Welcome to One Quick Bite, where we share smart, cool, and weird conversations with our favorite authors about their new cookbook and beyond.
The best piece of baking advice I have ever received comes from “Mayumu,” the newly released cookbook from Abi Balingit. “Counting out loud as you measure ingredients helps you avoid making critical mistakes.” When a cookie recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of flour—one, two, three, half—now I always count out loud because one of my kids is inevitably asking me a question mid-measure and I’ll forget how much I added.
“Mayumu,” Abi’s first cookbook, is full of practical baking tips for new and seasoned bakers alike, which she articulates so perfectly and with striking personality. Mayumu means “sweet” in Abi’s native Kapampangan of the Philippines. The recipes are Filipino desserts that call for Filipino pantry essentials and lean on comforting Filipino flavors, but remixed with the American classic she grew up eating—Mexican paletas in the Bay Area, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and rugelach from Zabar’s in New York City. These are sweet treats that will leave you smiling ear to ear, as much as I did after a rapid-fire Q&A with Abi:
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The expired condiment in your fridge that you can’t get yourself to throw out is…
My boyfriend and I will never get rid of our Taco Bell Fire! sauce packets because we just never know when we’ll run out after a chalupa run.
What’s your go-to midnight snack?
Hot Cheetos! I often crave something salty before going to bed. It’s easy to eat with chopsticks right out of the bag—I don’t have to dirty any dishes or my fingers.
Impersonate a cocktail—what are you and why?
If I were a cocktail, I would be an AMF! It’s a super strong blue drink, but you wouldn’t realize it upon first sip because it’s so sweet. And I have electric blue hair at the moment.
Invite any fictional character over for dinner. Who would it be and what would you serve?
I would invite Fox Mulder from The X-Files, and I would cook him kare-kare, my favorite Filipino oxtail and peanut butter stew. Instead of peanut butter, I would use sunflower butter because sunflower seeds were his go-to snack.
The Instagram account you can’t quit.
@at_heartpanaderia is the best! Teresa Finney runs her own Mexican panaderia-inspired micro-bakery and posts about her fantastic cakes and conchas. Every post makes me so hungry, and she is such a kind person.
If you could go back and make one meal for your 10-year-old self, what would you make?
I would make Filipino spaghetti for my 10-year-old self because I know how much I begged my dad to make it for me when I was younger. It feels good to know that I can whip it up now without his help. Filipino spaghetti is vibrant red, and sweet because it’s made with banana ketchup, and it includes hot dogs instead of meatballs.
Please share your five favorite songs for cooking.
“Siya” by ONE CLICK STRAIGHT
“Dancing” by Mellow Fellow
“Oom Sha La La” by Haley Henderickx
“Strawberry Blossom” by RINI
“Lumbago” by Yeek
What’s the one restaurant you’ve eaten at more than any other restaurant?
My best friend Anjile and I have a ritual of going to BCD Tofu House in K-town in NYC. It’s comforting to go and order the same combo each time. She always picks the galbi and I stick with the spicy pork bulgogi. The banchan differs slightly every time, so it’s like a fun game anticipating if our favorites will be served.
Tell us about the most stained cookbook you own.
It’s called 7000 Islands: Cherished Recipes and Stories from the Philippines by Yasmin Newman. It’s such a beautiful book, and I turn to it for dinner inspo when I’m craving traditional Filipino food. I love her beef tapa and pinakbet especially.
Describe your cooking style in four words.
Chaotic, fun, experimental, and nourishing!
One recipe you want to be known for from your cookbook, Mayumu.
I hope to be known for my Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It takes inspiration from the flavors of the classic Filipino dish by using soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, and peppercorns. It’s a perfect blend of sweet and savory.
One recipe from your cookbook you keep making over and over again.
Lychee Madeleines with a Hibiscus Tea Glaze & Dried Rose Petals—it’s so good for pop-ups since they travel well, and I love to bring them to any party.
BUT THE COOKBOOK: “Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed”