Frozen Pizza Taste Test

I LOVE pizza so gave some frozen ones a go. These were the ones available at the NTUC near my place. The Plank and the Pizza Tradizionale one are supposed to be the fancier types and the Dr Oetker Ristorante one is just your run of the mill frozen pizza I guess.

Here’s what they look like out of the box.

Thankfully I’m not a professional blogger cos I forgot to take a photo of the first two pizzas when they came out of the oven, LOL! But as you can see, the fancy Dr Oetker one has pretty bright looking veges on it while the Ristorante one has some nice appetizing browning. The Plank one looked pretty good too I gotta say.

Now taste wise they were all pretty alright. The Plank one was a touch on the sour side, like the tomatoes they used for the sauce weren’t quite ripe or something. There was some green-herby-pesto looking thing but I couldn’t really taste it. The Dr Oetker Tradizionale one was more balanced in flavour… and what I mean by that is that they put more sugar into the sauce. The Dr Oetker Pizza one was my favourite taste wise, mushroomy and cheesy in the way I was expecting!

As for crusts… Plank’s Sour Dough crust and Dr Oetker’s Pizza Tradzionale crust had lots of air pockets and had a good chew. The Dr Oetker Ristorante, on the other hand, really did have a thin and crispy crust as was stated on the box. It was like a cracker which I’m not in to. When I eat pizza, it’s gotta have some good bread-y crust! None of that low-carb nonsense!

So the verdict? I’d defo buy the Dr Oetker ones again but would probably give the Plank ones a miss.

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Oats

I created this recipe for my father because he likes to eat chocolate chip cookies but has diabetes. I didn’t like the ingredient list of the ones he was buying from the store. If he’s going to eat cookies, he might as well eat ones that are slightly better for him, so my cookies have…

  1. At least 30% less sugar than the store bought ones
  2. Good quality bitter-sweet chocolate
  3. Oats – so there’s some soluble fibre
  4. Nuts – so there’s some insoluble fibre
  5. A touch of cinnamon, because it seems to help regulate blood glucose levels

I’ve emphasised to my dad that these aren’t healthy, just healthier, so he’ll still need to eat them in moderation. 3 cookies at max in a sitting!

Crispy chocolate chip cookies with oats

  • 90 g All purpose flour
  • 90 g Almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp Salt
  • 110 g Unsalted butter (softened)
  • 120 g Caster sugar
  • 50 g Brown sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Rolled oats (coarsely ground)
  • 1/4 cup 70% chocolate (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Roasted nuts
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
  1. In a small bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together. Whisk in the salt. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both types of sugars until light and creamy, about 3 min.

  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low until evenly combined.

  4. Add the oats, chocolate chips and nuts and hand mix them into the batter until just combined.

  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  6. Line a baking tray and use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out portions of cookie dough. Round the dough as much as you can before placing them on the baking tray. Make sure they are well spaced so that the cookies can spread in the oven.

  7. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown.

  8. After removing the trays from the oven, wait a couple of minutes before moving the cookies to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They’d probably last up to 2 weeks in the container. If you’d like them to last even longer, store them in the fridge.

Too lazy to make these yourself? You can just order them from me below.

Baked Sole and Cauliflower

I was really please with this baked sole dinner because it was gluten free (two of my guests were gluten sensitive), really easy to prepare and cook (all the prep and cooking was done in about 1.5 hours) and super delicious. Below was my menu.

Appetiser – Nothing (I wanted my guests to have an appetite for the main course)

Main course – Baked sole fish served with cherry tomatoes, asparagus and beans. Roasted Cauliflower.

Dessert – Chocolate oblivion torte with raspberry coulis

Drinks – White wine, champagne and fizzed water.

The cake recipe can be found here, but the recipe for the main course is below.

Baked sole fish dinner
From left to right: Roasted cauliflower, baked sole and roasted asparagus. The sweet potato is missing from the photo.
Baked sole fish
Baked Sole

*Cough cough* Clearly I need to learn to take better photos of my food or learn to do some styling… Anyway, here is the recipe.

