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!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Baked Crispy Chicken Tonkatsu

We love Japanese food! There's never a day in a week that you guys don't threaten me to buy you take-away sushi from the local sushi bar. Usually, we'd sit down at the Sushi Bar in Lane Cove and eat there, but sitting takes time and it usually means you guys will be hungry for more. Not too good for mum's pockets. When I started paid work (Yep - 2 days a week and nobody even noticed I was away! You were in school!), you'd ask mum for a sushi treat at Mitsu in Macquarie Centre. Its now our favourite dine-in sushi bar.

And while we are in the subject of Japanese food, we had this for dinner. I was trying out recipes as a cookbook testing volunteer for Jaden's Steamy Kitchen Cookbook and this was the second one I've done for the week. I can't quote the recipe here but I guess soon, you can access this from her cookbook. But here is Jaden's site, full of lovely recipes and funny anecdotes.

One of you went into the kitchen as I was dredging the chicken into flour and asked, "What's for dinner mum?".. and I said, ... "giant chicken nuggets".

Although you still opted to dip your giant-chicken-nuggets aka Baked Chicken Tonkatsu, in tomato sauce and not the prepared tonkatsu sauce, you loved this one so much, you even asked to have it for your school lunch the next day! That made me really happy.

This was served for dinner, on a bed of shredded lettuce, home made tonkatsu sauce and rice.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Andok meets Rosemary

Andok's is a roast chicken kiosk, popular in Manila. Along the likes of Baliwag and Savoury, take away roast chicken (or lechon manok as it is aptly called in Tagalog) is the most convenient dinner/lunch/snack every time there's no prepared meal on the table.

And it doesn't change, even in Sydney.

You guys love roast chicken. You do. You must remember that you were'nt fussy when it comes to having roast chicken for dinner or lunch. It doesn't matter if it's Cole's or Woolies, or Galo's or Nando's or Oporto. You just love roast chicken. Period. I guess most kids do. Whether its fried, breaded, roast, baked, barbequed - chicken is the all-time favourite food to feed little people.

This week, I tried doing home-made roast chicken using Jamie Oliver's recipe (taken from the TV show Naked Chef). The recipe was just passed on to me like a whisper, or like an sms. No actual measurements, no specifications on the instrument/equipment to be used, no specific temperature. Big brother passed on the recipe to me, casually in one of our family dinners months back. And since I had this 1.5kg whole chicken in the freezer, I thought why not just do the whole thing-a-ma-jig, instead of cutting it up (which I'm not good at, especially with a whole chicken) into bite-size pieces and marinating and coating with crumbs and frying or baking.... Whew! Roasting a whole chicken sounds daunting and labourious.

I've realised it isn't. It takes just as long as marinating some steaks and setting them on the grill. Or seasoning some pork chops or chicken drumsticks and frying them on the pan. I must admit the cooking time does take a little bit of patience, but its worth it.

So this is a razmatazz of a recipe - made with hunch, instinct, gut-feel, common sense and heaps of love.

When you get your chance to try this, use what I used: the basic ingredients plus all of the above.

The basics:

1 whole chicken (Cooking time varies of course, depending on the weight/size. Normal cooking time should be 25-30 minutes for every 500g or 1hr for 1k and so on. This also depends on the type of oven used of course, so you will need a lot of your gut-feel and common sense here.)

salt and pepper (add lots of instinct here, as what I did was simply put together some of each together in bowl)

garlic (a whole piece, about 6-7 cloves), pounded and diced

rose mary (fresh is better, but I reckon dried would do just as well), several stalks

olive oil (about 1/4 cup)

1 whole lemon

Sides : potatoes and carrots, cubed

I don't want to think of this as hodgepodge, but this was what I did. Mixed together the salt and pepper, garlic, rose mary and olive oil in bowl.

Placed the chicken in a large shallow bowl and rubbed the olive oil mixture into the chicken.

Stuffed the chicken with the lemon and several stalks of rose mary. I let this sit for about 30 minutes.

Place the chicken on a roasting pan, with the side veggies (potatoes and carrots) underneath. (The veggies got half-toasted, so I think the veggies should be put in midway through the chicken being cooked.

Voila! Roast chicken ala rose mary.

Remember, this is best served witih roasted veggies too! You guys loved this, but you said it wasn't as finger-lickin good as commercial ones, so I need to perfect this in future dinners. Although the smell was absolutely enchanting! Seriously!

And so, while we still reminisce of Andok's, here is an easy roast chicken family recipe, which hopefully you will also try and learn and pass on with a whisper. Don't forget the magic ingredients!

Don't you just love chicken!?!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First person, second person.....

I realised just moments ago I'm trying to document recipes here to pass on to my kids. Along with the memories that goes with each and every recipe.

And so, starting today. All entries on this blog will be on a second-person basis. Like a conversation, from me to you (I mean all of you, okay?!).

