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, September 30, 2011

Fried tofu with soy-vinegar dip

Fried tofu with soy-vinegar dip
One of those simple Filipino all time favourite appetizers is this - shallow fried firm tofu.  Its a great accompaniment to beer and good company.  Its a Filipino habit that appetizers are always on hand while having a few drinks.  It can be a variety of dishes - sizzling platters of bopis, baked mussels, chicharon, and so many more.   This one though is the easiest to make.  You need to find the firm tofu variety as we've quite a mess before when we erroneously bought the silken type which is used mostly for salads.

To make, the tofu is cut into cubes and shallow fried in really hot vegetable oil.  The trick is to make sure the pan is super hot before putting in the vegetable oil, and then to wait for the oil to heat up before putting in the tofu to avoid them sticking on the pan.  Just a few minutes to brown the tofu is enough to have that crunchy skin but still keeps that moist characteristic of what tofu should be inside.  

To make the dip, add equal parts of vinegar and light soy sauce in a bowl, 1 small chopped onions , salt and pepper to taste then stir.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chicago metallic mini cheesecake pans

Chicago Metallic Mini Cheesecake Pan 12 Cavity - from amazon.com

I've gotten obsessed with this baby after I saw these mini Oreo cheesecakes through Pinterest.  I know.  I might be spending too much time on Pinterest.  I'm not really much of a kitchen-gadget-obsessive-compulsive-must-have-that type,  but I do like basic things that can help prepare dishes and baked goodies in a variety of ways.  I've made a few kinds of cheesecakes (most recently the Oreo cheesecake) in my lifetime, and these would be perfect! After splurging on a few books from Amazon just recently, I was contemplating on whether it is the right time to get these pans, especially if they're going to be shipped from across the Pacific again!    But it must be fate that I found it available here in Oz through Everten Online!  So guess who's making some mini cheesecakes soon?!  Can't wait!  Who knows what else we can make from these pan?!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eat Drink Blog Conference

I can't believe this passed up under my very  nose!  An Australian food bloggers' conference!  I only found Eat, Drink, Blog when I enrolled for a Food Photography Essentials Workshop from the heart of food where Simon mentioned about the conference in his latest update.  Its a free event, and would have been a great experience learning and meeting other like-minded people, although the thought sounds a bit intimidating too!  There are so many great food bloggers out there whom I could learn a thing or two from!  Hopefully, now that I've discovered the site, I'd get updates of upcoming events before the space runs out! 

Black and White Wednesday

Black Sticky Rice

I'm sending this photo on to The Well Seasoned Cook's Black and White Wednesday - a weekly culinary photo event.  I saw it first from Alessandra Zecchini's site and thought,.... why not?  Looks like a lot of fun!  So here is my first photo to this weekly event.  I know. Not so creative.  As it is already black sticky rice, with (white) coconut cream.    I'll have a look at my previous posts and maybe come up with a newer B&W photo for next week.   I made this black sticky rice a few weeks back.  Recipe here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pasta from scratch

After that glorious spring Friday where the sun made a grand entrance and embraced Sydney with a 31*C hug, the weekend was the complete opposite.  Wet, cold and gloomy. Not my kind of day, especially as I’m recovering from a stiff/sore neck and back.  But, not to dampen our spirits, it was the best time to take out the new pasta machine and make some pasta!  Yes. This is too much excitement for us, being Filipino and coming from a rice-consuming nation. Making pasta from scratch is just as exciting as watching the NYE fireworks or Christmas, or the first day of school.  And while pasta making is exciting, it is also messy.  But we don’t care.  Everyone had a go cranking the machine, and the ooh’s and aah’s was just priceless.  This pasta dough recipe is from the Futura Training textbook - Organise and Prepare Food, Methods of Cookery.
We made this with
250g ‘OO’ flour
3 eggs
10ml olive oil
Sift the flour into a medium-large sized bowl. 
Crack the eggs into a jug or cup, with the olive oil and mix until it combines together (a technique I learned in Kitchen10 from Chef A).
Pour the egg-oil mixture into the well, and mix with your hands by ‘folding’ the flour slowly to incorporate the dry and wet ingredients.
Place the dough on the counter top and knead for a few minutes, until you get soft dough (should not be wet).
Shape into a round disc and wrap with plastic/cling wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Cut into quarters make pasta using a pasta machine.
Rest the pasta for a few minutes after cutting/making through the pasta machine.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 5-6 minutes.

