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 27, 2012

Brussels sprouts and carrots with almonds and pine nuts

Brussels sprouts are one of the vegetable varieties that are hard to get used to.  It's an acquired taste, so they say.  But actually, it all depends on proper cooking.  These smaller cousin of the larger cabbage is not a regular vegetable in our home.  As its not a common vegetable in the tropical isle of the Philippines, I've never really remembered this being prepared at home.  But as it is locally available and in abundance in Australia, this has become one of the vegetables that you'll see on our table to break the monotonous leafy Asian greens.  Although the sight of these cute miniature cabbages would makes my girls say "eew",  the adults (that's hubby and me) in our home welcome this dish every time.

And like the power food last week that is broccoli, these vegetables are packed full of healthy nutrients!  Check out the short blurb on brussels sprouts in Cooking Light.  And some tips on the preparation here.

 The first ever dish I made with brussels sprouts were inspired by a cooking demo at my local fruits and vegetables shop when they were sampling brussels sprouts lightly cooked in a some peanut oil and some toasted almonds.  And that was the beginning.    To make this dish, I was inspired by this recipe but added a few bits of my own.

 300g brussels sprouts

1 carrot, julienned

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

half cup almond slices and pine nuts, toasted

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan cheese for topping

Wash the brussels sprouts and remove loose leaves and trim the stem ends.  If cooking them whole, make a criss-cross (X) on the sprouts.  Or cut them in half like I did - this makes the cooking faster.

Heat a shallow pan to medium-high, add about a tablespoon of olive oil then add the garlic and cook until soft.  Do not over brown.

Add the carrots and cook until soft.  This will caramelize the pan a bit from the sugar content of the carrots.

Add the brussel sprouts and stir. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the sprouts are soft.  They should still have that bright green colour.

Overcooking gives the sprouts that bitter smell and taste.  

Spoon into a bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese.


We had this for a mid week meal served with some pan fried chicken.  It's great as a starter or an accompaniment to any main meal.   There are lots of ways to cook them properly.  Add some pan fried speck (or bacon), toasted garlic, or roast them on the grill or cut them into little quarters and cook them with leeks like this dish here.   These guys are really quick and easy to prepare and cook.  Everyone should definitely give them more love.

This post is part of a Power Foods blog group.  Check out Mireya's Mireya's Broccoli and Corn puree and the other Power Food posts from Alyce from More Time at the Table, Ansh from Spice Roots,  Casey from Bookcase Foodie, Jeanette from Jeanette's Healthy Living, Jill from Saucy Cooks, Martha from Simple Nourished Living and Sarah from Everything in the Kitchen Sink.

If you are a blogger and would like to take part in this blogging group about Power Foods: 150 Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients from the editors of at Martha Stewart's Living Magazine, please get in touch with Mireya at mireya@myhealthyeatinghabits.com for details.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Asian stir fry beef with broccoli in oyster sauce

Broccoli is one of my most hated vegetables as a kid.  I think generally all kids do.  Initially I guess.  The fact that its so green and looks like a tiny tree doesn't help with its over all image.  But if I were a PR manager for this vegetable, I'd be highlighting its nutritional qualities!  Broccoli in fact is high in Vitamin C and great as a dietary fibre. Studies also reveal that broccoli consumption is shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease!  So let's 'broccoli' y'all! 

This dish is a post for this week's (Week 6)  Power Food blog hop hosted by Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits.  

To make this simple Asian dish, you'll need:

400g sirloin beef, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1/4 cup ginger, julienned

1 onion, quartered

2 bunch/florets brocolli, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

vegetable oil

sesame oil

salt & pepper to taste

In a skillet or pan, heat about a 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Add the garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant. Do not burn.

Add the beef and sear until browned - 10 to 15 minutes depending on how thinly sliced the beef is.

Add the oyster sauce and the onions and stir through to coat.

Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the beef is cooked through.

Add the broccoli and simmer and cover, or let simmer for 2 minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle about a teaspoon of sesame oil.

Take off from heat.

This is a simple dish we usually prepare at home, served with steamed jasmine rice.  Also great mixed with egg or Singapore style noodles

This post is part of a Power Foods blog group.  Check out Mireya's Mireya's Broccoli and Corn puree and the other Power Food posts from Alyce from More Time at the Table, Ansh from Spice Roots,  Casey from Bookcase Foodie, Jeanette from Jeanette's Healthy Living, Jill from Saucy Cooks, Martha from Simple Nourished Living and Sarah from Everything in the Kitchen Sink.

If you are a blogger and would like to take part in this blogging group about Power Foods: 150 Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients from the editors of at Martha Stewart's Living Magazine, please get in touch with Mireya at mireya@myhealthyeatinghabits.com for details.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chocolate mendiants

Late last week our oven went off.  Just like that.  Snap. Without even any hint of slowing down.  And since we're at a rental, we have to wait for things to be processed - report the incident to the real estate agent, agent to tell owner, agent to get trade, trade to schedule appointment to check and repair.  It takes some time to process, and since it was Thursday it had to be dragged into the weekend.  

