Dumpling making session

Friends. A few good ones are sufficient. They are your family when your kin is not around and because they are genuinely sincere in this friendship, they are willing to go through the ups and downs of life with you.

A true friend is your cheerleader when you meet with success and she can also be brutally honest in highlighting your wrongdoing so that you can improve and be a better person.

I’m blessed to have such friends and there are different ones at various stages of my life. At this current moment, I’m thankful to have a few SAHMs whom I can share my joy and struggles with.

The first week of May had been exhausting. I was battling with lack of sleep (and I think things will only get better in 5 months’ time), a baby who is teething and a threenager, on top of household chores and home learning preparation and activities. My friend who probably sensed that I was at a low point, invited me over to her place to have a chat and on another occasion, to have a dumpling making session. The chat did wonders because we women need to talk, and the dumpling making session satisfied our souls and stomachs completely.

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The dumpling skin was made from scratch too.


While we were watching T perform some magic, the children were in the playroom enjoying themselves. Awesome!
Homecooked food and wonderful friends. A terrific combination indeed.

What are some of the things that you do with your friends?

A busy June hols

The month of June was a busy one for me and I’m sure it was, for many parents. It’s the one-month school holiday after all and we had to make sure that our children were potentially engaged with activities lest they got bored at home and caused more headache for us. The hubs, knowing that it would be more challenging to handle the little one daily, offered to take leave twice a week so that he could relieve me during those days. With him around, I was definitely willing to be more adventurous and go on outings together as a family.

Here’s a post to record the many things that happened in June!

jurongbirdpark@ Jurong Bird Park with her playmate

gardensbythebayLearning about nursery rhymes @ Gardens by the Bay

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Outdoor activities! We love it! Farm visits, Jurong Bird Park, Gardens by the Bay, Tanjong Pargar Railway Station, Jacob Ballas, East Coast Park, SEA Games Carnival at the Sport Hub, Hortpark were some of the places we visited. With the hubs around, he could do the wild things with Faith while I rested. It was fun going on trips but it could get tiring too. It came to a point when I asked the little one what she wanted to do the following day and she replied, “I don’t want to go out. I want to stay home.” So much for planning activities for her eh?

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Perhaps, the more exhausting thing is not about going out but having to answer Faith’s endless questions. She became really chatty all of a sudden and asked so many questions that she tested my patience. I couldn’t answer her with ‘ok’, ‘hmm’, or a ‘yes’ but I have to continue the conversation with her. Goodness! It is a good problem, no doubt, I really needed a break from her!

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F gifted with Chinese books and enjoying pool time!

I’m thankful too that friends asked me out for meetup during this period. It was good catching up with good old friends over meals and naturally we would talk about our children and their progress in school. For one group, Faith was the youngest among the group of children and when friends shared about the challenges they faced, the issue of the Chinese language would always be brought up. It got me a bit uptight and I wonder if I should really step up my effort in getting Faith to be more conversant in Mandarin. Oh, that’s really stressful!

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Apart from the many activities, pregnancy itself was uneventful. Friends started asking if we need baby clothes and stuff of which we would need since we have given some essential items away (didn’t really expect to have a second one initially). Thankful for these kind souls as we wouldn’t want to spend too much on these items. I went for my Pilates classes as usual and since my back was starting to ache, prenatal massage is a good temporary relief. We have just settled for confinement nanny services through the previous agency that we engaged and hopefully we could get back the same lady.

I wish I could tell you that I love spending 24/7 with Faith but I don’t. I realised I needed time to myself, to do the things that I love like baking and cooking or just taking the time off to chill with a good read. I got a little, just a little downcast having her around all the time and felt a little lost. It sounds weird, I know but I don’t know how to explain this kind of feeling. During that moment, I was encouraged by what I read from ‘Desperate: Hope for the mom who needs to breathe‘…

The God who gave you your gifts and talents is the same God who gave you souls to bring up, train, invest in, and disciple….Scripture is filled with admonitions for a mama to make her home her focus and bring up her children. A mama’s primary domain is her home. This doesn’t mean you don’t have another purpose that God wants you to fulfill while you’re breathing on this earth, but your first and main purpose is to deeply invest in the souls He’s given you, and you will struggle immensely if you do not have resolve regarding your role as a mother.

This para spoke to me and gave me strength to move on. Somehow, I was able to focus on my family and at the same time, started to pick myself up to do the things that I like and one of the most awesome stuff was to be able to learn how to make the rice dumplings from two experienced mothers. God must have known that I’m struggling and sent these angels to liven me up! Simple joy!

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cheesecake
So I started to busy myself in the kitchen again and baked a Japanese Cheesecake for the cell group and got Faith to work on Lavender Madeleines with me. She loves baking and I love to impart such skills to her!

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All in all, I guess June turned out well. It was definitely busy but I must say we did enjoy ourselves. How was your June holidays?
All ready for July?

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.

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.