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, July 30, 2010

Scallop Risotto - Dinner for Two

Dad and me had a special dinner for two Friday last week. We did not have dinner out. We had dinner in. But with dinner separate from your Friday fish and chips. We had scallops risotto. You can say this is an invention test as there were no recipes followed. But Mum was merely guided by the dire passion to make a scallops risotto dish inspired by a favourite dish I always order at the Woolwich Hotel. Previous lunches with office colleagues was always at this place. Its close proximity (not that close) to the office makes it a likely choice. Plus, the place offers modern and contemporary Australian cuisine. The scallop risotto at Woolwich Pier Hotel is served with 4 pcs of scallops on top and some fried julienne spring onions.

Mum’s scallop risotto included:

1.5 cups Arborio rice

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup white wine

1 cup grated parmesan

1 cup frozen peas

100g button mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

30g butter

2 tbsp olive oil

12 pcs scallops

1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced (julienne)

1. Heat the olive oil and 20g butter in a pan. Fry the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the

2. Arborio rice and stirring until rice is covered through. Add the white wine and stir until liquid as dissolved.

3. Add chicken stock half a cup at a time while stirring. Let simmer. Add stock as the liquid dissolved, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the mushrooms and peas after last part of stock is added. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes more. Once rice is cooked through, add the parmesan and stir.

5. In a separate pan, heat the remaining butter. Cook the scallops for about 2 minutes on each side then set aside.

6. Brown the spring onion in the same pan and set aside.

7. Spoon Arborio rice onto a plate. Top with scallop pieces and sprinkle with the spring onion.

Serves 2.

When I made this, there was about another serve of risotto left. So it must be safer to allow for a half cup of Arborio rice per person.

As risotto is a rice dish, it does give you that "full to the stomach" feel after eating. Surprisingly, risotto made Dad so full, he did not need a second serve. Risotto is great for when you're tired of the usual rice and pasta dishes.

Marble cake again - a darker version

One cake at a time as promised. And this is the second round of the Marble Cake posted just days ago. This version used 75g of the Lindt 70% Specialty Cooking Chocolate (above) which made for a darker chocolate swirl in the marble cake, where previously, we used 50g as called for the in the recipe of the Woolworths Select Dark Cooking Chocolate brand.

We brought some slices for Ms B and she was just so elated that I want to bring her more cake! And we will, definitely.

Mum still feels defeated in the home front - exhausted from all the thinking really. On Tuesday, a photographer is coming to take photos of the house - standard photos to use for marketing paraphernalia by the real estate agent. So the weekend is going to be full on tidying up the house - putting everything in its proper place, disposing some long ago stuff that we're still holding on for whatever reason, and basically just making sure the house is in order. Besides the fact that the owner most probably want to sell the property at a good price, it'll be a great way to have our home out there in the wide world of the web.

Today was productive though - had a meeting with our tax agent and finally up to date with our returns. Taking things one day at a time.

Tomorrow's another cake day!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Marble Cake

There’s a beautiful marble cake on the kitchen bench. Three fourth of the 20cm cake has been divided and given away – Dad’s office and Mum’s. The rest are saved just in case you fancy something marbly. It does have half chocolate mixture with it. So it should satisfy your sweet palate.

Yes, I guess I’m still a bit stressed thinking of all the possibilities and impossibilities with the aftermath of the dreadful Tuesday. As I was creaming the butter and sugar last night, it was like staring into a yellow cyclone going down down down in circling motion. I pushed the handheld mixer down and it somehow gave me a sense of power that I can control the creaming process. how this cake turns out is in my hands. The fate lies with me. I draw the path of this cake’s destiny. Ok, a little bit overboard, but hey, it did give Mum that extra lift emotionally, even in microscopic proportions. It does help a bit to know that in this vast universe, there are some things we have power and authority over, no matter how small. It is also consoling that we have a choice – the free will to choose our actions. And with our impending move from 24 Wicks Road, I choose to do it one cake at a time. In the book Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott, she describes how his 10year old brother at the time, closed to tears and faced with the monstrous task of submitting a project about birds which he has put off for five weeks during the holidays and due the next day. Her writer father came , put his hands over her brother’s shoulder and said “one bird at a time, buddy. Bird by bird.” For this situation mum’s choosing the cake path. Cake by cake. One cake at a time.

