Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家)

[Media invite]

It’s back to Gu Ma Jia to satisfy those cravings of mine. This Chinese restaurant has always scored for their delectable home-cooked dishes. Their ingredients and seafood used for cooking are handpicked by Gu Ma (the founder) and her team from the wholesale market daily, ensuring that only the best ingredients are picked to guarantee freshness and taste.

I just want to state upfront that I LOVE THEIR FOOD. Period.

This time round, they have added two items on their menu – Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Soup and Ginger Lemongrass Tea.

S_GMJ-Lemongrass-Ginger-Chicken-Soup-2Credits: Gu Ma Jia

This kampong-style traditional chicken soup recipe is from Gu Ma’s home town of Pulau Ubin and is packed with many health benefits lemongrass provides and essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B5 B6. I personally like lemongrass and find the aroma therapeutic. The Lemongrass Ginger Chicken soup ($20, 2-3 pax) is really nutritious so it’s not surprising that I went for multiple servings. Don’t waste!

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This is the Ginger Lemongrass tea ($2.50), another new item on the menu. It reminds me of the refreshment that I am given each time after a spa treatment, only that this one is milder in taste. This tea is packed with rich anti-oxidants, which helps to expel toxins and improve metabolism.  Like the chicken soup, this power combination in a cup is filled with all the anti-inflammatory properties and health benefits of lemongrass and the common spice, ginger. Have this after your meal!

Apart from these two additions, our family was treated to the other signature dishes which you shouldn’t miss at all if you do have the opportunity to dine at Gu Ma Jia.

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The Homemade Yam Ring with Pork Ribs (S$30) is no doubt our favorite. The yam ring was cooked to perfection! It was crispy on the outside yet soft and creamy on the inside. As if this was not enough, it was cleverly paired with the scrumptious Kyoto Pork Ribs. This dish is truly heavenly!

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This picture was taken before the children had a taste of this dish. Minutes later, the dish, especially the ribs, were gone. The kids, especially the girl, kept asking for it!

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This is the dish – Assam Bee Hoon Crab (seasonal price) – that I could have to my heart’s content since the hubs and kids couldn’t take spicy food. Okay, so I’m not a fan of crabs because I am lazy and dislike dirtying my fingers but I changed my mind with this succulent Sri Lankan crab because there was much meat and it’s worth my time and effort in shelling the crab. Moreover, I love spicy food and the assam bee hoon was really delicious so it’s not surprising that I went for more servings. It’s truly a satisfying dish!

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This Sliced Ginger Fried Chicken was a hit with us too. I mean, fried chicken, who doesn’t like? The meat was tender and as you put that portion of fried meat into your mouth, it doesn’t feel that you are eating an oily piece of chicken. And those sliced fried ginger? Felt like potato chips with a gingerly taste. You probably won’t stop at one.

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We were further served greens which is my love. I can just consume veggies anytime and they served the Kai Lan that was cooked in two styles – blanched and fried (S$12, S$18, S$24). Ingenious! The crispy leaves tasted like seaweed and the little girl loved this part. The stems were cooked just right and were crunchy. This is a must-order if you are into greens.

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We were then introduced to this new dish (new to me) and the server told me that I would not have guessed that the crispy fried slices were brinjal. Indeed, I couldn’t! I don’t dislike eggplant but I have not tasted this vegetable that is prepared in this way – lightly tossed in sweet marmite sauce and then fried with French beans – and it was delicious! The girl who has an issue with brinjal welcomed the Crispy Bean-Jal (S$12, S$18, S$24) at the table.

Dessert was Vinegar Enzyme Jelly ($4.50) and I only got to savour a few spoonfuls because the boy kept wanting it. I didn’t mind giving it to him since the fruit enzyme extracts can provide health benefits to the those who consume it.

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Another dessert that was NOT eaten by me is the Black Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream ($4.80). I did have a first taste of it, just to make sure that it was not too sweet for the girl before giving up my right to share this with her. Okay, the Papa and girl finished this up. Everyone was happy.

Again, Gu Ma Jia didn’t disappoint. If you desire scrumptious food prepared in a home-cooked manner (reminds me of mom’s cooking), come on down. I’ve tasted their food for the past few years and their standard hasn’t dropped at all.

In case you are uninformed, you can also have Gu Ma Jia’s delicacies delivered to your doorstep okay? Do check their website if you are interested!

Gu Ma Jia
45 Tai Thong Crescent
Sennett Estate Singapore 347866

Phone: +6285 2023

flo cafe – by food lovers for food lovers

[Food review]

The next time you step foot into IMM, why not try the food at flo (food lovers only)? This new, unpretentious, clean-looking halal cafe offers a wide array of dishes and yet just enough not to thrust you into an overwhelming state. In a nutshell, the selection is …just right.

Interior

flo is an extension of Cafe Manuka in Paragon. The idea to establish flo came about when the Manuka Group wanted a café with more versatile options besides New Zealander cuisine, and one that also caters to the Muslim/halal demographic. A cafe that serves a variety of cuisines was thus born.

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This is one of their all-day breakfast’s hot favourites – flo’s Rosti Special ($15). The potato-lover in me appreciated that the rosti is made from freshly grated potatoes. With two eggs (scrambled or sunny side-up), fresh rocket salad, marinated pulled chicken slices and sour cream with chives dip on the side, this makes for a filling and satisfying meal.

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If you want a lighter starter, their soup-of-the day is delish and there is also this Tomato Mozzarella Salad ($12). I’m not a fan of tomatoes but I love the freshness of the greens. Salad lovers, you might want to try this or their Wild Rocket Mushroom Salad ($10).

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This main, the Korean Inspired Marinated Chicken served with Korean-style fried anchovies and Kimchi Fried Brown Rice ($16) is my personal favourite. It’s a no wonder as I love kimchi and anchovies and since it’s brown rice, I feel this is a healthier meal option? ;p Also, I love the char-grilled chicken so this dish is a thumbs-up for me.

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For those who like their bread, there is the Korean Beef Bulgogi Sandwich ($15). The beef is tender and yummy and I wish there are more of it in the sandwich!

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Pasta and spice lovers, may I challenge you to taste this Korean Beef Pasta ($17)? This unique dish is made with flo’s in-house blended base and it allows the rich flavours of kimchi to complement the spaghetti and beef. I would have chosen this to be my favourite except that I find it too spicy for me. ;(

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flo also offers desserts such as the Bountiful Choco-Brownie ($14.50) and a good selection of cakes.

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Spoilt for choice, no? We had matcha red bean cake, rainbow cake that will cheer you up just by looking at it, ondeh-ondeh cake which we unanimously agreed that it’s the best among the four and tiramisu.

These are just some of the dishes we have tried and there are more on the menu to choose from. The cafe is kids’ friendly and they provide toys as entertainment for the young ones as they wait for their food.

