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!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Filipino fiesta @ Fairfield Showgrounds

Coconut juice
Lechon - roast pork on spit

More roast pig! 



Various Filipino pastires - ensaymada, puto, kutsinta, ube, etc

More sweet delicacies! Suman, puto, pichi pichi, bico!

Ube, ube, ube!

Still part of the month long food event, straight from breakfast on the bridge we were to hyper to stop and rest.  We went straight to Fairfield a good hour and half's drive from northern suburbs to take on more food, this time a Filipino feast!  So much colour!  So much flavour!  So much food!

Breakfast on the Bridge 2010

We were lucky to have won tickets to the annual Breakfast of the Bridge 2010 - 10th of October 2010!   This is still a part of the Sydney International Food Festival 2010.  Invitation to this event is by raffle (you need to register online) and only 6,000 are able to attend.  So it's kind of special that we got invited this year.  I also registered last year but didn't get in.  

Breakfast on the Bridge starts from 7-9am.  The bridge was packed full of people, all smiles early in the morning. The aroma of coffee wafting in the air from the many coffee kiosks.  People buzzing about.  Performers going around dancing and entertaining people as they walk pass and to their allocated numbered space.  There was also a program going on at the other end of the bridge (The Rocks side) where a sponsored advertisement for the bid to host the 2022 World Cup.  

The least good thing is that per ticket only takes in a maximum of 5 people, which meant Dad was left out.  As this is breakfast, we started early leaving home before 630am to be at Milson's Point for the start off.  Mum was too excited that she's forgotten how little appetites you guys have and packed a full on breakfast - bacon and egg muffin, fruits, drinks, etc. etc.  You can tell my excitement how early mum was up.  Imagine whipping up bacon and eggs muffins before 630am!

Although it rained heavily for a few minutes, it did not in the very least dampen the spirits of everyone.  The organisers came prepared.  Everyone was equippped with a disposable poncho!  It was a great experience.  Early breakfast on one of Sydney's icon - the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  With 360 degrees of spectacular harbour views!  A fantastic way to have a good breakfast!  I hope you guys enjoyed it despite the long walk back to the other side! 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chocolate spectacular at the Shangri La Sydney

The Chocolate Spectacular Workshop at the Shangri La Hotel Sydney is part of Crave Sydney 2010 which is part of the Sydney International Food Festival.  A food event spanning the whole month of October.  Heaps of activities around Sydney, from lunches to dinners, to pubs and teas, and kids' cooking classes.  This is just one of the many of offer.

What a bargain!  For just $20 per child, everyone had a big bag full of chocolate concoctions - from cupcakes decorated with tempered chocolates on fancy prints, to decorating truffles, chocolate spraying a Harbour Bridge replica, and an abundance of snacks and tea on offer - including a chocolate fountain!

It was naturally a day of chocolate overload! A chocolate spectacular!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Brownie Cheesecake Swirl

I love the idea of swirls, not matter what colour. As a kid, I love the ice cream sold at supermarkets where the machine dispenses the ice cream in a swirling motion like the ones that are sold as McFlurry's these days. For a time, I was obsessed with baking the marble cake because of the swirling characteristic in the cake. Its just amazing to make and to look at, not to mention to taste!!!!

While Mum has been pre-occupied with work and other domesticated matters such is being a mother, I took time off to watch Splashing About at Mowbray and was just entertained and I loved the play that you did. The event was a K-2 presentation and your class did the Three Billy Goats play - each had a role as narrators! I'm so proud of you girls! And these Donna Hay cheesecake swirl chocolate brownies was just the treat that we brought in for the parents' morning tea.

This was taken from the June/July 2010 issue of Donna Hay magazine, and made with:

200g dark chocolate, chopped

250g butter, chopped

1 and 3/4 cups (300g) brown sugar

4 eggs

1 and 1/3 cups (200g) plain all purpose flour
(I used cake flour because that's what we have in our pantry. I find that I buy these more than the regular plain flour because we make cakes more)

1/4 tsp baking powder, sifted

1/3 cup (35g) cocoa, sifted

Cheesecake swirl

250g cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar

2 eggs

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth. Place in a bowl with the sugar, eggs and whisk to combine.

Add the flour, baking pwder and cocoa and whisk until smooth. Pour into a lightly greased 22cm tin lined witih non stick baking paper. Set aside.

To make the cheesecake swirl, place the cream cheese, sugar and eggs in a bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Place large spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and, using butter knife, swirl to partially combine.

Bake for 50 minutes or until set. Makes 12.

