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, July 28, 2015

Pilyo Sydney - Pop Up Afternoon Delight

Last weekend, I went down memory lane on an afternoon degustation of classic Filipino dishes I miss from home. To be honest, it was like physically whirling back into select moments of my life and waking up with a sweet (and savoury) bite into reality.  You know that movie effect, when the actor looks like he’s rapidly floating backwards and the screen looks like everything comes to a slow motion?  Yep, that bit.  It was fabulous! It was cheeky!

If you haven’t heard, this new cheeky Filipino degustation popping up in the North Shore area since early this year is PILYO (or cheeky in the English parlance).  PILYO has been challenging your traditional Filipino dish with its own cheeky twist.  PILYO’s concept is “putting the bold and saucy into Grandma’s cooking using a playful approach whilst paying tribute to traditional flavours.”

The crew behind this modern take on the Filipino cuisine are Chefs Inigo Castillo and Morris Baco, both experienced chefs in Sydney who work passionately in an effort to bring Filipino food into Sydney’s mainstream food map and Chrissie Ablaza-Castillo, who handles the management and social marketing side of the brand.

 “I think Australians will be very surprised that our cuisine is an amalgamation of Asian, American, Latino-American, and Spanish flavours, ingredients, and methods of cooking,” says Spanish-Filipino Chef and Co-Owner Inigo Castillo. “This makes our food familiar and unique at the same time. For example, it’s interesting to have a Philippine-ised chorizo with an Indian style achar, which is what we Filipinos know as longganisa at atsara. And this is something we as Filipinos should know and be proud of. Our influences come from the four corners of the globe.”

PILYO is not new to the food scene in Sydney.  Operating the Purple Yam Cafe umbrella at the Cammeray Golf Club, co-owner Chrissie Ablaza-Castillo says, “We thought it’s about time we share a little bit of our heritage, so PILYO is here!

“As Filipinos, we are proud of our cuisine and are very particular about food. It is not uncommon for a Filipino to quip ‘di ganyan adobo ng lola ko! (that’s not like my grandmother’s adobo!)’, says Chef and Co-Owner Morris Baco. “We respect these recipes that are part of our tradition but at the same time we apply cooking techniques that make the dish, including its presentation, current.”

With two successful pop-up dinners, the team introduced a stand up afternoon weekend pop-up event showcasing delightful classics “merienda” (afternoon fare) presented in modern proportions which appealed to all the senses. 

The batchoy tonkatsu was just as close to the classic “batchoy” one might partake from any eatery from back home.  It was as traditional as it gets, with handmade noodles, chicken strips, a soft boiled quail egg, drowning in pork bone broth with lots of depth. Topped with pork crackling crumble and lots of garlic, this soup swept me off my feet!  

Batchoy Tonkatsu

The naked lumpiang betel leaf was two bites of heaven.  We needed more!  The classic lumpia of prawn and pork crepe with crushed peanuts was lifted up a notch with puffed rice, powdered seaweed and peanut sauce, wrapped in fresh betel leaves.   

 Atsara (pickled papaya/carrots) which is a Filipino style chutney balanced the flavours of the Lechon Kawali Bao – an open sandwich of steamed bun and crispy pork belly.   

Naked lumpia in betel leaf and Lechon kawali bao
Naked lumpia in betel leaf and Lechon kawali bao

Chorizo de Pilyo with coleslaw, cream cheese and mango-sultana chutney was one of the highlights, served with a piece of fried cassava – which I loved! 

Add caption

The empanada made of sweet and savoury beef, tomato, green olives and sultanas with a piece of fried plantain and a vinegar sauce served in a pipette got everyone at our table giddy.  A playful take on serving sauces!

Empanada ni Lolo O

Empanada ni Lola O

The big finish was a Filipino classic sweet brioche (ensaymada) filled with coconut jam, with three cheese ice cream and a parmesan crisp.  The ice cream was sweet, salty and creamy!  It was divine!  I actually wanted more!

Ensaymada with coconut jam filling and three cheese icea cream with a parmesan crisp.  Sweet, salty and everything nice!

The queue to get some of that ice cream!

You scream. I scream.  We all scream for ice cream!

The portions were perfect – not too small, not too big, presented in a style that paid homage to the Filipino heritage of simple and traditional.  Classic Filipino dishes with a modern take.  Now that’s cheeky! 

