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, March 30, 2010

Savouries - Ham, cheese and tomato muffin

Sweet for my sweets. Sugar for my honey….

I am a renewed cupcake fan. After last week’s excitement, I am on a mission. Inspiration, as it is, takes lots of different forms. What inspires me can be a number of things. The smell of bread baking in the oven. The changing colours of autumn. The colour of the jacarandas in spring. A newspaper or magazine article that made me think. A good book. A touching movie. My girls’ musings – quiet and not so quiet. Friends. Families. Food. Trees. Art. Life is inspiration in itself.

What is inspiration? What is it? It is stimulation of the mind and emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. To inspire means to invite your inner senses to create. And so I must be inspired. I am inspired to take on the sweet, sweet road and conquer cupcakes. This inspiration actually started a few weeks ago as I started planning for the girls’ 7th birthday. And while it takes a simple plan, to make a simple party, I do take a bit of effort when it comes to the little details such as cakes. And so while browsing through heaps and heaps of cake shops online, I came upon the latest in cupcakes – the maxi cupcake! Which is what I plan to purchase for their birthday party. Hey, I have an excuse! I don’t have this maxi cupcake mold tray, alright?! But with a cupcake mission in the horizon, it is my goal to bake mini cupcakes to supplement the maxi cupcake plan. And I plan to do this with utmost creativity and flare, ala Jacques Torres and the inspiring Adriano Zumbo.

Meanwhile, in the home front I have had the oven busy. In the past week alone, I’ve made 2 batches of the Brownies Bonanza for personal consumption, and the savouries in this post were baked for the MSCW Open Day last Sunday. The choice of bringing savouries over sweets was because I have had too much brownie baking that I thought maybe it would add a much needed change in a table full of sweets. Much to my expectation, it was indeed an ocean of sweets – from beautiful cupcakes to caramel slices, cookies, cakes and everything nice. I was part of the Year7 parents who raised their hands up to help on the day – to bake and to sell. And I was standing there, watching all the other pretty sweet little things sell out for a $1 a piece while my savouries melt from embarrassment. The poor little things. Not that they weren’t good – they actually are filling and tasty. It’s just that I realised this now, that when the call to “BAKE” comes, it usually means “SWEETS”. And so I was there, sweating from the beautiful warm autumn Sunday, signalling to the girls and A to … “Buy my savouries, or else!”. Well, we left before the Open Day concluded (to run off to one of B’s games which was at Minto NSW on that day) and driving off, I was thinking about my ham, cheese and tomato muffins. “ I’m so sorry darlings, Mum needs to go. You can do it. Someone will want you, some time, soon. Hug, hugs. Kiss, kiss. Au revoir.”

This experience has kindled my cupcake mission to a higher level. And to my excitement I ordered several baking cups, cupcake kits including a Donna Hay Chocolate Cupcake kit and found that the world can never get enough of these sweet, sweet, little things. Check out all these lovely sites selling cupcakes like My Little Cupcakes in Neutral Bay, Cakes and Cupcakes in Seaforth, Lushcups in Concord and the Cupcake Factory in Drummoyne, and cupcake suppliers like Little Betsey Baker are just a few of the hundreds out there. As the Easter weekend and school holidays are coming up, I already have recipes lined up to read, try, bake and share with friends and families, which shall be for another post.

And while I am enroute to my cupcake mission, I am still proud to have baked something different and savoury for a change. Even though these savouries faced embarrassment this week, I have made them before for Lolo’s 68th birthday morning tea at church last year and they were a hit. Here is a great recipe taken from taste.com.au – an easy recipe to make for picnics, lunch boxes, school functions or even for tea. I believe a bigger version of this mini muffin is actually filing enough to be lunch.

Ham, Cheese and Tomato Muffin

Recipe by Kate Murdoch

Makes 12


  • 90g shaved ham, chopped
  • 2/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Place self-raising flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Place egg, shaved ham, cheddar cheese, olive oil, milk and flat-leaf parsley in a separate bowl. Mix until combined. Pour the ham and cheese mixture into the flour and fold lightly until just combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 12-hole mini muffin pan. Press a cherry tomato half into the top of each muffin. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes & tips

  • Muffins will keep for two to three days stored in an airtight container.

* The baked muffins in the photos are presented in cupcake/muffin cups, but the muffins were baked straight onto a lightly greased muffin pan. An additional note would be that it might be best to grease the pans heavily as when lightly greased, the muffins tended to stick to the pan especially there is cheese in the mixture. I had to scrape them from the pan with a butter knife.

Here are other sites of cupcake supplies which might come in handy in the future. Cupcake House, Baking Pleasures and Bakers Cups

Friday, March 19, 2010

More on macro and a bit of greens

These are macro shots stuff around the house - non living things and living things. Part of the recent discovery of using the macro function of our camera.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cheesecakes galore 3 - New York Cheesecake

I love blueberry cheesecakes! I love the combination of the cream cheese and the sweetness of the blueberry syrup on top. It has always been my favourite. And whenever I’m out for a cuppa, a slice of blueberry cheesecake is always the one and only accompaniment to my coffee.

