the pasta well then tip over the vegetables and stir to combine. Stir in the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve hot.


Carbonara is probably the second best-known pasta sauce out there (second to bolognaise). It’s a very simple sauce and it’s favourited by many people because of the bacon pieces (who does not like bacon!) in a rich creamy sauce. I love carbonara and I do prefer the cream-based pasta sauce than the tomato-based. But sometimes I do feel guilty having pasta carbonara, if I let myself remember the ingredients of the sauce 😛

This version of fettuccine carbonara uses low-fat dairy and prosciutto to make a healthier dish. The taste is still yummy and I enjoy it even more knowing that it’s quite a healthy dish :). The crispy prosciutto are a gem!

The dish is simple to make; it’s a bit tricky when heating up the egg mixture. Do make sure to heat the egg mixture over low heat and stir constantly so the egg mixture lightly set (does not turn solid). I took photos while cooking so I did overcook the pasta sauce a little bit; the sauce should be more liquid and creamier than this.

It’s normally served with fettuccine, but other pasta can be used as well.

Fettuccine carbonara

(from ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’, Reader’s Digest, 2004)

(serves 4)

  • 350 gr fettuccine. I used dry fettuccine from the supermarket
  • 8 slices prosciutto (about 100 gr)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • pepper to taste

Step 1. Cook the fettuccine in salted boiling water until al dente.

Step 2. Meanwhile, dry fry the prosciutto slices in a hot frying pan for 2-3 minutes or until just crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel, then crumble or snip into small pieces. Set aside.

Step 3. Beat the eggs with the cream, then mix in the ricotta, half of the parmesan cheese and a little pepper.

Step 4. Drain the pasta. Return the empty pan to the heat and pour in the egg mixture. Heat for 1  minute over low heat, stirring  constantly, then tip the drained pasta back into the pan. Toss the pasta with the creamy egg to coat the strands with the mixture. The heat of the pan and the hot pasta will lightly set the eggs to make a creamy sauce. Divide pasta in serving bowls and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and the prosciutto pieces.

a healthier pasta carbonara 🙂


Sesame prawn toasts are normally served as a starter or snack in yum cha restaurants. I have to say I would love to have them when having yum cha, but I normally did not order them as they tend to be oily and greasy, because they are deep-fried in oil. I know they are delicious, though!

This version I got in the cookbook ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’ is baked, not fried. So, the toasts are not greasy and they are certainly a lot healthier than the deep-fried version. Use the multigrain bread rather than the white bread.

I love this healthy version of sesame prawn toasts. It’s very easy to prepare, ready in about 30 minutes and no more messy oil :). I will definitely make this again!

Sesame prawn toasts

(adapted from recipe in ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’ book, by Reader’s Digest (Australia), 2004)

(serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat thickened cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 slices multigrain bread
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Prawn topping

  • 250 gr peeled raw prawns
  • ½ red capsicum, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic cloves, grated
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat thickened cream
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Step 1. Preheat oven to 200°C. For the topping, place the prawn and capsicum in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Place the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add in the spring onions, garlic, lemon rind, cayenne pepper, thickened cream and pepper and mix all the ingredients together well to make a spreadable paste. Set the mixture aside until ready to cook. The topping can be prepared ahead and kept in a fridge for 4 hours.

Step 2. Beat together the cream and eggs until smooth. Dip the slices of bread in the mixture to coat both sides well, then place them on a baking paper on a baking tray (I made sure I used up all the cream and eggs mixture, that all was absorbed by the breads).

Step 3. Spread the topping evenly over the breads, spreading right up to the edges. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds.

Step 4. Bake the breads for 20 – 25 minutes or until they are crisp and golden brown. Cut each bread into 4 squares and serve immediately.

I love these bite-size snacks 🙂


Another fish dish – perfect for Lent 🙂

I’ve done many things with salmon – I simply pan-fried it, marinated it in teriyaki sauce, made salmon chowder, made salmon pies; this time is much more fun – Salmon burger 🙂

The salmon patties are tasty and easy to make. From 1 kg fresh salmon, I made 8 big patties (about 8-cm diameter, 1.5-cm thick). I pan-fried them all and kept the leftovers in the freezer (after they are cool), for next time I want a quick healthy meal. I always love the part when you can make + freeze – it’s handy for the one of those days when you don’t have time to cook or when you are tired. Allow 1 day for the frozen patties to thaw in the fridge, or just simply defrost using a microwave.

