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 01, 2014

Browned butter M&M and chocolate chip cookies (gluten free version)


A few years ago, early on in my blogging (through a different blogging platform) adventure, I wrote about my experience raising daughters and triplets for that matter.  They were still toddlers when we arrived in Australia and my eldest was 8yo.  It was a struggle adjusting to life without a nanny (called yaya back home in the Philippines) and suddenly facing the task of parenthood upfront.    Back in the PI, with a full time job and the luxury of having help around the house and with the kids, it was so easy to escape the responsibilty of being a parent, except when really necessary - taking them to their monthly pediatrician visits, attending school meetings and functions, organising birthdays, etc.    It was the standard of living for any working parent/s.   Those little milestones during the day are missed and forgotten, because we were not home.  We were both working.  

When we moved to Australia, it was not easy.  All of a sudden, I had to deal with my tween's dramas and the toddlers' tantrums, when all I had in my head was the idea of playing at home, dabbling with playdough and paint, quitely helping with homework, preparing home cooked meals, a spic and span home and all around having a grand fun time.  I must have had the idea of a 50s housewife wearing my hair in a bun and donning an apron with homebaked cookies wafting in the air from the kitchen oven.  Of course, there were a lot of dramas and crying and not wanting to go to school, not wanting to drink milk, potty training, dealing with getting sick, cleaning up after getting sick, dealing with the ups and downs of girl hormones - pre-teen and then teenhood, and more. 

Now that the girls are maturing, there is less yelling in our home and more conversations. Their beautiful personalities are coming through and they are they own person.  My eldest now 17 year old has slowly adjusted to her monthly hormonal roller coaster and there is less angst and moans and grunts and more words exchanged.  Although I missed having to lecture her about having her period and period pains and all other growing up topcis (no thanks to Healthy Harold).  And the girls while still adjusting to tweenhood, their interests is making me and hubby jump from one fad to the next - from One Direction to Rainbow Looms, to camps and sleepovers.  

Parenting, as it is - multiples or not, is a responsibility that is beyond anything.  There's a lot of hit and miss, trial and error, and even books and so-called experts tell us we're doing something wrong or right or we're this, and we're that and that our kids will grow up needing regular psychiatric meetings.  There is a lot of parenting books out there, parenting articles saying all these and before, I used to read them all, and then compare my kids developments to others.  Bad idea.  The truth is, we (parents) each have our styles and there is no cookie-cutter approach to a single child.  Each child is unique and usually, the parent style suits the family dynamics.    

These days, I wear my hair short.  There is the aroma of cookies (and cakes, and brownies) wafting from the kitchen oven.  We play Monopoly and Boggle more and watch reruns of Friends on TV.  We watch movies together (from Frozen to 100 Foot Journey).  There is the occasional groans and I-didn't-hear-you episodes, little dramas that add spice to our family, but over all, I think we're approaching a higher order of parenting in our own little way. 

 This recipe is adapted from Ree Drummond - The Pioneer Woman


225g salted butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups + 2 tablespoons gluten free flour*

2 (heaping) teaspoons espress powder (or coffee granules)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup mini M&Ms

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180*C

In a bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

Melt the half of the butter in a pan until golden (with brown bits in the bottom).  Transfer to a small bowl including all the brown bits. Do not burn.  Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the brown and caster sugar until combined.

Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and beat until mixed through.

Add the cooled melted butter and continue to beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl every now and then, until incorporated.

In three batches, add the flour mixture while continuing to beat the dough.  

Using a small ice cream scoop, or teaspoon, scoop dough onto a parchment lined (or if using silicone mat) baking tray. 

Chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

 Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden.

Tips and tricks:
* I used a local (Woolworths) brand free from gluten flour which is a combination of tapioca starch, maize starch corn flour and ice flour which made for thinner and crispy cookies

* Use regular plain flour like PW if you're not avoiding gluten

* Bake in 160*C oven for longer if you prefer more golden cookies

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baked maple pears with toasted pistachios

No more whingeing around here of being too cold.  We have been blessed with warm air and clear blue skies.  And so I am catching up on some needed writing and blogging as it is the end of September, and we are halfway through to spring.  Spring cleaning at home and the backlog of recipes and photos to post.  

We have revamped our veggie garden as the seedlings planted in winter did not survive and to take the easier route, we bought some ready-to-plant veggies from the local nursery.  Hopefully, there will be some harvest of French beans, eggplants, strawberries, Habanero and birds eye chillies soon.  Our calamansi plant is finally showing some fruits after last year's drought.  This makes me very happy as any Filo would be.

And now catching up on some blog posts, this recipe is the easiest dessert there is that you can bring to any potluck party.  The idea to make this was initially to make it for a vegan at work who was retiring.  And I also brought this to a work birthday lunch and ever since, people have asked for the recipe and they have made it at home with spectacular results.   It's really easy.  I love easy dishes.  Those that you prep and then you just wait for the magic to happen.  Be it a slow braised on the stove, or a baked maple pear in the oven.  You prep it and you wait for an hour.

The recipe is adapted from an old cookbook from my shelves - Marie Clare Fresh + Fast Simply Delicious Healthy Food

To make these baked maple pears


7 Corella pears, halved and cored*

3 tablespoons real maple syrup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*

1 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

1 cup creme fraiche or whipped cream


Preheat oven to 180*C

Cut a thin slice from the skin side of the pears to give them a flat surface.

