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!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Broas - Filipino ladyfinger cookies

"If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sun beams and you will always look lovely." - Roald Dahl

Indeed they will!  And I always tell my girls this very quote.  And every single time, they laugh.  That's because they know the book from where this quote comes from and the story makes them laugh.  It is from Roald Dahl's book The Twits - a story about this two horrible couple who live together with their pets who played a trick a them and got away in the end.  Funny story, really.  And as with all Roald Dahl books, the illustrations give the characters life.  The kids have a good selection of RD books some of which we went to great lenghts to find.  

Now sometimes, good thoughts are hard to come by.  Especially as adults we don't have time to stop and day dream and float, thinking of rainbows and unicorns and fluffy thoughts.  In our daily grind, its difficult balancing what needs to be done, with what we actually want done. And a lot of times it's so draining that what's left of the day is just enough time to wash up and go straight to bed. This is me. Actually.

But there is a way, because those little things of beauty we see everyday?  They add to our good thoughts.  A beautiful bounty of the season's fresh fruits at the local shops, sunrise and sunset feeds on your IG, positive quotes in your FB timeline, a funny movie, a line from a TV sitcom, neighbours who wave back when you pass, blue skies, sunshine (these two we've been having a lot lately, in late Sydney winter.) and cookies!  Of course cookies! 

All these definitely adds to the good vibrations we feel and pass on to people.  It's not always easy to be be in a sunny disposition when at the back of my mind there are bills to pay and commitments and priorities, but I found that looking up and searching for inspiration somewhere puts me in perspective.    

Now every month with the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, I always try to find inspiration from my heritage.  And try to share in as much Filipino sweets possible and apt for the month's theme. And with this month's Cookie Monster theme hosted by Sophie from The Sticky and Sweet, there was only one route to take.  And this was to make the Filipino sweet delicacy of broas - or ladyfinger cookies.  There's basically only 3 ingredients here: egg, flour and sugar! 

Broas is a delicacy in the Philippines and these are one of those treats you purchase from sweets shops.  I don't know of anyone making these back home as they are conveniently available everywhere.  Mazapan Broas is the brand I grew up with because our province is a few minutes drive away from their main bakery.  The broas are packed and sold by the tin (round and square, short and tall), similar to a Milo can. These are baked on the premises using old techniques and old style stone ovens.  There are a lot of other brands around the country like Crescens and some commercial ones like La Pacita  but I'm guessing Osang's in Bohol is the only remaining one still using artisanal approach to making broas.  From Market Manila's post, they still make broas the way they used to from five decades ago and they have never upgraded to modern equipments till now.  So in reading his post about Osang's, I tried to take in a few of their tips.

 This recipe is adapted from Recipes of the Philippines shared by Oggi here.


3 eggs, separated

80g (6 tablespoons) caster sugar

65g (8 tablespoons) sifted plain flour

2-3 tablespoons icing sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 170*C

Line two baking trays with parchment/baking paper.

 In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar until pale.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy/foamy.

Add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue whipping until you get stiff peaks and the meringue is glossy.

Fold in the beaten egg yolks.

Add the sifted flour and gently fold until incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe into 3.5 inch long strips.

Using a fine sieve, dust the cookies with icing sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.

Turn off the heat and with oven door slightly open, leave the trays in the oven for 15 minutes more, to let the cookies dry.


* When whipping the egg whites, don't add the sugar in one go to save time.  It's important to add the sugar in batches to avoid deflating the aeration.

* You can use a piping bag with a plain round tip or simply a large ziplock bag and cut off one corner tip.

* You can leave the cookies in the oven for longer in low temperature 50-60*C, to make them more crispy outside and soft inside.

* You can dust more icing sugar after baking if preferred.


I have made these many times before using a TAFE recipe and process for sponge fingers which we used to make a classic Charlotte Russe in class, but this recipe and the result is entirely different.  

As with simple Filipino sweets, these are eaten by themselves, dunked into freshly brewed Batangas (barakong kape) coffee.  No creams or creme fraiche here.  Just a simple cookie.  Nothing else.  Now that's a good thought, don't you think so?

Friday, August 16, 2013

7000 Islands - A food portrait of the Philippines

"Homecooking is the only part of your heritage that can stay with you wherever you go.  It makes home feel like home, no matter where you are in the world." - SBS Feast Magazine 

And that's exactly why we buy cookbooks.  Especially those that represent our heritage, our culture, our cuisine.

I have been anticipating the launch of this cookbook for awhile - even entering an online SBS Feast competition to win a copy.  And then social media came in.  

It all started with some pandesal.  A photo actually.  Some mouthwatering pandesal (Filipino bread rolls) caught my eye on my IG feed.  Yasmin Newman was busy making Filipino savoury and sweet treats a day before her cookbook launch.  I posted a comment about bringing the butter for the pandesal.  And next best thing happened - I got invited to the launch at Kinokuya Sydney

And so I went and found myself not just partaking of some pandesal but also other favourite Filipino foods - chicken empanadas, peanut and chilli adobo, ube cake and all cooked by the author herself while  Ruby Newman (mum extraordinaire) provided the famous cassava cake.  Met Yasmin and her family, Trissa from Trissalicious (finally) and other Filipinos who were there to share in the pride. 