The first thing that went into my head when I noticed the digital clock on the oven was off was - "Oh no, the blog hop!"  I wanted to make use of the season's oranges and make an orange and hazelnut cake. But, all's well that ends well.  As I have mentioned in my previous posts about my tiny (yes its really just a small distraction, honestly!) addiction with Instagram, inspiration came right from that social media app through Bron Marshall - a NZ based chef and food stylist-photographer-writer. Go check out her site (and follow her on Instagram)!  She's cool and one of the featured chefs in ABC's Foodi Ipad app.  

And so to cut a long story short. No oven, equals other forms of entertainment for this "nut".  Of course I did ask Bron how to make it and she just spilled out the simplicity of it all - they are discs of chocolates traditionally studded with fig, raisin, almond and hazelnut to represent the four mendicant order of friars (as part of the Prov in the church during the middle ages.  And after more googling, I found French Moments Sydney where it explains further the significance of these Christmas delicacies as part of the Provencal tradition.

The colours of the ingredients traditionally represent the original robes of the Franciscans (the Grey friars) - grey : sultanas, the Carmelites (the Brown friars) - brown : hazelnut/walnut, the Dominicans (the White friars) - white : almond cut in half and the Augustinians (the Austin friars) - deep purple: figs/cranberries.  The colours of the fruits and nuts on the chocolate were symbols of the four mendicant orders of the church.

So while the choice of recipe for this blog hop was somewhat serendipitous, it was so worthwhile knowing about the short history of how this chocolate delicacy came about.

To make I used:

200g Ghirardelli bitter sweet chocolates
25g (1/8 cup) natural or roasted almonds
25g  (1/8 cup) peeled pistachio kernels, unsalted
50g (1 small packet) raisins
50g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries

Prepare non stick baking paper on baking pan.  You can also trace about 4-5cm rounds on the paper.  Make sure to use the opposite side of the paper to spread the chocolate.

If using natural almonds, lightly toast them using a dry pan just enough to give them some colour and texture.  Cut them in half while still warm. (If using already roasted almonds, simply cut them in half straight away).

Prepare a small pot with water and let simmer.  In a bowl, pour chocolate and place on top of simmering water and melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.

Using a teaspoon, scoop some chocolate and spread into prepared rounds on the baking paper.

For each round, add a pistachio, half an almond, a raisin and a piece of cranberry.

Place the baking pan with the warm mendiants in the refrigerator to chill and set - 15-20 minutes (depending on how big the rounds are and how thick the chocolate is).

Pardon my French, but these mendiants au chocolat were a real treat!  And so easy to make.  Took less than an hour including chilling time.  Great for an after-dinner dessert or packed in little bags or boxes as gifts.  Hmmm, I think I know what to give as home made pressies for Christmas.

Are you nuts about sweets too?  Check out this month's SABH host Nic's peanut brittle semi-freddo and the other nuts about sweets posts from the links below.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Simple apple pie

Recently, I've been scouring op shops and council clean ups for some old items.  Yep.  Seriously.  I'm slowly getting addicted to vintage items and props and food photography and styling.  Although I've had this blog for awhile, I've never really taken any real effort to style and prop and focus on the photographs until fairly recently (and but that I mean about a year now).  I've bought books on food styling, taken workshops on food photography and admired magazines and other blogs but have never really taken a keen interest into these things until now. Why now?  Not really sure? I guess the exposure to so many media outlets can get one really inspired and into it. From Instagram alone, the creativity is just endless and photography always stunning.  I follow a few bloggers and food photographers and always, always get mesmerized.  Food is amazing.  And food photographers (and stylists) are the magicians!  

And so in my own little world (my blog) I replicate these creative geniuses - I style and prop and capture my own food creations.  And I'm learning. 

Now back to this simple apple pie.   This was originally my post for the June SABH but the tropical blood in me shone through and a buko (coconut) pie just had to be.   But we've made these several times now and each time it just comes out perfect.   For weekend afternoon, for work and recently, for a 4th-of-July themed birthday tea.

It is a simple recipe as you don't have to pre-cook the apples for the filling.  All you need is a good basic recipe for pate sucre (sweet paste) and bake you go!

To make this apple pie, recipes were adapted from a 2 sources.   I've used the pastry recipe learned from last term's module at Ryde TAFE - Pastry, Yeast and  Baked Goods.  The filling from Flo Braker's flag-raising-apple-pie from the recipe book The Simple Art of Perfect Baking.   You will need a rolling pin and a clean counter top to prepare the crust and topping.

Sweet paste
(enough to use for one 8-in pie plate)

400g plain flour, sifted
200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
100g caster sugar
1/2 lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg with the vanilla.  Set aside.

In a large bowl using your hands, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles fine crumbs (may take a few minutes).   The butter does not have to be at room temperature but it works best when they are cut into cubes.  

Add the caster sugar and zest and work lightly.

 Add the egg and vanilla mixture and work quickly using you form a soft dough.

Wrap in plastic cling and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

*While the pastry is resting, prepare your apple pie filling.* 

Prepare your pie plate/pan/tin by spraying with oil or coating with butter.

Once the pastry has rested, cut half and set aside.

Prepare a cup of flour for dusting the counter and working with the dough.