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On the whole, the dining experience at flo is a positive one. There is enough but not overwhelming choice of food on the menu and I’m sure there would definitely be some that would cater to your taste buds. The service is prompt and professional, with a smile always and I truly like the casual setting of the cafe. A good cafe to to dine in and catch up with friends!

flo (food lovers only)
IMM
2 Jurong East Street 21 #02-15A
Singapore 609601
11am to 10pm daily
Contact number: 68961396
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FLO.foodloversonly/

Delectable Chinese New Year set dishes at Gu Ma Jia

[Media invite]

Chinese New Year is approaching! Have you make plans for this year’s reunion dinner? If you don’t want the hassle of cooking (and washing up of dishes) at home and wanted to just enjoy a scrumptious meal with your loved ones, do consider the Chinese New Year sets available at Gu Ma Jia, won’t you?

I had my first food tasting at Gu Ma Jia a few years back and I remember the food fondly because the dishes were fresh and of quality  and cooked just like the way my mom does. By that I mean the food was not too salty, too oily or laden with MSG. They were just authentic homecooked food.

For this coming Chinese New Year, Gu Ma Jia has come up with two sets namely ‘Peace’ and ‘Prosperity’ as if to remind us to spread peace and love between one and another while sharing our prosperity. 😉

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We had the opportunity to taste some of the dishes last month and again, Gu Ma Jia has won our hearts.

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The Ginseng Fortune Chicken is made up of  double boiled chicken, roasted pork, scallops, sea cucumber and fish maw with ginseng in a claypot. The overall result is a bowl of rich soup that will definitely bring a smile to everyone’s faces. You feel good just by knowing the premium ingredients that go into this dish. This is really good!

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I love broccoli that is cooked right. At Gu Ma Jia, this vegetable is cooked perfectly and brillantly paired with macadamia nuts and fresh scallop. The crunchiness of the nuts adds a fresh perspective to the usual broccoli, carrots and scallop combination that we so often tasted in restaurants. This dish is light (not heavy on sauce) and I could taste the goodness of the individual ingredient in its authentic form.

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One of the ways to test  if the ingredients served at a restaurant are fresh, order the seafood. These Stir Fry Prawns with Superior Sauce are so succulent that the usual I-don’t-like-to-peel-prawns me went ahead to undress them, just by using the power of the teeth and chopsticks. Fresh prawns are easy to shell, so they say.

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I don’t think I need to mention about the freshness of this Steamed Red Grouper. This will be a dish which will be a hit with my mom who LOVES fish and is done just the way she likes it. It is truly fresh and it’s not a surprise since the ingredients are handpicked and quality checked by Gu Ma herself. I even packed the reminder of this dish so that I could make fish porridge with it. Don’t waste the meat and the sauce!

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Normally I try to avoid Fried Noodles because they made me feel so stuffed. But this plate of noodles didn’t. I was told that this is a special type of noodles and it’s light on the stomach and I find myself going for second helping. Delectable!

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Dessert is  this yummy Longan Wolfberries Sea Bird Nest which I like and appreciate. After having eaten all the delicious food, it’s always good to have something light and refreshing and this is not too sweet, which is good! Just the natural goodness will do!

Besides these two CNY sets, Gu Ma Jia also offers a special ala-carte menu during this festive season and they feature Gu Ma’s signature dishes and exclusive Chinese New Year delicacies.

 

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For the complete list of the ala-carte menu, they can be found here.

Do note that there will be session timings for the set menu on the actual day of the Reunion Dinner on 27th Jan 2017:
:: 1st session 12pm – 2pm
:: 2nd session 2.15pm – 4.15pm
:: 3rd session 6pm – 7.45pm &
:: Last session 8pm – 9.45pm

In case you are uninformed, you can also have Gu Ma Jia’s delicacies delivered to your doorstep okay? Do check their website if you are interested!

Gu Ma Jia
45 Tai Thong Crescent
Sennett Estate Singapore 347866

Phone: +6285 2023

 

Foodie Friday | Blend it up

Birthday celebrations with the in-laws are done over a meal and usually, the birthday girl or guy would suggest the restaurant to dine in. It can be stressful (to me) because you want everyone to enjoy the meal and that means choosing a place that offers good food. Besides, my Peranakan aunt-in-law is an excellent cook and I didn’t want to disappoint her with any wrong choice of eatery or food! For Daniel’s birthday, a friend suggested Blend It Up, an Italian Fusion Casual Dining restaurant along Upper Paya Lebar Road. It took me a while to decide on this place because we have never had Italian cuisine all these years and I’m not sure if the older folks like them? In the end, I decided to go for this since I was told that the chef, Chef Peter Neo, has 35 years of culinary experience and the restaurant offers original handcrafted sauces, soups, pizzas and pastas made fresh from scratch and free from preservatives; they are created from the finest ingredients, authentic flavours. I thought about my two children and okay, the food is definitely suitable and good enough for them!

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Quaint and cosy restaurant, I must say. We went on a Sunday for lunch and if you are driving, you might want to be patient with finding a carpark lot since there are many churches in the vicinity (Sunday service = many cars).

We were greeted by the affable Chef Peter Neo and after settling us, he asked if Faith wanted to have some authentic experience with making a pizza while waiting for two more guests to arrive. Why, of course! Okay, I have to clarify that my friend has helped to arrange for this. 😉

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So yes, this uncle seemed nice enough and Faith warmed up to him rather quickly and before we knew it, she was having fun with making the pizza.

 

I’m not sure if such a one-to-one pizza making session is always available but you can always call up to inquire! What I know is that he is able to provide cooking demonstration if needed and private dining, cooking lessons and pizza classes for groups are available for customers.

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The girl was obviously very excited about her attempt on pizza making in a professional kitchen under the guidance of a celebrity chef!

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Minutes later, the Blend It Up pizza was ready! Absolutely love it and it served itself well as a delicious appetizer. How not to love this classic pizza with its crispy thin crust that is topped with feta and mozzarella cheese, mushroom, honey baked ham and completed with a sunny side up on top? The fact that Faith had a hand in it just made it delectable. I’m biased, I know but honestly, this is good.

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Next up were wild mushroom soup and chef’s specialty chicken wings. I love mushroom soup that contains chunks of mushroom in every mouthful. This one had them and it was thick, rich and creamy the way I like it. Faith shares my love for this soup and we could tell which are the good ones because we always, always order mushroom soup when it is available in the restaurant. Pairing the soup are the chicken wings which were all snapped up rather quickly.

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Chef then presented us with the whole grilled squid which is not found in the menu. But I was glad that I heeded his advice to have this served because everyone at the able raved about this seafood item. Granted that we don’t usually order this when we dine out but this whole squid was cooked well; it’s tender and juicy and I just love the seasoning.

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Another winner is the roasted pork belly with porcini sauce. This is a request from my father-in-law since he loves roasted pork belly and after he had his first bite, we could hear his praise for this dish. Phew! The slow-roasted pork belly was tender and evenly marbled with fat. Love the top layer of perfect crispy crackling and the homemade Porcini sauce and the side of pineapple sauce make this dish truly delightful for all.

