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, 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.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The "Baked" gluten free brownies with raspberries

I'm a sucker for brownies.  And brownie recipes.  There can never be just ONE brownie recipe and I thought that I will never reach my limit for trying new ones.   Until I found this.  345g of pure dark chocolate goodness with some espresso mixed in and voila!  I've struck gold through my social network!

I only found this "Baked" brownie recipe through Selina who I virtually met on Instagram and makes these brownies by the hundreds.  Well, hundreds of squares that is.  The rich, dense, dark look of the brownies on the photos got to me.  And I could not stop thinking about these brownies until I actually bought some espresso powder and made them.  Now I don't just think of them, I make them every so often just to eat at home.  I use gluten-free flour which makes it even more dense and rich, and also add some raspberries for that sour factor.  It's sensational! 


1 and 1/4 cups gluten free flour*

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder*

345g dark chocolate 70% preferred, coursely chopped

250g unsalted butter, chopped into cubes

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 and 1/2 cups caster sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups frozen raspberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 175*C

Grease and line the base and sides of a 9x13 pan with baking paper.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder. 

Melt the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate and butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Turn off heat but keep the bowl over the pot.  And add the sugars to the chocolate mixture and stir with a spatula or a whisk until completely combined.  Remove from heat.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and continue to stir until eggs are incorporated into the batter.

Add the vanilla and stir.  Do not over mix.

Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 2 to 3, and gently fold with a spatula.

Pour onto the prepare tins. Scatter and press the raspberries on top of the batter (if using).

Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.*

Tips and tricks:

* If you prefer the original version, use equal amounts of plain flour.  I used the local (Woolworths) brand gluten free flour which is a combination of tapioca starch, maize, corn and rice flour.

* I usually don't test with a skewer but when the top looks matte-like (not shiny) I take them out of th oven.  

Friday, October 03, 2014

Chicken curry - Filipino style

About three months ago, we went back to Manila to attend a much awaited wedding in the family.  The wedding was beautiful and everyone, and I mean every single person,  was in tears - (actually bawling-like-a-baby is a better description) as the doors to the church opened and the beautiful bride started her slow walk to the altar.  Right then and there, time seemed to have stopped and the march down the aisle happened like in a movie - slow motion and the camera focus is on the bride and the rest are just a hazy background.  My girls were part of the entourage as junior bridesmaids, and my oldest was one of the readers in the mass.  We knew of the wedding months back, but originally hubby was the only one attending purely for economic reasons.  He was booked for months ahead.   A week before the wedding, we took out the credit card and booked the whole family.  What the heck!  Weddings only happen once and family is important and this is a big day!  It was a magical day.

Fast forward to the trip, we also booked a few days to HK  (Disneyland included) and the girls were thrilled.  We don't often get to go on holidays because of hubby's work schedule and it was a welcome energizer to relax and just enjoy the trip.   Of course while in Manila, we ate all the food we missed, went to historical places for the girls' benefit, caught with family and friends.  A grand time doing simple things.  

Don't you love it when spur of the moment decisions become real?  Sometimes, we don't need to plan too much.  We just go with the ebb and flow of where our emotions take us and trust that everything will turn out magical.

Back to this simple recipe for a Filipino style chicken curry.  This is one that we always eat at home.  I've brought this to potluck lunches and at work and they are always a hit.  Another dish which people ask the recipe for.  So here it is.

1k chicken thigh fillets, sliced into portion sizes

2 teaspoons turmeric powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any cooking oil)

1 onion, sliced

2-3 knobs ginger, finely jullienned

2-3 teaspoons curry powder*

1 can 400ml coconut milk

2 medium sized potatoes, cubed

2 carrots, cubed

1 red capsicum, cubed

fresh corianer for garnish


In a large bowl, coat the chicken thigh fillets with the turmeric powder.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

 Using a large shallow skillet or pan, heat the oil then cook the onions and ginger until soft and fragrant.

Add the chicken fillets and sear until slightly brown.

Add the curry powder and stir to coat the chicken fillets.

Add the coconut milk, stir and bring to a boil.

Add the vegetables, stir and then bring to a boil.  

As soon as it boils, turn down heat to a LOW simmer, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take off lid and continue to simmer for another 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Tips and tricks:

* You can use other chicken parts (breast, wings, drumsticks), but adjust cooking time.

* Option to add dried chillies when serving or fresh chillies for a spicy and hot version.

* Add more or less curry powder to suit your liking.  I have used Keen's and Hoyts both Australian brands and the tastes is always the same.  Please note that the curry powder for this recipe is the not the Thai yellow curry paste. 

* You can completely make this vegan / vegetarian by omitting the chicken and just use purely vegetables.  You can add sweet potato, cauliflower, eggplant or zucchini. 


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