Now of course I may be biaised as this is a Filipino cookbook afterall and I am Filipino. But it is only natural when one takes pride about something that they are passionate about - and that is Filipino cuisine.

The book is extraordinary.  It has history, tales (tall tales and superstitions even), recipes and the mouth watering photos!  The photos are amazing - it made me homesick really.  It's very rare that a book can touch and tug at my heart strings but this did.  And its a cookbook!  The photos and stories woven together to form this portrait of the Philippines is a great reminder that despite all the poverty, negative publicity and western influence,  the Filipino culture strives because we embrace our history and our heritage, no matter where we are.

Pandesal with pork adobo and Spanish onions (sliders if you may)

Chicken empanadas! These were really good! 

Purple yam (Ube) cake with buttercream frosting

Sansrival - cashew wafer/dacquoise covered with buttercream

Garlic and chilli peanuts (adobong mani)

Yasmin and me.  No I didn't bring the butter.

My Filipino cookbook library

7000 Islands - A Portrait of Food in the Philippines is available at all bookstores in Australia and online.

Disclaimer: The writer was invited to attend the launch as a guest and personally paid for the purchase of the book.  This post is a personal review and was not in any way, influenced by the author or the publisher. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chocolate and almond pear pastries

Pears with dark chocolate and almond surprise pastries (minus the caramel)

I have missed this last month's SABH.  Boo hoo.  Although I have made these simple desserts just for that hop. But no matter, as I'm sharing this easy peasy dessert anyway.

No excuse.  I've been on monkey mind mode for weeks now and have been busy with the extra guests we have at home.  The grandparents are here, that's why.  My parents were granted a 3-month multiple entry visa hence the unplanned visit.  As it is with visa applications from the Philippines, it takes ages to get especially as my folks are over the age of 70.  And while they are staying with us, I'm taking advantage of the adult conversations and extra help around the home.  They have grown older though.  It's hard to imagine our own parents being old.  To me they have always been the people who are always moving about - walking, gardening, buzzing buzzing every minute.  Two years away and my mum has changed.  She prefers staying home now, reading, no longer interested in gardening and when we go for walks the steps are slow and the walks longer.  

My dad on the other hand is still the keen cook that he is, taking after my grandmother.  I love our dynamics in the kitchen.  While he's cooking, I take a peek and taste and add some salt or pepper or other seasonings.  And the same when I'm cooking, he peers and adds his own dash of whatever. 

Pear with dark chocolate and almond surprise pastries with caramel glaze

Dark chocolate bits and almond slivers peeking...

To make these easy sweet dessert:


2 pears, peeled, halved and cored

375ml Sangiovese verjuice

 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/2 cup caster sugar

60ml water


Peel and half the pears.  Using a melon baller, core the pear and place in a saucepan with the verjuice.

Cover with a cartouche* and bring to a boil, then simmer until tender- about 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the pears from the poaching liquid onto a plate and cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180*C and line baking tray with baking paper.

Take the puff pastry sheet and cut into 4 squares.

Place a pear half cut-side down onto a pastry square and using a small sharp knife, cut around the shape of the pear, leaving a 1-2cm border.  Repeat with the remaining pear halves and pastry.

Using a metal spatula, lift the pear from the pastry and cover the area of pastry with dark chocolate chips and toasted almond slivers then cover with the pear. Repeat with the remaining pears, chocolate chips and almonds.

Place the pastries on the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.  

Place onto a wire rack. 

In a small sauce pan, combine the caster sugar and water and stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved.  Increase heat to medium and let the mixture bowl until the syrup turns golden.

Remove from heat and using a teaspoon, drizzle over the pears.

Leave to cool slightly.


* A cartouche is covering used to keep the moisture within the poaching liquid.  To make, use a baking paper fold into quarters, cut off the middle point to create a hold in the middle, then cut off the sides to fit the pan/pot. 

* Can be served with thickened cream.

* You can serve withou the caramel and it works just fine.

This sweet dessert is which did not make its way to last month's SABH was a surprise afternoon tea one weekend.  It is adapted from an old Coles instore mag with my own twists.  I poached the pears with Maggie Beer's Sangiovese verjuice instead of the usual water-sugar-cinnamon mix because I love its natural sweetness.  This is easy because all you need is store-bought puff pastry and bake away. 

I love having guests at home.  It breaks our routine and the extra hand/s is always welcome.  Plus it means extra taste testers for dishes I want to try which the girls would otherwise not.  Longer walks and more cooking at home and I'm grateful that both my parents are in a clean bill of health.  In their own little way and in more ways than one, they are an inspiration.  


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