I've made blueberry cheesecakes before, using the recipe from the Filipino Kitchen Library - Desserts, which was a "no-bake" recipe. The core ingredient that held the cake together was the inclusion of a packet of Knox unsweetened gelatin, dissolved in milk. It is a great recipe, and a fairly easy one to prepare too. But I’m yet to perfect the results. Like all tasks, it does take a lot of practice. And I’m yet to discover your love for cheesecakes, so its not always in my regular baking schedule unlike your chocolate crinkle favourites and brownies.

For daddy’s birthday, I’ve prepared his favourite – blueberry cheesecake, with the recipe taken from a recipe book given to me as a birthday present - My Recipe Keeper. The recipe was the simplest I’ve done so far. Thanks to the technology of food processors. If there were no food processors today, we’d probably be using the good old Osterizer (which is the brand that initially introduced the blender), like how Julia Child did it in France during her few years of cooking – an equipment that looked like a stainless steel or copper made colander with another pot at the bottom, and you need to wind the top handle, similar to mashing vegetables such as pumpkins and potatoes.

This cheesecake recipe though, is best kept chilled as it contains straight-forward cream cheese and sour cream, and the only ingredient holding it together is the addition of eggs. Because I prepared this right in the middle of summer, it took a lot of refrigeration to make it perfect. And it is the perfect cheesecake recipe. Easy to make and tastes great.

New york cheesecakes are actually plain cheesecakes. The options for toppings is endless. Simple cocoa dusting, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, crumbled cookies, etc. etc. Maybe like the place itself. Where the possibilities are endless. And the excitement just as great. I haven’t been to NY nor have set foot on any US soil. But I have high hopes that I will soon be walking on the sands of Hawaii. Not that there’s any cheesecakes named after Hawaii. But I’ve done Hawaiian inspired recipes which will be for another time, another post.

In this post, I went for the blueberry topping which was part of the recipe. In the past, I’ve used Comstock Blueberry Filling, which is a US brand not available in Australia. I’ve tried using a local grocery brand (Aldi's American Foods brand and Woolworths Select) in previous tries, but the consistency of the blueberry was not up to my standards. Both brands turned out pale-coloured blueberries and lacked in sweetness. Fresh blueberries are great eaten fresh and one of the best anti-oxidants in the fruit world. But fresh blueberries don’t look good nor taste good as a cheesecake topping. Fortunately, this new recipe included a recipe for blueberry topping. A great experience for me. Turns out, all it takes is arrowroot + caster sugar to make a good sweet-syrupy-shiny-blueberry topping, from yes…. You guessed it right. Fresh blueberries. It was amazing. The transformation of fresh matt skin of the blueberries, to a syrupy translucent shine made me ecstatic. I went from room to room with the warm pot showing everyone how great it looked. I was beaming. The taste was fantastic! So good I wanted to make more blueberry toppings the next day, and the next, and the next.

Of course I didn’t, but in my mind I did. It was just one of those simple culinary milestones that drives me to want to cook more, to try and bake more and to show you how easy it actually is. I’m not a Julia Child/Julie Powell to de-bone a duck, but surely, there must be a time and space for that in the future. Meanwhile, here is the recipe for daddy’s favourite cheesecake.

Read on, try, bake, eat and enjoy. Don’t worry if the cheesecake doesn’t turn out good the first time – the topping will always be the show stopper here. Here’s to arrowroot and all its glory!

New York Cheesecake

Serves 8-10


sunflower oil, for brushing (I used regular vegetable oil spray)

85g / 3 oz butter

200g / 7oz digestive biscuits, crushed (I used the store-bought Nice biscuits)

400g / 14 oz cream cheese (I used 2 packs of Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese)

2 large eggs

140g / 5oz caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

450ml / 16 fl oz sour cream (I used the store bought 300ml tetra pack sour cream)

Blueberry topping:

55g / 2 oz caster sugar

4 tbsp water

250g / 9oz fresh blueberries (I used 2 punnets of fresh blueberries)

1 tsp arrowroot

Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C / 375 degrees F / Gas Mark 5. Brush a 20cm/8inch springform tin with oil. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the biscuits, then spread the mixture over the base of the tin. Place the cream cheese, eggs, 100g/3.5oz of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract in a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour over the biscuit base and smooth the top. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and set aside for 20 minutes. Leave the oven switched on.

Mix the cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. Spoon over the cheesecake. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes, leave to cool, then cover with clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

To make the topping, place the sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the water over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat, add the blueberries, cover and cook for a few minutes, or until they being to soften. Remove from the heat. Mix the arrowroot and remaining water in a bowl, add to the fruit and stir until smooth. Return to a low heat. Cook until the juice thickens and turns translucent. Leave to cool.

Remove the cheesecake from the tin 1 hour before serving. Spoon the topping over and chill until ready to serve.


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