The first three books of Carpe Diem Chronicles (Boracay Vows, New York Engagement, and Singapore Fling) are now all available on paperback. As a special treat for those who order the set, I’m giving a bonus swag package containing:
Carpe Diem Chronicles Books 1, 1.5, and 2
a Carpe Diem Chronicles tote bag
Mama Sita’s Adobo and Chopsuey/Pancit Canton sauce mixes to make some of the Filipino dishes from Boracay Vows
Mama Sita’s Caldereta sauce mix to make the Irish-Filipino fusion dish Guinness Caldereta featured in New York Engagement
Asian Home Gourmet spice pastes for Hainanese Chicken Rice and Singapore Laksa, dishes highlighted in Singapore Fling
a handmade charm bracelet that can also be a fancy bookmark
Madeleine perfume bottle
bookmarks and postcards
The entire package is worth $88 and you can have it for only $39.99. Order here:
Carpe Diem Chronicles Paperback Collection
Signed copies of Boracay Vows, New York Engagement, and Singapore Fling plus a swag package. Inclusive of tax and US shipping.
Like many cultures, Filipinos attach great
significance to the introduction of a special someone to their immediate family.
It’s a signal of deep commitment to the relationship often called “taking it to
the next level.”
In BORACAY VOWS, it was
extra special for Blake when Krista’s mother invited him to their home in the province
of Quezon. Marissa Lopez had been opposed to her daughter being in a
relationship with a foreigner. He was understandably nervous right before their
meeting but their warm hospitality, which Filipinos are known for, put him at
ease immediately. Blake knew things were going to be all right when he and
Krista were presented with a feast.
Here’s an excerpt from that meeting:
Krista stroked Blake’s back as they walked, and asked, “You okay?”
“I’m great, baby.” He smiled down at her. “They’re nice—your parents. I like them.”
“I told you—” The sight of their dining
table, groaning under the weight of the platters and platters of her favorite
dishes, brought her up short. Pancit
Malabon, lechon kawali, embutido, menudo, kare kare, lumpiang Shanghai,
relyenong bangus, sapin-sapin, maruya, and rice crowded the long table.
In NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, it was Krista’s turn to be introduced to Blake’s family. That meeting also involved food since it took place at the pub the Ryans co-own with the O’Connors. They serve a fusion of Irish and Filipino dishes since the cook/part-owner Belen O’Connor is from Palawan in the Philippines.
These were the food served as explained by Craig, one
of Blake’s brothers who will be the hero of SAMUI HEAT:
front of you, Krista, is Guinness caldereta,
our version of beef stew. There’s steamed rice, of course. Or brown soda
bread, if that’s what you prefer. Next to that is longganisa coddle. Instead of regular bangers, we use the sweeter
Filipino pork sausage. Lastly, we have chicken lechon with mushrooms and whiskey-cream sauce. Enjoy.”
Both “Meet the parents” events were successful for Blake and Krista and at the end of NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, we see them planning a wedding for the following Christmas in the Philippines.
I will be writing that story soon, so watch out for announcements on publication here. In the meantime, please accept my gift for you this Christmas: the recipe of Longganisa Coddle.
8 ounces thick-cut bacon
8 pork longganisa
1 onion, sliced
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (substitute with 2 tablespoons dried if fresh is not available
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pieces dried bay leaves
3 cups chicken broth
my secret ingredient: patis (fish sauce) to taste
Cook bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; cut into 1-inch pieces. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon drippings.
Add longganisa to saucepan; cook about 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; leave whole.
Add onions to saucepan; cook ad stir about 8 minutes or until translucent. Return bacon and sausages to saucepan. Add carrots, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, and thyme; sprinkle generously with pepper. Pour broth over vegetables; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low; partially cover and simmer about 1 hour 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add fish sauce to taste. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired. Serve with rice or soda bread.
**Recipe adapted from Irish Pub Food by Publication International, Ltd.
In Boracay Vows, lumpia is one of the dishes Marissa Lopez prepared for Krista and Blake when they went to Quezon to meet the family. It also happened to be a belated birthday celebration for Krista, so there were plenty of food.
