Author Mia Manansala is here with us today to celebrate the release of Blackmail and Bibingka, the third book in her Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series, which releases tomorrow in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.. Mia’s also brought us a recipe from the book and will be giving away an autographed copy of the book to one lucky commenter (see below). In keeping with the theme of last week, Blackmail and Bibingka is a holiday story!
Take it away, Mia!
Feasting, Festivities, and Family Drama
What is it about Christmas that makes it such a perfect setting for books and movies of all genres? Is it the fact that this time period somehow simultaneously invokes the warm fuzzies and intense anxiety, a feeling of heartwarming connection as well as heartbreaking loneliness? Or is it because that, for those of us in snowy climes, the image of being snowed in is both romantic and also claustrophobic? Whatever the reason, the Christmas season is a popular setting in various forms of media and my latest book, Blackmail and Bibingka, is no exception.
When her long-lost cousin comes back to town just in time for the holidays, my protagonist, Lila Macapagal, knows that big trouble can’t be far behind. She’s right, because her cousin Ronnie is bringing with him old hurts, new scandals, and, of course, another murder for Lila to solve. As always, this book is full of family drama, a tiny bit of murder, and a whole lot of food!
Bibingka, the titular food, is a rice cake baked/roasted in banana leaves and covered with a multitude of toppings such as butter or margarine, sugar, grated coconut, grated cheese, salted duck eggs, etc. Though eaten year-round, bibingka is most commonly served around Christmas time. I’ve included a recipe for bibingka in the book, but today I wanted to share with you all the Filipino Christmas dessert I love even more than bibingka: Food for the Gods.
Food for the Gods is a sweet, buttery date and walnut bar that is dangerously easy to make (dangerous because they’re absolutely addictive). Hope you give my recipe a try (and pick up Blackmail and Bibingka as well!)
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9X13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (optional). Set aside.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and both sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture and beat until well blended with no white streaks remaining. Mix in the chopped dates and nuts.
- Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and then slice into bars.
Mia is giving away a signed paperback copy of her latest book, Blackmail and Bibingka, to one lucky commenter below! (U.S. only.)
Readers: Tell us about your favorite holiday-themed mystery (bonus entry if it’s a non-Christian and/or non-American holiday!), or just say “hi” to be entered to win.
About the book
It’s Christmastime in Shady Palms, but things are far from jolly for Lila Macapagal. Sure, her new business, the Brew-ha Cafe, is looking to turn a profit in its first year. And yes, she’s taken the first step in a new romance with her good friend Jae Park. But her cousin Ronnie is back in town after ghosting the family fifteen years ago, claiming that his recent purchase of a local winery shows that he’s back on his feet and ready to contribute to the Shady Palms community. Tita Rosie is thrilled with the return of her prodigal son, but Lila knows that wherever Ronnie goes, trouble follows.
She’s soon proven right when Ronnie is suspected of murder, and secrets surrounding her shady cousin and those involved with the winery start piling up. Now Lila has to put away years of resentment and distrust to prove her cousin’s innocence. He may be a jerk, but he’s still family. And there’s no way her flesh and blood could actually be a murderer . . . right?
Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture, and is the author of the multi-award-winning Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series.
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter
Or check out her website: www.miapmanansala.com