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, May 31, 2010

Dentists, Ipads and Haighs

We took to the city last Friday for Ate's dentist' appointment. And while its not really timing to be thinking about chocolates after a dental appointment, I took the opportunity and planned a leisure walk from the dentist' building along George St in the Sydney CBD to visit Haighs and along the way admire the persistence of fans lining up for the release of the new Apple Ipad.

Haigh's Chocolates is one of Australia's best chocolates. And once you taste it, you will argue no more. One of the best dark chocolates I've ever tasted. First time I had a taste was when big brother came back from Adelaide and brought some straight from the factory! Seriously dark, luxurious chocolates.

At the store, there were heaps of eye catching, mouth watering display of chocolates, chocolates and more chocolates! My excuse? It's winter! Time to indulge in the most comforting of all food groups! Chocolates! Besides the chocolate frogs, and pastilles and honeycomb bars, we also got some dark chocolate couveture to try on our favourite brownies and chocolate chips recipes!

As we head out the doors from Haighs, I stop and admire at the paradoxical flurry of excitement in that small block along George St. The same level of excitement from the crowd coming out from Haighs as those coming in and out from the Apple store across from the Strand Arcade. What a wonderful world we live in! Chocolates and Ipads can exist hand in hand to make this world a better place. Don't forget to visit your dentist every 6 months!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blackberry jam tart... inspired

Originally by David Lebovitz, I came across this recipe from 17 and Baking, whom I found through Gratinee, when I was browsing the web for recipes of which I forgot what for, at this point. I am continuously amazed at the volume of glorious food blogs around the globe. Amazing! I am in awe with the photos. Entertained by the stories. Inspired by the food.

I am not a pie-tart-pastry kind of person. I like a bit of sweet every now and then but sweet tarts, pies.... are one of the food groups that I don't subscribe to. I mean, if they're served alongside coffee or tea and nothing else is on offer, then I might consider. But if tarts are just one of the choices, then I'll swing by the cupcakes and biscuits in a flash. In my shallow appreciation of tarts, pies and truffles, I believe it is fate that I came across an inviting challenge in David Lebovitz version of Wednesday Chef's Crostata - I ran up to the local shops to get myself a tart pan! Not immediately, but 2 days after I read the blog. (See! I'm really not that into tarts!) DL tweaked the version a bit with what came out as a simple easy-peasy, tart/pie recipe. The instructions and ingredients were easy and accessible, but the photos were what literally dragged me to share the tart connoisseur's appreciation over this sweet little things. It was simply inviting from preparation to baking, to eating. With the winter chills creeping across Sydney, what better time to try on a sweet comforting treat to accompany my coffee.

The use of polenta/corn meal gave the crust that nutty flavour. The blackberry jam was a personal choice as I wanted to see a dark filling for a light-coloured pastry. Not too good though as I didn't taste the jam before using it in the tart - it came out overly sweet. Next time, we might try strawberry jam or some marmalde (as David used in his recipe in here). Something with a bit of tangy flavour.

I used a 23cm tart pan (smaller pan that what the recipe called for) but must have used too thick base that I had little left for the top. So there is that gap in the middle.


9 tablespoons (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (190g) flour
1/2 cup (70g) stone-ground cornmeal or polenta
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)

1 3/4 cups (450g) apricot, raspberry or other jam

coarse raw sugar; known as cassonade, turbinado, or demerara sugar, for finishing the tart

1. Beat together butter and sugar until well-combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and almond extract.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients, just until the mixture just comes together.

3. Measure out 11 ounces (300g), which is about 2/3rd of the dough if you don't have a scale, pat it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill it. Take the remaining dough and roll it into a log about 2-inches (5cm) in diameter, wrap it and chill it, too

4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to room temperature slightly. With the heel of your hand, press the dough into the bottom and sides of an unbuttered removable bottom tart pan (one that's 9" or 10", 24cm), or springform pan, patting it evenly.

5. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.

6. Remove the log of dough from the refrigerator and slice in cookie-sized disks, then lay them over the jam. Top very generously with lots of coarse raw sugar, at least 2 tablespoons.

7. Bake until the pastry is golden brown. (If you don't trust yourself, or your oven, Luisa's recipe says 20-25 minutes.) Let cool before serving, and serve at room temperature.

There are more plans for our new tart pan - we'll try a quiche lorraine tomorrow! Meanwhile, I'm so looking forward to getting my hands on David's latest book - Ready for Dessert. More sweet indulgence for the winter months.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Donna Hay Chocolate Cupcake Kit

I spotted Donna Hay’s chocolate cupcake kit from Little Betsy Baker online and bought one. Road tested it last week. Concocting with Donna Hay late at night and to road test it, I brought a few to work. It had rave reviews. The cupcake is super moist and fudge-y and the frosting just gorgeous. Definitely not one of the supermarket-bought types, but something extra special. The kit comes with the cupcake and icing mix, plus the signature Donna Hay cupcake liners.

The cake mixture is smooth and thick (unlike some batter which are runny and others too thick and doughy) which was great as I also road tested my new ice cream scooper. The ice cream scooper is the stainless steel variety with the pull-grasp handle and the scraper mechanism in the scoop. This was purchased with the intention of using them as cupcake mixture scooper, as recommended by in the Martha Stewart 175 inspired ideas for everyone's favourite treat. The icing mixture turned out lighter in colour compared to the image on the box, but the taste was just beautiful!

Overall, the cupcakes while home-made, tasted store bought – from those specialty cupcake shops with flair. And why not, is it not a signature Donna Hay recipe?!

A quote from an office colleague …. “… those cupcakes were GOOOOOOOD! It was all I could think of last night!”

