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, September 30, 2013

Orange almond cake

There's an abundance of navel oranges at the moment in this part of the Southern hemisphere.  Spill over from the cold months, the Australian navel orange is sweet juicy, seedless and rich in orange colour.   Which makes them the best when making sweets and cakes.   They are usually in season from June to October, but they are available year round not discounting the availability of imports.

An office colleague shared this recipe she makes regularly at home for orange almond cake.  She has a fool-proof method of boiling the oranges, cooling them, popping them in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pour into baking pans.  Basically 3 steps: boil, process, bake. And then of course, eat.

As it seems, orange almond cakes are a classic Passover dessert drawn from Sephardic traditions in Morocco and the Middle East. The original recipe was first featured in 1968 in Claudia Roden's A Book of Middle Eastern Food, which was featured in Lorraine's blog Not Quite Nigella.  Stephanie Alexander also has a version in her book The Cook's Companion and recently featured with a make over by Peter G in his blog Souvlaki for the Soul

As there is an abundance at the moment of this sweet round oranges, it was time to try my office colleague's recipe with inspiration from all the amazing foodies mentioned.  And for a birthday morning tea at work, this was the star.  Orange almond cake with apricot jam glaze and blood orange slices.

We have made this many times after the first attempt, and every single time, it just comes out perfect.  For the election fundraising at the girls' school, I added some touch of chantilly cream (whipped cream with a little bit of icing sugar) and decorated with Lindt Orange Intense.

To make this orange almond cake


2 whole navel oranges 

250 grams almond meal

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 whole eggs


Wash the oranges.

In a medium sized pot, pour about 3-4 cups water (don't overfill with water. Half-way through is fine).   Place orange in pot and boil with cover until soft - around 45 minutes to an hour.

Drain the water and set the oranges aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 180*C.

Spray a 23cm cake pan with canola oil.  Pour about a tablespoon of flour into the pan and tap away the excess.  

Once oranges are cooled, slice them into wedges and take out any seeds or pits.

Place in a food processor and process until smooth.

Add the eggs and continue to process until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, combine almond meal, caster sugar and baking powder using a spatula.  Mix until everything is incorporated together.

Add the egg and orange mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk together to combine.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Tips and dress ups

* Make sure to check the pot every now and then as the water can dry up and you'll end up with burnt orange.

* You can cook the oranges a day ahead or the night before you plan to make the cake. This is how I did it when I baked the cakes.

* The cake is well and truly divine by itself, or you can dust some icing sugar for some added colour.

* For the photo above with the blood orange and apricot glaze, simply heat 2-3 tablespoons of apricot jam with the same amount of water.  Once it boils, turn off heat and add the blood orange slices.  Let this completely cool.  Then drizzle the glaze over the cake and decorate with the blood orange slices.

* For the frosted cake, simply whip 2 cups of thickened cream with 1/4 cup icing sugar.  Pipe onto the cakes and decorate with anything you fancy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Avocado ice cream

Spring is here and it's been wonderfully warm.   I guess we are lucky as winter was not that cold and now spring is a tad bit higher in the temperature scale.  It did soar up to 41*C last year in the summer, so we can expect another scorching HOT summer down under.  I don't mind HOT, just as long as bushfires are contained and everyone exercises caution - you know. Slip-Slop-Slap

And as the warm days come, its time to share this ice cream recipe found from a local supermarket magazine.  Its easy, no need for an ice cream maker.  And it has a touch of tropical in it with the addition of coconut milk and its egg free too.  Australian avocados are abundant at the moment at my local green grocer and they're beautiful! Nice and clean on the inside and the seeds are just the right size so you get a good portion of avocado flesh.  I won a tray of these yummy goodies a couple of weeks back which I shard on IG.  I made lots of savoury dishes with it but not a sweet one.   

In Asia, avocados are actually used mostly for sweets - in fruit shakes mostly and in ice cream.  Besides the classic guacamole, it was only in Oz that I adopted the habit of adding it to savoury dishes like chicken or salmon to prepare a sandwich or eating as is with just pepper or salt, not the usual mashed with milk and sugar.   In the Philippines alone, avocados are eaten as a dessert. 

To make this yummy avocado ice cream:


3 medium avocados

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 395g can of condensed milk

1 270ml can of coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

toasted nuts to serve

Scoop avocado flesh and spoon into food processor with lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

Add condensed milk, coconut milk and vanilla and continue to process until mixed thoroughly.

Pour into an air tight container and place in the freezer until slightly frozen, about 2-3 hours.

Spoon everything back into food processor and process again until smooth.

Place into air tight containers and freeze until ready to eat.

