A ME morning spent in Patisserie G

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It’s the last day of May and I’m getting a bit emo(tional). Nope I’m not having PMS. Fact is, today is the last day of my No-Pay-Leave. Instead of cooping myself up at home, I placed Faith at my parent’s and went down to Patisserie G for brunch. I needed some time to read up on the notes from Parenting with Confidence before I go for lesson the next day.

I had wanted to visit Patisserie G after I was lured by the aroma that perfumed the surrounding environment when I passed by that 14-seat French bake shop the other day. Perhaps, I was also enticed by the Japanese outlook of the cafe, the simplicity in decor and the Maruni Hiroshima armchairs. Whatever it is, I’m going to have my ME time there.

Patisserie G opens at 8am (good for early-risers) and it was empty except for a customer who had almost completed her meal. The desserts were not displayed (pity!) and I had to settle for a latte and a croissant with ham and cheese.

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Going through last week’s notes, I was most impressed by this – 2 related things that threaten successful parenting and lead to the demise of the family are:
1) Not understanding the importance of the husband/wife relationship in the parenting process
2) Having a child-centred parenting

It is important to maintain the husband-wife relationship as the greatest overall influence we can have on our children will not come in our role as a dad or mom but as husband and wife. The quality of parent-child relationship depends on the quality of the husband-wife relationship so do make the latter an ongoing priority throughout the child-rearing years.

I thought it is important to note that there are 3 basic emotional needs of young children.
a) A child has a need to know that he is loved by Mum and Dad.
b) Every child has a need to know where he fits in Mum and Dad’s world.
c) A child has a need to know that Mum and Dad love each other.

While we want to meet the needs of our children, we have to be careful that in doing so, he does not become the centre of the family universe thus resulting in a me-ism attitude. Healthy families, on the other hand, produce children with a we-ism attitude.

There are 5 ways to meet all our child’s needs and not be child-centred:
1) Maintain your relationships that were important to you before your children were born
2) Get back into the habit of dating our partner and allowing friends or relatives to take care of the children
3) Continue to do those things that were markers of your special relationship before the children came.
4) Invite friends over for a meal or an evening of fellowship. Being hospitable forces us to focus on our home for the sake of minitering to others (healthy distractions such as these show children that service {to others} should be part of their lives)
5) Practice “Couch Time that takes place when the children are awake. This provides children with a visual sense of your togetherness.

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As I took a bite of the croissant and a sip of the latte, I wish the former could be a tad more buttery and crispy and the coffee to be warmer. They didn’t meet up to expectations and I so wish they could play some French music in the background, rather than some American pop music.

Proceeding to my next read, the peace was disrupted by two customers who were rather loud in their conversation. Distracted, I bade the ME time goodbye. It’s time to head home, to my baby. By then, the desserts were out on display and I purchased The G Spot (Dark chocolate mousse with chocolate meringue, on a chocolate hazelnut praline crunch) to try. Hopefully, it will turn out to be good.

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So, I would be back to work in June, though not on a permanent basis. I’m serving my notice, you see, and that is another story in itself.

Update: The cake is good. I should just stick with her desserts/cakes.

Patisserie G
9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-40
Millenia Walk

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We are the DinoFamily

Makeover workshop with Style Essence

I’ve got my wish fulfilled when I was informed that I have won a makeover workshop with Style Essence through a give-away via a mommy blogger. For a person who doesn’t wear makeup because 1) I don’t know how to; 2) my makeup kit has long expired; and 3) makeup melts on my face so I don’t bother, it proves to be a treat and I was looking forward to it. No more frumpy-looking housewife or mother! And it pays to enter give-aways since there is always a chance to win!

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The cosy learning area with loads of makeup kits

Florinda, the founder of Style Essence candidly went through some information on our body shapes, tips on dressing, skincare and makeup. So, I was told that I have an hourglass body shape which basically means my hip and bust line are almost of the same width and that my weight is evenly distributed. Cool colours work well on me too. Having such knowledge will help greatly in the choice of clothing style and makeup that I make.

Florinda also shared cleansing techniques and some skin care products with us and the one that I am most impressed with is the mask. We had it applied on one half of our face and see what was removed. Dirt! See the black spots on the cotton bud?

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Lastly, the makeup segment. I admit that I fumbled at this stage. Florinda showed us the right way to put on makeup, first on one of the participants, and then got every one of us to do hands-on. Oh my, it proved a bit too much for me. I think such endeavours really need lots of practices.

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So, this is me with some help from the expert.
Can you tell which side receives that aid?

Thank you for a fun session!

Thank you for a fun session!

So, in the end, I went home with some makeup goodies (can’t resist temptation). Now, I just need to apply what I have learnt and hopefully be more confident in using makeup. The husband wasn’t too impressed with the idea though but it does make me feel better. Call me vain but that’s what I am! ;p I wish I could remember a whole string of information from the workshop but I was too engrossed in the technical part that I forgot to take notes. If you are interested in a makeover workshop, do contact Florinda. She is really a terrific and humorous trainer.

By the way, Mary Kay whose products Style Essence uses, is doing a charity drive for Singapore Charity Cancer Foundation. More details can be found here.

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Wordless Wednesday | My joy

20130529-212524.jpgHow you have grown, dear Faith. Mommy and Daddy love you very much. May you continue to be full of joy.

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My Petit Bowl experience {Review and Give-away}

“Weaning your baby from milk to solids is an important and exciting milestone for both of you and it’s a big step forward for your baby as it opens up a whole new world of taste. So there is nothing better for your baby than freshly prepared food…” – Annabel Karmel.

IMG_0161For a first-time mommy like me, it’s not just an exciting milestone, it can be a daunting one as well, especially if you are clueless and have little help at home. My plan is to provide fresh homemade baby food for Faith since I want her to be introduced to a wide range of foods and interact with the natural goodness and flavour of the food from young. Commercial baby foods are convenient but it is a no-no at this stage. Thankfully, my journey has been a smooth-sailing and happy one. Here’s why.