 

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My auntie-in-law ordered the grilled salmon with butter sauce and loved it. Throughout the meal, I heard her commmenting, “This is good, this is good!” for the various dishes. It’s a high compliment coming from this seasoned cook. She further told me that she saw Chef Neo on TV before and updated me that the restaurant was featured on that day’s papers. I think I have chosen the right place to celebrate Dan’s birthday! *Happy mom*
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Is every dish so perfect? I wish I could say that but there are a few dishes which we thought could fare better. Since we were in an Italian restaurant, I thought we should order risotto to try. We had the mushroom one and my sister-in-law and I found something missing from the dish. She found it too ‘jelat’ (rich) while I thought it was a tad light. The bountiful amount of mushroom didn’t impress the mushroom lover in me. It’s decent enough as a dish but not stellar.
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In the end, Daniel helped to finish the remaining portion for this dish.
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By dessert time, most of us were already full but who could pass with gelato and waffles? So we had two scoops of chocolate and avocado gelato on freshly baked waffle. The gelato was good but I couldn’t say the same for the waffle. I would have preferred the waffle to be more on the crispy side and the dessert would have been awesome. Nonetheless, the girl liked this sweet treat.
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We had an intimate lunch in this quaint restaurant that seats about 45 people. Chef Neo, though busy in the kitchen, took time off once in a while to mingle with his customers. Many of the patrons seemed like old-time customers by the way they related to each other.
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After the lunch, I posted the pics on my FB and was told that my friend was a regular customer and recommended this place too. Go for the 1-for-1 promotion that is only available on weekdays from 11.30am to 3pm (excluding public holidays) to get your money’s worth! 😉 Expect to fork out about $30/pax without the promotion.
The next time I visit this restaurant, I would be trying out some of the dishes that have a local spin on them. After all, this is an Italian-fusion cuisine!
This is a good place for a casual meal with friends and family. We recommend this place!
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A little about the chef:
Chef Peter Neo is no stranger in the culinary and media industry. He has 35 years of culinary experience and was the former Chef di Partie at Raffles Hotel. His passion for the culinary arts brought him to Italy where he learnt to cook authentic Italian cuisine from some of the best Italian chefs. Upon his return to Singapore, he joined an established local Italian restaurant chain.He also began experimenting with fusion Italian food, creating witty and innovative dishes to appeal to local tastes.He is the man behind local Italian restaurant Pietro Ristorante Italiano, formerly from Raffles Hotel and Bruno, and his latest venture into Italian fusion food is represented through Blend It Up.

325 Upper Paya Lebar Road, Quemoy Building S(534946)
Telephone Number: 6281 2688
Facebook : www.facebook.com/blenditupsg
Website: blenditup.sg
Instagram: www.instagram.com/blenditupsg
Operating hours (daily):
Lunch: 11.30am to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm

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Thank you, Chef Neo and team for giving us a wonderful experience at Blend It Up. The girl was thrilled with the pizza making session and the folks were really happy with the food that was prepared with much love. Good job! Thanks also for giving us a discount on the meal. Will be back for more.

A fun afternoon on oral care with Colgate

Let’s talk about oral care today, for both children and adults.
:: Be warned. It’s a long post.

imageIsn’t it wonderful when we have a healthy set of teeth to flash when our pictures are taken? Not only that, having strong, healthy teeth can help us chew the right foods so that we can grow. They also help us speak clearly and look our best. So, it’s important that we take care of our teeth.

It’s not always easy, at least in my case. I do not have a healthy set of teeth like my husband. I have to battle cavities and to have root canal done for one of my teeth. I must admit that I am not diligent in taking care of my teeth when I was younger and now I must make sure that my daughter does not suffer the same fate as me. So education on the importance of good oral care habits must start young.

Our family was invited by Colgate Singapore to a parent forum in which we were informed by a dentist, Dr JJ, on the dangers of dental cavities and the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Not only that, we had the opportunity to participate in a fun, hands-on baking workshop where Faith and I whipped up yummy healthy dishes under the guidance of a professional chef.

When do baby teeth appear?

The first teeth to appear at around six months of age are usually the two lower central incisors – or ‘cutting teeth’. These are followed by the two upper central incisors. By the 16th month, four more incisors would have appeared. Between 13 to 19 months, four canines (pointed teeth) would appear. The molars would have all appeared by the time the child reaches 33 months old.

The order of the appearance is an average only. Babies do vary and it is important to note that teeth appear when they are ready.

Dr JJ reminded us that baby teeth are the foundations of developing permanent teeth and they must be well taken care of. Early loss of baby teeth, for example, can result in space problem for permanent teeth.

What causes tooth decay

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It is important that we take care of our teeth because it helps prevent plaque which is a clear film of bacteria that sticks to our teeth. After we eat, bacteria in our mouth react with the food we eat and sugar acids develop. These sugar acids cause the tooth enamel to weaken, causing holes called cavities.

What we can do

The following are some pointers that Dr JJ mentioned and I thought it’s good to note:

:: Babies who latch on or have a bottle of milk before they sleep tend to have their teeth decay earlier. It is very important that they brush their teeth before they fall asleep!

:: It’s not advisable that the child takes a long time to complete his meal. Dr JJ mentioned that she knew of children who took an hour to do so and by that time, food that is consumed has turned into sugar acids in the mouth.

:: Formula milk contains a lot of sugar. Before you choose one for your child, it is best to read the label and look out for these added sugar which might harm the teeth if they are not well taken care of.

:: Water and milk are the best drinks for your toddler between meals. Try not to give your toddler acidic, sugary or fizzy drinks between meals, or juice or squash in a bottle.

:: Of course, much depends on what one eats. There is a consistent message to keep sweets and other sugary snacks between meals to a minimum. This includes dried fruits such as raisins which are high in sugar and can stick to teeth, as well as chocolate and cakes. Dr JJ maintained that the point is not to refrain from eating them but to practise oral care after consuming them. She shared that her own children are given sugary snacks too but she makes sure that they clean their teeth well. In any case, apart from water, everything else {including good old vegetables and fruits) that we consume has sugar in it.

:: Have regular dental visits. It is recommended that the children start visiting the dentist when they are young before problems arise.

The fun part: Making your own mini pasta pie

Part of this forum was the opportunity to have a fun time making healthy dishes with the little ones. The chef told us that it is always good to read the labels on the bottles or cans of food that we purchase. More often than not, they contain a high level of sugar and she advocated that we make our own sauce, dips, etc.

So that day, we were taught how to make our own pasta sauce.

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It is pretty easy and I like it that they use natural ingredients (apart from the canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste). Make a big amount and you can store the rest for future use. No need to buy those bottled pasta sauce in future ( I was told there is about 1/4 cup of sugar in each bottle. That’s a lot of sugar!)