You can build your own version of the burger – the mango salsa in the original recipe would be cool 🙂 Here I simply added mayo, tomato sauce and extra fresh coriander. They are yummy and healthy 🙂

Salmon burger

(from the recipe by Jasmin Baron, published in ‘Marx Food’ blog)

(makes 8 patties/ burgers)

  • 1 kg salmon fillet, skin removed and cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • olive oil (for frying)
  • 8 bread rolls (about 8-cm diameter)
  • butter or mayo and tomato sauce, if desired

Step 1. Using a food processor, pulse salmon until coarsely ground. Add egg and pulse until well mixed. Transfer salmon mixture to a bowl. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, spring onion, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, pepper and chili flakes and mix together thoroughly. Shape salmon mixture into 8 big patties (about 8-cm diameter, 1.5-cm thick) and refrigerate, covered, for at least half an hour.

Step 2. In a non-stick pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Fry salmon patties until lightly browned on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Flip patties over and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 2 minutes.

Step 3. Toast rolls if desired and spread with butter or mayo. Place one patty on each roll, add tomato sauce if desired, and top with extra coriander leaves.


I came across this recipe while browsing through the recipes in TasteSpotting. I love fish and I try to cook fish dishes at least twice in a week. When you don’t have time to prepare a fresh fish dish, look no other than the good old canned tuna. I usually buy the canned tuna when they are on special (they can be $1 each (95 gr can) when they are on special – sweet!) and store them in my pantry.

This recipe is a no-fuss tuna dish and can be enjoyed in a record time! The canned tuna is combined with other cooked or fresh ingredients. Here, it is combined with kalamata olives and capers. Other alternative is to combine the tuna with sweet corn, chopped spring onion, chopped carrot, or chopped celery, etc… You can be creative to decide the combination 🙂

Then, spread the mixture on top of bread, top with tomato slices and cheese slices. Put the breads in the oven to grill for 5 minutes, and voila… the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly over the tuna and tomato on a crispy bread. Truly inviting and satisfying speedy meal 🙂

Tuna melts

(adapted from the recipe by Janice in her blog ‘Have recipes – Will cook’)

(serves 2)

  • 2 x 95 gr canned tuna. I used Sirena’s dill infused oil.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 focaccia breads, halved length wise. Other type of bread can be used.
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (12 slices)
  • 8 slices of cheddar cheese

Step 1. Preheat the grill (I used the grill in the oven). Mix well the tuna, olives, capers, mayo, lemon juice and pepper.

Step 2. Arrange the bread halves on a baking tray lined with a baking paper. Spread the tuna mixture on the breads evenly. Top with 3 tomato slices and 2 cheese slices on each bread. Grill the breads for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly. Serve with garden salad.

It’s too easy…!

Tuna melts served with chopped fresh carrot and cucumber


I love to make quick pasta dishes like this creamy tomato and prawn pasta, when I don’t have a lot of time to prepare dinner. This particular dish can be prepared within 30 minutes 🙂

The original recipe actually uses basil; but I omit the basil (just because I don’t have the fresh basil :P) and I added green capsicum (just because it is there in my fridge :P). You can use different type of pasta such as spaghetti, angel hair or penne. The cream adds a velvety texture to the sauce and balance the sweetness from the tomato. The cream can be omitted from the recipe if you prefer; but I have to say I love the added cream in this particular sauce as it makes the sauce richer and it goes really well with the prawns.

Creamy tomato and prawn pasta

(from ‘Pasta’, Murdoch Books Test Kitchen, 2008)

(serves 4)

  • 400 gr pasta. I used fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 250 gr medium raw prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 400 gr canned tomato
  • 1 green capsicum, diced
  • 125 ml or ½ cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons light cream

Step 1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well and keep warm.

Step 2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a large frying pan over low heat for 1 – 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the prawns and cook for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently until cooked. Add capsicum and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove the prawns and keep warm.

Step 3. Add onion to the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomato and stir for 3 minutes. Purée the sauce using a blender or stick-blender. Return to the pan and bring to a simmer. Pour the wine and cream, bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the prawns until heated through. Toss through the pasta and serve.

It’s a great dish and it’s ready in 30 minutes.
Awesome 🙂

Creamy tomato and prawn fettuccine


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