When Faith was around four months old, I was invited by Florinda, along with Irene, to a complimentary food group sampling at Petit Bowl where we were introduced to their concepts and given some food to sample. Faith was given a 3-week’s supply of complimentary frozen food to try and here’s my review of the whole experience.

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Petit Bowl was located among one of the shops along Siglap Drive. The cheery interior provides a conducive environment for children and parents to meet. Its mission is simple: To provide nutritious and delicious meals for babies and children. Their passion for this is truly exemplified when the husband-and-wife team, Bernard and Josephine Kwong, shared their beliefs with us. Parents to three children, they want to offer them best food choices and experimented preparing the kids’ meals themselves. It wasn’t all that easy in the initial years but after research and testing, they are ready to share their cook-and-freeze children’s meals to parents.

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As explained by Bernard and Ryan (a food technologist engaged by Petit Bowl), Petit Bowl’s meals are prepared by blending fresh ingredients like fruits, vegetables and grains, with fresh meat and fish and brown rice. All their meals are free of salt, sugar and artificial flavourings. What they do is to cook the foods, store them in capsules and freeze them. In this way, we can be assured that a high percentage of nutrients is retained. What we need to do is to reheat the food, straight from the freezer, by means of a microwave oven, pan-fry or simply steam it (using a wok or a steamer) and it would be ready in 15 minutes. And yes, you could just heat up the capsules since they are in microwavable containers. Simple? It sounds fuss-free to me!

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However, if you know that your child could not finish a whole capsule in one go, all you need to do is to cut the food (in their frozen state) in half, steam it and pop the rest back into the freezer.

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Next, the delicious part. We were each given various samples from their puree and textured menu like butternut, zucchini, broccoli & pea and vegetable curry couscous. Since Faith was too young to taste then, we, as concerned parents, did so on her behalf.

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I have to tell you, both the hubs and I love the food especially the vegetable curry couscous. Delicious! We wish we could have more! Poor Faith, all she could do was to watch us eat.

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Fast forward two months and Faith is ready to take her first semi-solids. It has been a breeze. I appreciate the note and meal plan that Petit Bowl provides and all we need to do is to…follow. I even got my parents to prepare the meals for Faith when I have to run some errands and they have found no difficulty in doing so. Awesome!

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I must say I enjoyed the whole experience, from the informative food sampling session to weaning Faith with Petit Bowl meals . It’s so easy and convenient to use and what’s important is I know I’m feeding Faith with quality food. It’s a good start and Faith has been enjoying her meals thus far.

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I would strongly recommend Petit Bowl to:
* parents with busy schedules
* first-time mothers who need help in weaning
* caregivers who do not know how to prepare meals for young children

Now, you could also have the same hassle-free experience that I am having in preparing nutritious meals for your little one(s). The generous folks at Petit Bowl are giving away a $50 voucher to TWO readers. All you need to do is post a comment (e.g. share your weaning experience!) and leave your email address.

The give-away ends on 7 June 2013. So, what are you waiting for? 🙂

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Petit Bowl
46 Siglap drive, Singapore 456171 (Frankel Estate)
Tel: +65 6256 5359
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Visit their website or get updates from their facebook page.

Disclaimer: We were invited to a food sampling session at Petit Bowl and were offered 3 weeks of Petit Bowl meals for reviewing purposes. No monetary compensation was involved. All views and opinions shared are my own.

Update: The winners chosen by Faith (in a lucky-draw style) are Joleen Ng & Mae Shenoy. Congratulations! You will be notified by Petit Bowl soon!

Mom bloggers meetup…

…and a Raspberry & Lemon Gateau recipe.

Recently, our domestic goddess wannabe, Diana, has enticed the mommy community with her mouth-watering food which leaves many of us hungry and the keyboard soiled with our drools. Her power has motivated Mabel of Amazinglystill to rekindle her love for baking and the goddess invited us to her abode for a chill-out session.

So what do mom bloggers do when they meet up?

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IMG_4058Photo-taking session… (we are bloggers after all!) and makan! It’s tea-time!

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I could only manage this photo of the baked goods but Natasha of Quirky Affairs could do a way better job than me. A reminder to self: Improve your photography skills!

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The two little ones who are one day apart could only watch.
So I baked this cake but only brought about 1/2 of it to goddess’ place. It’s better to eat when it’s just baked. Oh, I’ve learnt a new thing today. Snow powder is a better choice than confectioner’s sugar if I want the powder to last longer. But wait, what is snow powder?

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Raspberry & Lemon Gateau
[Source| Cakes: Delicious recipes for a happy life by Marina Neri]

Continue reading

My entry for Tefal Cooking Challenge

This is a post that I have entered for the Tefal Cooking Challenge. I must say it gave me some healthy stress and through the experience, I learnt how difficult it is to create your own recipes. Thank God for the hubs who doesn’t mind eating the same stuff over and over again.

Do go to the website and vote for the cooking blogger whom you think deserve to win. Who knows, you might get yourself a Tefal blender by doing that. 🙂

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The cooking demonstration by Chef Jason and Benson had inspired me, to a great extent, to provide healthy food for my family. It doesn’t have to involve a lot of work to achieve that. I just need to be more conscious of the ingredients that I use and how I cook the various dishes. Obviously, I hope to have good ideas in coming up with innovative dishes like the chefs but it will take quite some time to achieve that. Nonetheless, I’m taking baby steps and am thankful to the folks at Tefal for gifting us with the Comfort Touch frypan and saute pan to work with.

Inspired by the chefs, I have designed a three-course meal based on what I have learnt from the cooking demonstration and guided by my belief that wholesome home-cooked food can be made fuss-free; it shouldn’t be time-consuming. The three dishes are Scallops on Toast, Couscous Salad with Seared Salmon and Chocolate-Strawberry Crepes. Each individual dish is filling enough to be consumed as a meal if you are a small eater. I hope you will like the recipes and try them out at the comfort of your home. Quoting from Curtis Stone, “A home-cooked meal is always worth the effort. Food simply tastes better- and is better for you- when you make it yourself.”

