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, 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!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I made lasagna for dinner last night. Surprisingly, it was a first time for Mum. I’ve cooked baked pasta before but never lasagna. I’m not sure why but its probably the sheer handling of the lasagne sheets that I was afraid of. I found a Barilla Collezione pack from the fruit and vegetables shop in Eastwood that is ready to layer and cook. I thought lasagneasheets would be fragile pasta that I’d end up layering bits and pieces of them. But now I have renewed confidence in lasagna that it will probably be a monthly basic dinner or lunch dish. Next time, I’m thinking to use the same ingredients for the Baked Ziti which I haven’t posted here – which includes provolone cheese, parmesan and mozzarella plus sour cream, instead of the b├ęchamel sauce that is the traditional lasagna dish.

This lasagna version was made with:

9 Barilla lasagne sheets

2 cans 400g Italian diced tomatoes

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 red capsicum, diced

1 cup basil, roughly chopped

1 onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, diced

500g minced pork

½ c pizza sauce

½ c tomato sauce

1 cup shredded tasty cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Bechamel sauce

50g butter

50g flour

900ml milk, warmed

Ground nutmeg and salt to taste

There is a recipe on the back of the lasagne packaging but I took on my instincts and added ingredients I felt was fit to a pasta dish and whatever it was that could be substituted for. Like for tomato paste, I had to use the leftover pizza sauce (her, garlic and onions) which was in the refrigerator half-filled, and some of the remaining tomato sauce (catsup) to add a bit of sweetness to the dish.

The lasagne dish turned out well, and as with all pasta dishes, tasted even greater the next day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Adobong Pusit

I didn't realise my adobo is already on its 100th entry! But in the back room, its more than that. Not including those drafts that I've already written in a separate word document, in email drafts, in my notebook and those gazillions still in my head - thoughts waiting to be put on paper.

When I started blogging, my intention was to put thoughts into paper. Well, not into paper but into a place where I can actually go back and read through and remember the moment it actually happened. I imagine myself being a columnist for a national paper - with a regular column on musings about life in general. At first, it was all about how I felt at certain points, what I saw that amused me, experiences, adventures. There's a few of those I wrote but are not published online for the sheer reason a lot of them were written in angst, sadness and pain. - episodes when I felt really low and at my darkest hour. Writing helped erase the grey colours and put in a few bright hues. A few written notes and I started to feel better and saw the brighter side - closed the cycle. After awhile, I noticed my thoughts started to focus more on food and cooking. It happens when 80% of your waking hours are spent in the kitchen! And as I started to cook Filipino dishes and started to adventure into new ones, I found it easier to keep the recipes here. And the recipes and dishes expanded to include memories of when it was made, how, for who... and so my adobo was born. Soon, this will become your adobo to share.

Food as it seems always connects to families and friends, of celebrations and special moments! Of giving and sharing.

And because a 100th published entry is a milestone - the most appropriate dish to showcase would be.... ta da da da! Adobong pusit! Adobo has a thousand and one variety, and can be prepared using pork, chicken, and squid.
The ingredients are ultimately the same, except that in cooking squid, the process becomes a bit quicker so as not to overcook the seafood and ruin the dish altogether.

This is cooked with:

1k squid, cleaned and cut (heads separated from tentacles)

vegetable oil

1/2 c vinegar

1/2 soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 c water

2 pcs tomato, sliced (this is a not usual adobo ingredient, but when cooking squid adobo, I like to add tomatoes to add some sweetness to the dish)

If you ask around and search online, the process almost changes as your refresh your browser. There are those who prefer to cook the squid first before sauteing the herbs.

What Mum does is the quick route:

Saute the garlic in vegetable oil until almost brown, add the tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and water. Bring to a simmer then add the squid. Cook/simmer for 5-7 minutes until the squid has turned white. Once cook, remove from the heat until ready to serve. Its important to take the pan off the heat to avoid cooking the squid some more.

In comparing this most squid adobo recipes, this sounds more like a sauteed squid dish, adding a few more vegetables. But I call this adobo for the same reason the 3 major ingredients in adobo are there: garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. Add your ingredients, and this becomes an entirely different dish.

For now, this is Mum's adobong pusit, served with boiled rice. This is one of your favourites!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tomato and Garlic Stew with Prawns

This is a Donna Hay recipe taken from Off the Shelf - Cooking from the Pantry. A lovely prawn dish just right for the middle-of-winter-chills. A classic Donna Hay dish that is both easy to prepare and tastes just as lovely.

I was not at all comfortable preparing it as from the ingredients alone, I imagined it like a regular pasta sauce. But it turned out just divine. The addition of wine makes it unique and rightfully, it is served with slices of crusty bread.


1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 440g cans whole peeled tomatoes (I used 3 400g cans of dice Italian tomatoes)

1 cup (250ml) white wine

2 cups (500ml) vegetable or fish stock (I used prawn stock. This is simply the prawn heads boiled in water, mashed and strained. I reckon it gives a better prawn flavour to the stew).

1kg green prawns, peeled, veins removed and tails intact

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

sea salt and cracked black pepper

crusty bread, to serve


1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until soft and golden.
(It did not take 8 minutes to cook the garlic and onions, maybe just about 5 minutes).

2. Add the tomatoes and crush with a fork. (I also added chopped chillies - the long red kind)

3. Add the wine and stock and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.
(The stew did not thicken even after 10 minutes and to to help it a bit, Mum added about 3 slices of the crusty bread. This is a tip I learned from an aunt who makes the tastiest pork estofado dish when I was growing up. The pork estofado is a Filipino dish similar to the adobo but with plantains added and with my aunt's version, 1-2 pieces of whole pandesal. Definitely something for a later post).