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Next, the children got to assemble their own pasta pies! Just combine the penna pasta, mixed vegetables or broccoli, pasta sauce and cheese before baking. It’s that easy! Faith had a fun time doing it and I realised that we can do simple cooking such as this at home. I’m going to try this recipe again. So stay tuned!

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To complete the meal, the children had to make their own dessert – fruits kebab.

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I must say this activity made me nervous. The kids had to cut the fruits into smaller pieces and our little girl was super enthusiastic about cutting. The knife was really sharp and I had to stop her from doing it herself. Other than that, it was pure joy to see her enjoying herself.

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Toothbrushing tips

:: Brush at least 2 times a day, once in the morning and once a night before sleeping

:: Toothbrushing must be supervised. This is because a young child would not know how to brush their teeth well until the age of 7.

:: Be systematic when you brush. Divide the upper and lower jaws into 3 segment each and brush all surfaces of a tooth

:: A good brush will take about 2 – 3 minutes

:: Brush the teeth and gums and angle the bristles at 45 degrees to the gumline

:: A toothbrush with small head and soft rounded bristles is good for kids. Replace once every 3 months.

:: For children who can spit effectively, they can use 1000ppm fluoride or a pea-sized amount to brush their teeth. When asked about the use of fluoride-free toothpaste for young kids, Dr JJ warned that the children tend to swallow the toothpaste as well since they can be swallowed. This might hinder them from learning to use the fluoride toothpaste as they grow older. Her own thought would be to use water to brush their teeth before they learn how to spit.

More info on oral health for children can be found here.

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutralizer

We were lastly introduced to the Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer which claims to be a new standard of oral care that makes a cavity-free future possible. It is clinically proven to fight tooth decay in two ways. Firstly, its patented Sugar Acid Neutralizer helps deactivate sugar acids before they can harm teeth. Secondly, with fluoride an calcium, it also strengthens and restores the enamel to help prevent cavity formation.

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We were all given a pack to try the new product at home and so far, it has been good. It feels as if your teeth are cleaned just like when you are at the dentist. If the product delivers what it claims to do, then it will be worthwhile to have Faith use it when she have learnt how to spit. For now, the Mama is still trying out! 😉

This is a short video to illustrate how the new breakthrough technology Sugar Acid Neutralizer works. Do visit www.facebook.com/ColgateSG or www.colgate.com.sg for more information on the product.

Thank you, Colgate, for this invitation. We truly had fun during the baking session with the chefs at Expat Kitchen and benefited much from the informative session on oral care with Dr JJ. Even Faith gave a thumbs up!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to attend the baking workshop organised by Colgate. No monetary compensation was given. Information on dental care was written based on what I have gathered from the session and from limited research via the internet.

Lunching with a star

How often do you get to lunch with a celebrity? The probability for normal folks like me would be terribly low but yesterday, I had the privilege to have lunch with a Local TV celebrity and to make it even special, she prepared the lunch all by herself. How awesome is that?

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She is none other than Wong Lilin, a lady whom I have taken a liking to since she took to the screen and one whom I have respect for. In fact, she is the one who inspired me to take up triathlon. Then, as a single, I was thinking that if she, as a mom, could find the time to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep fit and to train for triathlons, then surely I would be able to do it too. Her loopz band had also kept me company during the cold winter in Boston when running outdoors was too great a challenge for me. Brrr….

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The dish that got me lunch!

I’m thankful to Jenn who tagged me to participate in a contest jointly organised by Lilin and De Dietrich Asia. All we needed to do was to whip up a whole foods dish and post it on IG. I submitted mine and was really elated when I was among the fifteen selected.

Wong Lilin greeted us warmly as we entered the De Dietrich kitchen though she was busy preparing lunch for us. My first thought was, “Wow! She’s so unassuming! No airs!” Before this, I was a little tensed since I would be meeting a star but hey, she was so hospitable it felt as if I was just going for a gathering with my mommy friends.

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Meeting Lilin face-to-face and you will realize that she looks even prettier in person. How does she maintain herself so well as a working mom? She shared that she just got to choose what she needs to do (important areas to her) and to do those areas well. She recognizes that she can’t do it all (but how many of us, moms, always set such expectations for ourselves?) and even at times when she fumbles, she will pick herself and try again. That’s no condemnation and I thought that’s loving oneself! Oh, how we need that!

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This is the appetizer which is spinach dip. I love it. So simple to make and yet so nutritious! I must make it one day!

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For the mains, she made polenta (better alternative to mashed potatoes), slow braised beef cheek and sautéed mushrooms.

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Oh, by the way, she shared that she only put on make-up when she turned 40 and she looked incredibly tall with her 3-inch high heel shoes, making me look so short. :p

We talked about motherhood, parenting, healthy diet and exercise, topics that I’m interested in. It’s evident that her kids are most important in her lives as she would mention them every now and then. When asked how her children learn to eat such healthy stuff, she merely said that they would have to see her enjoying the food. It boils down to walking the talk. And how does she keep her body in such good condition, it’s all about striking a balance.

Lilin doesn’t deny herself of any food but she also knows that there are certain types of food that is best avoided or to be consumed little. Acting on this knowledge helps. Many of us know a lot about food consumption and eating in moderation but when it comes to the real act, we just couldn’t do a good job. Is it true in your case?

The affable and humble star shared that her body condition is at its worst and we were all wondering how that is possible?? She looks really good! I think she must be kidding!

One of the reasons for the invitation to lunch with her is to find out what we would like to see on her IG or FB. She has come to realise that social media is a powerful platform to say, spread a message and in her case, living healthily. The mothers among us (including me) love to see her posts about her children, parenting and obviously her healthy diet since we want our kids to grow up with good food too.

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What about you? What would you like to see on her IG? 🙂

Follow her on IG: lilinwong

In the mood for…

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Once in a while, I get the desire to want to whip up a good meal for the family. Today is one of 20140309-220439.jpgthose days.

For a while, I had wanted to do some sliders using charcoal buns after seeing pictures of those burgers from a certain restaurant ( I can’t remember which one now!). It is not difficult if you know how to bake bread. It just takes time. Since I still have some water roux/ Tang zhong in the refrigerator, I thought I should just bake a batch of buns lest it goes to waste. And instead of baking only one type of flavour, I decided to bake different types using charcoal powder, matcha powder and cocoa powder with cranberries and mixed fruits.

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Using estimation, I divided up the dough into various portions and added about 1/2 tbsp each of the powder to the individual portion and continued kneading until the powder is more or less blended with the dough before giving them time for the first rise. After about 40 minutes, the air was punched out and I divided the dough into rounds of about 50g – 60g each, depending on the combination that I want.

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So, once again, the kitchen is well-stocked with good old bread. Once that is done, I decided to cook honey-baked mustard chicken thighs again. It’s an easy dish (anything roasted is good!) and yummy too. While the chicken was being baked, I parboiled the asparagus and spinach, sauteed some shittake mushrooms and added in cream and wine. Heavenly.