This marble cake is the second cake in 2 days. Like “Carol’s Very Moist Carrot Cake”, this recipe came from the same book. I can tell because the photocopy is the same size and the page fonts are the same. So acknowledgement will be pending once more. Kudos to you whoever you are. I owe you 2 cakes now. This cake recipe is one of those that I would love to master and keep and make some more, varying the marble effect next time. I’m thinking to use that bottle of ube jam in the pantry for the next marble episode. I can imagine purple and yellow would look great together marble-lised, if there is such a word.

To make this marble cake, you will need:

50g dark cooking chocolate, chopped

175g softened butter

175g caster sugar (this is about 1 cup)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup milk

175g self-raising flour (we have been using cake flour for most cake and cupcake recipes, and the bread flour for others. Anchor Foods' Lighthouse brand has both plain and self-raising variety)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base with non stick baking paper. (what we usually do at home is spray the tin with cooking spray and then line the bottom with a cut out baking paper.)

2. Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water, and keep warm.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and set aside.

4. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy (I usually am wary on what actually is soft and fluffy, or when is it actually stiff or creamy. So in future posts, I'll try include photos of the actual step.)

5. Add milk and stir until combined.

6. Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder (until the batter is all mixed and thick).

7. Remove half of the mixture (into another bowl and set aside). Stir in the melted chocolate into the other half mixture until well combined.

7. Drop spoonfuls of the cake mixtures into the prepared tin, alternating between mixtures and starting with the light. (I swirled a butter knife around the mixture to have that beautiful marbling effect).

8. Bake for 6-75 minutes or until cooked through.

9. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Moving houses. Its not too bad really. I had long ago wanted to move and had this specific criteria in mind - reverse cycle air conditioning. Just never really acted on it and the fact that we were given an extension of the lease with no rate increase. So the decision to stay in Wicks was practical and realistic. And now, I guess it is really fate that the inevitable is coming. I’m praying we find a place within the same postcode as we don’t want to completely alter everyone’s schedules – school, work, sports, piano, etc. Lolo sent me an SMS yesterday. “God has something in store for you, better or best for all of you. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart - Psalm 37:4 “

And while we're here, let's enjoy our cake! I promise, one cake at a time.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lola Ching's signature dish - Pochero

This is Lola Ching's signature dish. If she were right in the Masterchef kitchen, she will be making this dish without a sweat. This is a Vallejo dish which is always a feature during special occasion dinners and lunches - birthdays, Christmas, New Year! When were still in the Philippines, everytime this is in the menu in Cubao, Lola Ching always makes sure that there is a plastic container of this for us take away after every party.

This was our Saturday weekend dinner. And a late one at that. After our Shrek Forever After movie trip.

Pochero is a soup based dish and like the Filipino adobo dish, has so much variety in the Philippines as there are dialects. There is the Pangasinan Pochero where tomato sauce/paste is added making the dish more like a casserole. And the Tagalog version which is the soup/braised meat variety.

The decision to make pochero was to perk things up at home a bit. Dad has been a bit on the grey side lately. Brought by the grey clouds, damp and wet weather of winter. And the obvious fact of middle age. He's not moody as Mum is, but he's been thinking a lot lately, which is not like Daddy at all. When you're all grown up and we look back at this "pochero" moment, I can already see the image of you all laughing your heads off. Yes. Dad usually takes things in stride, and when he's had a deep thought, that means serious business. And while you're all still in your little world, its Mum who's making things work around the house. Which is feat you will realise when you're older.