Thaw for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

To serve, add some toasted nuts (pistachios or almonds work nicely).



* The lemon is important as it helps the avocado retain its green colour and not turn brown.

* After 3 hours in the freezer, the avocado ice cream will be a little bit icy but not yet frozen.  It's important process them again to get the creamy texture result.

* When ready to serve, depending on the weather and the season, thaw the avocado 10-15 minutes before serving.  Then top with toasted nuts.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paciencia - Filipino meringue cookies

A meringue is really nothing but a foam. 
And what is a foam after all, but a big collection of bubbles? 
And what's a bubble? It's basically a very flimsy little latticework of proteins draped with water. 
We add sugar to this structure, which strengthens it. 
But things can, and do, go wrong. - Alton Brown

Well it is exactly that.  It's a foam created from whipping egg whites and the structure it creates whether soft peaks or stiff and glossy, is from the sugar that we add as we whip and whisk and whip and whisk away.  Meringue is one of the most versatile foundation for any dessert - as a base it is spectacular as in a pavlova. With nuts it becomes sensational as it macarons, and dacquoise and tortes. Topped with some 100s and 1000s (as in specks and sprinkles), they become like that classic treat you see at local bakeries.  On their own, piped in swirls they're pretty as a bow on a present.  They're even sensational in a mess (as in an Eton mess)!

According to Jennifer Field - a pastry chef I follow online, the basic ratio for a stable meringue is one part egg whites and two parts sugar.  As meringue is versatile, they are also the base for a lot of icing and frosting recipes.  I love Italian meringue buttercream in my cakes and use Swiss meringue for a lot of my cupcakes.  And because meringue is the star of this month's theme at the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop hosted by Claire K Creations, it wired up my head with so many possibilities.  But I'd like to let you in on another sweet treat from my home country of 7000 islands, so here comes Paciencia or meringue cookies as they are also called.

Paciencia which means patience in Spanish can only be one of the many food influences which evolved in the Philippines stemming from the Spaniards who set foot in the country.  According to The Winter Guest - Miriam, paciencas are small round cookies typical from various parts of Castilla.
So suffice it to say, it is originally Spanish.  But, as this is so common in the Philippines it has been adapted to suit the Filipino palate.  Pacencias or paciencias are sold commercially in small packets.  Home made, they are packed in jars or small boxes and given as food gifts during the Christmas season. Why its called paciencia eludes me. 

There have been a lot of blogs about this from the Filipino bloggers community worldwide, from Jun Belen, Adora's Box, Oggi - I Can Do That to cite a few, but this version is adapted from Jude of Apple Pie Patis Pate.

These cookies are made with a meringue base, some flour, icing sugar and vanilla.  Piped into small rounds they are baked on low heat till light brown and then cooled. 

To make these meringue cookies:


30 grams (1/4 cup) plain flour

60 grams (1/2 cup) pure icing sugar

2 egg whites (I used large eggs)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

30 grams (2 tablespoons) caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 125*C 

Line your cookie sheet or baking tray with baking paper or use a silpat.

In a medium sized bowl, sift the flour and icing sugar together.  Set aside.

Using the bowl of your electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy.

Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and whip until the meringue is stiff and glossy.

Add the vanilla and continue to whisk until incorporated.

Fold in the flour and icing sugar mixture until combined.

Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a 1/4 round tip.

Pipe the meringue into small rounds (almost the size of a AU$1), making sure there is space apart.

Bake in the preheated oven till light brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.


* To get stiff peaks when whipping egg whites, make sure your bowl is squeaky clean.  A tip from my chef teacher at TAFE is to swirl a little bit of white vinegar in the bowl to take off any visible grease or dirt.  Throw the vinegar out, but no need to dry the bowl.  Whip away.

* When piping the meringue cookies, you will get some tips or spikes.  If you want a flat cookie like I do, you can dab the tops of the cookies with you finger.  First pour some warm water in a small bowl, dip your fore finger in the water and dab on top of the cookies.  Don't wet them too much, but just to flat out the spikes.

* To keep the cookies nice and crisp, make sure they are cooled before putting them in jars or containers.

These meringue cookies were devoured straight away by my hungry girls after school.  No time for taste testing.  Just gulp gulp gulp.  These are also best served with good coffee, with any flavoured ice cream or simply on their own.

As the "ber" months arrived (in the Philippines, the "ber" months starting from September signals the season of Christmas and almost every commercial establishment starts decorating for the season), this has reminded me to include this in my Christmas gifts for friends, neighbours and office colleagues.

I reckon they will look pretty in a nice jar with a cute doily and a ribbon. And while we're at it, have you started your Christmas list yet?


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