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The sauce from the roasted chicken cannot be wasted. It can be drizzled on the salad which adds a nice flavour to the meal. Oh, for the sliders, I just cut up the meat from the chicken thighs into smaller pieces and add the mushrooms, spinach and a cube of cheese.

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This is really a dish that can be prepared in a short while once you have the buns ready. Da man was happy, little Faith kept eating and I was satisfied.

Honey baked chicken thigh – Marinate with honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes or until done.

{FFWD} Butter and Rum Crepes

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So this is my first FFWD post for 2014. Apologies. I’ve been really busy with a string of random stuff that experimenting with French dishes has taken a back seat. This week is rather calm and as I looked at the dish for this week, I was excited. It could well be Faith’s breakfast minus the rum, that is and I set about preparing the batter yesterday. Crepe batter has to rest and chill in the refrigerator to become perfectly blended and to thicken. Two hours is the minimum; 12 hours or more is ideal.

To make the crepe batter,

Rub these ingredients until the sugar is moist and very fragrant.

Rub these ingredients until the sugar is moist and very fragrant.

I thought this can be used when decorating cakes! Idea!

I thought this can be used when decorating cakes! Idea!

Using the food processor and in my case, food chopper,

Add these and blend them well, making sure that the flour is blended but don't overmix the batter.

Add these and blend them well, making sure that the flour is blended but don’t overmix the batter.

Then you pour into a pitcher. For me, I divide the batter into two as I do want some (1 tsp) Grand Marnier in mine.

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Yum!

This morning, the batter was ready and to make the crepes, I rub my nonstick pan with lightly oiled crumpled paper towel and put it over medium heat. I poured about 5 tbsp of the batter each time.

The crepe is ready when the underside is specked with brown spots. Use your finger to flip!

The crepe is ready when the underside is specked with brown spots. Use your finger to flip!

The sauce to match this crepe uses 1/3 cup honey, 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 7 tbsp unsalted butter at cool room temperature. After heating the honey, I added the juices and then used a whisk to whisk in the butter, a tbsp at a time. The sauce should be smooth and slightly thickened however mine turned out rather runny. Could it be the type of honey used?

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The little girl was enthusiastic about her breakfast initially until she took a first bite and spit it out! I was so surprised! She didn’t take to the texture well. In the end, I added banana to the crepe. Oh well, perhaps she prefers the crispy version of the crepe. I’ll try it tomorrow!

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I enjoyed mine though, complete with Cafe Au Lait. Love the citrus in the sauce. It definitely helps to perk me up!

20140221-111101.jpgThe little girl soon forgot about the breakfast after a wonderful time at the playground.

This is a weekly attempt at French food via French Fridays with Dorie. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us?

Dark Beer Pork Ribs

If I could drown my sorrows in beer, I would. Alas, I don’t drink but that doesn’t mean I can’t cook with beer. Recently, we were involved in a car accident and it’s totally our fault. We decided not to get the insurance companies involved but to settle among ourselves. Three cars were involved and we were the one…at the back. Arghhhhh!

To cut the long story short, we have to fork out a few thousands which is a big sum for a single-income family. My heart was aching in pain as I negotiated with the other parties. If only…if only. Sigh. BIG SIGH!

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Anyway, back to cooking with beer. My sister is hosting dinner this evening for the first time since coming back to settle for good. 3.5 years in a {not so} distant land can be trying for a mother with 2 kids. She has to deal with language and cultural difference and definitely a vast difference in lifestyle with no help at all. I’m glad she’s back.

So, I am cooking Dark Beer Pork Ribs which I have attempted and (the hubs) love. Instead of deep frying the pork ribs, I bake them in the oven since I’m not too keen on the idea of having an oily kitchen. They taste well still but I wonder what the effects would be like if they are deep fried.

Serves my family of 6 adults
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1kg pork ribs
1 stalk lettuce
some parsley, spring onion
2 tbsp oil

Marinade:
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp dark beer
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp tapioca flour (to add last)

Seasoning:
50ml dark beer
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp tomato & chilli sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce

1. Rinse the pork ribs and drain. Add marinade and mix well. Marinate for 3 hours.

2. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until cooked through and browned.

3. Heat up a frying pan with 2 tbsp of oil. Add the seasoning and bring to boil. Add in the pork ribs and mix well.

4. Lastly, sprinkle with parsley and/or spring onion. Serve together with lettuce.

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FFWD | Hurry Up and Wait Roast Chicken

Loving this recipe because I just have to add some oil, salt and pepper to this combination and put the skillet into the oven. It saves a lot of time too since I can do my stuff while waiting for the chicken to be ready. Since there are only two of us, I used two chicken thighs instead of the whole chicken. Of course, in my family, vegetables are important and to complete this meal, potatoes, cauliflower and carrots are thrown in.

Both Ken and I had a scrumptious dinner! Yummy!

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This is a weekly attempt at French food via French Fridays with Dorie. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us?

Food education the Japanese way

I’m no nutritionist but I do know a little about food education, a result of growing up with a mother who cooks meals 95% of the time. It helps greatly that she dragged us along to the wet market and taught us how to spot the freshest meat and vegetables. amongst other things (like haggling with the stallholders, for example). Obviously, we were also involved in the cooking and baking process since young.  But I must qualify that we weren’t very enthusiastic then (even dreaded it) but whatever we were taught stays with us. Incredible!

So, it’s no surprise that I would start Faith early on eating well and recognising the various foods in their original state. I’m not a fan of store-bought food because they do contain preservatives and therefore not good for the little one. However, for convenience’s sake, they can be a good substitute.

I continue to be intrigued by how the Japanese and the French cultivate good eating habits in their children since young. In my humble opinion, teaching good eating habits is as tough as inculcating values in a being and it has to start from young for once he/she has a good foundation, the person will grow up distinguishing right from wrong and will (hopefully) make wise decisions along the way.

Some points on the Japanese way of eating (for own knowledge and reference):
Source: Parenting without borders

– What a baby eats is important but the attitude toward feeding a child is equally important. Eating in Japan is a communal matter and babies should NEVER eat alone. Even when the baby is too young to eat solids, he is always kept with the parents at mealtimes so that when he gets older, he eats together with them. This is a cardinal rule. To make babies feel even more like a part of the family, parents give them the same foods as everyone else. So, one can hardly see children’s menu in Japanese restaurants. From the time babies start eating, they’re eating the same things as adults, just more lightly seasoned or modified for the baby’s age.

– Presentation is important because when food is appealingly prepared and laid out, with an ideal mix of colours and textures, the baby will be more likely to eat it. I’m not sure about you but when I see those beautiful Bento boxes such as the following, I couldn’t help but be attracted to them and eat the contents.

{Source}

– In Japan, the thinking is to introduce young kids to a wide variety of tastes and textures, teach them to appreciate food, teach them never to waste and get them used to structured mealtimes and mealtime behaviour. The Japanese ate three proper meals each day and though overall portions were small, each meal was balanced and filling.

[Source]

– Snacks are not liberally given so kids do look forward to treats because they were rare and presented as a special privilege.

