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

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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

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 🙂

xxx,
Inge

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

xxx,
Inge

This recipe is for simple beef meatballs. The original recipe is from ‘Pasta’ cookbook by Murdoch Books Test Kitchen, which uses worcestershire sauce and dried oregano. I replaced them with paprika powder and chopped parsley 😛 because I love paprika. I would also love it with cayenne pepper which will make the meatballs more spicy.

What I also love about these meatballs is that we can keep them in the freezer (after they are fried and let cool). When you want to serve them, place them in the fridge 1 day before to thaw. Then, you can simply reheat them or cook them in different sauces. These meatballs are good on their own. Alternatively, you can cook them in tomato sauce or with olive oil and chopped garlic and serve them with pasta, steam rice or bread roll. Or just simply toss them in salad.

Here, I cooked the meatballs with store-bought tomato pasta sauce and serve them with spaghetti.

Beef meatballs

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

(serves 4)

  • 500 gr mince lean beef
  • 40 gr breadcrumbs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon paprika powder
  • salt & pepper
  • 30 gr plain flour
  • olive oil to fry
  • 1 jar store-bought tomato pasta sauce
  • spaghetti

Beef meatballs ingredients

Step 1. Combine beef, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, parsley, paprika powder, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.

Put the ingredients in a mixing bowl

and mix well

Step 2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Make a little ball from the meat mixture and cook to test the flavour. Season more if necessary. When you are happy with the flavour, roll the mixture into balls in your desired size. I made around 3cm diameter balls. Dust the meatballs with flour and shake off the excess. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning, until browned all over. Drain well using paper towel.

Meatballs are taking their shapes

Cook the meatballs in batches

Drain well in paper towel

Step 3. Pour the store-bought tomato sauce into the frying pan and bring to boil. Add a bit of water to make the sauce more runny. Add the meatballs and mix well. Bring to boil and simmer for about 1 minute.

Step 4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well.

Step 5. To serve, place the spaghetti in a serving bowl and top with the meatballs and sauce.

Spaghetti with beef meatballs

xxx,
Inge

This pasta sauce is probably the easiest and tastiest sauce there is… It’s super fresh, healthy (I left out the butter) and suitable for summer :).

This particular recipe is from Anna Gare, one of the chefs in The Best in Australia. She got ‘The Best Pasta’ with this sauce. Thanks, Anna!

Pasta Putanesca

(from Anna Gare, The Best in Australia)

(serves 4)

  • 400 gr pasta. I used angel hair.
  • 8 – 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 anchovies
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 punnets grape cherry tomatoes (ripe), roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons black olives deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons baby capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 cup of flat-leaf parsley
  • shaved Parmesan

Putanesca sauce ingredients

Chopped olives, capers and tomatoes

Step 1. In mortar and pestle pound garlic, chilli, sea salt and anchovies to paste.

Step 2. Sauté paste in oil.

Saute the paste

Step 3. Add tomatoes, olives and capers and cook for a further five minutes.

Add tomatoes, olives and capers to the paste

Step 4. Finally add chopped parsley.

Putanesca sauce ready

Step 5. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss the sauce through the pasta and serve with shaved parmesan.

Pasta putanesca

xxx,

Inge

Last Saturday I went to the Mediterranean Wholesalers, the Italian groceries store in Sydney Road, Brunswick. I love to go there to buy a variety of pasta; fresh and dried. Of course you have a selection of pasta in the local supermarkets such as Woolworths and Coles, but in Mediterranean, the selection is enormous. Conchiglione (seashell-shaped pasta), orecchiette, tagliatelle, pappardelle, ravioli, tortellini are among many others.

I bought a packet of fresh pappardelle, which is large and very broad fettucine. I looked for a recipe in the Pasta cookbook I got, and I chose this particular one just because I have all the ingredients in the fridge already. The original recipe uses fusilli.

Pappardelle with chicken and mushroom

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

(serves 4)

  • 375 gr fresh pappardelle. Or you can use other pasta.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 350 gr chicken tenderloins, cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 300 gr mushrooms. I used button, swiss brown and shitake.
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 125 ml or 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 185 ml or 3/4 cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 25 gr grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

The ingredients

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

Step 2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the pan.

Pan-fry the chicken until lightly browned

Step 3. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Pan-fry the mushrooms and garlic

Step 4. Pour in the wine, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream and cooked chicken and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, parsley and parmesan. Season, then add the pasta, tossing until well combined. Serve with the extra parmesan.

Chicken and cream are added to the mushrooms

Pappardelle with chicken and mushroom

Oo la la… it’s so yummy! I like the texture of pappardelle better, it has more bite to it, more chewy compared to spaghetti or fettucine as they are thicker/ wider.

xxx,

Inge