Meantime, let's enjoy Mum's version of Lola Ching's pochero. I say this is my version because I have excluded the addition of garbanzos (chick peas) for the sheer reason that I'm not a fan of this bean variety. This pochero was made with:

750 g beef flank, cubed

500g pork spare ribs, cubed

500g chicken drumettes

5 pcs medium potato, cubed

1 large onion, quartered

1 medium sized cabbage, quartered

250g beans, cut into 8-10 cms length

1 pc Primo Spanish chorizo, sliced

Boil 4 liters water and boil beef until tender - about an hour and half.

Add the pork and chicken half way through cooking the beef.

Once all meat is tender (check by pricking with knife or fork). Add in the onions and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add potatoes and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.

Add the chorizo slices and simmer for 5 minutes. Flavour the soup with fish sauce and pepper to taste. Note that the salt in the chorizo will already flavour the soup so be careful when adding fish sauce.

Add the beans and simmer for 3 minutes. Then add the quartered cabbage, turn off heat and cover. The remaining heat will cook the cabbage.

This is always served best with steamed rice and lemon/calamansi/cumquat slices on the side.

Moist (very) carrot cake

The other day I was just talking about neighbours and the importance of getting to know them and establishing that community feel. Yesterday, our real estate agent called to inform us that the owner is now intending to sell the property. This is one of the downside of renting. While repairs and maintenance is burdened by the owner, when they decide to sell, you are at their mercy. The good thing is, we have a fixed contract. It is also a fantastic bonus that the property owner is the brother of our neighbour – yes, from the previous post who gave us those lovely stuffed zucchinis and tomatoes. The dreadful thing is we have to move! Now I don’t want to think of this as losing a friend, but extending our network beyond the 5km radius. Will definitely miss this house we called home for past 3.5 years.

Despite the pluses of the situation I still felt like it was the worst of Mondays (and it wasn’t even a Monday! It was a Tuesday) and a big block of brick was thrown at me from who knows where. I felt I was in limbo. Something just rocked my boat. From the moment of the phone call, all that was running through my head was the chaos of moving. Its draining just to think about it. And after picking you up from school, the moment I opened the front door and it was as if our piano was yelling at me. Hey you! I’m going to be part of that move! My head just throbbed with my heart. I have been feeling off track since. And as I wanted to change my mood and release the stress and tension from my shoulders, I decided to bake. Something I haven’t tried before that will be good to eat and serve. And this carrot cake was just in the way.

I photo copied this from a book (did I do something illegal? I mean, photo copying is just like copying it in writing, except that you don’t get the pictures and the page numbers and all that blurb that goes with the recipe?!) Alright. Let’s just say I copied it from a book, of which I borrowed from the library and at this point, not sure of the title and the author, so apologies for not acknowledging you – whoever you are who wrote and tested this recipe. When I come across it again, I’m sure to acknowledge you right back. And as tribute to the owner of this recipe, I’d like to say that this is best carrot cake I have ever tasted. And as accurately copied, this is called “Carol’s Very Moist Carrot Cake”

Print this Recipe


2 cups plain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 cups caster sugar

1 cup chopped walnut (I used a 150g pack of chopped walnuts, including the extra for decorating/topping)

1 1/2 vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 cups grated peeled carrots

chopped walnuts for decorating


1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a 23-cm square cake tin with non stick baking paper.

2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the sugar and chopped walnuts.

3. In another bowl, mix the oil and eggs until well combined. Stir in the grated carrots. (I used a whisk to mix the oil and eggs together. At first, it will look like its not going to go together as the oil and eggs separate, but continue whisking and it will mix. Then add the carrots and mix).

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to form a smooth batter. (To mix the dry and wet mixture together, I simply used a wooden spoon to slowly incorporate together). Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 60-80 minutes or until cooked through. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

5. When completely cold, use a spatula to cover the top and sides of the cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with chopped walnuts.

For the cream cheese frosting, I borrowed the recipe from the Harvest Cinnamon Rolls which we have baked previously here, but changed the quantities a bit.

125g cream cheese, softened
75g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, mix together cream cheese and butter until light and creamy.

Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well mixed and creamy. The frosting should be a little bit thick and creamy in consistency.

Making this did not make the situation better - there is that moment when we will still have to move, and do the chaotic things associate with moving. But this very moist carrot cake did make my day sweeter and brought my stress levels down. As I look onto the coming weeks, I know its going to be really busy. In the meantime, there's going to be a lot of thought going into cleaning up the "junk" we've somewhat accumulated over the years and looking for a new place. I wish and pray that we'll find the right one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Red and just plain gorgeous!

I spoiled myself once more. Not that Mum goes shopping every week, or indulges at the spa every weekend, or has a regular pedicure-manicure trip. Mum is a cheapskate. Most of the time goes shopping only for food. A bit of side trip every now and then, but mostly just essentials. But one day two weeks ago, an office colleague caught me from my office desk and announced the ALDI special of the week for a Crofton 3L Cast Iron Dutch Oven at $24.95!!!

They went off to Top Ryde Shopping Centre at lunch time and planned to get one each, and so I thought I'd have one too. As with all ALDI specials which sell faster than pancakes, they went back without the loot. I didn't mind much. But I have had that intention to purchase a real good enameled cast iron pot ever since I came across Steamy Kitchen's No Knead Bread here. About 2 years ago. So seriously speaking, that has been a long term plan. And since a really good cast iron pot can't be bought for a song - with the exeption of Aldi's Crofton variety, I had to scout for at least a second best. And look what arrived in the mail the other day!

My ever own La Chassuer Round French Oven bought online from Kitchenware Direct. I have opened the box with much delight and elation in my heart! Yes, mum has such cheap thrills. But hey, you'll be sharing my awe and excitement too, when we try out Jaden's No Knead Bread recipe soon. Meantime, I'm beaming once more.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A pink and purple sweet mess

We made some sweet pink and purple mess this weekend! These cupcakes are making their way to Jaricot's Open House on Monday at Marist Sisters College Woolwich. All Australian schools follow the house system where students are grouped into houses named after people who have helped build the school's history. Ate who is in Year 7 this year at MSCW is under Jaricot - which showcases the colours: purple and magenta. For Jaricot's open house, students are requested to bring baked goods to showcase and sell to the school community. Just one part of the school's many fundraising activities.

Baking for school fetes and open days are one of my favourite school term moments. Its when you help me plan for the baking and the baking itself. And a time to actually practice baking for an audience besides your school lunch boxes. Aside from the obvious reason to take photos and post an entry here.

We had an unlucky stroke of luck the first try, when we baked the cupcakes last night using the Easy Basic Yellow Cupcake recipe from cupcake kit by Elinor Klivans which we already did previously here. This time though the batch ended up looking like brown inverted mushroom cups. Look!!! We followed the recipe to the dot, but Mum tried to substitute the sour cream in the recipe with thickened cream which was taken from the cupboard - not chilled and therefore in a thick soupy consistency. Which must be why it turned out like this.

I thought a quick dash to the supermarket before 12midnight might be too much of an effort, so early morning Mum had to scour the wide world of Google for an easy basic vanilla cupcake recipe that can use whatever ingredients we already have in the pantry, and luckily found this from taste.com.au with a butter frosting recipe too! What a great turn out after a disastrous episode. The cupcakes are moist and sweet, and the recipe just as easy to follow.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes


200g butter, softened

1 3/4 caste sugar

2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I substituted vanilla extract for the same amount)

4 eggs

2 3/4 cups self raising flour

1 cup milk

1. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C. Line muffin pans with patty cases.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla (bean paste) extract with an electric mixer.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

4. Spoon mixture evenly among the patty cases (our handy dandy ice cream scooper came in very handy indeed!).

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

6. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Butter Frosting


200g butter, softened

6 cups icing sugar mixture

1/2 cup milk

1. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until very pale.

