Cooking is usually one of the top three tasks a domestic helper is employed to do. Here we review two different cooking schools where your helper can brush up her skills or add some new dishes to her repertoire.
Reviewed by Amy Brook-Partridge
Some kind of meal plan or food schedule for the family has been a pipe dream of mine for many years. Being picky eaters (my kids) and pseudo-healthy salad eaters (my husband and I), we hardly ever eat the same thing, and even if we do it’s rarely organised in time for dinner.
With our youngest daughter just turning four, and our realisation that her diet needed a complete overhaul, I found that the cooking courses at Expat Kitchen offered an ideal combination of healthy recipes for kids and adults, which boded well for meals that the whole family might be able to enjoy.
Expat Kitchen, founded by Australian Annette Lang in 2007, has fully equipped kitchens in Little India. Annette originally set up the company to help bridge the culinary gap between what helpers prepare and what employers expect of them. Its courses include basic cooking, covering everything from food hygiene to weighing ingredients correctly and cooking a variety of breakfasts, to a Master Class course that focuses on advanced dishes like canapés, soufflés and tarts.
Our helper, Analyn, a keen cook, took part in two courses at Expat Kitchen, and here’s what she learnt.
Lunch Box Ideas: Ham, pineapple and cheese pizza scrolls; meatloaf cups; mini tuna, corn and sweet potato frittatas; sandwich sushi; honey and carrot muffins, and apricot and pumpkin muesli bars.
Substantial Salad II: Super-healthy roast beetroot quinoa salad; tender duck salad served on a fresh noodle slab; Mexican prawn, black bean and avocado served with warm tortilla; Tuscan poached chicken salad with fettuccini; beef tandoori with saffron rice and cucumber raita.
Taking this course was a great experience. The people were jolly and accommodating, and my instructor, Miss Georgia, was always ready to give answers when we had questions to ask. She gave us lots of cooking tips, including the best way to cook certain foods such as pasta and beef.
There were eight students in total, and we cooked the dishes together rather than individually. Everyone took turns to do chores like chopping, mixing ingredients and measuring, and all the ingredients were ready at each table.
The recipes were easy to follow and all of them seem healthy. I enjoyed the cooking and learning how the dishes can be decorated.
I think the kids will love the pizza scrolls, and their mum and dad will love the tandoori beef salad.
The family’s verdict:
With Maggie being a particularly fussy eater (her plea for “no crispy bits” seems to refer to anything she deems to not be cheese or candy), we didn’t hold out high hopes for her to like anything. But the tuna frittatas went down a storm with kids and adults alike, as did the pizza scrolls, and Tabitha loved the muffins.
Although we have yet to try the salads, just from their description I’m expecting us to enjoy each and every one of them.
Two classes for $312. If you book five classes at $705 you get the sixth class free.
9 Norris Road, #02-01, Little India
6299 4221 | Expat-kitchen.com
Little Green Kitchen
Reviewed by Katie Roberts
It’s fair to say that after nearly five years, our family is officially in a food rut. Our loyal helper Fe has run out of ideas, and when pressed for suggestions the children (aged 11 and nine) nominate the same meat-heavy favourites (sausages, chops, hamburgers).
I’m looking for a total re-invention of what we eat, without spending hours poring over foodie magazines. As Aussies we are definitely partial to a good steak, but opting for a vegetarian cooking class ticks a number of food goal boxes: it’s a cuisine that is healthy, cheap and quick to prepare and it provides an easy way to eat a lot more vegetables, and by default less meat.
Little Green Kitchen is a cooking studio started by Shalu Asnani, a former lawyer turned passionate foodie and health nut, with an obsession for vegetarian cuisine. Anyone can attend the classes – it’s not exclusively for helpers; but as it’s close to where I live, it was the obvious choice.
Here’s what Fe experienced at two classes taught by Shalu at Little Green Kitchen.
Class One: Light and tasty Vietnamese dishes perfect for this climate: rice-paper rolls with mango, cucumber, mint and nuoc cham dipping sauce; spicy lemongrass-marinated tofu with basil and roasted peanuts; Vietnamese savoury crepe stuffed with crispy vegetables and herbs.
Class Two: The North Indian classics that Shalu grew up with: chickpea curry with garden vegetables; okra and baby potatoes in a spicy masala; savoury lentil pancake.
The two courses were fun, and interesting too. There was a mix of ages and nationalities at both classes. I like to cook and I learnt new things in both classes.
Miss Shalu is patient and easy to understand – she explained the techniques slowly, carefully demonstrated each dish and helped anyone who needed it.
Everything was easy to cook at home. The Vietnamese pancake took a few practices to get the technique right, but the result was definitely worth it.
The family’s verdict:
Importantly, the recipes are based on fresh ingredients easily available at local wet markets, supplemented with items from the supermarket or Mustafa Centre.
The Vietnamese dishes were more popular with the children than the Indian ones. I was happily surprised when the kids devoured the pancake and rice paper rolls, although they avoided the dipping sauce.
The tofu was a hit with the adults as the lemongrass flavours are very moreish. We will definitely make both menus fortnightly to break up the usual routines, and sometimes add a meat-based dish, for those who feel like it.
Cost: $85 for a three-hour class (maximum six pupils per class). Private classes are $250 for up to three people.
1 Hacienda Grove, Upper East Coast Road
9763 1483 littlegreenkitchen.com.sg