PS – Jamie Oliver once demonstrated in his show how easy it is to make pasta without a pasta machine.  He simply used a rolling pin to flatten the dough to the desired thin/thickness, and using a knife, cut the dough into strips using a regular knife.  Let the dough rest for a bit, then cook al dente!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Books! - The simple art of perfect baking and more!

At last!  The final installment of the books I've ordered from Amazon has arrived!  This one took forever and the anticipation was just too much!  First, it was the searching for the book.  It was just not available anywhere, except through the independent shops in Amazon.  It also took too long for me to decide on whether it was worth it as the price for the book was a bit expensive $34 and it wasn't new - first published in 1992 and the latest in 2003.  But I've heard more than enough accolades to convince me (besides the cover of the book!), that yes, this book is worth it! 

I first came across Flo Braker from 17 and Baking but it was Zoe Bakes who convinced me that yes, there are real fairy godmothers who will hold your hand and guide you in the kitchen!  I am yet to dive into Flo Braker's book and start the art of perfect baking, but I'm not worried.   I might just try the toasted almond dacquoise first, as Zoe highly recommends for home bakers.

On another note, its going to be a fabulous October here in Sydney with the Sydney International Food Festival.  And oh yes!  I am going to see my favourite pastry chef and food blogger David Lebovitz in person as part of the  World Chef Showcase.  Can you believe how chefs these days have that celebrity stattus?  When did that ever happen?

On the family front, I hope to keep my girls entertained with more food adventures and experiences this year just like the  Breakfast on the Bridge and Chocolate Spectacular workshop they did last year.  Its all about having food, eating and having heaps of fun! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

No-bake strawberry ice-box cake

No-bake strawberry ice-box cake

 I’ve been thawing since spring came.  Literally.  The layers are slowly coming off one by one and I’m emerging from a long and cold winter hiatus. I can’t believe September is almost over and the month just whooshed by.   I realised just today, after looking at my wardrobe and staring for what seemed like forever, searching for something to wear that I prefer winter when it comes to clothes.  Layering doesn’t seem all that bad especially when you don’t need to have your tops ironed or no one can actually see you’re wearing an old worn out  top underneath that sweater.  Put on a singlet, a warm shirt, then a sweater, a scarf and a coat and you’re off for the day.  Yeah.  Winter is all about hiding all that skin.  And spring is the start of taking off those layers one day at a time.  As its getting warmer, the girls have started wearing shorts and the stockings underneath their winter tunic school uniform have gone into hiding.  Its that time to start stocking up on mozzie sprays and buy more bandage strips and antiseptics. 

It is the start of the 2-week school holidays in NSW and I'm just giddy with excitement like a 3yo, with all the stuff in my head that I've planned to do with the girls - mostly a lot of  baking and some DIY art stuff.  I also have a grand plan to do some spring cleaning and get a stall at the the Kirribilli Markets  and sell all those unused/unwanted stuff we've accumulated over the years.  Stuff we've held on for too long, hoping against hope that somehow, someday, somewhere we'd find a use for them, but never really got to - clothes, bags, kitchen stuff, shoes, etc. etc.  Tsk, tsk, and here I am talking about having nothing more to wear.

Aaah, spring!  What’s in season in OZ in spring?  Strawberries are cheap and a-plenty!  Apples also abound, and mangoes are almost in season, although still too much for $3.98 a piece.   I found this sweet inspiring photo through Pinterest which led to the recipe at the kitchn.  We're taking advantage of the abundance of strawberries which a $1.50 per punnet at the local grocery and made these to share with family and friends for a lunch dessert and afternoon tea.