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Personally, I benefitted much from cooking using Tefal frypan and saute pan and have gone on to create many other recipes for my family. I find that less oil is needed for certain dishes and my food cook faster and more evenly. Cleaning the pans doesn’t take too much effort since food doesn’t stick to them. It has been a real pleasure using them and do check them out yourselves.

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Scallops on Toast

My first dish is Scallops on Toast. I simply love how easy and fast this dish can be made and adore the flavour created when the kafir lime leaves and rosemary sprigs interact with the olive oil and white wine. The frypan heats up pretty fastand the scallops are cooked evenly. Do pay attention to the scallops as you do not want to overcook them. When you spoon the final product on the toasted bread and take a bite, you can be sure your effort is worth it. This makes a good breakfast, don’t you think?

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Scallops on toast

2 slices of country bread
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 rosemary sprigs
Kafir lime leaves (about 7)
6 scallops
3/4 cup dry white wine
Extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp for dressing
Pepper to taste
Wasabi sprouts for garnishing

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1. Toast the bread. Set aside.

2. Heat the pan to medium heat and add in olive oil. Saute the rosemary sprigs, lime leaves and then garlic.

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3. Add the scallops and saute for about 2 minutes and then add the white wine. Cook the scallops (both sides) for a few more minutes until they have just turned white and springy to the touch. Do not overcook.  *Remember to stir often and watch carefully so they do not overcook.

4. Add pepper if desire. Plate the scallops on the toasted bread and spoon with all the juices over it. Add the extra virgin olive oil and garnish it with wasabi sprouts.

Couscous Salad with Seared Salmon

My second course is Couscous Salad with Seared Salmon. Couscous is a type of grains that provides a good source of fibre and cooks under a few minutes. The ones that I’m using for this recipe is those tiny grained Moroccan couscous that has been pre-steamed so all you have to do is to mix it with boiling water or chicken broth and a little extra-virgin olive oil, let stand for a few minutes, fluff the grains with a fork and serve. I used Tefal Saute pan to cook the couscous as it comes with a see-through glass lid that enables me to monitor the cooking progress.

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However, if you are like me who love spices, you could follow the recipe below and for a complete meal, top it up with seared salmon. On initial glance, it might seem like a chore to cook this, judging by the many spices used but once you have amassed the ingredients, it is really easy to make this dish.  It can be rather satisfying too!

Couscous Salad with Seared Salmon
(Makes 3 servings)

1 cup chicken broth or water
1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt (you can skip this)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 cup couscous

1/4 cup moist, plump raisins
1/4 cup small Japanese cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup carrot, trimmed
1/4 cup chickpeas

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
Some fresh lemon juice or as needed
Extra-virgin olive oil or as needed

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1. Bring the broth/water, 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, the ginger, tumeric, cinnamon and cumin to a boil in the saute pan. Whisk the broth to ensure that the spices have dissolved. Then stir in the couscous and turn off the heat. Scatter the raisins over the couscous, cover the pan and let sit for 10 minutes.

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2. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the vegetables and chickpeas. Taste the couscous. Combine lemon juice and olive and add into the couscous if needed. When you are ready to serve, add in the coriander leaves.

For the seared salmon

You will need salmon, salt, pepper and olive oil.

1. Rub a little salt and dash of pepper on the salmon.

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2. Using the frypan, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. When the pan is hot, sear the salmon. Depending on the thickness of the salmon, it might take between 5 to 20 minutes to cook it.

3. Lastly, just assemble the salmon on the couscous salad and serve.

Chocolate-Strawberry Crepes

Now, does your stomach still have room for dessert? I have decided on doing crepes since I want to show off the non-stick capability of the frypan. Chocolate pairs well with strawberries and fill the crepe with mascarpone cheese that is combined with strawberry jam and the fruit itself and you will have a delightful end to your 3-course meal. I prefer to make this in advance and place it in the fridge before serving it. And if you so desire, drizzle some chocolate ganache over the crepe.

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Chocolate-Strawberry Crepes
(Makes about 10 crepes)

4 large eggs
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup buckwheat flour/ all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Olive oil

Filling:
30g strawberry jam
250g mascarpone, at room temperature
4 big strawberries, hulled and cut into small cubes + more for garnishing

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1. For the crepes: Combine the eggs, milk, flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Whisk by hand until the mixture forms a smooth batter. Place in the fridge for an hour (if you can).

2. Preheat the frypan over medium-low heat. Using a paper towel, dab it with olive oil and brush the frypan with it. The frypan is non-stick so you don’t need a lot of oil.

3. Add 1/4 cup of batter and quickly tilt the pan to form an even coating of batter on the bottom of the pan. If you are like me who is not good in tilting the pan to form a good round shape for the crepe, use a heat-resistant spatula to smoothen the batter. Cook until set, about 1 minute. Using the spatula, carefully loosen the sides and gently flip the crepe over. Cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining batter and butter.

4. For the filling: Mix the jam, mascarpone and strawberry cubes in a small bowl until smooth.

5. Spread each crepe with 3 tablespoons of the jam mixture leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold the two opposite ends of each crepe inward and roll into a tube shape. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Cut each tube into half and arrange the crepes on a serving plate. Garnish with strawberries and if you so desire, decorate it with chocolate ganache.

Once again, I want to shout a huge thank-you to the folks at Tefal, omy.sg and ONAKA restaurant for this wonderful opportunity to apply what I have learnt. These few weeks of researching and creating these dishes have certainly been enriching and the journey to cook healthy dishes has just begun.