– It is considered a moral good to teach kids to eat properly and it is also an adult’s job to teach children the concept of gratitude for every bit of food on their plates. All children are taught to think of the animal who provided the meat, the farmer who grew the produce, the person who make and serve the food. Children are encouraged to eat everything they are served, to try everything they are given.

– A good parent helps her children to learn to eat anything, and she believes they can and will become good eaters, through high expectations, patience, beautifully crafted meals and lots of exposure to new foods.

– What make Japanese raise healthy eaters is the consistent support they get from others. Food education is woven throughout school life and kids grow their own tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in first grade (they have a standardised national curriculum so most kids experience the same kind of food education. By fiftth and sixth grade, children are learning cooking basics at school and lunch is an actual class in the curriculum. I like that! It’s a class to teach children where food comes from, how to enjoy a meal and how to serve others.


Pictures above are from an account of an elementary school principal who visited a Japanese school.

A lazy Sunday and a steamed asparagus & fish recipe

How many of you actually take Sunday off and eat out?

I do but when the refrigerator is filled with perishables waiting to be cooked and consumed, I can’t bear to leave them alone. So on this rainy and therefore lazy Sunday, I decided to let the oven do the cooking so that I don’t have to use too much effort to clean the kitchen.

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The FIL is coming over for lunch so I thought of potato gratin ( our family loves it) and a steamed asparagus and fish dish which I saw from here and I thought I should seriously cook it myself.

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The potato gratin is mighty simple. All you need are potatoes, heavy cream, garlic, salt and pepper. Cut the potatoes into thin slices then lay them out on a baking dish. Meanwhile, heat up the heavy cream (I normally use up 200ml) and cloves of garlic (if you like them, put more!). As you arrange the sliced potatoes in slightly overlapping concentric circles, spoon over some warm garlic-infused cream and season each layer with salt and pepper.

This time round, I’ve decided to put some cauliflower on the top layer before dusting the top with gruyere cheese. You can top it up with some herbs too! Bake in 175C oven for about 45 minutes. The dish is done if you can manage to poke a knife through the potatoes easily.

Moving on, we have the steamed fish. First, I place some asparagus on a parchment paper then lemons on it.

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Next are the fish fillets. Make sure you sprinkle some salt and pepper on them! The next time I bake them, I think I would squeeze the lemon on the fillets since I love the taste of lemon.

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The last part would be to put a dollop of butter (about 30g of it) and sliced garlic on the fillets before wrapping it up.

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Bake it in a 200C oven for about 12 minutes and you would have a scrumptious meal!
I garnish it with coriander leaves.

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Enjoy!

The end of my career and the beginning of a sweet phase

My last day at work and who would have thought that my career ends at this point in time. I, for one, have never thought that I would end it in this way but it has to be so.

The days leading to this moment have been heart-wrenching. Seeing my colleagues for the last time hurts. These are the people whom I love dearly. The place where we work is fast-paced and you need to have a strong heart. At times when the pressure-cooker is switched on, you could see tensed-up faces, hear quickened footsteps and definitely feel the heat. However we all know that it is but for a while and after that, we are good.

I have to leave because of a higher calling. There is a gift waiting for me at home, calling out for me to spend time with her. I can’t bear to leave her for too long because she is too precious, much more than my career. Or perhaps it’s just me, that I cannot manage and balance both work and family. Whatever it is, the decision has been made and it is a personal choice.

Today marks the end of a wonderful decade-long career and certainly marks the beginning of another phase of my life.

I celebrate this day with a latte and a cake. Something sweet is coming my way.

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Maple & Market
34 Cassia Crescent
#01-82
Singapore 390034

Friday brunch with an old friend

I am one who believes that we don’t need many friends; just one whom you can turn to despite not meeting up often.

YL is one of them. Our meeting is often impromptu and this time, it is no exception. Since she stays near 112 Katong, we went over to Baci Italian Cafe to have our brunch, with the kids in tow.

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It’s rather quiet when we reached the cafe and there was only one other customer who was obviously enjoying her brunch at the big couch. The cafe has big open space and a kids corner which attracted Aly instantly.

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20130614-144421.jpgYou might be interested to know that kids eat for free here! But I would have to be honest – the food’s not all excellent and it’s self service for drinks. We had waffles and an omelette set. Perhaps, it’s just these few items that we tried that were not up to expectations. Having said that, it is really a good casual place to chill and spend the slow and easy morning with your friends.

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BACI Italian Cafe
112 Katong

A 15-minute lunch

The combination of olive oil + garlic + dry white wine + kafir leaves never fails. In a continual attempt to eat healthily, I did a 15-minute meal for lunch. Pan-seared cod fillet on toasted bread and with blanched asparagus on the side. Since I have wasabi sprouts in the fridge, they are thrown in as well.

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Simple. Just like that. And a wholesome meal is created.

What are you having for lunch?

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Faith is looking hungry!

{Review} ONAKA @ ARC

Restaurants with food that impress are aplenty but those that cause me to reflect on my eating habits and cooking are few. Here’s one which not only offers delectable, healthy meals but one that challenges you to eat consciously and to be mindful of the food that you are consuming – Onaka @ ARC.

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ONAKA stands for Optimum Nutrition And Kitchen Arts. Headed by head chef Jason Vito, he and his team are committed to bring creativity, passion and personality to the table so as to make every dining experience a unique and an authentic one. They use all-natural ingredients in the preparation of their food and that also means no artificial additives, chemicals, colorings, flavorings, MSG, and trans-fats. Will such food be available in a world that has gone artificial and highly processed? The answer is an absolute YES. Here’s my recent food-tasting experience at ONAKA.

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Hosted by Chef Jason, Benson and Rosalind, a group of mommies and I were led to a long table where we were to experience Conscious Cuisine that evening. First up, the appetizers. The starters above showed off ONAKA’s thoughtfulness and creativity in designing the dishes. Who would have thought that the tuna-like sashimi is actually their signature Watermelon Sashimi (top left) topped with agar wasabi “tobiko”. It took some of us quite an amount of time to figure out what it actually was and we didn’t really quite get it right until Chef Jason revealed. Then, there was Asian Hummus (top right) which is made of organic chickpeas. Chef Jason used hazelnut and sesame oil to add flavour to it and to give an Asian spin to the dish.

The Tofu Avocado Salad was Chef Jason’s version of the Greek salad and I love it that it was light, healthy and without feta cheese (sorry, I’m not fond of it). The addition of walnut and hazelnut adds a nice crunch when you consume of the dish and the tamarind dressing adds a nice touch to the salad. The Nicoise Paper Roll reminds me of the vietnamese roll except that this one has fresh tuna, cucumber, French beans, herbed egg-salad, dehydrated olives and aioli. Quite a lot of stuff in the roll, eh?

