Another great winter soup from Donna Hay magazine issue 51 (Jun/Jul 2010) 🙂

This one has a bold green colour, and it makes you feel healthier already just by looking at it :P. The ingredients are the humble peas and spinach, and to give a savoury punch, Donna adds leg ham to the soup and blends them all together.

The peas are very sweet and matching the saltiness from the ham. The spinach is not dominant to the soup, but it certainly gives a bolder colour to the soup. A dollop of soup cream or thick cream (I used the Philadelphia cream cheese) gives the soup a smoother taste. Absolutely love this soup, it’s very satisfying and fulfilling :). Another good thing is that you can cook this in no time. Oh, and also – it is GOOD for you! 😀

Pea, spinach and ham soup

(recipe by Donna Hay, Donna Hay magazine issue 51, Jun/Jul 2010)

(serves 4)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 litre chicken stock. I used 2 chicken stock cubes in hot water.
  • 4 cups (480 gr) frozen peas
  • 100 gr baby spinach leaves
  • 200 gr leg ham
  • sour cream or thick cream to serve
  • any bread slices to serve

Step 1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to boil.

Step 2. Add peas, spinach and ham and bring to boil. Blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Return the saucepan to the heat for 5 minutes to make sure the soup is heated up.

Step 3. To serve, spoon the soup into bowls, top with cream and serve with bread slices.

xxx,
Inge

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It’s been too long I did not cook something new and worthy to put in my blog. Finally, today I have a few hours free and I am back in the kitchen with a new recipe 🙂

The weather has certainly become colder and colder these past few weeks as we are now truly in winter. I got the 51st issue of Donna Hay magazine that showcases 25 fast soups for winter. I love having a hot soup for dinner during winter and there are a few recipes in the magazine that I would like to try. This is one of them 😛

This chicken and corn soup has simple ingredients and is very easy to make. It has Asian influence and in the original recipe, Donna also uses grated fresh ginger, which will give the soup the extra warmness. I did not use the ginger because I did not have it in my pantry. *Sigh* 😦

The soup still turns out really yummy and is perfect to accompany the freezing night. It’s chunky and fulfilling; the creamed corn makes the soup a little thick and the corn kernels are sweet. I serve it with some steamed broccoli (extra veggie boost :)); some toasted bread would be nice too!

Chicken and corn soup

(adapted from the recipe in Donna Hay magazine, Jun/Jul 2010 issue 51)

(serves 4 – 6)


  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lt chicken stock. I used 2 chicken stock cubes in 1 litre of water.
  • 1 can (410 gr) creamed corn
  • 200 gr frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • steamed broccoli florets or other greens such as spring onion and coriander to serve.

Step 1. Steam the chicken breast for 10 minutes until cooked. Allow to cool down, then shred the meat.

Step 2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until browned. Add in the shredded chicken meat and stir until well combined.

Step 3. Add the stock, creamed corn and corn kernels and cook for 15 minutes. Add the soy sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4. Serve hot in soup bowls and garnish with some greens.

xxx,
Inge

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.

xxx,
Inge

I become aware of Julia Child from the movie ‘Julie and Julia’. In the movie, Merryl Streep plays Julia Child and Amy Adams plays Julie Powell. I love the movie; it’s hilarious :). See here for more info about Julia. The film also captures the famous Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon from her book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.

I was tempted to make the beef bourguignon after watching the movie, but it was still summer then. The dish is wintery, so this time is kinda perfect for it :). I must say the dish is not a straightforward dish to make. To follow the recipe exactly, you need to have an iron cast pan or a casserole pan that is oven-proof and can also be used over the stove. I don’t have such a pan (I’ll keep an eye for an iron cast pan on sale!!), so I did not entirely stick to the recipe. See here for the original recipe.

I served the beef bourguignon with smooth mashed potato and it was fantastic :). It’s an absolute comfort food during winter. The beef is very tender and melts in your mouth, combined with the warm smooth mash. You can add some green vegetables such as green beans sautéd with garlic.