Baked Sole Fish with Cauliflower, Asparagus and Sweet Potato

  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 Sole fish (300 – 400 g each fish) (You can use any fish with white flesh)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 50 g Unsalted butter (If you use salted, just add slightly less salt when salting the fish)
  • 2 tsp Capers (Optional!)
  • 16 Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Parsley
  • 60 ml White wine
  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 1 bunch French beans
  • 5 small Sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Open your bottle of white wine and pour yourself a glass and take a few sips. Wash all the veggies.

  2. Cut any excess leaves off the cauliflower, then give the whole head a wash. Slice the cauliflower into 2 cm thick slices and lay them on a baking sheet. Try and make sure that the slices don't overlap each other so that they'll brown nicely in the oven.

  3. Generously drizzle olive oil over the cauliflower. If you're particular, use a brush to make sure the cauliflower is coated well with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and parmesan cheese.

  4. When the oven is at the correct temperature, put the cauliflower in. The cauliflower will take 30 mins to roast.

  5. Time to get the fish and all the other food ready. Work quickly because you want to get the sole into the oven in about 15 min time so that everything can cook simultaneously and come out at the oven together. First, slice your lemon into 5 mm slices and set it aside.

  6. Grab a handful of parsley and coarse chop it. Set this aside too.

  7. Rinse the capers in water, towel them dry, then mince them with a knife. Set aside.

  8. Wash the fish and pat it dry with kitchen towel. Rub salt and pepper on both sides and lay it on you cutting board or somewhere dry.

  9. Grease your baking dish with some butter. Cut the remaining butter into nice small cubes.

  10. Pop 3 slices of lemon onto the bottom of the dish. Place your fish on top of the lemon slices. Dot the top side of the fish with half of the remaining butter that you have cut into nice small cubes. Take a handful of parsley and half your minced capers and scatter them over the fish. Remember to do it with style! Now pour the 30 ml of wine over the fish.

  11. Wash the cherry tomatoes and place half of them around the fish.

  12. Prepare the second fish the exact same way as the first, but put it in a separate baking dish. You'll be cooking this after you've finished baking the first sole.

  13. Cut your sweet potato into 1 cm think rounds. Place them in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Hopefully at this point the cauliflower has already been cooking for about 15 mins because it'll be just the right time to put the fish and sweet potatoes in the oven. The fish and sweet potatoes will take about 15 mins to cook.

  14. Get the next two steps done in 5 mins. Prepare the asparagus by cutting the ends off and using a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off the bottom ¼ of the asparagus. Put it in another baking pan.

  15. Prepare the beans by cutting the hard ends off. Leave them whole and chuck them into the pan with the asparagus. Drizzle olive oil generously over the asparagus and beans, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have other types of fresh herbs lying around, sprinkle them over the veges. Pop this tray of veg into the oven 10 minutes before the cauliflower is ready to come out.

  16. While everything is in the oven, go and set the table.

  17. When the cauliflower has been in the oven for 30 min, pull all the food out of the oven and set in on your table. Remember to throw some extra parsley onto the fish to make it PRETTY!

  18. Before you tuck in, stick the other fish into the oven and set a 15 minute timer. By the time your friends are finished with the first sole, the second one will be ready and you can all tuck into another delicious warm fish! Mmmm mmmm!

Just a little tip, get the fish monger to help you clean out the sole fish so you won’t have to do it. Before cooking, run your hands over the fish to make sure all the scales have been taken off. If you find any, just use a spoon to gently scrape them off.

If you cook this, please #auntytwo if you post pictures to instagram so I can see your results!

Mother Dough Bakery

Almond croissant cross section

Mother Dough Bakery is a sweet little bakery off North Bridge Road. They sell a variety of baked goods – bread, pastries, cakes etc. It’s owned by the head baker, Naadhira Ismail, who, according to the bakery’s about page, studied baking in New York. (By the way, she’s gorgeous! Just do a Google image search on her.)