Parenting with Confidence #1

I think parenting is one area that requires the most knowledge and training yet many of us are ill-prepared for it. For example, we are schooled for a few years so that we have some basics when we go out to work but for parenting, far less or not at all.

I don’t know about others but I can safely say for myself that I only refer to parenting guidebooks when Faith came into this world. It’s a lot of on-the-job training and I must say much of my knowledge hinges on what I have observed through my parents, couples in church, reading mommy blogs and parenting books and well, common sense.

When the hubs told me about this workshop – Parenting with Confidence – I naturally got him to sign us up. This workshop is a joint effort by Focus on the Family and MCYS and our church leaders realised that there are a lot of new parents in our midst and organise it for us, knowing that this workshop will benefit us.

The first session focuses on the question of What is a Parent and discusses the different parenting styles, characteristics of a Backbone parent and gets the participants to understand the importance of caring for yourself as a parent. Before these, we were introduced to some biblical foundations on being a Christian parent (this is added on).

As we assessed our parenting style, it is not surprising that many of us would, to a great extent, be influenced by how we were brought up. Though I assess my current parenting style to be that of a backbone parent (the desired one) since Faith is still so young and easy to take care of, I reckon my true colours have not been manifested. On discussion with the hubs, I could well be a sergeant type (bossy, controlling, lectures, strict disciplinarian, etc). It’s not too late to change my style!

While the knowledge is helpful, I find the sharing of the experiences by the facilitator useful too. As a parent who has trodden this path, she is in a good position to advise and share her parenting secrets.

I’d better pen down some of the things that she (Carol) shared with us (in random order):

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1. It’s important to lay what are the values that the family abide by from the time the children are young and be consistent in it. As they grow older and have to make a choice for themselves, they will decide based on those values.

2. In training the heart (and not simply the outward behaviour), the goal is to help a child gain self-control – control his tongue and make sound judgement – by the time he reaches school-going age.

3. With adults, beliefs precede actions. With children, actions precede beliefs and children first learn how to act morally before they learn to think morally.

4. There are 3 major periods of conflict in the life of a child:
– Between 14 and 40 months (both internal and external, greatest period of conflict in the life of every human being thus the terrible two. They are at a stage when they’re trying to figure out their identity)
– Between 9 and 12 years old (usually a period of greater internal struggle)
– Between 19 and 22 years old

5. Get to know the friends of your child and better still the parents. In that case, you will know who your child mixes with and their family background. So, attend every birthday parties or even better, organise it yourself and invite their friends over!

For the last part, she touched on the importance of caring for yourself as a parent. For those who stay-at-home, it can be very trying, having little communication with others besides your spouse or the children. So, it’s crucial that you have ME time and meet up with your friends! And that’s what I did (application!). I met up with my precious gfs over that weekend and we had so much fun just catching up. I love you, gals! Thank you for being part of my life.

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FFWD | Asparagus soup

This week, we are having Asparagus soup (p. 58)! Does it remind you of spring? Of course, in Singapore, we do not have the four seasons but tropical climate throughout the year. Nevertheless, seeing these greens makes one feel refreshing and joyful no doubt.

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I like my soup served hot (typical Chinese) but I realised this tastes good too even when it is cold. I’m surprised the hubs was willing to finish the whole bowl even though he is not so much of a veggie person. It’s a terrific change to the usual Chinese soups that we are so used to.

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If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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Brewed coffee the quick and easy way

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The hubs and I have a habit – we need to have a cup of coffee every morning to start the day off. Since we are both rushing for time, we resort to having our caffein  fix from 3-in-1 sachets. There is a whole range of such instant coffee in the market and we are certainly spoilt for choice. However, there is perhaps one main problem, as I see it -these 3-in-1 coffee contains high sugar content and I’m really not fond of that. Sometimes, I felt as if I’m drinking a cup of sugar but hey, where’s the coffee?

The solution? Coffee maker!

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I like this Philips coffee maker because it is compact and does its job well. For those of us who do not have big kitchen, good appliances which do not take up too much of the countertop space is brilliant. Have I mentioned that this coffee maker is easy to clean and maintain? Isn’t this great?

If you are like me who have never used a coffee maker, allow me to show you how.

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1. Fill the water tank with water.
2. Fill your favourite ground coffee.
3. Start brewing the coffee.
4. Enjoy your cup of coffee!

It’s that simple! And all these within a few minutes. Now my family can enjoy good filter coffee in the comfort of our home. IMG_1634

Read more about the coffee maker here.

The Philips Coffee Maker is available at a very affordable price of$38 (RCP: $49) during the Great Singapore Sale! So, what are you waiting for?

If you spend a minimum of $200 on selected Philips products in a single receipt from 1 June to 31 July 2013, you can participate in a lucky dip and win shopping vouchers! Another great reason to continue shopping!

Do follow Philips Twitter page at https://twitter.com/PhilipsSG and participate in the Twitter games to win up to $100 shopping vouchers!

You can find out more here – http://www.philips.com.sg/e/promo/promotions/general/gss-promotion.html

Disclaimer: I received the Philips Coffee Maker for the purposes of the review. All opinions stated herein are my own.

Wordless Wednesday | Expanding my collection

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Just so that I will not take food pictures using the same old plates and bowls every time, I have gone to my mom’s and gathered some to add to my collection. Now, I just need to find the space to store them. No, it’s not a good idea to place them on the countertop. No…no….no…

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Blackberry and Lemon Muffins

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The other day when I was shopping for grocery, the blackberries were on sale. Thus far, I have baked with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries but none with blackberries and decided to buy one (small) box.

So what can you bake with them? I could mostly think of using them as decorations on cakes or cheesecakes but then decided on doing something simple like muffins. This recipe is adapted from Simply Recipes and I thought the muffins lack something crunchy and topped each up with a pecan nut. 🙂

I’m not sure if I like these muffins but here you are. Hope your Monday has been great.