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Next, the main course, the carbs. We were thinking that we would be served just one dish but lo and behold, four dishes came out. You should have seen our expression. Amazed! Thankfully, as Chef Jason explained, those mains were meant to be shared as they want to bring back the joy of communal eating to their diners. And that’s what we did. From top left, (in clockwise direction) we had Hot & Sour Prawn Rice Noodles, Maritime Barley Risotto,Pineapple Rice and Roasted Mushroom Soba. Of the four, I like the first one the most since I find it hard to resist the succulent queen prawns that were cooked together with shiitake, Asian herbs, chili lime in spicy shrimp broth. Simply exotic! I thought the Maritime Barley Risotto was creatively designed by using barley to replace the commonly-used Arborio, thus resulting in a light carbo dish.

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Proceeding from the noodles and grains, we had proteins, meat! The servers placed about six meat dishes and we were overwhelmed. Chef should have informed us so that we could pace ourselves! From top left in clockwise direction, we had Duck Pancake which I adore. It reminds me of Peking duck, just that this is actually duck confit cooked with five spice and orange caramel and wrapped in tumeric crepes. Wonderful combination, you think? We also had Portobello Mushrooms with quinoa and grilled vegetables topped with cheese (technically it’s not a meat dish but oh well!), Pumpkin Sea Bass and Miso Lamb. These were not all. The servers brought in more: 48 hrs Beef and Pear & Salmon.

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You have read it right. It’s called 48hrs beef because the meat was cooked slowly with tender loving care for two days with red wine reduction and you could imagine the tenderness of the meat as one took a bite. In addition, it was served with mashed pumpkin and sweet potato and who would have thought that this simple combination could be so inviting to the palate. I couldn’t stop eating it. Totally heavenly!

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The last dish which I want to highlight (because it is my favourite!) is the Pear and Salmon. What you have on the plate are seared 47°C Norwegian salmon paired with Asian pear julienne and soft-boiled egg. Omega-3 overdose? Perhaps! The way to eat it is to mix everything together. It may look messy but it definitely tastes delicious!

As you can see, there is a good variety of food in the menu and there is somethingIMG_1724 for everyone. We were privileged to have the chefs explain the various dishes that were laid out before us. In doing so, they helped us to take notice and enjoy the unique aroma, flavour, texture, taste, selection of ingredients, presentation of food, and understand its nutritional health benefits. That session wasn’t just food tasting; it was food education.

Before we left, we were treated to dessert and who could resist this – Brownie with banana & cardamon ice-cream and topped with a slice of dehydrated banana. We were pampered, to the max.

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ONAKA has created a wonderful and enriching dining experience for us. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. With creativity and knowledge of the ingredients used, the chefs at ONAKA have proved that healthy delicious food can be made. Their passion for what they believe in was clearly demonstrated in their sharing with us. Indeed ONAKA made delicious food healthy and healthy food delicious.

It is one thing to share with you my experience via this means but it is another if you could go down and taste the food yourself. The prices are reasonable for such a cuisine and I am certain that I would visit them again.

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Another thing that impresses me is their thoughtfulness in catering a meal for Sophie, Irene‘s daughter. She was provided with a bowl of Pineapple Rice with Soy Melange Skewer and ice-cream for dessert. How sweet of them!

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Do visit ONAKA and get educated on Conscious Cuisine! Situated at ARC, parking is free with a minimum purchase of $30 on week day evenings and free parking during weekends.

ONAKA @ ARC 
460 Alexandra Road #01-32 PSA Building Singapore 119963
Mon to Fri – 11:30am to 10pm
Afternoon Tea – 3pm to 5pm
Sat & Sun Brunch – 10am to 4pm
Dinner – 6pm & last order 9:30pm
Mon to Sun Happy Hours Promotion – 3pm to 8pm
Tel: 6270 2012

Disclosure: This review was due to an invitation from ONAKA @ ARC. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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.

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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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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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.

When mothers unite…

…you will never be hungry.

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It is my privilege to host the lunch fellowship today for my BSF group of ladies. My job is easy – just open my home and serve drinks and rice. The rest will be taken care of by the others.

Boy, do we have a lot of scrumptious food and most of them home-made (with love!). At the dining table, conversations are spontaneous and generally, the mouths do not get to rest. I love that we share about our lives and since we are all mothers, stories about our children, life at home, etc, are exchanged. We encourage one another and offer comfort to those whose spirits are down.

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As for Faith, she has been really cooperative and good. I suspect she was listening to our conversation. Inquisitive girl =)

Something is brewing…

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This happened on the Saturday that has just passed. Now, I just need to get down to writing it.

FFWD | Cod and spinach roulades

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I admit I nearly gave up on this dish. It’s rather troublesome and especially with a baby who constantly vies for your attention, the making of these roulades can prove a tad too much to handle.

In short, this dish is made of a light fish mousse that is filled with lemony spinach. It is rolled into a sausage shape and steamed. Dorie explained that this dish used to be prepared by chefs working in grand French restaurants and of course the tedious work of getting perfectly smooth mousse was done by the apprentices. In our case, we just need to use the food processor and viola, we can have the same product too!

The morning saw me making the tomato-lemon sauce and my senses awoke when IMG_0432the aroma of melted butter and garlic filled the air. Hmm… and when I added the tomatoes, I decided then that I had to persist and make this dish work!

I didn’t use cod but replaced it with Sutchi fillet since the recipe calls for any other white fish fillet. To make the roulades, we basically have to put the small pieces of the fillet, egg whites and cream, together with salt and pepper into the processor and let the machine do the work. The next step then is to use the cling wrap to wrap and roll the mousse and the spinach into a sausage. Once this is done, it is a breeze thereafter. Just steam it!

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I’m so glad that I persisted. Everything about this dish is new to me – the tomato lemon sauce, making the roulade with spinach and steaming with cling wrap! It feels good to learn new stuff! And the best part? I do enjoy having it for my dinner. It’s well worth the effort!

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

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Spring Court Restaurant

Spring Court Restaurant is reportedly the oldest Chinese restaurant in Singapore and since it was featured on the Sunday Times a few weeks ago, we decided to dine there on a Sunday, taking advantage of the 84-cents’ Peking duck (when you spend $84 and above)

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The restaurant is located at 52-56 Upper Cross Street and is among one of those shophouses. There are ample carparks around the vicinity and we soon got ourselves a lot. However, we found ourselves having to wait for about 15 minutes before we were seated even when we have made a reservation. Must be a busy day.

We went straight to ordering Char Siew Sou since all my family members like it and we were all pleased with it because it IS good. The pastry is soft and flaky and the char siew very tasteful.

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Along with this, we also ordered some dim sum items like Char Siew buns and Xiao Long Bao (by now, you should know we love baos…).

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It’s never a wrong move to let the matriarch decide on the dishes…

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while the rest posed for the camera!

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Ok, back to the food. We had a bowl of shark’s fin soup (haha), yam cake ring, fish, asparagus, Dou Miao and Peking Duck and noodles. On the whole, the food was delicious but I thought the Peking duck is a tad too dry and nothing spectacular while the vegetables were so-so. 