I actually burned this one slightly. Although it did not taste like something burnt, the bottom bit of the cake was dark and black so it was a good idea to cut the cheesecake brownie into bite size pieces and sliced off the burned parts on each of the squares. Overall, it looked great on the table. It just takes a bit of getting used to - sweet brownies with a bit of cheesy taste as topping.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Traditional Greek salad

I love neighbours and ours is just the lovely bunch one could ever wish for. I will definitely miss the Kopsias' when we do our inevitable move. And that's not even mentioning Mr King on the other side of the fence who is just as lovely with his usual smile and neighbourly wave every time.

We were invited over for a weekend dinner and we brought salad!

I must admit I'm not a salad person. Its not something we have every day, although I try to make dishes with vegetables all the time, salads are not just something we always have. When it comes to salads, we are the usual caesar-salad-bunch. Some shreded lettuce, toasted bits of bread fried in olive oil in the pan, some hard boiled egg and store-bought caesar salad dressing is just about the salad we can get. An occasional rocket salad with parmesan topping and balsamic dressing is another basic. Aside from that, vegetables are almost always cooked in our home.There are a variety of salads that I love - the Lebanese Tabbouleh but its not something I'm up to making at home as its readily available in tubs in local deli and even the supermarket.

Its embarrassing that I have to refer to a recipe book to make this one, but its as simple as it gets. Its a traditional Greek salad with olives and fetta cheese, olive oil and lemon for dressing.


Serves 4

200g/7oz Greek feta cheese

1/2 Webbs lettuce or 1 lettuce such as cos or escarole, shredded or sliced

4 tomatoes, quartered (I used Roma tomatoes)

1/2 cucumber, sliced

12 Greek black olives, stoned

2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, flat-leaf parsley, mint or basil


6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

pinch of sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Red velvet cake

This is a classic American cake recipe, which I got from the Swans Down Cake Flour package. Historically, the red velvet cakes used boiled beets to enhance the colour of the cake. Wikipedia states the red velvet cake was a signature dessert at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, where the recipe was spread as a chain letter by a woman, who was allegedly charged a large amount for requesting a copy of the recipe.

I made this cake for Tito Amiel's birthday dinner. The choice of cake was not so much about the colour, but more so because I have been wanting to try something new. And the recipe for this was just as convenient as taking the box of flour from the pantry.

The recipe called for:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (1 stick = 57 grams)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup red food colouring

2 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups plus 5 tbsp sifted Swans Down Cake Flour

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp baking soda

1 Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Line bottom of two 9 x 2 inch buttered cake pans with parchment paper. Butter paper and flour pans, knocking out excess.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl stir together buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour to the butter mixture in batches alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until batter is blended well. In another small bowl stir together vinegar and baking soda and gently stir into batter, do not beat.

3. Divide batter between pans and smooth tops. Bake layers in middle of oven 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cook cake layers in pans or racks 10 minutes before turning out onto racks. Remove paper from cakes and cool completely.

4. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread evenly with about 1 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer and spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.


1 cup milk

3 tbsp all purpose flour

2 sticks unsalted butter or 1 stick unsalted butter and 8 ounces cream cheese
(I used the butter and cream cheese combo)

1 cup confectioner's sugar (icing sugar in Australian parlance)

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, stir together milk, flour and cook, stirring occasionally over low heat until thick. Cool milk mixture. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add cool milk mixture and beat until spreadable.

The icing's consistency was not spreadable even after so much beating and mixing, as it drooped onto the sides of the cake like a snow avalanche. I think the cream cheese texture must have added to the thin consistency of my icing.

Besides the colour of the cake, this cake did not gather enough fan base to support the effort. The cake tasted really lovely and moist though. I guess it takes a bit of adventure to sink one's teeth into a red cake.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Prawn in homemade pesto sauce

There was still a bit of pesto left from the stock we made two weeks ago. With a bit of prawn, some garlic, olive oil and chili, this was Dad and Mum's Sunday dinner - served with steamed rice for Dad and crusty garlic bread for Mum! Spicilicious! You guys opted for the regular garlic prawns and butter. Still yum!


This tiramisu made its way to Fred and Sol's house blessing in Pemulway last weekend. The recipe was taken online from taste.com.au here (sourced from Super Food Ideas - June 2003, Page 81, Recipe by Dixie Elliott)

I have always fancied tiramisu, but have been afraid to conquer it. Sheer ignorance I suppose. As I only realised its not that hard to prepare when I made this for the weekend lunch we were invited to. The tiramisu was lovely, but not as sweet as I was expected Maybe with a little more practice, we can perfect this popular Italian cake.