There are many variations of lumpia – sariwa (fresh), Shanghai (thin pork spring rolls), hubad (unwrapped), vegetable, or with meat. The latest version I made has chicken in it, but can be done with ground pork or shrimp. Some people call it lumpiang togue, which translates to spring rolls with bean sprouts. Others use cabbage instead of bean sprouts, or sometimes both in their vegetable spring rolls. There’s not just one way of making these, all of them delicious.
extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small squares
small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 cup of cooked chicken, shredded (optional, if vegetarian)
1 cup of shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped (optional, if vegetarian)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut thinly on a bias
8 oz. mung bean sprouts
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of lumpia wrapper
Heat oil in a wok or pan. Add tofu and fry until brown. Remove and set aside.
Add garlic and onion to hot oil and cook until softened. Pour the fish sauce on the side of the wok. Cook until smell goes away (2-3 minutes).
Stir in shrimp (if using) and cook until pink. Add chicken, green beans, carrots, and bean sprouts. Cook until all ingredients are combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and drain. Mix in the tofu. Let cool.
Lay the wrapper on a flat surface. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling two inches from the top. Fold the top end of the wrapper over the mixture. Fold the sides and roll tightly into a log. brush the bottom end with water to seal completely. Repeat until there’s no more filling or wrapper. (At this point you can stop to freeze the wrapped lumpia until you’re ready to eat it.)
In a skillet, heat about two inches of oil. Add spring rolls with the seam side down. Fry, turning once or twice (about 2 minutes per side) until golden brown.
Serve hot and crispy with garlic-spiced vinegar dip. Enjoy!
Blake loves to watch Krista eat. In Chapter Three, they have their first “date”. Here’s a snippet:
“Krista tucked into her meal with gusto, leaving Blake enthralled by the way she puckered her lips after taking a sip of the broth from her sour sinigang soup. He had to mentally shake himself to pay attention to his own food.”
Sinigang, one of the most popular viands in the Philippines, is a sour and savory soup. It’s usually made with pork, but can also can be cooked using beef, shrimp, salmon or just vegetables. The typical sour ingredient is green tamarind fruit, but other fruits like kamias (bilimbi), guava, or santol can be used as well. As fresh tamarind is hard to find here in the US, I’ve taken to using a tamarind seasoning mix as a shortcut.
Sinigang na Baboy sa Sampalok
1 pouch soup base mix (I recommend also Mama Sita’s Tamarind Seasoning Mix)
2 lbs. pork (I use pork belly, but other parts like shoulder or neck are fine, too)
10 cups water
1 cup tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup onion, quartered
2 cups green beans, cut into 2″ length (Filipinos use sitaw or long beans)
2 cups radish
2 cups eggplant
1 pc. long green pepper (Anaheim or other)
2 cups leafy vegetables (spinach or kangkong/morning glory)
patis (fish sauce) to taste
In a saucepan, bring water, pork, tomatoes, and onion to a boil. Cook until pork is tender. Approximately 30 minutes. Simmer for five minutes.
Pour in soup base mix. Increase the heat and bring to a roiling boil.
Add green beans, radish, eggplant, green pepper, and fish sauce. Cover and simmer for five minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the leafy vegetables. Cover to steam-cook.
Serve hot with rice.
Like Krista in the book, I eat it with fried fish–tilapia, bangus (milkfish), or galunggong (mackerel scad)–but it can be served on its own.
The second recipe I’m sharing with you is Pancit Bihon, one of the three variants of pancit mentioned in Boracay Vows.
In Chapter Three, Blake included pancit bihon among his favorite Filipino dishes along with adobo and lechon.
In Chapter Seventeen, Krista ordered pancit canton at the restaurant.
In the Epilogue, Krista’s mom cooked pancit Malabon for her and Blake.
Usually stir-fried, pancit or pansit is a noodle dish the Filipinos adapted from the Chinese. It can be eaten for lunch, snack, or dinner and is a staple during fiestas and especially during birthday celebrations to accompany the wish for long life.
