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!

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!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coconut tapioca with mangoes

So.  I made this for an office birthday lunch Thai cuisine theme.  And everyone fell in love.

I have made this at one of our street BBQ parties and it was a hit.

Hubby loves this and eats portions of it every day when its in the fridge, slowly partaking of the sweet dessert controlling himself.  Otherwise he could eat it in one sitting.

I posted this on FB and was asked the recipe.

Sometimes, what seems easy can be complicated when specific details are amissed.  For example. A friend of mine in Manila asked me for the recipe and so I told her what I did - boil and cook the tapioca, warm the coconut milk and add sugar, mix the tapioca with the coconut milk, pour into pyrex or tray, chill then top with mangoes.

Seems easy, right?

Of course, I didn't realise that she buys the tapioca from the markets cooked already.   
Was she suppoesd to boil and cook them again?  
Of course, this will make things a little less starchy as cooked tapioca bought from the markets has been washed.

Nor did it occur to me that of course absolutely, fresh grated coconut is available and that she will squeeze the milk out of them to come up with, say... 400ml.   
How many cups per squeeze can you get from one whole grated coconut?  Does she use the first extraction or the second extraction?

If she had followed what I said, she would have missed a few points.  Lost in translation. Or in this case, lost in ingredient translation.

And in other news - we are on our way to a new parenting challenge in the guise of the HSC.  As migrant parents, we obviously did not go through the High School Certificate (HSC) in Australia and now that our oldest daughter is going to take it next year, there's a lot of learning and understanding that is going on in my head and hubby's.  With all the media attention during HSC and the unnecessary stress that is highlighted in the news, kids can get easily swayed into the axiety parade.  HSC is somewhat similar to the NCEE that hubby and me took in high school going to college.  This is now known as NSAT (National Secondary Achievement Test) which is a goverment initiated as well.  The difference is that the NSAT is a test based on all general subjects taken during high school which becomes a factor when applying for a place in university.  Whereas the HSC is a test for subjects which the students have chosen from a list by the Board of Studies including general subjects, and which they are preparing for from Year 11 to Year 12.  The HSC exams result per se, is not the be all and end all of the assessment.  The results is a 50/50 mark of 1) school based assessments tasks, and 2) examination marks.  It seems pretty straightforward, until they introduced another acronym called the ATAR - Australian Tertiary Admision Rank which is a basis for acceptance into some universities.  Or so I think....  as you may already noticed, we are still learning.  And HSC is part of it... learning to be Australian.

If you're a migrant like us, or a Filipino family with young kids, I'll keep you updated on what have we learned from the HSC as a family.   And if you're a parent who went through HSC, please send me some encouraging thoughts. 

For now, here's a fool proof recipe for this sweet and easy dessert.


1 cup mini tapioca pearls

10 cups water

 2 cans 400ml coconut milk

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1 mango, sliced into thin strips


Boil 10 cups of water.  When rapidly boiling, add the tapioca pearls and continue to boil.

Once the tapioca pearls are half way through cooking - the outside part of the pearls are transparent but the middle part is still white, turn the heat to low and simmer the pearls until cooked through, stirring occasionally to prevent from sticking to the bottom.  This can take from 30-45 minutes on simmer.

Drain the cooked tapioca pearls through a sieve under cold running water.  Set aside.

In a medium sized pot, boil the coconut milk then add the sugar, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved.  Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the tapioca pearls and stir distribute the pearls throughout.  

If the sauce looks too much, scoop some of the sauce into a bowl and set aside.  The pudding should have enough sauce to tapioca pearl.  Reserve the extra coconut milk mixture.

Transfer to a pyrex or dish and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or 8 hours.

Top the pudding with the mango strips and served.

Tips and tricks:

*If you are using already cooked tapioca, simply drain the store bought pearls before adding to the thickened coconut milk.

* If using freshly extracted coconut milk, use the first extraction and about half a cup of water added per whole coconut.

* If after chilling, you find that the pudding is too thick, add a half cup of the reserved coconut milk mixture at a time until you get the desired consistency and thickness.

* These can be served in individual cups or serving glasses like my previous post with papaya, topped with any fruit you prefer.

* Fruit topping should be tropical like mangoes, papaya, purple yam or pineapple to suit the dish.  As coconut works well with tropical fruits.

* I have prepared this before in individual cups for my mom's 75th birthday party and topped them with purple yam / ube jam.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Prawn, chorizo and okra stew

Is there a dish or food that you've never ever eaten or tried because of some personal reasons?  Like it's wierd or disgusting?  Maybe you've seen balut? - the duck embryo that is a usual street food in the Philippines and  some parts of Asia?   How about frog legs which is a delicacy in Cantonese cuisine?  And lamb brains?  Ok, so as foodies, are we all supposed to be open to eating and trying anything and everything that is served us or is on offer when we travel ala Anthony Bourdain who has shown us in his TV series No Reservations where he tries fermented shark in Iceland (S1, Ep2), some nasty bits of sheep (S2-Ep1), and how we proclaimed the famou Cebu lechon in the Philippines (roast suckling pig) as the "best pig ever" (S5-Ep7). 

There are few that I don't eat because they are slimy (okra) and bitter (ampalaya or bitter gourd).  Hubby on the other hand, loves these two.  I usually buy them when available and then cook it, for him.  With okra, it is simply boiled then served as a side with some shrimp paste or fish sauce.  He loves them, and most any Filo I know as well.  Until recently, when I found a simple recipe on Food52 and thought why not expand his okra horizon. And also, start a long needed relationship with okra.  

And OMG!  Slimy!  But OMG!  Yum! So I'm hooked.  I love them, slime and all.  The soft texture when cooked complimented by the smoky chorizo and the fresh prawns was magical to the senses.  At first mouthful, I forgot all about the okra's fault (it's sliminess) and just fell in love.  I can't believe what I've been missing all those years!  So now, okra is my lobster (now that's not from Mr. Bourdain but from Phoebe Buffay from Friends S2, Ep14).

And oh, I forgot to mention no offense to anyone, but Vegemite is another one of those I least like.  One of those things we need to work on, learning to be Australian.

Inspired by the recipe from Food52, here's my simple version of 5 basic ingredients:


1 cup sliced chorizo

250g okra, sliced

2 tomatoes, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced

500g fresh peeled prawns

dried chillies or flakes (optional)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy based skillet, heat some olive oil covering the base

Add the chorizo and stir to cook, rendering the fat.

Add the sliced okra, season with salt and pepper and stir to cook the okra until soft and the strings from the okra begin to be visible.

Add the garlic, tomatoes and prawns and continue to cook on medium heat.

Turn off heat and add the chilli flakes if using.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice. 

Tips and tricks:

* You can add thyme while cooking for extra lemony taste. 

* I have used lemon rind and added it in the last minute of cooking.

* Add chopped parlsey for garnish.

* The recipe is a take off from the classic gumbo from southern Louisiana but will less ingredients to suit our preference.


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