3 punnets strawberries (can be more or less, depends on how big the berries are)
3 and 1/4 cup thickened cream
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
30 pcs graham crackers
60g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Hull and slice the strawberries thinly.

Whip the 3 cups cream with the icing sugar using a whisk by hand or a hand-held mixer or stand mixer and whip until soft peaks are formed.  Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.   

Spread a few spoonfuls on the base of a 9x13 inch glass or baking dish.

Layer the graham crackers on the cream, top with strawberries then spread some cream on top (about 2-3 scoops or heaping tablespoons full).  Repeat layering with graham crackers, strawberries and cream until you've got the third layer of graham crackers.

Spread some cream on the last layer and then top with stawberries.

To make the ganache, heat the 1/4 cup cream in a small sauce pan until just about scalding point (almost boiling).  Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate and stir with spatula until chocolate has melted.

Drizzle over the cake.  Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hour (or overnight) until the crackers have softened. 

When serving on a plate, drizzle with the extra ganache and some extra strawberries on the side.

We had extra graham crackers and cream, so we made a portion-sized serving.

*Graham crackers originally are American-made biscuits made of graham flour. For this cake, we used a Philippine brand which are available at Filipino shops and some Asian grocers.  Digestive biscuits are the closest substitute to graham crackers as far as the taste is concerned, although digestive biscuits are somewhat too thick.  Ladyfinger or savoiardi  may also be used as substitute but will limit the layers of the cake and lessen the chilling time as these sponge biscuits will soften faster.

My San Graham Crackers
PS - I've made this simple cake for Inay - my maternal grandmother who would have turned 101yo today  She passed on 2006.    Remembering you today, Inay.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Black sticky rice

Fast. Slow. Buzzing. Quiet.  Day. Night. Yin. Yang. Winter. Spring.  Cold. Warm.  This is how our days have been so far, for the past couple of weeks.  Buzzing during the day, calm and settled at night.  My sister in law is leaving back for the PI tomorrow, and its just going to be different settling back in to our old routine. We'll miss Ann for sure.  She's added that extra jolt of excitement in our home for the past 4 weeks plus her contagious laugh just fills the house with energy.  I'm sure she's had the time of her life and has gotten to know the girls even more.   I've never seen anyone take retail therapy to the extreme, plus the girls will surely miss their Tita (aunt).  We maximised the last few days with her with a trip to the Central Coast and last weekend was not like any other.  

We had a full on weekend with some Friday night school disco, lunacy at Luna Park on Saturday and a lovely end with a Sunday barbeque dinner at our friend's place, the Luther's.  Lovely folks.  Apart from the dinner, the kids had a nice time in the pool while I was in the kitchen performing some tricks with D.  While she made some chicken arroz valenciana (a dish almost like the Peruvian chicken rice pilaf and something that deserves a post in the future), I made a sweet Vietnamese dessert/dish - black sticky rice.

Black glutinous rice, toasted sesame seeds, coconut cream

I have never tasted this sweet dish before until recently.  Specifically during the recipe book launch where this nice lady brought the dish for the recipe she shared in the book.  I had a taste and it was uniquely and utterly good.  Hang on.  It was a not just good, it was great!  Simple and yet filling.  Sweet and yet not too tempting.  It was a welcome surprise.  So while browsing around the Ryde Library during the launch, I had a look at her recipe and concocted a plan to replicate the dish.

So despite the lack of the main equipment to make the dish (a pressure cooker), I completed all the ingredients when I did last weekend's shopping, and secretly browsing online for a sturdy pressure cooker.   It was a spontaneous invitation that D actually owned a pressure cooker and had offered to host a weekend barbie get-together, and why not do another masterclass?    So here it is.  The Yin and Yang of all the Asian sweets that I've ever tasted.  The black rice in harmony with the coconut cream, and the toasted sesame seeds adds that perfect balance of nuttiness to this simple and yet filling dish!

3 cups black glutinous rice
3 pandan leaves, tied in a knot
1 tsp salt
375g palm sugar (3/4 of a 500g block)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Wash and rinse the rice until water is almost clear.  The water will still be a little bit dark but clean.  This took about 5-6 wash-and-rinse.