Again, there are as many ways to cook pancit bihon as there are islands in the Philippines. This is my version.
1/4 c. cooking oil
minced garlic (from 2 cloves to a whole head)
1 onion chopped
1 cup boiled pork (or chicken, and/or shrimp), sliced
1 small cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, strips
2 tbsps. soy sauce (add more for desired taste and color)
1 1/2 c. broth (I use chicken)
1 bunch Chinese leeks (or green beans)
1 bundle first class bihon (rice noodles)
1 tsp salt
(Optional) 2 pcs chorizo de bilbao or lap cheong (Chinese sausage)
spring onion, chopped
calamansi (or lime/lemon)
Saute garlic in cooking oil, add onion, pork, carrot, and cabbage. Season with soy sauce and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add broth and simmer, add the leeks (or green beans). If using shrimp, add here.
When the vegetables are cooked, mix in softened bihon noodles and season with salt.
Garnish with chorizo and spring onions. Serve with calamansi.
Boracay Vows is available in ebooks from all your favorite etailers and in paperback from Amazon. An autographed copy can be ordered on this website.
I am so happy that several of the reviews for Boracay Vows have mentioned the food.
An Amazon customer titled her review, “Made me sooo hungry,” and proceeded to say, “I also loved the setting and learning a little about the Philippines and the amazing food that I HAVE to try!”
An iBook reader enthused, “Congratulations and now I want Filipino foooooooood!!!!!”
A photographer friend endorsed Boracay Vows on her page and inspired the quote I used here, “… it’s got plenty of steam and mouth-watering descriptions of food.”
In the Author’s Note, I promised I will post recipes here and I’m starting with Adobo, the unofficial national dish of the Philippines.
On Chapter Four, Blake and Krista had their first meal together. Blake ordered chicken and pork adobo, one of his favorite Filipino dishes and raved about it.
““Hmm, sarap!” The garlic saltiness of the adobo sauce and the perfect tenderness of the meat hit his taste buds and made him groan in satisfaction.”
With 100 Million Filipinos scattered over 7,100+ islands, it is not surprising that adobo is cooked in a variety of ways. Pork and chicken are most commonly used, but other meats, seafood, and vegetables can substitute as well. This recipe is the way I’ve cooked it for more than 20 years. It serves four and can be prepared in as short as 2 hours to as long as 10.
CHICKEN AND PORK ADOBO
1 lb. pork belly (loin for leaner option), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb. chicken (boneless/skinless for lower-fat), cut into serving pieces
2 tablespoons garlic, minced or crushed
4 pieces dried bay leaves
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce (low-sodium, if available)
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 cup water
salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Combine first seven ingredients and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Best if left in a closed container overnight.
Heat pot, put in meat, marinating liquid, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour, or until meat is tender. If necessary, add more water.
Strain the meat from liquid, then set aside. In a skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the crushed garlic. Stir in the meat and cook until all sides are browned. Pour the liquid over the meat and continue simmering until sauce thickens.
Serve hot over rice or with your favorite pancit.
Boracay Vows is available in ebook from your favorite etailers and in paperback from Amazon.
I love reading. I love food. I love reading books with food in them. I love it so much that all my books will feature local food from their respective setting (Philippines, Singapore, Thailand). Also, the hero of my third book, Craig, is a chef.
I thought of this quote by CS Lewis because I recently read two food-centric romance novels – Sherry Thomas’s Delicious and Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Thief. The food descriptions in both novels were so vivid and sumptuous that the first thing I did after reading was go to a French café and buy madeleines and chocolate tartlets and mini-croissants.
I always give high marks to books that make me react – whether it is to cry, laugh, or think. Those that induce me to go out and buy food deserve no less than five stars. It doesn’t hurt that they are fantastic stories told by talented authors. These were my first books by these two writers and they won’t be the last. I already have their backlists on my Overdrive holds. What are a dozen more books to pile onto my TBR mountain? Why, nothing. Nothing at all.