Blackberry and Lemon Muffins
[Yields about 18 muffins]

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Grated zest of 1 small lemon, about a heaping tablespoon
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
8 Tbsp warm melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh blackberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Prepare 2 muffin tins with 18 liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, butter and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix together just until evenly combined. Add the blackberries and gently fold into the batter. Careful not to over mix, that can cause tough muffins.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for just a few minutes, until the muffins are cool enough to handle and transfer to a wire rack.

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Fisher-Price® Joy of Learning Workshop

Time passed so quickly. Faith is already six months old and ready for another stage of her development!

As the little munchkin grows, I find myself not knowing what to do to engage her at times. Being a new mother and a SAHM, I have to keep up with reading on relevant books and materials so that I could be well equipped in handling her. Thankfully there are workshops and online resources that reach out to people like me. Here’s one by Fisher-Price® that is coming up and I would be going for it. The following is a little information on it.

Fisher-Price Joy of Learning

The Fisher-Price® Joy of Learning Workshop is an interactive, informative, and practical workshop to arm you with a clearer understanding of your role as principal caregivers in this scheme of play and offer tools to better engage and nurture your little ones through joyful play activities. Recognising the irreplaceable role of play-based learning, when our little ones are provided with settings where they can readily interact with us whilst actively investigating, exploring and manipulating toys and items in their surroundings, they are not only ‘playing’ but developing critical skills for daily living and relationship-building.

Conducting the workshop is Ms Carrie E. Lupoli, educational and parenting expert, spokesperson for Mattel Fisher-Price® “Joy of Learning” in S.E.A and founder of Singapore’s premier private education agency – Live & Learn Consulting.

Four topics of interest will be covered at the Fisher-Price® Joy of Learning Workshop:

1. The Roles and Responsibilities of Parenting
2. Understanding Developmental Milestones
3. How Children Learn Best
4. Age Appropriate Play-based Ideas for Optimal Growth and Development

Date: Sunday, 9 June 2013
Time: 9am – 2pm
Venue: Raffles City Convention Centre
Fairmont Singapore & Swissotel The Stamford, Atrium Ballroom, Level 4
80 Bras Basah, Singapore 189560
Cost: $50 (inclusive of a goody bag worth more than $100)

This workshop is open to parents with children up to 5 years old and expectant mothers only. However, children are not allowed as it is a hands-on workshop for parents.

If you are interested, please email your name and mobile number to fisherprice@asiaprwerkz.com

Food Revolution Day

It’s Food Revolution Day today! For the uninitiated ones, Food Revolution Day is a chance for people all over the world to come together and stand up for good food and essential cooking skills. It’s a chance for people to come together in homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skills, food knowledge and resources. Food Revolution Day is a global day of action to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone.

The theme for this year’s Food Revolution Day is “Cook it. Share it. Live it” and here I am, sharing with you what I have prepared for breakfast today – my Asian-inspired Sliders

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I’ve been meaning to make sliders or mini-burgers for a while and wanted to do every thing from scratch. Yes, even the bread. So, I chose to bake Brioche through Dorie Greenspan‘s Around my French Table as part of the French Fridays with Dorie project.

IMG_3803Err…yes, food education starts early for my little one. Faith was so amused by the flapping of the dough that she chuckled the way through. The mom felt bad for the Kitchenaid though since the dough took soooo long to be ready. Well, that’s brioche for you. Be patient and you will reap the reward.

From the recipe, I should be able to yield 2 loaves of brioche but I decided to apportion about half of it to shape it into burgers while the rest into a loaf.

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The best thing about baking bread is that your kitchen will be perfumed by the aroma that it gives when it is in the oven. *Drool*

With my bread ready, I went on to make the lemongrass-infused pork patties. They are not at all difficult to make if you have the right tool, the Philips Chopper! I just put all the ingredients into the chopper and within minutes, the patties are shaped and ready to be cooked.

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About 400g ground pork
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small stalk lemon grass, minced (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/4 cup coriander stems, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp cornflour
Light cooking oil

1. Combine first 8 ingredients gently in bowl being careful not to overwork or meat will bind up and become tight. Season lightly with ground black pepper.

2. Divide the mixture into 8 patties (depending on how big you want) – first forming gently into balls and then flatten gently as to not overwork mixture.

3. Heat oil in a large saute  pan and saute until just cooked through – about 2-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of the patties; I used 5 minutes per side).

To assemble everything, I added cheese and Alfalfa sprouts to complete my asian-inspired sliders! Asian because of the ingredients used – lemongrass and fish sauce.

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The hubs love it but he probably is not in the least interested in how to make this dish so I’m sharing with you!

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Wordless Wednesday| My culinary education

This is how I learn cooking and baking – by reading from cookbooks and food blogs and visiting the markets. I could never learn enough because along with the craft, I know more about the science of it and not forgetting the history of each cuisine and along with it, the culture of various people groups.

This is what makes cooking interesting and certainly, an adventure.

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Stir-fry chicken noodle

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I thought of Thai cuisine when I came across this recipe in the magazine – Delicious as it uses coconut milk and fish sauce as the base. I’ve adapted quite a fair bit and added beansprouts and mushrooms to the recipe since I have these ingredients in the refrigerator. You can definitely improvise. Another quick and easy dish that can be made in about 15 minutes.

Again, I wish my photography skills can be better. Sigh!

Makes for 2 to 3 portions
200g thick rice noodles
1 tbsp canola oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 spring onions, trimmed, sliced at at angle
100g carrots, sliced at an angle
50g brown beech mushroom
70g beansprouts
150g skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into 1cm-thick slices
200ml coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
Small handful of coriander leaves (for garnishing)

Place the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water and allow to soak for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Drain.

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Place the frypan over high heat. Pour in the oil and when it is hot, add the garlic and half of the spring onion. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the carrot and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the meat is cooked all the way through.

Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce, bring to a simmer and allow to bubble for 2 minutes. Add the beansprouts and noodles to the frypan. Remove the frypan from the heat and stir in the remaining spring onion. Divide among bowls/ plates and serve with coriander leaves.

Week 24

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Faith went for her six month’s vaccination on Saturday and weighed a whopping 7.6kg and measured 63cm.

She took to solids well, starting with white rice puree.

And the mom did an unthinkable thing during this week which she would disclose when all is confirmed.

Nike She Runs 5K 2013

This is the first run that I have participated since coming back to Singapore due to the pregnancy. I’m thankful that the Nike She Runs gave me wonderful memories. I like races and love those that are well-organised.

The starting time was 6pm but I reckoned it would take some time to get to the race village since the place is not really accessible. Thankfully, the organiser arranged for shuttle bus and I met up with my race buddy at 4.30pm at the pick-up point.

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At the train station, one would see a beeline of ladies decked in orange dri-fit t-shirt. Many heads turned as they wondered what these ladies were up to.

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Look at how orderly our ladies were. No ugly scene but happy faces. The shuttle buses came every 5 to 10 minutes according to the race guide but my buddy and I didn’t wait long before we boarded the bus.

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Security was rather tight for this race. Bags were checked before you could get into the race village. I have not been to a race like this before, based on my memory. But in any case, it sets our minds at ease especially after the horrific incident during the recent Boston Marathon.

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Look, even the baggage deposit system is in alphabetical order. This makes for easy deposit and retrieval of bags. Excellent. As you can see from the picture, this race village became a gathering site for the ladies. Everyone was at ease, enjoying the cool (but humid) weather.

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Of course, nothing is perfect. There were some glitches but they were forgivable. Prior to the first wave (6pm), the ladies were already waiting at the start pen which opened at 5.30pm. Imagine thousands of us waiting in the tight and crowded space. Enthusiasm soon waned as we stood for more than 30 minutes. The race started late and we were getting real thirsty.

When the race started, there were bottlenecks. If you intend to do a personal best, this race is probably not suitable unless you are among the first few in the start line. I find myself having to come to a halt or just jog since there were so many others blocking my path. There is no point in spending the energy weaving in and out of every tiny space available so I decided to take in real slow and enjoy the scenic skyline with my buddy.

Overall, the Nike She Runs left a good impression on me. Here’s why:

1) It was well organised, judging by how fast I collected my race pack prior to the actual day and how smooth the transportation arrangement was.

2) The ladies actually threw the cups into the dustbins provided during the race!!! Obviously, we were not out to be the top few and we took the time to jog with our friends and to care for our environment! 🙂

3) I saw how friends encouraged their buddies to continue running. Some waited for their buddies, others motivated theirs to carry on. During the race, when you got pushed by some runners, you got an apology. That’s manners, my friends. 🙂

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4) It was conducted in the evening. Splendid. If it was conducted in the early morning, I think many mothers wouldn’t be able to make it. Think about the logistics involved in settling the kids!

5) After the finish point, the collection of the finisher’s tee (yes, we have finisher’s tee, even for a 5K run!) was smooth. Each line was marked by the shirt sizes that the runners wear. In other runs, I almost never get the size that I want and instead got an oversized t-shirt which I could not wear and have to pass it on to my hubs. This time round, I got the right size!

IMG_37566) After the run, every runner was given a banana, hotdog, a can of isotonic drink and a bottle of mineral water. If you don’t mind queuing, you could get ice-cream and massage done! How awesome is that! Or you can spend time chatting up with your friends while enjoying the gig by 53A, my favourite local band.

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The folks at Nike certainly know what women want and this race is a success, in my opinion. For $40, I received two dri-fit Nike T-shirts, a water bottle, a recycling bag and a good experience. Totally worth it.

So Nike, maybe you might want to consider organising a marathon/half-marathon for ladies, just like the one you organise in San Francisco? We certainly would love to have the Tiffany’s necklace as our finisher’s medal. Consider please? Please?

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I had fun jogging with my friend of almost 20 years.

FFWD | Coupetade (french-toast pudding)

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I had a rich breakfast today, all thanks to this recipe which is French toast soaked in custard. It is a dessert from central France and it is said that you can achieve best results by using brioche or challad. Since I had neither at the time of baking, just a normal loaf of white bread did the job for me.

The steps are relatively easy:

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1. Make the French toast.
2. Arrange the cut slices of French toast in the baking pan and moist raisins, dried cranberries or cherries under, over and between the slices.
3. Make the custard and pour it over the bread and fruit.
4. Bake it.

Obviously, there are tiny details within these few steps but really, it’s a breeze making this.

If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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Parsley Fish Cakes

This is a recipe that I have taken from Today, 18 April 2013. At that point, I looked through my pantry and since I had all the necessary ingredients – minus a few – I thought I should just make these cakes. To make this cakes healthier, I would bake them in the oven the next time.

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Wordless Wednesday | Long hair no more

My hair has been dropping like snow in winter mad and now I understand why my mother friends have cut their hair short a few months after the delivery of their child.

Now it’s my turn. I have short fringe now. The last time I had it was 21 years ago.

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A dozen things to do in Penang

How do you plan a trip to Penang that could accommodate and satisfy a family of six which comprises an infant and folks in their 70s? We did it the slow and relaxing way – sightseeing via a van. Here is a summary of the recent family trip to the Pearl of the Orient.

#1. Book a hotel along Gurney Drive: You will not go hungry because there are numerous stalls along this road and the most popular one has to be Anjung Gurney. Here, you will find local delicacies like Assam Laksa, rojak, Char Kway Teow, etc. However, we find that the dishes are overpriced. Still, it makes for a good experience. Bring along a mini-fan.

IMG_0874 IMG_0899If you are like me and my aunt-in-law who love to buy Tambun Biskut (local biscuits), purchase them at their authorised boutiques or risk paying more. 