Place in a 6L or 8L pressure cooker.  Add water to cover the rice, 6cm above the rice level.

Add salt and pandan leaves.  Close pressure cooker lid tightly and bring to boil on high heat, approximately 5 minutes.

Once boiling (pressure cooker hissing loudly), reduce heat to low (hissing gently) and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool/decompress for another 15 minutes. 

While rice is resting/cooling/decrompressing, toast the sesame seeds - using a non stick pan.  On medium heat, fry the sesame seeds until golden.  No oil needed.  Transfer to a bowl and stand till cool.

Dissolve the palm sugar in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup water. (Best way to do this fast is to shave the palm sugar using a triangle grater)

Once pressure cooker lid can be opened, remove pandan leaves.  Stir in dissolved palm sugar. 

Serve warm in small dessert bowls - pour one scoop/spoonfull of the black sticky rice in a bowl, top with 1/2 tsp coconut cream and sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds.

PS - Remember that pressure cookers once lid has been locked, should not be opened at any time, unless the hissing has completely stopped and the safety red button (differs in various brands and models) has completely sunk.

The owner of the recipe mentioned that you can also prepare this using conventional pots and sauce pans, but may take 4-6 hours to prepare and cook.  The rice needs to be soaked for 4-6 hours or overnight and then cooked in conventional pots/sauce pans.   The pressure cooker took a total of 30 minutes cooking time, plus 10-15 minutes more cooling time.   So besides the DSLR that I was talking about,  I might just have to get a proper pressure cooker.  It does amazing job with any dish, or so I heard.  The thought of making another round of this dish just might be the ticket to getting that pressure cooker! 

I must say though that while this sweet dish is yummy, it is quite heavy.  Eat it for dessert after a light dinner or lunch, or serve as a sweet dish for afternoon tea. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pumpkin and Snake Beans with Prawns in Coconut

I am still disappointed with my Iphone for not restoring the photos from our recent short trip to the Central Coast.  Although I've posted bits and pieces (as it happened, thanks to the technology of 3G) in FB, there were about more than a hundred which have disappeared into thin air.  Its such as shame to rely on technology and realise that yes, it is not human after all.  The phone after all is not a camera, first and foremost.  It is a phone! 

Anyways, life goes on and I'll be out hunting for a reliable DSLR soon. Yes, I know.  Its unbelievable that I use the Iphone for all the photos I upload with my blog.  I've put off getting a proper camera as we have our reliable point-and-shoot Canon IXUS and getting a DLSR meant emptying my pockets big time.  But it also means I should already start learning to really get into food photography.  Stop drooling over Pinterest food photos and start taking seriously-mouth-watering photos, yeah?!

Backt to food and what's for lunch/dinner! Here's a simple dish that we make at home that's easy as sauteing vegetables.  It can be vegetarian all the way, omitting the addition of prawns.  To make this pumpkin-prawn dish:

500g prawns, peeled and deveined
1 250-300ml coconut milk
half of a pumpkin, cut into cubes
1 bunch snake beans, cut into 6-7cm
2 long green chillies, whole
1 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic, crushed
vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper

In a medium sized fry pan, fry the garlic in oil until fragrant (do not burn!) and then add the prawns.  Cook until they change colour.  Transfer on a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, saute the onions until soft.  Add the pumpkin and the coconut milk.  Stir to coat.  Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add the snake beans and chillies. Return to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the prawns and simmer for another 5 mintues. 

Serve with steamed/boiled rice.

This dish can be prepared without the prawns, which makes it a great vegetarian dish.  Or you can substitute the prawn with pork belly strips (added after the onions) for a different kind of flavour. 