For more information on PILYO SYDNEY events, you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Disclaimer:  The writer was invited to attend the afternoon stand up event as a guest.  The post is written based on the writer’s experience.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ferrero Rocher cake

There's nothing like cake to bring out the kid in all of us. Especially, when it's a special cake, specially made for a special occasion for a special person, or people.  This post is all about this cake, and I want to specifically talk about the girls.  My tweens.... to be more precise, my triplets.

My girls turned 12 this year. When I say girls, I mean my triplets. Yes. If you're new around here, you will find out that I'm a parent of multiples.  Triplet girls! Imagine all the shrieking and the mood swings coming our way. Anyways. Indulge me and let me be a broken record.... where has the time gone?

I used to stare at them when they were sleeping, as babies and then as toddlers.  Thinking, ..."where did you girls come from?  How in the world was I able to bring 3 babies into this world?"  It's a miracle, I say. A blessing.  Like any child, brought into this world - children are a blessing.

So what is like raising multiples?  It's hard work I tell ya..... and triple the fun.  Imagine having to say something three times, because someone was not listening the first time. Or, having to hear some exciting news from school three times with the same intensity and eye-rolling as the first two recap.  How about having to bear three bouts of bawling and sadness and more crying after our pet duck passed on.  Triple the shrieks - high pitched-intense-highest-decibels-in-the-planet at the height of the 1D phenomenon.  As the girls grew up, showing their unique personalities and preferences, it became a nightmare for Christmas and birthday shopping.  Gone were the days of 3 bicycles, 3 colouring books, 3 skateboards, 3 scooters, 3 this, 3 that..... they became individuals just like that.  In a snap. 

How do we cope?  Parenting 4 kids?!   Being a parent is a 24-hour roller-coaster of emotions.  And our style no matter how lenient or tough we are, all contours to the dynamics of the family.  Why, if I would listen and believe everything I hear and read about, I'll go out of my mind.  Experts say screen time should be limited to this, don't feed your kids that.... There's a lot of hoopla out there geared towards making us all feel insecure.   As parents.  I don't care what they say.  My kids have TV time and use their Ipods everyday with limitations.  But we don't push them.  To have this much hours of homework time, or reading time, or project time.  In our home, there's  no structure.  But there is discipline.  School term is focused on school work.  "Of course, you can have Ipod time as long as you have done your homework for the day." And I don't even have to say this. The girls know. Their limits and they know when mum has had it up to here (gesturing up to the top of one's head). 

The fighting used to be pulling each others hair and pinching and biting.  Then it moved onto to throwing things at each other, then dobbing, tattle telling, then hiding the other persons stuff.  When the girls are bickering at each other, I just say..." Sofia is saying that because that's how she shows love for you"... and then they all start laughing.  

And now for this cake.  This cake has got the grooves.  Nutella and dark chocolate ganache for frosting, hazelnut chocolate wafers in between hazelnut cake, whole Ferrero Rochers for garnish.  Surprisingly, its not too sweet. It's perfect for that special occasion, or person.  Or just make any day of the week and make that day special!

To make this cake, ingredients are:

7 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 cups hazelnut meal (or finely ground hazelnut)

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoon cocoa powder

3 teaspoon baking powder

10-12 pieces crushed wafers

To make the frosting, ingredients are:

300 grams salted butter, softened to room temperature

250 grams 70% minimum dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup Nutella spread

For garnish 

 a few Ferrero Rocher chocolates

 1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

How to make the cake, frosting and decorate the cake

Preheat oven to 180*C.  Line two 20cm round cake pans - spray with a non stick spray and line with baking paper.

Sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.  Stir in the hazelnut meal.

Using a stand mixer or hand held beater, whip the eggs until frothy.  

Slowly add the sugar and beat until pale yellow and the batter has tripled in volume.

Fold the dry ingredients into beaten eggs in 3 additions.

Divide batter into the prepared pans, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a test skewer comes out clean. Check the cake every 10 minutes to be sure.

While cake is baking, make the frosting.

Using a pot with simmering water, place the butter, chocolate and Nutella in a heat proof bowl and set over simmering water.  Stir until the butter, chocolate and Nutella are melted and incorporated together.   Set aside to cool.

Once the cake is baked, place on a cooling rack and cool for 15-20 minutes.

Using a serrate knife, divide the 2 cakes into 2.  You will have 4 round cake slabs.  Be careful when slicing as this is a very delicate cake.

To assemble the cake.  Get ready to get your hands dirty with chocolate!