Splash some flour onto the counter and some on your rolling pin before working with the pastry.
Work with the first half of the pastry on a clean counter and using a rolling pin, roll the pastry until you get about 3-4mm thin (thicker if desired as long as you have enough to cover the base of your pie pan/tin).

Using the rolling pin, lift the pastry onto your prepare pie pan/tin.  Press gently onto the bottom and sides of the pan.  Trim excess and combine with the other half of the pastry.

Pour the apple filling onto your pastry and set aside.

Work with the second half of the pastry with a rolling pin, same way with the crust - working with a bit of flour on the counter top.

Roll until you get 3-4mm thin (or your desired thickness).  Lift this with the rolling pin and place on top of your pie.  

Gently press the pasty onto the filling.

Trim the sides and pinch or indent with a fork.

Work with the pastry off cuts and cut our leaves or other shapes you want to decorate the top of your pie.  (I've always cut out leaves :D)

Decorate your pie with the leaves/shapes and prick parts of the pie with a fork. 
(This is to let steam escape while the pie is cooking.)
Brush the top with some egg wash (a combination of 1 egg lightly whisk with a tablespoon of water).
The egg wash creates that shiny glossy finish when the pie is baked.

Bake at 180*C for 45 minutes or until golden.

Useful tip - when working with the pastry, I usually spread the cling wrap/film on the counter (which was used to wrap the pastry) to avoid sticking on the counter.  You can do this too or just sprinkle some flour on the bench.

Apple pie filling

42g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
50g (1/4 cup) dark brown sugar, packed
50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
3 and 1/2 tablespoon unsifted plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 (medium-large) Granny Smith apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl, mix the sugars, flour and spices.

Peel, core and slice the apples thinly.  Pour into a large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the dry ingredients (flour, sugar & spices) and toss gently using a spatula.

Drizzle the lemon juice and melted butter and toss to coat the apples and combine.

Flo Braker's flag-raising-apple-pie included a base pie crust and a streusel topping, which I've opted not to use.  This is a simple apple pie recipe.   A pie crust that tastes just like shortbread and an apple filling that smells so good with just the right hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. Everyone who's tasted this asked for the recipe.  Served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  A truly simple and filling treat.  

Go ahead and make it!  I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did. 

PS - that cake in the photo with the red, white and blue layers?  I did not make that.  A friend of mine created that 4th-of-July themed cake for her son's birthday.  Awesome isn't it!  The red, white and blue pom poms we made inspired Martha Stewart DIY crafts.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A bake-off and a give away!

Big thanks to everyone who dropped by and wrote a few words and shared in your fave desserts.  They're inspiring and some even brings back memories.  This give-away competition is now closed.

If you're one of those who've shared in your fave desserts below, please send me an email to organise your prize at adobodownunder@gmail.com 
with the subject line : Natvia give away.  
Thanks again! xx

My first ever competition and I'm giddy as a 2-year old!  Massive thanks to Natvia for the canisters to give away.

Natvia is giving away $800 worth of Morphy Richards products, a group baking class with award winning Patissier Patrick Harrison from a 5-star Sydney hotel and a year's supply of Natvia, Vitarium and WBC products worth over $100!  

There will be 5 grand prize winners!  

All you have to do is take part in the Natvia Sugar-free Bake Off by submitting your sugar-free recipe  via www.taste.com.au/natvia.

And that's not all, every week, entries will be judged for creativity and visual presentation for the  category award of Most Photogenic to win a Morphy Richards Cherry Red Accents Hand Mixer (valued at $99.95) and a Natvia/WBC/Vitarium hamper (valued at $50).

To enter the bake off, you must be a member of taste.com.au and go online to upload your sugar-free recipe and photo featuring Natvia sweetener.

The bake off closes on the 7th August 2012 so its not yet late to get in there and bake your heart out - sugar-free!  Who knows, you can win any of the weekly prizes too!

Details of the bake-off prizes, terms and conditions can be found on www.taste.com.au/nativa 

Never tried using sugar alternatives?  Check out some tips on how to bake and cook with Natvia at the sweeterlifeclub.com.   For more information about Natvia, their story,  health benefits and product range head on to Natvia land 

And now the give-away and how to enter:

adobo down underr will be giving away 13 (thirteen) 200g canisters of Natvia 100% Natural Sweetener to 13 lucky winners to be drawn at random (entries/users will be assigned a number and randomly selected).

To enter this give-away, leave a comment on this post sharing "what is your favourite sweet baked/goods/dessert which you prepare at home?"  It can be anything from a simple banana split to a classic creme brulee.  Mine?  It's the classic Filipino leche flan (similar to the French creme caramel) and the very tropical coconut (buko) pandan cold salad.  I can't wait to read and inspired by your favourites!

Terms and conditions:
  • The give away closes midnight of the 29th July 2012 (Sydney time);
  • This competition/give away is open to Australian residents only;
  • 13 individual winners will be drawn, each winning a 200g canister of the Natvia 100% Natural Sweetener;
  • Winners will be posted here in the blog and notified directly through e-mail by Natvia representatives

Good luck!  And thanks to Natvia for the give aways! 


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