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.

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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.

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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

 

Making pizza with a toddler

As a parent, I’m very mindful of NOT doing everything for the little one. She has to chip in for household chores and I learnt that she will willingly do those tasks because she wants to do what the adults are doing, which is good news to me! Obviously, such work is fun and play to the little one and when she knows she is co-labouring with her mama, she gets immense satisfaction.

For now, Faith helps to mop the floor with me and keeps get the clothes from the dryer. She is learning how to fold her clothes, and this not without a degree of difficulty. But she will get there.

And whenever possible, I would get her to be involved in cooking and baking because it’s something that she likes to do since she often sees her mama working hard in the kitchen.

Pizza! It’s such a simple thing to do with a toddler.

20150615_175817I cheated and used pre-made pizza crust. If you are diligent like my friend, you would make your own bread dough but I’m lazy on that particular day. Other ingredients include tomato paste, honey baked ham, mushroom, peppers (red, green and yellow), spinach leaves and cheeses.

Well, you can definitely use chicken or beef or pork but you would have to cook them for a while before using them as toppings on the pizza. I wanted to minimise work and thus used ham. Moreover, I find the meat a tad tough for Faith once they go through the baking.

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You can definitely get the little one to cut the ham or other ingredients into smaller pieces which he/she will love doing. Thereafter, lay all the ingredients and get them to spread the tomato paste and place the toppings on the crust. You will expect mess, definitely, but it’s all part of the learning process.

Cooking or baking is good for teaching procedural text, ya know? Ok, I will not delve into that.

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Look at that facial expression? Faith told me she couldn’t eat leaves when she was asked to place the spinach leaves as toppings. She has associated the spinach leaves with the fallen leaves she found on the ground. Ah…hilarious.

20150615_181601All ready to be placed in the oven! Bake at 200C for about 10 minutes (or follow instruction on the pizza crust package) or until the cheeses turn a wonderful golden.

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Comfort food that got snapped up within minutes. It’s really that simple to make and good to eat.

20150615_183145For a thinner crust, I used wraps which do an awesome job. I prefer a thin crust anytime!

When mums come together…

… they eat and chat.

The BSF group of last year came together for a meal today. This group really gelled a lot and we are still good friends to one another. A lot has to do with the leader, I feel.

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Many of us are homemakers and that explains the potluck dishes.

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Faith got to play with the Jie Jies…

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I thank God for these ladies who have been encouraging me during my first year of motherhood. It is definitely not by chance that we met. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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.

Review | Outpost 903 Gastrobar

It’s been a while.

When was the last time I went out with girlfriends to chill?

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to do so with my mummy friends and had an awesome brunch at Outpost 903.

It wasn’t difficult to get there. Located along Bukit Timah Road, you can’t miss the gastrobar with its black and white facade and a distinctive water tank which seems to act as a post to guide you to the eatery. Mabel and I walked in and were greeted by the affable co-owner, Youyi, and our friends.

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Once inside, I was intrigued by the eclectic selection of furniture that was mostly sourced from Vietnam and a huge signage that is capable of making you feel that you are in a factory-bar. Oh, I forgot to mention – this single-storey shophouse was built around 1902. Isn’t this a good reason to visit this gastrobar already?

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So, I digress. The mummies were treated to an all-day brunch, just what we need for some catch-up session.

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First up is the Benedict Duo ($14) and the name speaks for itself. You have poached eggs served two styles, either on bacon or ham and these on mini ciabatta bread, with salad served on the side. Such a combination won’t go wrong, I feel.

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This is the Mac and Cheese Bacon Sandwich ($16) which is a little heavy for me. It’s not hard to imagine. There is a sizable slice of mac and cheese and this, topped with streaky bacon and spicy marinated tomato slices on toasted brioche. Oh, brioche, how I love this bread which is rich with eggs and butter. On the side are fries and salad. This is good for people who love big portion!

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You have to consume the Crabmeat Sandwich ($20) with the tomato soup dip to enjoy the full flavour that it can bring forth. Yours truly tasted the sandwich on its own and thus found it a tad dry.

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How do you like this 903 Burger ($16). I was won over by the sunny side up and the generous portion of the home-made beef patty, complete with lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, gherkins. Sandwiched between toasted sesame buns, this dish is served with crispy fries like the rest above. And, you can choose to have truffle fries (!!!) for a nominal top up. I will definitely do that for my next visit!

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My favourite has to be the Cheesy Steak Sandwich ($20) which comprises some of my favourite stuff – thin sliced ribeye and pork bratwurst combination with home-made tomato topped with mozerella and sharp chedder cheese and all these sandwiched between wonderful brioche. Lovely combination! This is the only one which compelled me to go for a second helping. Yummy!

As you can see from the above, the selection is aplenty (and there are still others on the menu) and there is bound to be one which will satisfy everyone.

For desserts, we were served their Chocolate Lava ($14) and Mango Float ($12). Both are good and I appreciate that the chocolate is not overly sweet (it’s done just nicely). However, I particularly love the Mango Float with its layers of graham biscuits and mango cream. Perhaps, it was a warm day and I just love the chill that ran down my throat. Awesome!

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This is Cherie, enjoying her Chocolate Lava.

So the mummies did have fun catching up with one another and having some ME time, not to mention delicious food in a cozy environment. Oh yes, we went crazy learning how to take a good selfie shot.

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Irene with Youyi and Cherie.

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Check out what the rest say about Outpost 903 Gastrobar (from left) Moi, Estella, Cherie, Co-owner, You Yi, Agnes Tay from AT Marketing Consultancy, Winnie, Mabel and Irene & baby James.

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I actually love the alfresco setting. Ok, I have to be back with da man for some couple-time!
Thank you so much for hosting us!

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Outpost 903 Gastrobar
903 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 589620
Tel: 6468 4903
Email: info@outpost903.com
Closed on Tuesdays

Disclaimer: I was invited, along with some mom bloggers, for a food tasting session at Outpost 903 Gastrobar. All opinions are mine and no monetary compensation was received. You can contact me to find out more about my experience too!

{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 Petit Bowl experience {Review and Give-away}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A dozen things to do in Penang

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

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

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

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

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

Relaxing pool

Relaxing pool

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

Boy on a bike

Boy on a bike

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

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

Khoo Kongsi Temple

Khoo Kongsi Temple

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

Front view of the mansion

Front view of the mansion

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

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Interior of one of the rooms

Interior of one of the rooms

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

Entrance to House of Yeap Chor Ee

Entrance to House of Yeap Chor Ee

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Kitchen of Sire Museum Restaurant

Kitchen of Sire Museum Restaurant

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

Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum

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

Welcome note to Chew Jetty

Welcome note to Chew Jetty

Children in a boat

Children in a boat

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

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

Ferry ride

Ferry ride

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

Breathtaking view from the hilltop

Breathtaking view from the hilltop

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

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

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

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

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

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Hakka cuisine at Ke Ren Lai along Gurney Drive

Char Kway Teow stall

Char Kway Teow stall

One of the street stalls

One of the street stalls

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

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Spices galore! How can you resist them?

Spices galore! How can you resist them?

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

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The popular ones are Ghee Hiang and Him Heang

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

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

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

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

More pictures can be found on my FB page.

Tefal cooking workshop @ ONAKA

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

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

I. Garlic prawns on toast

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

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

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

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II. Roasted Mushroom Soba

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

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

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

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

III. Butternut Squash Pancake with Banana Ice Cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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