Delicious Dishes for Your Christmas Table

Christmas can't be Christmas without food, glorious food. So in keeping with Filipino tradition that dictates that the noche buena (midnight feast) table should be groaning with culinary goodies, here are some recipes that will help you plan out this year's treats. 

Manila-based Chef Rolando Laudico treats us to his version of the Christmas Sotanghon Guisado, a holiday staple for many Filipino households,  and his to-die-for Suman Cake.

Our food writer Elizabeth Ann Quirino, a genuine kapampangan (from the province of Pampanga), shares with us her recipe of Petit Fortunes and of Chicken Waray: Inasal Style, which she adapted from Chef Romy Dorotan of Purple Yam.

Goldilocks USA reveals the recipe for its famous ensaymada (brioche), an important part of the noche buena. 

Chef Rolando Laudico

Manila-based Chef Rolando Laudico has been lauded by culinary experts and foodies alike for his innovative take on traditional Filipino dishes. At his restaurant, Bistro Filipino, his unique presentation of his culinary creations take center stage. These two recipes are from the book, Bistro Filipino, put together by his artist-mother, Yolanda Johnson.  

Christmas Sotanghon Guisado

(Stir-fried mung bean noodles with ham, mushrooms and grated keso de bola or edam cheese)

Chef Laudico's Christmas Sotanghon Guisado (Source: Bistro Filipino)

Chef Laudico's Christmas Sotanghon Guisado (Source: Bistro Filipino)

Makes 4 servings

500 g sotanghon or cellophane noodles
½ c (120 g) chopped onions
100 g ham, cut into thin strips
100g chicken thigh fillet, cut into thin strips
4 tbsps (60 ml) canola or vegetable oil
4 tbsps (60g) minced garlic
60 g carrots, cut into thin strips
60 g red bell pepper, small diced
60 g green bell pepper, small diced
60 g celery, chopped
60 g tenga ng daga or dried wood ear mushrooms
3 tbsps annatto oil*
3 cups (750 ml) chicken stock or shrimp stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch pechay greens or bok choy, chopped
2 tsps sesame oil
100 g burong mustasa or fermented mustard greens, chopped
1 tbsp hibe or dried salted shrimps, soaked in water
2 tbsps soy sauce
2 tsps sesame oil
2 tbsps calamansi juice
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, for garnishing

For the keso de bola crisps:
100 g keso de bola, grated 


  1. Pre-cook noodles according to package instructions. It only takes a few minutes to cook these noodles.

  2. In a wide pan or wok, heat oil to medium-high heat then fry the ham. Set aside. In the same pan, fry chicken till golden brown. Set aside. In the same pan, saute garlic and onions till translucent. Except for the pechay greens, add all the other vegetables and mushrooms (soaked for 30 minutes then sliced into strips), and the hibe shrimps, and cook for 2 minutes. Add annatto oil and chicken stock then simmer for 30 minutes more.

  3. Add sotanghon noodles and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

  4. Add pechay and cook until it becomes bright green. Top with cooked ham and chicken. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with keso de bola crisps.

To make the keso de bola crisps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Line baking tray with parchment paper. If using silicon mat, no need to line with paper. Spread grated keso de bola and bake in oven until cheese is completely melted but not browned.

  3. Remove from oven and let cool until it gets firm and crispy. Break into pieces and top on noodles.

To make annatto oil:

Heat half a cup of annatto seeds in the pan on medium heat and add ½ cup of canola or vegetable oil. Cook until oil becomes orange-red in color. Strain and cool.

Notes: You can just grate the keso de bola or slice it thinly using a peeler or a sharp knife. Or, you can make a large circle of grated cheese and shape it like a basket before baking in the oven. When the cheese cools down, you can place the noodles inside the cheese basket for a more stunning presentation. You can use other grating cheeses like Parmigiano or Grana Padano or just about any cheese that you fancy.