IMG_1362On the other end of Gurney Drive, opposite Northam hotel is a beach cafe that faces the sea. There are stalls selling local food and is less crowded. Personally, I prefer this to the previous one which is overrated, in my opinion.

Aside from the food, this road is made popular by having the best view of the sunset. Just outside the Georgetown City, Gurney Drive faces the sea of Penang and having a hotel room facing this view can provide a truly relaxing experience. Now that we are travelling as a family, I’ll make sure the hotel has ample facilities that we can enjoy in the event that we have to stay in due to bad weather or when the elderly folks are tired. For me, a spa and a good pool are good enough.

Relaxing pool

Relaxing pool

#2. Mural art in Georgetown. Ok, I must be honest with you. I’m in Penang in search for the mural art by Ernest Zacharevic. We had it easy. Our tour guide cum driver took us to the various sites where the artwork can be found. My sister-in-law and I went crazy over them and sprang out of the van the moment we arrived at each spot. You see, there were many tourists who wanted to take a picture with the painting as well so you’ve got to act fast. Sadly, the colour of these paintings have faded and some are barely visible.

Boy on a bike

Boy on a bike

The following would be some museums/attractions that we chose to go for and they are all in Georgetown. The best way to explore this UNESCO world cultural heritage city is by foot.

#3. Khoo Kongsi. Completed around 1906, the temple belongs to the Khoo Kongsi clan. The temple features fine Chinese architecture and craftsmanship. Be wowed by it.

Khoo Kongsi Temple

Khoo Kongsi Temple

#4. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. This is the famed ‘Blue Mansion’, former home of tycoon Cheong Fatt Tze. Guided tours are at specific timing and it is an hour long. There are 16 B &B rooms but they are not cheap.

Front view of the mansion

Front view of the mansion

One of the rooms was open for us to view and here they are – a basic room with shower facilities.

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Interior of one of the rooms

Interior of one of the rooms

www.cheongfatttzemansion.com

#5. The house of Yeap Chor Ee. This house was turned into a social history gallery tracing the journey of Yeap Chor Ee, a young immigrant who came to Penang in 1885. Nothing spectacular though I was more intrigued by the restaurant found at the back of the house – Sire Museum Restaurant. If you dine here, you could visit the gallery for free.

Entrance to House of Yeap Chor Ee

Entrance to House of Yeap Chor Ee

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Kitchen of Sire Museum Restaurant

Kitchen of Sire Museum Restaurant

#6. Pinang Peranakan Mansion. A must-go if you want to know more about Peranakan culture. It houses a good number of Nyonya antiques and collectibles, showcasing the Peranakans’ opulent lifestyle as well as their customs and traditions.

Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum

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#7. Chew jetty. This is one of the clan jetties around and you’ve guessed it, we chose this because one of the mural art pieces is found here but it is nearly beyond recognition.

Welcome note to Chew Jetty

Welcome note to Chew Jetty

Children in a boat

Children in a boat

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

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#8. Crossing Penang bridge and riding on Malaysia’s oldest ferry service. Penang Bridge is Asia’s longest bridge and it offers a spectacular view of Penang. This bridge is the pride and joy of Penang and a national landmark. Our van took us across the bridge and we came back via the ferry.

Ferry ride

Ferry ride

#9. View from the top of Penang Hill. We went up to the top through the Penang Hill Railway though you can climb up the hill. This is a funicular railway that will bring passengers all the way up to Flagstaff Hill.

Breathtaking view from the hilltop

Breathtaking view from the hilltop

#10. Culinary experience. I’ll be honest. One of the reasons I visit Penang is for the food. I love street stalls and local food and our guide recommended some good places for us to try their local food. Here’s some:

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Nyonya Baba Cuisine
44, Nagore Road, 10050 Penang. 
My peranakan in-laws endorse their food. Try their otak, spring roll and nutmeg drink. Actually, all other food is sedap (delicious)!

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Best Cendol in town! You could also order laksa and rojak here.

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How can I not go for Dim Sum? Our guide brought us here.

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If you want malay food, try Line Clear. Tables are along the alley.

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Hakka cuisine at Ke Ren Lai along Gurney Drive

Char Kway Teow stall

Char Kway Teow stall

One of the street stalls

One of the street stalls

#11. Learn more about spice from the Tropical Spice Garden. If I was to go back to Penang, I would spend more time in this garden and enrol myself in the cooking class. There is a lot of information that could be gathered just by walking through the garden and if you have a guide, that’s even better. However, be warned that there are mozzies! Lots of them! There is also a restaurant that serves Thai-Asian-local cuisine if you are tired and just want to chill. Lastly, never leave home without buying the vanilla pod! They are relatively cheaper here. I bought some. 🙂

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Spices galore! How can you resist them?

Spices galore! How can you resist them?

#12. Tembun, anyone? We bought a lot of souvenirs in the form of food items back. As I have mentioned earlier, go to the authorised stores. There, you can taste the products and you can be certain they are the real stuff.

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The popular ones are Ghee Hiang and Him Heang

So, these are the 12 things we did in Penang. We did not have sufficient time for high tea at 1885, E&O hotel (what a disappointment) and if you want to go for it, do make a call for reservation!

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We booked a van and the tour guide cum driver and this made our trip so much easier. Less walking which is good for the elderly folks. However, Georgetown should really be done on foot.

If you love beaches, spend a day at Batu Ferringhi. It reminds me of Kuta Beach area, Bali.

There you have it – our 4D 3N trip to Penang.

More pictures can be found on my FB page.

Tefal cooking workshop @ ONAKA

It’s 4pm on a serene Saturday and nestled within the PSA building, five bloggers were getting ready to learn wonderful cooking techniques from the chefs at ONAKA restaurant using Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan. The cooking workshop is a collaboration between Tefal Singapore and omy.sg and I am privileged to be one of the bloggers attending the event.