Its the weekend, and we're enjoying the last few days with my sis in law who's going back to Manila on Tuesday next week, so another full on weekend ahead!  Its spring in Sydney and the sun just gets better and better!  And one more week and its the school holidays!  Yeah!  Exciting times ahead!  Spring cleaning here I come!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Samosas with cucumber raita

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

Samosas with cucumber raita - Lesson 3@ Kitchen10

This term is all about the variety of dishes one can prepare with vegetables. Even though this week in Kitchen10, we made these dishes, there is just a tiny bit of protein - the lamb mince. Samosas originated from South Asia and was introduced in the Indian continent in the late 13th century.  The pastry name samosa is derived from the crescent shape of the pastry, although it is mostly triangular in shape.  In other countries, this dish is called many names.  But all of them have basic ingredient - potato.

In the Philippines, we also have a similar dish called empanadas, which is savoury pastry filled with diced vegetables such as potato and carrots, with either minced pork or chicken.  My grandmother who lives in the US together with my aunt (from my father's side) makes these empanadas in large orders.  So, a post on the recipe in the early future is in order.

For the pastry:
200g flour
pinch of fine salt
40g butter or ghee 
(we used ghee in Kitchen10.  This is now easily available locally from your usual supermarket chain)
 130ml water

In a large bowl, rub the butter or ghee with the flour and salt until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the center and add the water.  Stir to combine and mix together.  Shape into a disc and wrap with plastic cling wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While dough is resting, prepare the filling:

1 medium sized onion, diced
1 knob ginger, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
20g ghee (or simply use vegetable oil)
100g lamb mince
1 medium sized potato, diced (boiled separately until slightly soft)
1/2 cup shelled peas (or frozen peas)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp garam masala
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized pan, saute the onion, ginger and garlic in the ghee or vegetable oil.  Add the mince, season with the ground spices and stir and mix to combine.  Add 60ml of water and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the cooked potatoes and peas, and stir.  Cool the mixture.

To prepare the samosas:
Form the pastry into small balls and roll with a rolling pin into rounds. 

Spoon the filling on top, fold the pastry over in half to envelope the mixture then seal. (To seal the pastry, fold the edges and pinch as you fold)

Deep fry the samosas until golden brown.  Serve with cucumber raita.

Samosas with cucumber raita - Lesson 3 @ Kitchen10

We've just come back from the Central Coast and had a fabulous time!  As always, my handy  and trusty Iphone was full of candid photos of every moment.  But alas, it has failed me.  I am drowning myself in Pinterest therapy and some beer.  After the Iphone battery drained, I tried charging it as soon as we got home, and it prompted me to sync the phone, and then restore! After an hour and half, the Iphone has been restored except for all the photos that I took over the last 3 days.  Hay!  I swear. Technology can be your best friend and your worst enemy.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ratatouille in filo parcels

What I say is true.  Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great. – Chef Gusteau, Ratatouille the movie

Ratatouille in filo parcels - Lesson 2 - Vegetables, Fruits, Eggs and Farinaceous Dishes

Spring is here!  And as the temperature gets warmer, it has been busy in the home front for weeks now, with my sis in law in town. Weekends have been full on and its just buzzing every single day at home.  Besides the usual routine of school-work-activities, we have not had the chance try anything new in the kitchen.  I've had so much bookmarks saved from Pinterest, from the coming school holiday (end of September to mid October) all the way up to Halloween! Exciting DIY projects and baking and cooking and art projects!  I've been thinking of re-painting the kitchen and living room walls, despite the fact that we are renting.  Its an extra process to ask permission just so we can make some changes but that's fine.  Spring is the time to do all these!  I just hope to keep all these projects going!

In Kitchen 10, we’ve moved on from salads and appetizers, to vegetables, eggs and farinaceous dishes.  I’m pretty stoked with my grades for the previous unit and so still happily floating and learning new things.   A week ago we made ratatouille.  A very simple provincial dish originating from Occitan Provenca in France.  It is vegetarian all the way.  It’s a simple dish packed full of nutrients.  A great side dish to any mains, or as we did, as a savoury filling.

We made this dish with:
1 zucchini, diced
Half of a large aubergine (or 1 medium sized), diced
Half red capsicum, diced
Half green capsicum, diced
2 whole tomato concasse, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic, diced
2-3 bay leaves
Dry thyme
Olive oil
sheets of filo pastry
melted butter 
1 egg, lightly whisked
sesame seeds

Sauté the garlic, bay leaves, thyme in olive oil until the aromatics are released, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the onions and sauté until soft.

