04 December 2021

Weekend Cooking: Two Cookbooks That Celebrate Traditional Flavors in a Modern World

Today I want to talk about two cookbooks I received because I'm a member of the Abrams Dinner Party reviewer-partner team. We're getting so close to the end of year (only three more Saturdays and one of those is Christmas!), and I'm running out of days to share all the new cookbooks.

The books I feature today go well together. Not because they share flavors but because they both focus on traditional cuisines that have been adapted to family kitchens through the generations and through changing cultural circumstances. Thanks to Abrams for sending me the review copies.

Cover of the cookbook Filipinx by Angela Dimayuga with Ligaya MishanThe first cookbook is Filipinx by Angela Dimayuga with Ligaya Mishan. As the introduction says, "this is personal cookbook," a family cookbook, not a cookbook meant to represent all Filipinos or Filipino American cuisine. Dimayuga is a native Californian, so naturally the ingredients she commonly uses are likely different from those used in Filipino American communities in the eastern parts of the United States.

In the early chapters of Filipinx, we are introduced to the seasonings and pantry ingredients to have on hand. Some of the them may be new to you, but not to worry if you can't find an ingredient locally. The recipes suggest more readily found substitutions that will create a similar flavor profile, and there's even a chapter for making your own sauces and staples.

I first tasted Filipino dishes when I lived in Hawaii (a very long time ago), but I had never tried to reproduce them in my own kitchen until I started looking through Filipinx. As a beginner to this style of cooking, I picked fairly straightforward dishes to start with. Every recipe was a success and the food was delicious. The pork adobo was outstanding and the beef giniling (ground beef with spices, tomato paste, and raisins) and seared rib eye (with lemons and onion) were both winners. All three will appear on my table again.

photography of lumpia shanghaiOther recipes we tried or I marked to try include lumpia (a relative of the spring roll; see scan), meatball soup, chicken adobo with coconut milk (see the video below), ensaymadas (yeasted pastry with cheese), and molasses date squares (kind of like brownies).

Filipinx is more than just cookbook. It's filled with all kinds of information about Filipino food and its influences plus Dimayuga's personal stories and family photographs. I love cookbooks that teach me new techniques and introduce me to new flavors, and Filipinx does both. The book ends with a brief resources section.

Recommendation: Angela Dimayuga's Filipinx is a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with Filipino cooking. For cooks of Filipino descent or who live in diverse communities, this cookbook may offer new variations on traditional fare. Many of the dishes are meat forward, but vegans and vegetarians will be able to incorporate some of the ingredients and techniques into their own cooking.

Cover of New Native Kitchen by Freddie Bitsoie with James O. FraioliThe second cookbook is New Native Kitchen by Chef Freddie Bitsoie with James O. Frailoli. This book is both a useful and accessible cookbook and an interesting history of Indigenous foods and how those dishes have been preserved as well as changed through contact with other cultures.

Bitsoie, a Navajo, is interested in a wide spectrum of native cuisines, including those of the Pacific Islands. In the many features and in the recipe introductions found in New Native Kitchen, we learn a lot about the culture and history behind the dishes and how the provided modern recipe reflects the traditional flavors.

We eat a lot of beans in the BFR household, so those were some of the dishes I turned to first. I was surprised at how different the flavor profiles were to the more well known Tex-Mex or Cajun bean dishes. Here bay, thyme, sage, and other herbs are the stars, rather than hot peppers. I was pleased to find a bison chili recipe that incorporated chocolate (though I'd use less chocolate the next time I make the dish), and I like the simplicity of the pinto bean and onion soup. The three-bean stew is a quick pantry meal that can be made vegan by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken and can satisfy meat lovers by adding in some ground bison or beef.

Stewed chicken in a bowlOther recipes we tried or marked to try in New Native Kitchen are a corn and zucchini salad, glazed root vegetables, grilled squash, pumpkin bread, and apple bread pudding. Main dishes are sumac-braised short ribs, green chili chicken pozole, stewed chicken with tomatoes (which I served over noodles; see my photo), spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, and braised rabbit.

Recommendation: New Native Kitchen by Chef Freddie Bitsoi is perfect for any one interested in learning more about Indigenous foods and how traditional flavors have been incorporated into contemporary diets. You'll want to read this cookbook as much as you'll be inspired to cook from it. The book ends with a resources page for learning more.

In the following short video, Angela Dimayuga makes her coconut chicken adobo (and provides the recipe) and talks about Filipino food and her new cookbook. Enjoy!

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


rhapsodyinbooks 12/4/21, 6:43 AM  

Both books sound so interesting. I am especially interested in New Native Kitchen as, here in Tucson, I have been exposed to much indigenous foods - all delicious. But I have not tried to make anything myself yet. So I'm sure this book will help!

Mae Travels 12/4/21, 7:43 AM  

The familiar combination of southeast Asian foods (like lumpia) and Spanish foods (like adobo) is really intriguing. I don't think I have ever eaten in a restaurant that labeled any foods as Filipino.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

gluten Free A_Z Blog 12/4/21, 9:32 AM  

Thanks for the reviews. I found them both interesting. It's a treasure when someone shares their family recipes. I know nothing about Filipino cuisine or indigenous eating. Enjoyed your post.

Jackie McGuinness 12/4/21, 9:45 AM  

I found both at the library and have added them to my list.
My BFF (50+ years) is a Mohawk, so I will be letting her know about this book.

Tina 12/4/21, 10:54 AM  

There is a Filipino American society group nest Tallahassee & we went to one of their food festivals one year. Oh my. It was the best food, so delicious & aromatic. I love a book with family foodie history too.

Claudia 12/4/21, 1:17 PM  

I've reserved Filipinx at the library, loved her version of Adobo, which I often make in the more traditional way. The other book sounds very interesting as well. Thanks for your reviews.

Les in Oregon 12/5/21, 12:18 AM  

I've never had any Filipino dishes other than Lumpia. My sister-in-law is Filipino and she taught me how to make those delicious appetizers (which I blogged about here. I taught my girlfriends and now we get together and make 3 dozen each. They freeze well and are perfect to have on hand, whether for an appetizer or a simple meal. I wonder how my SIL's recipe compares to the one in the cookbook. I'd love to try the pork adobo and rib eye. This cookbook sounds like my kind of book! Thanks for the review!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 12/5/21, 9:59 AM  

Both of these sound like wonderful books to enjoy! We have an organic Filipino restaurant here in our small town, such delicious food!

shirleysimplerecipe 12/9/21, 5:42 AM  

Nice to see you have a Filipino cookbook 😀!

Sherry's Pickings 12/18/21, 1:29 AM  

i love new cookbooks and i keep on buying them tho my shelves are bursting! but i love 'em! have a great festive season.

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