4. Add the prawns and cook for 5 minutes or until they have turned red. Add the parsley, salt and pepper.

5. Spoon into bowls. Serve with crusty bread.

Anatto seed oil

Annatto seeds (achuete) is an indigenous Filipino spice, usually used in traditional dishes more for the colouring characteristic rather than flavour. Growing up, I've seen this spice used for pancit sotanghon dishes and in arroz caldo.

I was inspired to try on a Bacolod Chicken Inasal recipe which caught my eye from Market Manila's recipe here. The recipe was inspired by an article written by Heny Sison about Mang Melchor's Chicken Inasal written in 2004. The article was also mentioned in Eat Matters blog about the recipe here.

I'm planning on trying the recipe for the Ryde Bulls U14 Family Picnic on Sunday/15th August at Blaxland Riverside Park. I can already smell the aroma of this chicken dish alongside the pork bbq skewers marinated in Mama Sita's BBQ sauce flowing across the park grounds. Yum!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our home is for sale!

These photos are now posted online for sale at domain.com.au. Seeing the photos out there in the massive online world made me realise we need to go back to de-cluttering our wardrobes and cupboards and start some serious packing.

Even though the inevitable move is not going to happen in the next couple of months, its best to start early. Who knows, we may be able to get off our contract earlier.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Markets! - Sydney Morning Herald Growers Market

Every first Saturday, the SMH Growers Market opens at the Pyrmont Park along Pirrama Road in Pyrmont. Right across from the Star City Casino and Hotel! Mum and Alex took this first trip to this market. I have known about this a long time but I guess wasn't too keen on driving before 8am to the city on a Saturday. And right in the middle, that's when I was perked up to actually do it.

It was lovely seeing all these growers - from fresh produce to cheeses, butchers, fresh pastas, breads and even pet food! There were heaps of unique stalls. The cheese and truffle stalls were quite inviting. Alex had a lovely time too with a bacon and egg on sour dough for breakfast, while watching Matthew Evans on stage for a cooking demonstration and book signing of his latest - The Real Food Companion. We bought some nice crusty Italian sour dough bread, sausages straight from the cattle farmer, fresh herbs and vegetables. It was worth the early morning drive. Will most definitely do it again next month.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Books! - Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

With the inevitable move coming, Mum has been going around everyone's faces (well maybe not yours, but Dad's and your Uncle) about getting rid of unwanted stuff inside the house and in our supposed garage stock room. Ate is also going through her wardrobe and setting aside stuff she'd willing to give away for a dollar or two. I've coaxed (and she's influenced some of her friends too) to set unwanted stuff aside and we can join the local Boy Scout Car Boot sale (across from the house at the North Ryde Common) usually held every quarter. But since we're late to book for this month's schedule, we might be lucky to the till with the next one in November. And
while we've cleaned up the playroom off some unwanted toys and your wardrobes for old clothes for giving away to the local Vinnies, look at what Mum has been up to.

I'm guilty as charged. While I should be chucking away stuff, here I am adding some more. I got some new towels last week and some new pillow throws. But look here - something that is worth keeping for years and years to come. And maybe handing on to all of you too! Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery!

Margaret Fulton was a regular guest at the TV series Masterchef and is one of the first writers of the food and cookery genre in Australia. I've browsed through the book and it is just right smack there in the middle between a food dictionary and the Atlas! This one I'm holding on to for keeps. Its literally everything you need to know about food, from A to Z!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Scallop potatoes

This was what's left of it after dinner, when Mum forgot to take the photo beforehand.

Several weeks ago, dad went into a hysterical market spree and brought home a 10k bag of potatoes! Yes and we’ve had them for quite a time now, maybe a month and a half. We haven’t really exhausted all potato recipes, but this is one of our favourites. Scallop potatoes are also know as Potato Gratin in French cuisine. and Gratin is actually not the dish but the technique used in the preparation of the dish - where the topping is of browned ingredient: cheese or breadcrumbs or eggs. You guys love to help layer the potatoes and sprinkle the ingredients all together.

This is Ate’s and Daddy’s favourite. The rest of you are not yet fans of this dish but I’m sure this will be a sure hit as you grow older. This is a usual accompaniment to our home made chicken schnitzels. But I know its welcomed by a grilled steak, pork chops or even good ol' fried chicken.

Ingredients and method:

8-10 pcs potatoes, thinly sliced (Mum uses the knife, but there are handy inexpensive slices out in the market these days. I still prefer feeling the produce and controlling who thin the slices should be)

1 - 300ml cooking cream

4 pcs bacon, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 cup tasty cheese

Grease the tray and set aside. We used a shallow rectangular glass dish. (Mum likes to use a small piece of butter and rub it around the insides of the baking tray.)

Layer the potatoes first. What we usually do is put the potatoes in and layer the next piece half way covering the first, and so on. It looks like layers of fish scales.

Sprinkle half of the garlic and the bacon pieces, and the cheese next, making sure its evenly scattered.

Pour half of the cream onto the layers.

Sprinkle some of the cheese to cover the layers.

Continue next layer starting with the potatoes again, then garlic, bacon, cheese and cream.

Add the final layer of potatoes, bacon, cream and cheese for topping.

Bake in a 180 degree C preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the cheese topping has turned brown.


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