I hope when you're old enough, you will also learn to love food and cooking and by that time, appreciate all the time, effort and love I put onto those meals I nagged you to eat and almost pushed down your throats. Ha ha ha ha!

Seriously, home-made is always a healthier option than take-away, so live, love and EAT! (Hey! This is from one my favourite chefs - Wolfgang Puck)

Enjoy and happy eating!

Pan Fried Steak with Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce

This sounds really professional, doesn't it?

This is the first among the many recipes I will be trying in the coming weeks until end September, being one of the (probably thousands) of testers for Jaden's Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

I used the Sizzle Steak pack from the local supermarket, seasoned with salt and pepper then pan fried, topped with Jaden's recipe here. I reckon this works best as marinate but decided to use it as sauce because I didn't have the right kind of steak (thicker cuts), and so I've saved some of the sauce for use later in the week with some beef scotch fillet on the grill (Yum!)

To serve, I cut the steak into strips topped with the sauce and served with rice and steamed bok choy (also topped with the sauce) and my fussiest critics (my kids) gave it a score of 9.

I can't wait to try the marinade and grilled version.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Llaneras galore

My sister arrived from back home and brought me these! 15 pcs of assorted sizes of llaneras! I did asked for lucban longganisa too, but this was a better option to carry considering the quanrantine rules in Australia. Nonetheless, I love them! Several weeks ago, I went into a leche flan frenzy - buying 3 dozen eggs every week and making leche flan! Not for a party mind you, just for home consumption... and boy did we get tired of it. And that was using disposable aluminum tins!

So now that I'm the proud owner of these "llaneras", I guess its time to go the leche flan route again.... I definitely must find more use for these tins soon. One can only take so much sweets I presume.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To Chocolate Chip Cookies and all its glory

I found this article link from the NY Times about the perfect chocolate cookie recipe via marketmanila's blog here. The article by David Leite praises the originator of this world famous cookie recipe - Ruth Graves Wakefield. Inspired and raring to go the extra mile, I took on butter, sugar and eggs to bowl with mixer in tow and tried my hand finding the right chewy kind of CCC (Chocolate Chip Cookie) version.

From the article, came the version by Jacques Torres (I used to watch this guy from the Lifestyle Channel in the PI concoct fancy chocolate creations, most of them daunting and overwhelming to watch. One of things that leaves me dreaming - like my previous post on the Devil's Food White-out Cake.), which I didn't try because it called for resting the dough for 24hours. This won't work for me as I'm as giddy as a 3yo when it comes to waiting for the result of my baking creations. Usually, I'd be endlessly peeking into the oven, which must cause a lot of my baking end in disaster. Patience in these instances, can really be an effort on my part.

And so while we are in the subject of CCC, I took the easiest route. I tried, and tested the recipe at the back of the Nestle Chocolate Bits package. It was easy in a hodgepodge kind of way, and unique too as it called for the addition of condensed milk. The result was really sweet smelling cookies, but hard as a rock. Either its the constant peeking in the oven or my oven temperature is really adding to my frustration. I made two batches of these, hoping the second batch will turn out better - meaning chewy. It didn't.

Two weeks on, I found two other versions. I found this recipe of Alton's Browns Chewy version online here. I like AB with his quirky and interesting take on food and cooking. AB's version called for the same ingredients as Dorie Greenspan's with a slight variation on the use of egg yolk and milk. But this time around, I tried DG's My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies from her recipe book "Baking from my home to yours".

I take my imaginary chef's hat off to this one. When she said its the "BEST" she's absolutely right. (Duh! She's an expert baker!) The most chewy kind of homemade chocolate chip cookie there is. And it even gets 5-stickers from each of my very fussy critics (my kids!)

So far, with all my adventures and misadventures into baking, I have a renewed sense of belief in all bakers. To me they are artists in their own right. Perfecting the simple chiffon cake or as simple as baking a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies can be really taxing if instructions are not followed to the dot. Someone else' years of baking experience is now giving me the comfort of easy to follow baking recipes! Results can almost always be perfect.... but as the old saying goes. Perfection takes patience. I need to stop peeking into the oven NOW!

Maybe next time, I'll do AB's version. Ah! Here's to Mrs Wakefield and too all chocolate chip cookie lovers!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Char Kway Teow

This unique noodle dish that is originally from Singapore and Malaysia became one of our favourite dishes in our quest for fast-food. Ultimately, when we get lazy and want to have take-away dinner instead of home-cooked meals, the first option would be Chinese. Its fast, furious and most chinese food tastes really close to home cooked meals, despite the assortment of soy sauce and salt and spices. It may not be the best option for some, but for us, it is a better option than doing the Dominoes or KFC or Pizza Hut. Not that we are health food junkies - absolutely not! We have our usual portions of "chicharon" (or pork rind) in most days, but that's beside the point.