2. Gradually add the icing sugar while beating.

3. Add the milk and beat until well combined.

4. Divide frosting into small bowls and colour. (We decided to colour the icing straight into the bowl during mixing. We mixed pink and blue colouring which made the light purple tint)

5. Use a small palette knife or round bladed knife to spread the icing.

Thank God for neighbours!

This was my lunch on Friday. Homemade stuffed capsicum, tomatoes and zucchini courtesy of our lovely neighbour. She gave us another container of this dish which her mum made, on Saturday. With some lovely cabanossi purchased from the Primo factory!

When you're all grown up and living by yourselves, with your own families, make sure you get to know your neighbours too! Its great for sharing laughs, stories, play and of course, food! Thank God for lovely neighbours!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eggplants and a true Filipino menu

I have never eaten an eggplant before. Surprisingly, before we came to Australia, I never ate eggplants. Let alone cook them at home. Eggplants came second to bitter melon (ampalaya) which are two indigenous local vegetables abundant in the Philippines. How abundant? Let's just say it grows like weeds in most homes in the country. I'm not sure what bought about this hate with the eggplant but seasons change, and people change and change is usually for the betterment of society. So there. In fact, I was looking for eggplant seedlings when we visited Eden Gardens last week. The eggplant is now glorified in my book and one of favourite vegetables when Filipino menu comes to mind. I love that the variety of eggplants or aubergine in Australia are the big oval ones, good for 2 serves. Compared to small thin long variety we have back in the Philippines. Just one piece of this massive eggplant is just right for 2 serves in our home. Currently, its just dad and me.

And while in the subject of eggplants, I can't help but imagine a usual Filipino menu for lunch or dinner. Deep fried pork spare ribs (liempo), rice, eggplant-tomato-onion salad.

The pork ribs are seasoned with salt and pepper and deep fried until brown and the skin crispy.

The eggplant, usually grilled but this time I took a short cut and roasted them in the oven until cooked through, then diced. The tomato and onions, diced finely. This eggplant salad is usually seasoned with anchovy sauce (bagoong isda and which is bought from most Filipino shops), but I took the simpler route and just served them as is.

This is a favourite menu in our home. It brings us back to our heritage and the memories of Sunday lunches and dinner shared with family back in the Philippines. When you're older, you'll remember these dishes too. Just as I do now. But don't get me started on the ampalaya. I'm not sure Mum will ever be ready for the wrinkled bitter melon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Veal Osso Buco

I have mistakenly bought veal from the supermarket the other day. When I saw these great looking vacuum sealed osso buco cuts, so pink and looking so fresh, I got too excited and got 2 400g packs. When we got home and unpacking the groceries and putting them into the freezer, I noticed I got veal Osso buco by mistake! Now, I have not in any way eaten veal in the 39 years of my life. And up to that moment, was not sure what exactly is veal. All the while, I thought the veal meat sold in butchers and supermarkets were from the animal deer. I thought venison and veal, in my shallow knowledge of meat, are one and the same. But just as I was mistaken into buying the osso buco as beef, I was also mistaken as to where does “veal” come from. Thanks to the wide world of Google, I now know that veal is the meat of young cattle (calves). As it turns out, veal meat is more tender than most meat products as it comes from the young mostly male calves of dairy cattle breed. Now why didn’t we know that before? We could’ve gone from beef osso buco to veal osso buco in a switch!

On the road to my veal discovery, I found that there have been issues raised on animal welfare on the treatment of dairy cattle for veal meat, where in most farms in the US, Canada and Europe use veal crates to house the cattle. Specifically the use of veal crates – this is when the young cattle is confined to individual framed crates to minimise their movements (which makes for a more tender meat), and less handling. In the US and in Europe, there have been support to ban the use of these of which implementation seems not fast enough in the US, the earliest of which will be 2011. Veal crates have been completely banned in the European Union since 2007. So great news for animal welfare groups. In Australia, veal farms generally rear the cattle in small groups in open pens which abide by a code of practice from the RSPCA.