Add the capsicums and stir.

Add the zucchini and aubergine (eggplants) and stir.  Add the white wine and simmer for 5-8 minutes, just until the vegetables are  just right, not too soft.  Turn off heat and add the tomatoes on top.  Set aside to cool – about 20-30 minutes.

Prepare filo pastry by brushing some melted butter in between the sheets.  Use about 3-4 sheets.  Add a spoonful of the ratatouille on one side of the pastry, and fold the opposite  end in a triangle. Continue folding creating a triangle shape.  

Place on baking trays lined with baking paper.  After finishing your pastries, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake in a preheated (200 degree C) oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.

Ratatouille - Lesson 2 - Vegetables, Fruits, Eggs and Farinaceous Dishes, Kitchen 10

I love the colours of the ratatouille here.  The shiny stainless bowl reflects the beautiful and colourful mix of the vegetables.  

We're off to the coast for a few days, so I hope you're all enjoying your week and making something new and exciting things when you can.   

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cucumber raita

Cucumber raita served with samosas - Lesson 3 @ Kitchen 10

This is a recipe for a side dip - cucumber raita.  We learned this last term in Kitchen10 but I realized I wasn't able to post the recipe.  So its timely that we made samosas served with these on the side.  

As cucumber raita it is mostly served with Indian dishes.  In Greek cuisine, a similar side dish is called tzatziki served as appetizer with pita bread.  Tzatziki is readily available in the local supermarkets and most people have grown to love this and serve dish with water crackers in picnics or as appetizers. Souvlaki for the Soul serves this over roast lamb. It is a versatile dish, really.

In Kitchen 10, we made this raita with:

pinch of salt
100ml natural yoghurt
1/2 lemon juice
2g cumin seeds, (dry roasted in a pan then grind in a mortar)
half bunch of mint leaves, chopped

Grate the cucumber and sprinkle salt to draw out the surplus moisture.  Squeeze dry.

In a medium sized bowl, place the cucumber, add the yoghurt and lemon juice and mix together. Add the cumin seeds and season to taste. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

I’m stoked! Sweet and Savoury Family Favourites has been launched!

If you can dream it, you can do it. - Walt Disney

Yesterday was the launch of the recipe book where I participated and submitted my father’s menudo recipe along with a story/memory.  It is a project of the council which coincides with History Week.  Across Sydney, councils are taking part and doing their own Eat History events and projects as part of the theme for the week from History Council NSW.  It was fortunate that even after a long lull from using the services of the local library, that I am still in their mailing list.  The moment I received the email invite, I called the library historian and expressed my interest.  A month after, here I am.  Stoked and still reeling from the excitement of last night. Call me shallow.  It’s not MY recipe book, but the fact that something I’ve written will be published in an actual book has driven me to the clouds.   Even though it is minute (adj)  in detail (it is just a page after all), I feel so proud and blessed to have had this opportunity where 2 of my passions are coming together – cooking and writing.  A big thank you to Ryde Council for this great opportunity.

I hope your week was just as exciting!  Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Pear fool

Chef A said this dessert concept is crazy. Reason why is it called "fool".  Not stupid.  Just crazy.   Its so simple there is no real technique or skill required.  Its baby food.  Mainly because of the process.  The pear is poached in sweet syrup, and then pureed, stirred and whipped with cream.  The origin is English, but he said the concept is just not practical.  First, because the poached fruit is already a great dessert by itself.  Serve it with whipped cream, it is simple, sweet and indulging.

Despite all the criticisms, I think this is a great simple dessert.  Topped with some toasted almond flakes,  a sprinkle of Nigella seeds and a sprig of mint, its something you can already offer at a 1-2 hatted restaurant.   

We made these with:
2 pear, cut into wedges
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
150ml cream
1 tbsp toasted almonds (you can buy almond slices and toast them in a pan)
sprinkle Nigella seeds

Poach the pears in a small saucepan until soft.  The water should be just enough to cover the pears, not drown them.  Pears should be soft enough to be whipped.  May take 30 minutes or more. 