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On the whole, the food was delicious but we were more satisfied with the dim sum. I like that the restaurant exudes a family-friendly feel to the dining experience. The servers are prompt in their service but a little more smiles would be very much welcome. And I love the location since we can always adjourn to some desserts stalls after that (which we did!).

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Spring Court Restaurant
52-56 Upper Cross Street
Singapore 058348
64495030
11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm
www.springcourt.com.sg

Good Friday brekky @ Eggs and Berries

My family are early risers, whether or not it is a work day or holiday. It’s just how our body clocks work and today, the hubs and I got up at 5am again, after baby Faith called out for milk.

At 6am, both the adults were hungry and started to look for places which serve early breakfast. No, we decided to give hawker centres a miss since we have been there a few mornings already. A few other choices popped up but yours truly really isn’t the sort to travel far unless I am given ample notice and in the end, we ended up somewhere in the east – Eggs and Berries.

It is situated at Changi City Point and a quick check shows that there are quite a lot of eateries to choose from. Ah…how could we have missed this mall?

Eggs and Berries wasn’t really open for business when we reached there at 7.50am. It’s okay. We loitered around and the kind waitress let us in five minutes to 8am. We are the first customers again!

There’re quite a lot of items on the menu and the best is they are for all day dining! Whoah! However, we wanted to go for a normal breakfast so it’s usual fare (like eggs, bacon, toast, etc) for us.

gifLook! The hubs is having a hard time deciding what to have.

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I had the All time mushroom and egg while the hubs ordered the Early riser breakfast. We were pleased with the food and we certainly left the eatery on a full stomach! The brewed coffee’s excellent too!

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As anticipated, Faith wants to join in the breakfast. Sigh!

So, we have found one more eatery which serves good early breakfast and the quest continues. Just a note. If you want to use the toilets at around 9am in the mall, please be prepared that you will face the following at every level. Ridiculously true! They should stagger the timing to clean the toilets, no? So, in the end, I have to rest my big Mama bums on a small toilet bowl meant for children.

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Eggs & Berries
Changi Business Park Central 1, #B1-37/38 Food Junction, Changi City Point, Singapore (Expo MRT)
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm Daily

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It’s mid-week!

I’ve been wanting to make pancakes for breakfast after having them at Chye Seng Huat that Saturday. I want to see if I could create the same type of pancakes and since today the hubs could go to work later, I prepared them for our breakfast.

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The taste is ok but they are not as fluffy as the ones we had. There’s a need for improvement. Otherwise, the breakfast is a hearty one. =)

Fluffy Hotcakes [Halve the portion for 2 person’s share]
Source: Chef at home: a taste of goodness
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2 cups plain flour
2 eggs
4tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Blend all ingredients together for 1 to 2 mins until well mixed.
2. Heat a skillet and grease it lightly.
3. When skillet is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot skillet; cook on low heat till the top surface bubbles. Flip hotcake over to brown the other side.
4. Continue till all the batter is used up.
5. Serve hotcakes with maple syrup or honey, and butter. I serve with fruits too.

Weekends :: 23, 24 Feb

I’m on half-load on weekends and I’m loving it.

picasion.com_e887db04403cac9325211271fcb3670aSaturday saw Faith and I accompanying da man to his workplace and I became a passenger at last! Ken was nervous about driving along the highway but I believe he should be able to drive with ease with more practice.

In the afternoon, while I busied myself in the kitchen, baking the strawberry cake for the cell group later in the evening, Ken spent time with Faith by reading and introducing rock music to her! The whole time when the music was on, Faith was listening intently and enjoying it at the same time. Sigh! It seems Faith prefers rock to classical or jazz.

IMG_2617Even when the hubs was ironing the clothes, he did not spare Faith the rock music and the kiddo literally rocked herself to the music.

La femme finally met up in full force! One does not need many friends but just a few who will be there for you when you go through the ups and downs of life. Sadly, the time was too short as we need to go back to my in-laws for ‘Yuan Xiao Jie’ dinner.

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Dinner @ in-laws. Koko cooked so many dishes and each time, we have to cry out to her to cook less. For me, I need to detox for the next few days. Nah…

IMG_2652Eunice making Kway Pie Tee for us. Wonderful lady!

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Dad entertaining Faith by singing to her. 

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Da man reading newspaper (sigh!) and Gabriel preparing Yu Sheng. Nice guy!

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IMG_2664After Yu Sheng, there’s still Peranakan food!!!

Happy Yuan Xiao Jie, people!

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Jan dinner in Feb

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This is the bunch of ex-colleagues at HQ who still make it an effort to meet up once a month over meals. We brought Faith out, half afraid that she would be cranky the whole night but she’s ok! Thanks to the hubs who carried her around to view things (she’s uber curious) so that moi could have a peaceful dinner and thus ate too much in the end. =(

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The most interesting thing about this steamboat is the condiments. So many different ones, 12 of them, all mixed together as one. The ingredients are fresh and I love the sliced marbled beef and the various balls available. Love the drunken ginseng chicken soup base too. I would say very little (or no) processed food is served. Why of course, you pay the price for it too!

The night was still young as they proceeded to have dessert after that. For us, it was way too late for Faith’s bedtime, actually for us too. =p

Lao le (old already).

Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant
#01-21/23 TripleOne Somerset
111 Somerset Rd.

Vietnamese fare


Had craving for Vietnamese food and got it fulfilled at Quan An Vietnam Eatery (233 Joo Chiat Road). Simple yet authentic.

Marking the end of Alpha

For about 8 Fridays, the hubs and I have been involved in the Alpha course, reaching out to the young adults. Yesterday marked the end of the course, though  by right, we should be travelling up to Johore for the finale session. However, none of our group members indicated going and we thought it might be meaningful to have a closure at our place.

Decided to have Okonomiyaki because it is an easy and hands-on dish. It can best be described as a kind of savory pancake. Often translated as an “as you like it pancake,” okonomiyaki can contain a wide variety of ingredients such as cabbage, meat, seafood, corn, bean sprouts, okonomiyaki sauce (which is kind of similar to steak sauce), mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, green onion, pickled red ginger, dried seaweed powder, and tempura crumbs.. Basically, you take some batter with cabbage tossed in, add some savory items from the list above, cook on a hot pan, then top with fixings and sauces.

The young ones ( and I really mean young; they are about 10 years younger than us!!!) took turns to make the pancake and it was fun doing that!

First D tried, under the watchful eye of A.

A, the masterchef took over.

And then, D, who seemed quite experienced!

Last but not least, A and L, who did an awesome job too!

Don’t look down on these pancakes; they can be very filling!

We also took the chance to celebrate L’s birthday yesterday. It’s a simple cake that I’ve made but not up to my expectations. It’s the chocolate used, a slightly lower grade than the ones I used in Boston. Hmmm, good ingredients count a lot!

What radiant smiles!

A short video on the art of okonomiyaki (rather funny).