Like all sauced dishes (stews and casseroles), your appetite for these kinds has not yet matured except for Ate. Ate now eats whatever the grown ups eat, and her palate has somewhat matured in terms of trying on other dishes and cuisines. But I’m hopeful as always, as I know that someday soon, all of you will thirst for a Veal Osso Buco dish and you’ll remember this one Sunday in 2010 when mum made the aromatic veal osso buco with squeals of delight and appreciation from the adults. Even though I lack the proper equipment such as the Dutch French Oven (I’m saving for the proper brand such as La Chassuer along with the red Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) for this kind of dish, it has not stopped my adventurous side from trying to make this simple dish. Instead of using the oven, this was prepared this stove-top style using a huge regular kitchen pot. As usual, the recipe was found online at Best Recipes. Among the thousands of osso buco recipes online, I chose this one because it was the one of the top 5 hits from Google and also because of the ease of preparation. I used the veal osso buco instead of the veal shanks which the recipe called for, and also added a few other vegetables (mushrooms and capsicum). I especially love the gremolata sprinkled on top of the dish when served.


60g butter

4 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots, cubed

3 sticks celery, cubed

2 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

6 pcs medium sized veal osso buco

1 tbsp tomato paste

800g tin diced tomatoes

2 cups beef stock

1 tsp dried thyme

2 bay leaves

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 capsicum, cubed


1. Heat 20g butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan.

2. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Pour into a large casserole dish (or if stove top like what we did, pour into a large stove top pot).

4. Place 4 tbsp flour, salt and pepper into a big plastic bag with the veal osso buco and shake to cover well.

5. Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C. (not applicable if using stove top method)

6. Melt remaining butter and oil in same frying pan and brown veal.

7. Lay veal on top of carrot mixture. (or if stove top, simply transfer the browned veal into the pot with the carrot mixture)

8. Pour the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, thyme and bay leaves into the frying pan and bring to the boil.

9. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

10. Pour over veal. Cover and bake for 1 3/4 hours. (for stove top method, cook on medium heat for 1 hour, checking and stirring once in awhile to make sure the mixture is not sticking on the bottom of the pan).

Recipe notes included in the online recipe: To serve you can sprinkle the veal with gremolata. (Grated rind of 2 lemons, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and 1/2 cup chopped parsley mixed together.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I went to the Planet Cake Open Day

I attended the much anticipated open day at Planet Cake last Saturday at their main hub in Balmain. Yes. One of the few days in a month when Mum can actually indulge and she goes to an Open Day on cake decorating! I was hoping to bring you along but attendance was limited to 20 people only and it’s strictly an adults only place. Although it did seem like a child’s play room as you enter the demonstration room. Planet Cake is a cake decorator’s heaven. The cakes on display were just all magical and whimsy, its amazing and admirable to think of the people behind the thought, art and creation of these glorious cakes.

Planet Cake conducts 4 open days in a year and these serve as introductory sessions to the company, what it does, and a showcases their creations and a short demonstration. The open day was a 2hour session which introduced the group to the classes on offer, a demonstration of basic icing of a classic chocolate mud cake (which of course, the attendees had the fortune of tasting a slice or two, and a short hands on cupcake decorating demo. Here’s the simple vanilla cupcake I decorated on the day. Planet Cake uses fondant icing in all their cake decorating sessions. This is an orange and white combination, ribbon design.

Check this Alice in Wonderland cake which was on display at the 2010 Royal Easter Show in Sydney. Of course, this showcase is not a real cake, but if you could have just seen it up close, you will be caught with your mouth open in awe at the extreme details that went into making the cake. Planet Cake actually offers a course to replicate this cake at a significant cost. But hey. Look what you’ll end up with after the course!

I'm pretty sure Planet Cake will stay on this planet for as long as people will eat cake! And maybe by then Planet Cake won't be just here on earth?! Who knows! For now, I'm thinking Basic 101 - Cake Decorating! Hhmmmm.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spring in winter - the basil grows

Sydney winter is usually cold and wet. Rain is felt on most days although it's not as cold as in some countries like Europe or the US. Snow is only felt in some parts of the NSW and Victoria and one has to drive all the way to the mountains to get a feel of the frost. We've experienced snow for the first time last month when we went on a 4-day short break in Jindabyne and visited Perisher Valley and Thredbo. It was a pretty cool experience, literally, and a fantastic adventure despite the 16hour drive back and forth. Real great fun!