Suman Cake

(Sticky rice and coconut panna cotta with fresh mangoes and coconut glaze)

Chef Laudico's Suman Cake recipe, as baked by Patricia Gonzalez. (Photo by Gemma Nemenzo)

Chef Laudico's Suman Cake recipe, as baked by Patricia Gonzalez. (Photo by Gemma Nemenzo)

Makes 12 servings

For the suman:

520 g malagkit or glutinous rice
1 liter water
1 can (400 ml) coconut cream
250 g muscovado sugar


  1. In a saucepot, cook rice in 1 liter water.

  2. In a pan, heat coconut cream then add the muscovado.

  3. Mix cooked rice into coconut cream mixture.

  4. Mix very well until coconut mixture is well blended.

  5. Press into cake mold and set aside to cool.

For the coconut panna cotta:

600 ml heavy cream
1 can (400 ml) coconut cream
6 tbsps (30 g) unflavored gelatin
150 g white sugar
10 tsps cold water


  1. Dissolve gelatin in cold water. Set aside.

  2. In a saucepot, heat coconut cream, whipping cream and sugar.

  3. Add gelatin and stir until gelatin dissolves.

  4. Strain in a fine mesh to make sure the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.

  5. Pour on top of cooled rice cake and chill until set.

For the latik (coconut syrup) glaze:

200 g muscovado
200 ml coconut cream


  1. In a pan, heat coconut cream and muscovado.

  2. Simmer until it thickens into a syrup.

To assemble:

  1. Remove suman cake from mold by loosening the sides with a paring knife.

  2. Slice 1 cup fresh mangoes and place on top as garnish.

  3. Add toasted coconut on the sides.

  4. Serve with latik glaze.

Bistro Filipino, edited by Yolanda Johnson (Makati: SouMak Collections, Inc., 2011)

Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Petit Fortunes

Petit Fortunes (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Petit Fortunes (Photo by Elizabeth Ann Quirino)

Do you need some quick sweets to make? These bite-sized holiday treats ‘Petit Fortunes’ are easy to whip up and a delight to give. Anyone who gets these nut-filled pastries will find them hard to put down. Sometimes called 'Petit Fours' or 'Petit Fortune Macaroons', these originated from Pampanga, a province north of Manila, Philippines. Simply put together the crushed cashew nuts and other ingredients. Bake them quickly and when cooled, wrap them in colorful cellophane, put them in pretty baskets and they make great gifts. I added some of my own ingredients to this recipe adapted from the “Atching Lillian’s Heirloom Recipes” cookbook by Lillian Mercado Lising Borromeo. From this, I made 48 tiny pieces, which measured 1-inch in diameter.


  • unsalted cashew nuts - 1 cup, crushed

  • flour - 2 Tablespoons

  • heavy cream - 3 Tablespoons

  • caramel dulce de leche - 2 Tablespoons, bottled or homemade (see recipe below)

  • egg yolks - 4, beaten well

  • egg whites - 4

  • granulated sugar - 1/2 cup, separate 1 Tablespoon for beating with egg whites

  • unsalted butter - 1/3 cup melted

  • fluted paper cups - 45 to 48 pieces, measuring 1-inch diameter, for lining muffin pans

  • confectioners' sugar - 2 Tablespoons, for sprinkling (optional)

  • candied dried fruits or dried cherries - 1 to 2 Tablespoons, for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Prepare and line a  mini muffin tin with small sized fluted paper cups.

  2. To crush the whole cashews, place in a resealable plastic bag and pound with a mallet. Or for fast results, use a food chopper or processor. Put the cashews aside.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: cashew, flour, sugar. Set aside.

  4. Beat the egg whites till stiff and no bubbles are showing. Add the 1 tablespoon of sugar.

  5. Meanwhile in the mixing bowl, to the dry ingredients, add the following: melted butter, cream, dulce de leche and egg yolks. Blend and incorporate everything well.

  6. Gradually fold by hand the cashew and yolks mixture into the egg whites. Blend well.

  7. Pour a tablespoon of the batter into tiny fluted paper cups lining small muffin tins. Batter should fill only ¾ of the cup.