I know I did the shortcut this time. When I got my own iron cast pan, I will make the dish again and follow the recipe word by word! 😛

Beef bourguignon

(adapted from Julia Child’s beef bourguignon recipe)

(serves 6)

  • 6 bacon, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 kg lean stewing beef, cut into 5-cm cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2½ cups stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 300 gr button mushrooms

Step 1. Preheat oven to 230°C. Sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Set aside with a slotted spoon.

Step 2. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat the bacon fat in the pan until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Set aside.

Step 3. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Once done, get rid of the bacon fat.

Step 4. Place the beef, bacon and the vegetables in a casserole dish and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Place the casserole dish uncovered in the oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 160°C.

Step 5. Add in wine and stock to the casserole dish, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Cover casserole, place in the oven for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Step 6. About 10 minutes before the beef is ready, heat a pan over high heat and add the butter. Add mushrooms, toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.


Step 7. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef to it. Distribute the cooked mushrooms on top.

Step 8. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 1½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Serve with mashed potato.

an absolute comfort food in winter…

xxx,
Inge

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.

xxx,
Inge

Winter is coming..! It means we welcome the many varieties of thick and hearty soup to our dinner :). I love wintery soups, such as potato soup, pumpkin soup, pea soup, bean soup, etc… This particular soup is rich and feels luxury because of the addition of crabmeat 🙂

I used the canned crabmeat from the supermarket, but obviously fresh crabmeat would make a much better chowder. I did go to the market to get fresh crabmeat, but they did not have it. If you are keen, you can buy the crab and boil them and extract the meat yourself.

This wintery soup is perfect for a cold winter night. It’s thick, warm and hearty. Serve it with toasted sour dough bread or other bread to create a more fulfilling dinner. It’s simple and quick to make so you can have an early dinner tonight 🙂

Crab and sweetcorn chowder

(recipe from ‘500 soups’, Susannah Blake, 2007)

(serves 4 – 6)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 570 ml stock
  • 570 ml milk
  • 2 x 170 gr cans crabmeat, drained. Or use fresh crab meat.
  • 350 gr frozen sweetcorn
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Step 1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and chilli, and cook gently for 4 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, pepper and stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Step 2. Process half the soup until smooth in a food processor or blender. Add the milk, crabmeat and sweetcorn to the saucepan and heat through. Then return the pureed soup to the saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley and serve.

xxx,
Inge

When I first saw the picture of green smoothie (from My Recession Kitchen), I thought it was a green tea smoothie. Immediately I clicked the link, because I love green tea smoothie :). To my surprise, it was not green tea, it was spinach!!

It made me excited even more because I do love healthy juice or smoothie. Every day I still have the healthy juice that my mom taught me (also my first post in my blog :)). I am so keen to try this green smoothie as it contains fresh vegetable. Remember, we need 5 serves of vegetables every day. So to include vegetable for your breakfast makes a good start 🙂

I used banana and pineapple in the smoothie, but other fruits can also be used. I actually tried adding the spinach in my usual healthy juice (celery, tomato and apple) and it is good too :). I bought ripe bananas and pineapples from the market and chop them and keep them in airtight containers in the freezer. It is handy to divide the fruits into a few small containers (1 container for 1 or 2 serves of the smoothies).

How does it taste? Absolutely FANTASTIC!!! It’s very refreshing and fulfilling. The banana and pineapple marry really well in the smoothie (pineapple is my new favourite ingredient in smoothies :P). And you do not taste the spinach at all in the smoothie, but it’s there. The only proof that the spinach is there is from the lovely green colour.

Absolutely a gem! This smoothie will be a regular at my home 🙂

Green smoothie

(adapted from Green smoothie, My Recession Kitchen)

(makes 1 glass)

  • ¼ cup frozen chopped pineapple
  • ¼ cup frozen chopped banana (about ½ banana)
  • 1 handful fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup water

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds or so until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately.

green is good … 🙂

xxx,
Inge