Reserve 3/4 cup of the frosting for decorating.

Place a small dab of frosting onto a serving platter/cake tray.  This is to make sure your cake does not move around while assembling.

Place one layer of cake on top and press slightly with your hands.

Spread about 1 tablespoon or more of the frosting onto the cake.

Layer with the crushed wafers.

Repeat with the other layers of the cake.

Spread some of the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake.

Press the coarsely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

Decorate the top of the cake using a small spatula by swirling it back to front

Pipe some stars on the cake and top with Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Keep in the fridge to chill before serving.

If making a day ahead, make sure to take out of the fridge half and hour to 1 hour before serving.

* Tips and tricks

* You can use crushed wafers on the sides instead of hazelnuts.

* You can complete omit the wafers in between the layers and just use the frosting, and the sides.

* We opted to use only 3 layers of the cake and ate it separately as a taste test.

Recipe is adapted from Let the Baking Begin, originally posted in language here.

And when it comes to raising girls, well, I  don't mind the fighting and the not-listening phase. I don't mind the mood swings that goes with growing up and teenhood.  Why I already have an 18 year old who has prepared us for the next chapter.  So bring it on!  And while we're at it, bring out a couple of red and whites, will ya?!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Chocolate sour cream bundt cake

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post.  Not that anyone notices.  With all the thousands of fabulous food blogs around.  But I’d like to keep writing as this keeps me creative.  Cooking.  Baking. Taking photos.  Then writing.  It’s a cliché, but it is therapeutic to write.  To compose one’s ideas on paper, or in blogging’s case tap, tap, tapping on the computer. Sometimes, well most times, ideas elude me.   The girls have been getting a lot of writing tasks from school and it helps that I am able to assist them with writing ideas.  Even though they don’t end up in the blog, the writing ends up somewhere.  At school.  To be graded for composition, narrative/persuasive texts, etc.  At least here its not being judged.  No grading.  Just open ended talk about generally anything under the Australian sun.  So what’s up with adobo down under....

The year has swooshed by so quickly.  And we are on the second half of 2015 already!  The first of July to be exact.

On the home front, the girls are onto their milestone years.  Big sister is in Year12 – taking HSC (Australian equivalent to SAT or NCEE) this year, just turned 18, and currently in NYC (and LA) for a performing arts tour at school.  The younger girls are in Year 6, just turned 12 and taking on many tasks at school mostly related to arts and crafts, have done several high school applications and one interview with a school principal.  It’s an exciting and busy year.  So the first half of blogging has been set aside, but there have been lots of cooking and cakes baked so far.  

Recently  we also celebrated our 10th year anniversary in Australia.  I can’t believe it has been a decade.  It seems like only yesterday when we were at Sydney Kingsford International Airport, armed with 6 luggages and 2 massive boxes full of personal effects, memories and other stuff we wanted to hang on to from the past, as we started our new life in Australia.  A decade has passed and we have thrown some of those old stuff, acquired new ones, and have been creating new memories since we came.  It has been amazing.  Like everything that life is, there have been many down moments but the positives always overcome the negatives.   

So a milestone deserves a cake.  And to celebrate we made this cake.  A chocolate sour cream bundt cake.  It's a great cake for celebrations.  Or if you just want cake, really.

Recipe adapted from Leite's Culinaria


225 g butter (I used salted), plus extra for greasing the pan

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water

2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting the pan

1 ¾ cup caster sugar

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup thickened cream

1 tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 175*C.  Butter and flour the pan the bundt pan

In a small saucepan, mix together the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place of medium heat, stirring with a spatula until completely melted.  Remove from heat and set aside

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking soda with a spatula or whisk.  Add half the melted butter mixture and stir until thoroughly blended.  

 Add remaining butter mixture and mix until well combines.   

Add eggs one a time, stirring until completely incorporated before adding additional egg.  

 Fold in the sour cream and vanilla and stir until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake completely cook before inverting onto a rack.

Make the glaze.

 Place the chocolates in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until hot (but not boiling). Pour into the bowl of chocolates and stir with a spatula until chocolate is melted.   

Add the butter and continue to stir until you have a smooth.

Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled cake, letting it run down the sides. 
(Just like below. Extreme control measures needed to restrain from licking the bowl and spoon)

And let me just say, Australia you have been amazing.  We came here, fell in love and more than happy to call you home.

Cheers mate!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...