Just a short post script though. As with all cooking, baking and kitchen activities tidying up is the most difficult part. Because I baked these late at night, I didn’t have my sous chefs to lick the utensils and bowls clean. I just have to remind everybody that YES, you can’t scrape all that batter from the bowl even with the best spatulas you can afford. Cleaning up is really part of creating in the kitchen. The trick is to learn and live the mantra “clean as you go” – which is something I caught in 1991 from Ray Kroc when I started working as a counter crew at McDonald’s. Something of a story for another time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cassave cake, a parish fundraiser, at iba pa

Last Sunday we took part in the International Food Fest fundraising as members of the Filipino Chaplaincy of Our Lady of Dolours Parish in Chatswood. The parish showcased dishes, sweets and cakes from the diverse parish community. The Harrington Hall was full of Polish, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Greek, Italian and Filipino dishes, savouries and sweets.

For our own indigenous version of the pudding, I made two trays of cassava cake, sliced and lined to sell at the Filipino stall. It was a fun and great experience to be a part a community that not only shared the religious belief but networking with the same culture and heritage of which we are grounded for.

Here are photos of the Filipino sweets and savouries that were baked, cooked and donated by the community which made the event a success. There was even a sponge cake with honeycomb topping! It was getting so much attention - someone bought the whole cake!

Ensaymada - sweet butter rolls

Bico - sweet sticky rice pudding

Palitaw - rice cakes in coconut and roasted sesame seeds

Empanadas - meat pie Filipino version,

made of minced pork, carrots, potatoes, raisins, capsicum

Suman - sweet sticky rice in banana leaves

Pichi pichi - sweet cassava rolls made with lye and coated in shredded coconut

To make cassava cake:


500g grated cassava

(frozen cassava can be purchased from Filipino shops around Sydney)

1/2 can evaporated milk

1/2 can coconut cream

60g butter, melted

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 can condensed milk

1/2 cup grated cheese

1. Mix all together (except the condensed milk and grated cheese) in a large bowl.

2. Bake at 180 degrees C.

3. When almost done (when the top of the cake looks a bit solid and not soft when the pan is tapped), pour/spread condense milk on the cake and sprinkle the cheese.

4. Return to the oven and bake until golden brown.

Important tip/s:

  • Line the pan with baking paper including the sides, to avoid the cake sticking on the sides when done.
  • The top of cake will appear golden and some parts will be darker than others. This is what happens to condensed milk when baked. But don't worry as this only means the topping is cooked.

Where I got this recipe? Its just one of those simple recipes shared amongst friends and family. Seriously? I got this from the Vega's... passed on via sms!

Isn't technology just amazing?... Hang on. Let me just Google how to make honeycombs...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's in your bread?

There are times when we miss home. For migrants like us, the question is where is home. Really.

Now that we've settled in Sydney for almost 5 years, we call this home now. But our heritage is still Filipino, and so at some point, I truly miss home. That is where most of our families are, friends who have seen me through the good, the bad and the ugly. And one of the small number of Filipino food that I miss is the good ol' pandesal, alongside the Lucban longganisa.

Pandesal is the Filipino version of dinner rolls. Why its called dinner rolls but not limited to be eaten at dinner time eludes me. Pandesal can be bought from a local bakeshop, usually from every corner of the a suburb, and is eaten plain, with butter, peanut butter, nutella (if you prefer), coco jam, eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, morning tea, whenever, wherever. It is a versatile bread, but uniquely Filipino. I do believe it has its unique qualities and I seriously not seen anything like it replicated elsewhere. If it's called a roll, a damper, scones it is not the real thing. The pandesal can be similiar in some ways to these types of breads, but not quite. Only a real hot steamy old style bakery can make them as good.

We have tried making pandesal at home twice now. The first attempt looked glorious, but were hard as rock after a few minutes out of the oven. I thought frequent visitors in our backyard will have a feast. But they didn't. The pandesal blended with the cold harsh Australian night chills. Looking back, I'm now thinking the possums may have had that feast instead.

This is a second attempt to make pandesal at home. Before starting, my thoughts went to the previous attempt using a hand-held electric mixer. The poor little thing survived the ordeal. And now with a sturdy stand mixer (not my dream Kitchenaid yet, but we'll get there) and the presence of a dough hook, it's all too promising. This attempt was made with a production line of 6yo amateurs and a 69yo grand master kneader (Lolo was present on hand to do some serious kneading). It's always fun when baking entails some kind of kneading and waiting and the dough rising, and waiting some more.

This pandesal version was better than the first. It was soft and had texture, but a bit bland and lacked a bit colour. Despite following the exact measurements of salt and sugar. A third attempt might be planned for the future.

Meantime, what's in your bread? Me? You all know what it is. I can live on peanut butter and bread alone. I think it's time to upgrade our repertoire of spreads. Anyone one for duck liver pate?

This recipe was taken online as recommended by my best online buddy - Google. Taken from allrecipes.com here.


2 cups warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

(I actually used instant dry yeast, hence skipped the first step)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

6 cups all purpose flour (we used bread flour for this recipe)

1. Put the warm water in small mixing bowl and add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar, stir to dissolve. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining 15 teaspoons of sugar and the oil and mix until smooth. Add the salt, 1 cup flour and the yeast mixture; stir well. Add the remaining 5 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, supple and elastic, about 10 minutes. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in it and turn to coat the dough with oil. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume; about 1 hour.

4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a cylinder and roll out until the log is 1/2 inch in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut each log into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the pieces, flat side down, onto two light greased baking sheets. Gently press each toll down to flatten.

5. Preheat oven toe 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)

6. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

7. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) until golden.

There are Filipino shops close by that sell pandesal, but there's nothing close to the smell of bread baking in the oven. So.... maybe we'll try again in a few months time.


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