Winter is my least favourite season. Grey overcast days are not my favourite days either. Add showers to that, and I'm the grizzly nasty bear going into hibernation. If I could just hibernate, I would.

Aside from you guys who are the reasons why I get up in the morning (if I don't, then we'd all be stuck in bed all day, pajamas and all, especially in the school holidays!), it is only in winter that I appreciate the warmth of coffee in my favourite mug, clasped by my cold palms. Oh, what I would do to get some early morning peace with my cuppa and just be. If only I could drag myself out of bed earlier, to get that extra 10 minutes of solitude. But as I said, winters make me freeze. So maybe, I'd be luckier in spring. Oh well.

While we are still halfway through winter, there's a bit of spring in our kitchen with the basil thriving and growing blossoms. This was from the bunch of basil I bought early June for a pasta dish and soaked the rest of the unused stems in a jar filled with water sitting idly and beautifully on the window sill in the kitchen. What wonder! I don't have much a green thumb, so anything such as a bunch of basil blossoming is something of a gardening accomplishment in my book. I do hope they last until its time to transfer them into a pot when Spring comes.

Meanwhile, I'd love a good book, a cup of coffee and some quiet time. Turn off the TV please! And stop watching those videos in Youtube!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Scream for Ice Cream!

We've found a new euphoria in ice cream! Ben & Jerry's! I've heard about the famous US brand a long time ago. Opened in Manly last year, we had a quick visit when Uncle Bob and Ate Bea were in town. And we fell in love. Good thing they have pints and mini cups in select delis around Sydney! There's even 2 in Lane Cove and 2 in North Ryde! Definitely an "I Scream for Ice Cream" moment! Here's 2 of our favourite flavours! You guys also love the Lemon Sorbet from the scoop shop!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gastronomy - Culture and Food or Science and Art

Molecular gastronomy. Gastronomy. Degustation. Sounds like a mouthful, huh. These are old words but used more frequently these days with the advent of gourmet cooking, fusion of cultures, cuisine art.

Gastronomy, is not all science but is the study of the relationship between cultures and food. Add molecular to that and it becomes more complicated, more scientific as the study goes deeper onto the chemical reaction behind the transformation, combination of ingredients. Who would have thought food can get so exciting!

In a previous episode of Masterchef, two of the latest of which caught a million viewers attention. And this was the Pressure Test of Macaron Tower with Kalamata Olive, Beetroot and Raspberry Macarons courtesy of the Sydney-based pastry chef Adriano Zumbo and the Celebrity Challenge with Chef Adam Melonas of Green Peas and Egg which to me clearly illustrates the science in "molecular gastronomy".

At home, we did our own science experiment in the kitchen when we made honeycombs! There were oohs and aaahs and AAHHs with the combine shrieks of girls! What a sight! What excitement! Such wonder! The intention on making honey combs originally was to replicate a cake which was brought to the Multicultural Food Fest at Our Lady of Parish Church a month ago. It was a sponge cake with buttercream icing decorated with shards of honey comb. An absolute eye catcher!

We used the recipe from Nigella Lawson's website here which she calls the Hokey Pokey.


100g caster sugar

4 tbsp golden syrup

1 and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda


1. Place a sheet of non stick baking paper in a tray.

2. Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. You mustn’t stir once the pan’s on the heat, though.

3. Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt, then turn to goo and then to a bubbling mass the colour of maple syrup – this will take 3 minutes or so.

4. Off the heat, whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and watch the syrup turn into a whooshing cloud of aerated pale gold. Turn this immediately onto a piece of reusable baking parchment or greased foil.

5. Leave until set and then bash at it, so that it splinters into many glinting pieces.


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