Welcome to adobo-down-under!

Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seafood marinara stew

Winter is creeping up on us like an unwanted guest. It's the middle of July and of course it is cold.   I have always written many many times in the past that we dread winter. Well I do. Sans the layering of clothing and comfortable matching scarves and beanies, and beautiful leather boots, I could do well without winter.  Really.  But I’m embracing our life here in AU and part of assimilating into the Australian way of life is well, embracing winter and all the other seasons that come and go.  But you have to know that winter... is my least favourite. 

When it comes to winter cooking and food, I love simple recipes.  My favourites are dishes that shout fresh, easy to reach ingredients, simple cooking methods with delicious results.  While I do admire chefs who are into fusion and gastronomy, I’m not the type who would attempt pesto jelly, or strawberry foams.  I like simple cooking.  Time spent in the kitchen is precious, and any effort made to prepare, whether it took 10 minutes or 6 hours always spells love. 

This one, no matter what angle shouts L-O-V-E.  Ingredients are simple, easy to make and wow! It's my easy version of the French seafood boullabaisse, minus all the other ingredients.  The seafood mix is anything you get from the fish markets. 

You dive into this with some toasted sour dough or any fresh bread, and you’ll come back up feeling the love.  You’ll get lots of warm hugs from this for sure. 



1kg mixed seafood (marinara mix in shells)

1 jar 350 ml passata sauce (tomato sauce)

3-4 fresh tomatoes, quartered

1 onion, sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

½ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon course/ground oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Tablespoon of butter (optional)


In a heavy based pan or skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the garlic and onions and cook until soft.

Add the tomatoes and cook until soft.

Add the passata sauce, bring to boil then turn down heat to simmer.

Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the oregano.

Add the seafood, place lid/cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all seafood pieces are cooked through.

Add the butter and let it melt into the sauce.  

Top with the chopped parsley.

Tips and tricks:

* I add the butter in the latter part of the cooking just to add that gloss in the sauce.  You don't have to add butter if you don't want to, but that its a secret ingredient in most restaurants - the chefs add that for the shine and gloss.

* You can also add fresh or dried thyme for extra flavour.  They add a rich depth to the stew.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Cocoa brownies with sea salt flakes

Hooray us!  We celebrated our 9th year arriving in Australia last month.  It’s a significant occasion as I remember experiencing our first winter on arrival, armed with 3 2yos, an 8yo and 9 luggage’s packed full of what we wanted to hold on from the past and lots of hopes for the future.  We arrived full of fear, hope and excitement.  We haven’t looked back since. And to celebrate this milestone, of course there has to be cake.  Or maybe brownies this time.

This is a recipe adapted from Alice Medrich.  One of the icons in American desserts and chocolates, she is a cookbook author and well known for her chain of chocolate stores called Cocolat  chain of chocolate and dessert stores in the US (closed 1991).  I like her recipes because most of them are simple and straightforward, easy to follow.  There’s no fancy ingredients, just simple honest baking than any home baker can try. She shares her recipes on her website, and sometimes a few of them turn up via Food52.  Here’s one of them.

I especially like this cocoa brownies as it’s something I’ve never tried before.  Cocoa in brownies.  I’ve use chocolates in the past, a combination of both, but never just cocoa.  What’s interesting is that this can pass as decadent and as good as your chocolate-brownie varieties.  Sprinkled with some sea salt, it’s beyond indulgent.  It’s coined “Alice Medrich’s best cocoa brownies”.   I can’t argue with that.  

170 grams butter

1 ¼ cup caster sugar

¾ cup and 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cold large eggs

½ cup plain flour

2/3 cup nuts or dried fruits (optional)

Sea salt flakes for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180*C

Line a 20cm square brownie tin with baking paper.

Prepare a pot with simmering water.  In a heat proof bowl, combine the butter, sugar cocoa and salt, and place on top of the pot (works as a double-broiler).  

Stir the mixture with a spatula until the butter and sugar melts and the batter is smooth.

Set aside to warm. Don’t cool entirely.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla.

Add the eggs one a time, stirring vigorously after each addition and the mixture becomes shiny. 

Stir in the flour and mix thoroughly.  (AM suggests 40 strokes with a wooden spoon or spatula).

Add nuts/fruits if using and stir through the mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the skewer test comes out slightly moist.

Place on a cooling rack.


Tips and tricks:
* I've made this with some frozen raspberries, roughly chopped and it made for extra moist brownies.

What’s so good about this recipe?  It’s a one-bowl wonder.  You don’t even need to plug in your stand mixer for this one.  You can even make this with your kids.  Or kids can make this themselves (with adult supervision).

Now go on help yourself.  Have a brownie.  Or two. 


Monday, June 30, 2014

Coconut tapioca pudding with red papaya


We have been back from a very brief trip to the Philippines and there’s nothing like a holiday to re-energize the senses.  Especially going back to one’s home country where the familiar is always welcomed, where family and friends are missed and food, oh so craved.

Papaya is one of those easily available year round back home and best eaten as is, usually with a squeeze of the local citrus (calamansi), or lemon/lime.  It’s one of those tropical fruits that I grew up eating and a favourite now at home by the girls.  We’re lucky that Australia has papaya grown locally now. Whatever the variety (red papaya, yellow or pawpaw), they are packed full of A vitamins, potassium and beta-carotene. 

For this quick and easy dessert, morning or afternoon tea, you’ll need:

1 cup small tapioca pearls

2 400ml can coconut milk

1.5 cup caster sugar

½ slice of red papaya, diced squeezed with the juice of half a lime

zest of half a lime

Toasted coconut (optional) for garnish, or drizzled with honey

Cook the tapioca pearls in 10 cups boiling water.  Once the pearls are slightly translucent (there is still a white dot in the middle), turn down heat to low and simmer until the tapioca pearls are cooked – they will be transparent.

Drain onto a strainer with cold water.  Set aside.

In  a pot, boil the coconut milk with sugar, until sugar has dissolved.

Add the cooked tapioca pearls and turn off heat.

These can be served as is, warm.

Or cool slightly, spoon onto small bowls or cups.  

Top with a some diced papaya, toasted coconut (if using) and some lime zest. 

Tips and tricks:
* Because the tapioca is starchy, draining the cooked pearls in cold water will removed some of that starch.  It will however help thicken the pudding, so don't over wash the pearls.

Disclaimer: This post is written as part of the Papaya Australia recipe challenge.  The papaya used in this post were provided by Papaya Australia. 


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