In a large bowl, whisk the cream until thick. Add the soft pears and whisk until smooth.  

Pour into serving cups, sprinkle with toasted almonds and nigella seeds.  Spoon some of the poaching liquid on the top and garnish with a sprig of mint.

This was brilliant, for such simple ingredients and effort.  If Nigella seeds are not available, I reckon the toasted almonds adds enough texture to this dessert.  Definitely something to impress for that next dinner at our place or those "bring a plate" dinners!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Ginataang Halo Halo (Sweet rice flour dumplings)

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?” - Lin Yutang

When we watched the Masterchef episode where a masterclass featured a dish by Alvin Quah (a previous series contestant), I was inspired to make this Filipino dish.  This is one of many regular afternoon tea/snacks/ treat sold by street vendors, men or women , walking the neighbourhood streets and yelling their goods – it can be taho (silken tofu in caramel/toffee syrup and tapioca), balut (boiled day old duck eggs), puto (rice cakes), fish balls and so many more.  Even to this day, men and women sell these stuff in neighbourhood streets.  The truth is.  If you’re in the Philippines, you don’t have to make this.  Because you know, at about 3pm in the afternoon, somehow,  someone, will be out there outside your gate and yelling some sort of street food name.  And you don’t want to make this if you’re in the Philippines because buying from the local folks helps to sustain the community.  

Ginataan translated means cooked in coconut milk or coconut cream.  And the word halo-halo literally means a mixture of different food items - which is mixture of the bananas, sweet potato, purple yam and some strips of jack fruit.  Panlasang Pinoy has a recipe and video of how to make this sweet dish.  

I love the contrasting colours - lady finger bananas, sweet potato, ube (purple yam) and langka (jack fruit)

Rice flour dumplings

Rice flour + water = rice flour dumplings

Here in OZ, when mum and dad miss Filipino food, we have to make it.  And we make it without the recipes.  Without knowing the quantities or measurement or even the methods and processes.  We make it based on memory.  Of how it tastes, how it smelled, what ingredients were used, and how it looked as we remember it.   My daughter Sofia once asked me why do I make all these Filipino dishes mostly new to her eyes and palate. And I just have to say this.  I make these so that you will know what Filipino food is like,  so that you will learn and appreciate it, and hopefully keep it in your hearts forever.  For even though you’re growing up Australian, you have the Filipino culture inside of you.  And that includes love for food.

To make this dish, we used
4 cans 270ml coconut milk
2 sweet potato, cubed
3 pcs lady finger banans, sliced
1 large purple yam, cubed (available from Asian grocers as frozen)
1 can jackfruit slices, cut into thin strips (available from Asian grocers)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar (add more to suit your preference)
rice flour dumplings/balls (1:2 ratio of flour and water mixed together then shaped into balls)

Using a large sauce pan or pot, bring the coconut milk to a boil.  Add the sugar and stir.  Add the rice flour dumplings/balls and simmer until they float to the surface.  Add the sweet potato then simmer for another 10 minutes.  Add the bananas and jackfruit.  Serve warm.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Cupcake Day for the RSPCA

We participated in this year's Cupcake Day for the RSPCA and made these cupcakes for my visiting sister-in-law's post birthday tea with some friends at our place.  And we raised $48.50!

These cupcakes were on offer when we had a small get together for my sister in law’s birthday who’s with us this month for a holiday. These cupcakes were made with the same recipe for my girls’ birthday cake and the same recipe for the icing too.  And because I’m still reeling from my Oreo Cheescake excitement (I bought so many boxes of Oreos!), I added bits of Oreo pieces in some of the cupcakes which was a welcome surprise to everyone.    I got the inspiration from a photo I found on Pinterest which is from Bakerella.  Did I mention already that I’m hooked on Pinterest?

And of course, a birthday celebration isn't complete without a birthday cake! A happy 32nd to you Ann!  And thanks for indulging our small fund raising effort for the RSPCA.


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