Char Kway Teow has a lot varieties, in terms of the addition or subtraction of ingredients, but the most basic is the flat white noodles resembling coconut meat, bean sprouts, and onion chives. There are several good ones we've tried at (but not limited to) Chatz Noodles in Chatswood Westfield, Bar Asia in Lane Cove - this one comes with a hefty serving for such a good price. And Now, as in all good food tasted somewhere, I yearn to prepare it home-made given the time and the right ingredients. I've discovered tons of different varieties, some adding a bit of something, while others omitting a few ingredients, like here, here and here.

Recently, I unknowingly discovered the kway teow noodles from a new Asian store in Lemongrove in Chatswood. This was purchased immediately of course, and followed with the quest to find the rest of the unique Char Kway Teo ingredients - Lap Cheong (Chinese Sweet Pork Sausage) and the Chinese Pork Barbeque (mostly sold by Asian butchers).

Using an ordinary teflon lined huge pan, I went on to do the Char Kway Teow challenge following the recipes taken online. Despite the lack of the sambal spice and the Chinese pork barbeque, my version turned out alright and enough to warrant some oohhs and aahhhs from my own homegrown fans.

But perfection is the key as I was told the secret to the best Char Kway Teow is the smoky flavour which comes from a very hot wok and the blend of the soy sauce with the rest of ingredients. Maybe the next version will be even better. Definitely!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Carambola / Star Fuit / Balimbing

Unbelievable price for something that you can just take from your neighbour's tree in most provincial towns in the Philippines.

Balimbing or Star Fruit is more popularly used to treat asthma and colic according to Gamot Pinoy (or Filipino Medicine) and the site on Philippine Medicial Plants states that the fruit is also has a laxative effect. Whatever its benefits, I'm not sure if people actually buy this fruit here despite its exotic characteristic and sour taste. It must have its own fans. Definitely not me. But I'm not closing my doors entirely on the Starfruit Carambola... if not today, maybe next time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Surprisingly, I only discovered this recently or perhaps only knew of its name recently. Maybe its just me, but when we were young, we didn't actually asked what the name of the food we're given and served as long as it tastes good and we like it, we couldn't care less. Maybe I was served this before, or must have tasted it from a party or a restaurant, or some other event. Nonetheless, it is as familiar to me as halu-halo or mais con yelo, but the name did not ring a bell. Whatever! The important thing is, as I am into the challenge of re-discovering food and cooking, I've become more observant of food most of the time.

Recently, at a friend's place, we were served a quick-but-satisfying dessert made up of 3 basic ingredients: coconut cream, unflavoured gelatine and toasted pinipig (rice flakes). To make it a real dessert, she simply mixed a few teaspoons of sugar into the coconut cream and added some ice cubes. It was such a hit especially for my picky daughter, that I've replicated it at home.

I can only guess as to how this dessert got its name. In Japan, guinomis is a drinking vessel or what's called as traditional Japanese cups such as these here. I'm guessing that the traditional guinomis dessert uses tapioca pearls (sago) such as this recipe here, similar to the Chinese dessert soup Sai Mai Lo plus the coconut milk, famously known as Tapioca Pudding.

There is quite a number of ways to make this dessert even better like this version here (such as adding melon shavings for topping, or ube or leche flan, etc), but for me the basics are all there is, to fill up the tummy as an after-lunch or after-dinner dessert. In this case, even when ingredients were substituted with what is more commonly available and conveniently accessible (like unfalvoured gelatin vs sago pearls or tapioca pearls) this simple and quick dessert is just as satisfying as something you would order in any one of the more popular restaurants in Manila.

Best served in shallow ice cream glass bowls or cups.

My ingredients (I say MY because you may probably find the proper ones when you prepare your version)

10 g unflavoured gelatine (I used 1 sachet of Davis Clear and Unflavoured Gelatin, dissolved in 500ml of hot water and prepared into 2 shallow oval tins. Once chilled, cut into cubes)

1 can 400ml coconut cream (I used a generic supermarket brand that is "light)

3-4 tbsp white sugar (depends really on how sweet you want it)

1/2 c roasted sweet rice flakes (in the absence of pinipig or the Filipino rice flakes, I bought this
substitute Thai Sweet Rice Flakes from an Asian shop. Roast the rice flakes in a shallow pan until brown)

To prepare, simply mix and dissolve the sugar with the coconut cream in a medium to large serving bowl. Add the cubed gelatine and some shaved ice or cubes, then top with the rice flakes.
Can't be anymore simpler.

I'm thinking since we had this in winter, we will definitely see more of the guinomis in summer, next time with more shaved ice and probably an assortment of toppings too. How about a cherry on top? Or even, using coloured gelatine for a change..... Hhhmmmmm.......


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