Place the pears onto a shallow baking dish, skin side down.

Drizzle olive oil and the maple syrup onto the pears.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

The pears should be tender when a butter knife inserted comes out smoothly.

Serve with the creme fraiche or thickened cream on the side, and the toasted pistachios.

Tips and tricks:

* The original recipe called for unsalted butter to rub on the pears.  I used olive oil as I brought it for someone who is vegan.

* You can use other pear varieties. Corella pears tend to be tougher than most so it cooks for an hour.  Other pear varieties are tender and may be baked for less than an hour.

* You can make as many or as little as you like, just adjust the maple syrup to your requirements.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gluten free fudge brownies with raspberries

A month ago, we had experienced a tragic loss in the family.  An aunt who is very close to my heart was in an accident during Typhoon Glenda in mid July, which led to her passing.  It was a matter of days and everything happened so quick that we barely had time to process it all in.  And being overseas did not make it any easier.  I was constantly on the phone with my cousins, anticipating good news after the accident, and then after the sad news came, it was a matter of waiting.  There were no wounds or scars but pain can be felt from thousands of miles away.  The day she was laid to rest, I could feel a knot in my throat, in my chest and the only comfort was tears.  Tears that kept flowing sporadically.  While cooking.  I’d be sitting in the lounge and tears just flowed.   It was hard to say good bye.  My only consolation was the time spent with her when we went to Manila the last week of May.  It was brief but full of laughs and memories that I hold onto now.  She hugged me so tight and asked me not to go back to the city yet.

I look back at how she was a big part of my life growing up.  She was the aunt who let us kids browse through her records and play ABBA on repeat, The Beatles and the Bee Gees.  Later on, she’d support us with our love for Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran and Rick Astley.   Taught us dance moves that we would use for pretend beauty pageants she’d host at her place.  She was the aunt who knows secrets you’d never tell your parents.  When I broke up with a boyfriend, she was the first one on the phone – inquiring, asking, consoling. She meant a lot to the nieces and nephews she’d help and spend time with growing up, as she did not have a family of her own.  She was single.  But had a family who loved and supported her till the very end.  She was 61.

Loss is a difficult experience and it brings out humanity’s vulnerability. For days I felt really uneasy, fearful even.  My head felt literally off centre and I found myself with bouts of anxiety – while driving, while at work, while cooking.  My thoughts were filled with so much negative energies that I felt like I could just collapse while walking or doing some chores.  All of a sudden, I am back in that dark space late 2012 when I experienced a panic attack.  It’s a dreadful place to be.  My headspace was so dark that I could only see shadows.  But I’m thankful for family and friends who unknowingly pull me up from the abyss I created for myself with the simple words and actions they do every day.  As simple as picking me up for a yoga session, or calling up to say hello.  Those surprise hugs from behind and words that say “I love you” indirectly.  I am back to meditation and yoga and walking.  It clears up my headspace and puts me in a calm state.  Baking gives me that too. And so does reading.  And writing.  Coping with loss, we move on and try to grab onto distractions to keep us busy and preoccupied with new things, not because we want to forget. But because we want to mask the pain.

So I've been trying new things in the kitchen.  Pinterest and Instagram inspires me.  There is endless talent in IG alone and there's always something new to try because someone else baked/cooked/made it.  And for weeks now, I've been trying different brownie recipes - gluten free, with fruits, with more chocolate, with more nuts, etc.  And this is one of them.

As I write this post I can still feel a subtle knot in my chest and in my throat as I remember her.   She will like this for sure.  She loves dark chocolates.

This recipe uses gluten free flour and inspired from taste.com.au


 200 grams dark chocolate, 70% cacao, roughly chopped

200 grams salted butter, cut into cubes

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

270 grams (1 and 1/4 cup) caster sugar

115 grams (3/4 cup) gluten flour 
(or a combination of 1/4c corn flour, 1/4c tapioca starch, 1/4c rice flour)

1 125g punnet of raspberries, half roughly chopped the rest leave as whole


Preheat oven to 160*C.

Lightly grease and line the base and sides of a square brownie pan.

In a bowl, combine the sugar, flours and cocoa powder.  Set aside.

On the stove, place a saucepan half filled with water and bring to a low simmer.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl, and place over a sauce pan making sure the base is not touching the water.  

Stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate and butter has melted into a smooth and shiny consistency. Let it cool slightly - not hot to the touch, but warm.

 In a measuring jug (or a medium sized bowl), beat the eggs and egg yolks.

Using a whisk or a wooden spoon, add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir until incorporated.  About a minute of mixing by hand. 

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour onto prepared pans.

Distribute whole raspberries on top of batter and scatter and sprinkle the chopped ones.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Crumbs should cling to the skewer when you do the test.

Set aside to cool for 6 hours or overnight.

Slice into equal squares.

Tips and tricks:

* I used Nestle Plaistowe dutch processed cocoa because that's why I  had at home.  Also it makes for darker brownies.  Any cocoa variety will do.

* Any kind of fruit would work well with this brownie recipe, even nuts.  So this is a great base brownie recipe.


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