2 cups strong black coffee

1/2 cup marsala (I've bought the Boronia brand from the local liquor shop. Some recipes recommend Baileys or Tia Maria but just cost too much for a cake!)

3 eggs, separated

1/3 cup caster sugar

250g mascarpone (I used the supermarket variety Wattle Valley)

300ml thickened cream, lightly whipped

1 large packet of sponge fingers (saviordi)

cocoa for dusting

1. Pour coffee and marsala into a shallow dish. Set aside.

2. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters until pale and thick. Add the mascarpone and whipped cream, mixing gently until just combined.

3. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.

4. Dip enough biscuits into the coffee mixture to cover the base of a 19cm square ceramic dish (I used a rectangular aluminum tray which did not fit everything and was overflowing, so I guess next time bigger tray would be better). Cover the biscuits with 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layers 2 times, ending with the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (ours was overnight and was just as great).

5. Dust generously with cocoa and serve.

* The recipe indicated a variation of orange juice as substitute for the marsala, if preferred.

We still have 2 new packets of sponge finger biscuits and mascarpone shopping I did for this recipe. Maybe we can a milo-tiramisu next time, just for you kids. Its not that difficult to prepare, really!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This is a take off from the New York Cheesecake recipe that I've been making for the past two weeks. I thought maybe its time to expand from the home-made blueberry toppings to the tangy and yet sweet raspberries.

They are available in the shops for a hefty $8 per punnet, but then, when you love food, you try and buy them and use them to create something to satisfy the foodie in you.

This raspberry topping was made with the same ingredients from the NY Cheesecake posted here.

55g caster sugar
2 punnets raspberries
4 tbsp water
1 tsp arrowroot
Here's the discovery - raspberries are more delicate than blueberries! They looked gorgeous fresh, but looked nothing like the fruit after the cooking process. I reckon raspberries are best served on a cheesecake slice as fresh!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chocolate Chips Ahoy - Revisiting Alton Brown's recipe

This is now a favourite at home, and is a weekly staple. The recipe is so good that it keeps for 2 weeks in the cookie jar - not if Ate beats everyone to it first.

This is the same recipe for chocolate chip cookies by Alton Brown posted here, but given a different twist by using chopped dark cooking chocolate/s instead of the chocolate chips/bits bought from the store. It adds a different charm to the cookie and it tastes just as great. An added plus - bigger chocolate chunks!

This should be aptly called Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black ink fried rice

This is fried rice stirred with the ink strands from fresh squid. Its not something new as I have tried this before from one of the many restaurants in Manila that my office colleagues and me would frequent for meetings or after office drinks.

This is not a edited with photoshop. The colour is simply black, with the browned garlic and chopped onion chives standing out.

Next time, I must try and make the "aligi" fried rice at home. "Aligi" is actually crab fat and is one of those ingredients that can really make one's blood pressure soar. So, it will take a bit of careful planning and preparation and nerve settling before we embark on a crab fat journey.

Meanwhile, this black ink fried rice surprised everyone one weekend lunch. The squid ink didn't do much flavour to the dish except the colour, but it sure did add some colour to the otherwise plain white rice we always have.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cold pasta salad

In the building where I used to work (Aboitiz Transport Systems Corporation) at Times Plaza Bldg. in Malate Manlia, there is a Le Coeur de France coffee shop where we frequent for those coffee breaks, office gossip and mostly just to catch up with office colleagues from other departments. And of course, there is a favourite from this cafe and that is the chicken pasta salad. It is a cold salad good for lunch.

I do not have a recipe for that salad, but I have somehow managed to replicate it one way or another. The key ingredients are: shredded chicken breasts, carrots and red capsicum. Both vegetables shredded finely. Add some mayonnaise (store bought or home made) salt, and pepper and my secret ingredients for that bite, paprika.

This salad was supposed to have made its way to the Ryde Bulls Womens U14 Family Picnic that did not go through because of the bad weather. But it has kept its dignity in the refrigerator for a week now, and still taste great. These are one of those prepare-now-keep-and-eat-later type of recipes. Great for picnics, at home or those moments when you just want something to eat.