The first thing I tried was the Almond Croissant ($5). Very flaky and buttery, as any croissant should be, but better than other ones because the filling (frangipane) wasn’t super sweet. YUM!

Lemon Cake

Next up was the Lemon Cake ($? – I forgot to take note). The lemon flavour was on point but this slice was just a tad too sweet for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Hazelnut brownie

I’ve never had a store bought brownie that was so generous with the nuts. This Hazelnut Brownie ($? – sorry) was LOADED with hazelnuts! It was all gooey, fudgey, chocolatey and nutty in the most wonderful ways. If you bring it home, make sure to warm it up slightly to get the maximum deliciousness out of this beauty.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Conducting a cooking class through Zoom

I was invited by Jocelyn from the SCGS alumni committee to conduct a cooking class through Zoom for mothers and children. (At first I was asked to do one just for children but I declined because I had some concerns about children handling knives without adult supervision.)

I decided on Cottage Pie and Zucchini Crisps because they were both easy for me to do. I also roped in my good friend Hui Jia, an early childhood teaching specialist, to co-host the class.

My setup (excuse the mess!)

The pieces of paper you see taped below the lap top are the prompts I wrote out to remind myself of what to do and say. I also highlighted areas where Hui Jia was supposed to cut in with some interesting facts about the food.

Jocelyn’s children, Becks, Pirate and Ems (from left to right), busy in the kitchen during the class.

It was an interesting experience because I couldn’t monitor how the participants were progressing in the class.

Here are some things that didn’t go so well:

  • When checking in, I realised some participants were really far behind.
  • Some participants missed certain steps. For example, one participant missed the step when I put in the cheese and had to come back and ask me what to do.
  • One participant grated her zucchini using the ribbon side of her box grater because I had said, “Use the largest holes of your grater”.
  • One participant didn’t have enough mashed potatoes for her shepherd’s pie.
  • One participant asked which setting the oven should be used to brown the top of her pie
  • One participant mentioned that her children were arguing over which jobs they could do.
  • A participant asked how thin the zucchini crisps should be

How I intend to make the next experience better:

  • Ask participants to watch first and then carry out the demonstrated step. I’ll also ask them to indicate they are done by using the thumbs up symbol so we can carry on. I’ll make sure to state this at the beginning of the class.
  • Co-host can help to monitor the students more closely. Also tell participants how to indicate if they need more time, for example, tell the co-host or unmute themselves because it’s difficult for me to monitor the chat function when the laptop is far away from me.
  • Indicate clearly the size of the ingredients e.g. 3 medium sized potatoes (potatoes should be the size of tennis balls) on the recipe
  • Give tips on how to get your dish to be very presentable / appetising
  • Give tips to parents on how to divide work among their children so that it can be carried out more smoothly.

Things to keep doing:

  • Give tips on how children can safely participate
  • Give interesting information on the ingredients.

Some other notes for myself:

  • I need a better introduction.
  • I should highlight that I have a zero waste focus.

I’m really grateful to Jocelyn for the opportunity and to Hui Jia for being a super co-host. I had soooo much fun that I think I might make this a regular thing.

My other thoughts are that I would love for my school students to produce their own cookings segments and I hope to build on the learning from this experience to get students to do this in future.

Everyone Should Learn To Cook

I believe everyone should learn to cook. In his book ‘Cooked’, Michael Pollan very nicely outlined the reasons why we should all learn, which I have summarised to be:

We should all learn to cook because it

  • improves health and general well-being.
  • makes the food system healthier and more sustainable.
  • helps us to achieve a greater degree of self-sufficiency.
  • helps us to acquire a deeper understanding of the natural world and our role in it.
  • not only gives us the meal, but the occasion through which we can develop the practice of eating together at an appointed time and place.
  • allows us to become alchemists and puts us in touch with the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and microbiology.

Like Pollan, I too believe that everyone should learn to cook, not just girls, women or those who identify as female. As he so aptly put it, “Men and children both need to be in the kitchen too, not just for fairness and equity, but because they have so much to gain.” Indeed they do!