IMG_0567Held at ONAKA (which is an acronym for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts), the head chef, Jason Vito, and sous chef, Benson Tong showed their passion for cooking healthily by their deliberate choice of the ingredients used and providing us with nutritional knowledge of the food as they cooked. It was much like a Science lesson. As they demonstrated a three-course restaurant quality meal using the Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan, I am assured that good food is within the reach of any homecook. 

I. Garlic prawns on toast

ONAKA’s belief in eating consciously and living mindfully naturally extents to the quality and ingredients used in their food preparation. For this dish, rye bread is used for its many benefits over white bread. Did I mention that they bake their own bread at ONAKA?

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Heating up the Tefal Comfort Touch Frypan, Chef Jason added olive oil and saute the rosemary, kaffir lime leaf, garlic and chilli. Turning the heat to high, prawns were then added to be seared which turned red within minutes. Lastly, white wine (Chef used drinking white wine) was added and the restaurant was IMG_0646suddenly perfumed by the savory aroma and filled with sputtering music. My senses awoke and appetite whetted.

Before platting the prawns on the rye bread, Chef Benson showed us that even without a panini press, we could achieve the same result for a toasted rye bread using the frypan and he’s right, it worked well! With a sprinkle of extra virgin oil and lime juice and a brilliant use of blended soy lecithin and lime juice as garnishing, a very delectable garlic prawns on toast was presented before us. And it’s not surprising that we polished it off within minutes.

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II. Roasted Mushroom Soba

The next dish would require more time for preparation since the mushrooms have to be roasted to remove its strong smell since some may not like it. However, once the ingredients are ready, the cooking time should just take about 10 minutes.

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From the look of the ingredients and the name of the dish, you might think that it is rather Japanese, no? Well, it is essentially Japanese, in my opinion, but Chef gave a twist to it by adding truffle oil during plating, thus staying true to their incorporation of “East meets West Healing Kitchen” concept.

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The dish is quick and simple to make, as I have mentioned, as long as the ingredients are ready and mise en place. Chef first blanched the soba in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Then, he added olive oil to the heated pan and sauted the roasted mushroom. Mirin was poured in and subsequently dashi and tamari (soy sauce) were added to taste. Finally, the cooked soba was added to the stock and brought to boil before Chef plated the dish and garnished it with nori, daikon cress and truffle oil. Yes, it’s that simple! Is it possible to make this dish at home? Absolutely! What’s even better is that this dish can be made just by using one frypan! I love it too that the Chefs at ONAKA create recipes that could be re-created in the comfort of our homes and kitchens. Awesome!

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Don’t you love this roasted mushroom soba? You can tell from the picture that it is a healthy dish – good for our stomach! Have I shared that ONAKA means “stomach” in Japanese? Oh! Just for information’s sake, Chef shared with us that the best dried konbu has to be from Hokkaido.

III. Butternut Squash Pancake with Banana Ice Cream

Desserts! Who can resist? I must warn you that this portion is big and good for four people. I could have this for my main actually. IMG_0728

Butternut squash was used instead of pumpkin which was stated in the recipe. And why not since the former is sweeter and definitely a winner. If you do not know how it looks like, here is a picture, together with the rest of the ingredients. The fun-loving Chef Jason decided to add a face to the squash and the latter came alive with a smile.

The preparation time for this dessert takes about 60 minutes since you have to roast the squash and rest the batter. Just some additional knowledge – when we mix the batter ingredients, it is advisable not to mix it too much as overmixing causes carbon dioxide to escape, resulting in flat, tough pancakes. The presence of carbon dioxide creates light, fluffy pancakes. The batter is then rested in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow more carbon dioxide bubbles to develop. According to Chef Jason, baking powder is added so that a fluffier pancake can result.

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Using the Tefal Frypan, Chef Jason heated it up to medium hot, added some oil and then a ladder of batter and let it fry for about 2 minutes. 8 to 10 pieces of roasted squash were then added to the batter. Chef commented that the pancake should not be too cooked since by doing so, it would result in a dry pancake. After ensuring the bottom of the pancake was well cooked (you should see a brown side), he did the flip.

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I thought the flip fully showed off the frypan’s non-stick capability. Not a trace of batter was stuck and the bottom of the pancake was beautifully and evenly cooked. The frypan’s awesome!

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Once that was done, the rest was simple. Just cut the pancake into eighths and garnish with banana ice cream and mixed berries.

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Thanks to the good folks at Tefal and omy.sg, we could enjoy this terrific cooking experience with the affable chefs at ONAKA who were so willing to share their culinary knowledge with us. I am indeed motivated to cook healthily for my family and now equipped with Tefal Frypan and Saute-pan, I felt almost empowered and definitely encouraged to come up with wonderful dishes to share with you!

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Join me in this culinary journey and do check back soon. I will be sharing a creation of my own recipe with you.

Read the experiences of the other bloggers on the official website.
More pictures of the workshop are on my FB page.

What’s in my bag?

We are back from Penang and for today, I’ll share what’s in my bag for a 6-month-old mother.

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1. Nursing cover. Couldn’t do without it.
2. Diaper bag which consists of diapers (duh), wet wipes, extra clothes for Faith.
3. Water bottle.
4. Recycling bag for grocery shopping.
5. Mini fan. Today, I decided to walk to church for bible study and thought I would attach it to Faith’s pram but in the end, didn’t use. Sigh! Added extra weight.
6. Wallet.
7. Mom’s home keys
8. Small folder to contain cards and vouchers.
9. Ipad and notes for BS.
10. Home keys (not in pic)
11. Old receipts

Hmm, this is not much different from my bag in January.
So, what’s in your bag?

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The Accidental Mom Blogger

FFWD | Creamy mushrooms and eggs

Because of this recipe, my hubs and I could enjoy a delectable cafe-style breakfast. I’m so loving it that I intend to make this again, with poached eggs and brioche, if I have the time. :p

For now, it will be this. But I’m already satisfied.

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If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us in French Fridays with Dorie?

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