Ingredients in order of importance:

pasta 500g pack, cooked according to directions
(the Le Coeure salad uses the Fusilli type so I use the same)

500g chicken breast, boiled in water with salt and pepper and shredded to bits
(The way I shred cooked chicken breast is by using a fork and slowly peeling away the strands. Or you can cut the chicken into cubes)

1 carrot, shredded (I use a cheese shredder and then chop the carrots some into almost minced bits)

1 onion, finely diced

1 capsicum, finely diced

salt, pepper and paprika to taste
(The paprika is just something I add to the salad for the bit of flavour and spice. The Le Coeur salad had those tiny bits of redish spice and paprika is what I thought it was, so I have continued to use it ever since)

1 jar mayonnaise (the quantity of mayonnaise may depend on how you want the salad to be. Add as much or as little, as you prefer.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until all mixed through.

Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2 ways with pesto

I was just thinking how monotonous and routine our days have been especially during week days. In the mornings till the afternoon, its all the same, day in and day out. Wake up at 6:30-6:45am. Make morning tea and lunch for school lunch box. Prepare breakfast if its not cereals and milk, scrambled egg and toast, while Mum has coffee and peanut butter sandwich. Dress up, drive off to school. About 10-15minutes depending on the traffic situation at Wicks and Epping Roads. Sometimes, while just sitting there and waiting for the cars to move forward, I wonder if I did turn off all the heaters. Did I turn off the stove (if I cooked something for lunch in the morning)? Did I turn off all the lights? Was I able to close the front door? The back door? Sometimes routine catches up on us that it makes us wonder, if that was actually today or was it yesterday that I turned off the heater in the bathroom.

Every morning rush just knocks me off my feet and the slow drive to school (well not that slow compared to how it was back in Manila) just plays with my mind with the “have I’s” and the “what if’s”. It can get really animated. In the afternoons, it’s the same thing. Pick up from school, drive home, eat afternoon tea, prepare for dinner, do homework, cook dinner, eat dinner, wash up, dress up for bedtime, do home reading, sleep. And if mum still has the energy, a bit of TV watching. Most days, I wait for Dad to come home from his second job. On odd days, I just give in to exhaustion and get into reading in the bedroom before sleep takes over.

Its no wonder everyone looks forward to weekends! For Mum it starts with a Friday gym class and who knows what’s in store during the weekend. It could be another cake episode, a trip to the local library, a movie, park play, mall? Weekends for us is always a blank canvas when we are flexible and free to do and go whatever and wherever our mood fancies. Which is the greatest thing. I’ve also been thinking about painting some details into Mum’s own massive canvas of which I picture is half way filled with all the adventures and blessings that we have been blessed with. I’m starting to imagine a small business venture relating to food and parties, that self-drive Italian holiday I want to take with Dad, a Hawaiian holiday with factory outlet shopping and a Disneyland experience! Yes! Disneyland is opening its new park in Hawaii in August 2011! Let’s see how it looks in our imaginary canvas.

The previous Friday, watching Better Homes and Gardens inspired me to make homemade pesto, thanks to Fast Ed. BHG is one of your favourite TV shows. Surprisingly at that. You love the varied content and especially the part of Dr Harry showcasing pets and animals, Tara Dennis' decorating projects and Fast Ed's and Karen Martini's cooking prowess.

I remember one time, while watching BHG (you guys were 4yo and 10yo ) I declared in my authoritative-mother-voice that we were going to Davidson (a local suburb about 30 minutes drive away) to walk around a residential street featured on the local news for elaborate home Christmas decorations. And what did I get? - You'd rather watch BHG!? I was stunned.

Well, it has been a long time since, and you've developed so much since.

This is Fast Ed's homemade pesto, made of:

a bunch of garlic

3 cloves garlic

50g roasted pine nuts

50g grated parmesan cheese

1/2 c olive oil

Fast Ed prefers to prepare this using the blender, but in the absence of this kitchen equipment, this pesto was made using the food processor.

Process the garlic and basil until almost finely chopped. Add the roasted pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil and process until smooth.

I prefer a smooth not too think pesto sauce, so I add olive oil until I get the desired consistency.

For dinner, this pesto was used over cooked pasta and tossed with sun dried tomatoes. Great turn out.

pine nuts - store bought (90g bag)

roasted pine nuts (scattered on a baking tray and baked in the oven for about 5-7 minutes in a 180 degree C.

pesto and dried tomato pasta

The next day, I had to try Fast Ed's other ways with pesto and had this for dinner - pesto on poached egg and crusty bread! Super yum!

There are other ways with pesto! Its one of those concoctions that can last for a week in the refrigerator once prepared. And so many ways to use it! The choice is up to you! Like the blank canvas that is life. We can choose the picture and image that we want to stay in our memories. When you're all grown up, I hope your canvas will be as colourful as how you have made mine and Dad's.

Meanwhile, go ahead and make some pesto!


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