  8. Bake at 350 F degrees for 15 minutes or till top is golden brown.

  9. When done, remove from oven. If desired, sprinkle the top of the petit fortunes with confectioner’s sugar using a fine sieve or colander. Optional – top each cup with 1 or 2 pieces of candied dried fruit. Allow the Petit Fortunes to cool, wrap in colored cellophane paper and pack in pretty baskets or decorative jars for gifts.

  10. Storage: You can make these ahead, cool them thoroughly, then wrap in plastic resealable freezer bags or airtight plastic containers. They can be kept frozen for 2 to 3 weeks.

Dulce de Leche

To make Dulce de Leche: remove paper labels from the can of condensed milk. Fill a large pot with water, enough to cover the can. Let the water boil, then simmer over medium heat to cook the condensed milk inside the can. Cook for 3 hours. If using a Slow Cooker like I did, cook the can of condensed milk on HIGH settings for 4 hours, with water covering the can. After cooking time, leave the can submerged in the water and let it get to room temperature. Then refrigerate can of caramel condensed milk overnight and set aside till ready to spread as cookie filling.

Chicken Waray: Inasal-style

Chicken Inasal: Waray Style (Photo by Elizabeth Ann

Chicken Inasal: Waray Style (Photo by Elizabeth Ann

This was first served at the Purple Yam restaurant's fundraiser for Typhoon Yolanda families last year, to benefit Gawad Kalinga. 

Chef Romy Dorotan taught me how to make this Chicken Waray: Inasal-style.

Adapted from a recipe from "Memories of Philippine Kitchens" by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan

Chicken Waray is based on the same cooking concept as 'inasal'. In the Visayan dialect, 'inasal' (say 'een-nah-sal') means 'to grill'. The basic marinade of this dish consists of citrus juice, coconut milk, soy sauce, lemon grass and seasonings. I oven roasted this instead of grilling. If you have good outdoor weather where you live, try charcoal grilling this instead. This recipe was adapted from Chef Romy Dorotan's 'Chicken Inasal' in the Memories of Philippine Kitchens cookbook, written with Amy Besa. My recipe below served 2, up to 4 if served with rice and a vegetable side.


  • chicken - 2.5 pounds, bone-in quartered pieces, about 4-5 pieces

  • calamansi juice (the Filipino lime) - 2 Tablespoons (frozen concentrate, unsweetened from Asian markets) or use fresh calamansi or lemon juice

  • orange juice - 2 Tablespoons

  • soy sauce - 2 Tablespoons

  • ground turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon

  • lemongrass (tanglad in the Philippines) - 1 stalk, trimmed and finely chopped (from Asian markets)

  • shallots - 2 pieces, choppped

  • garlic - 4 cloves, chopped

  • coconut milk - 1/2 cup (I use canned, from Asian markets)

  • sea salt - 1 teaspoon

  • freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon

  • boiled white rice - for serving


  1. In a medium bowl, blend together the marinade ingredients: calamansi and orange juice, soy sauce, turmeric, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, coconut milk, salt and black pepper. Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and mix all over well. Cover with a plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat oven at 375 F degrees. Arrange chicken pieces on a pre-greased roasting pan. Cover entire pan with aluminum foil. Bake in the center of the oven, for 55 to 60 minutes or till chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked.

  3. Separately, in a small sauce pan over medium heat, place the liquid marinade. Let boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let the liquid cook to a reduction for about 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from stove top. Pour this reduced liquid over the baked chicken after it has cooked thoroughly.

  4. Serve chicken with steamed vegetables and boiled white rice on the side.

  5. To charcoal grill chicken: marinate the chicken as directed. Pre-heat the outdoor grill to a medium heat. Place the chicken pieces on the center rack. Grill chicken till it is cooked thoroughly. For this amount (2.5 pounds with bone) grill over medium heat for 55 minutes. Baste pieces with a little marinade and turn around every 15 minutes to cook evenly.


Goldilocks Ensayma (Photo courtesy of Goldilocks)

Goldilocks Ensayma (Photo courtesy of Goldilocks)

Goldilocks bakeshop has been part of Filipino Christmases for decades. Here, Goldilocks USA shares its recipe for its famous ensaymada (brioche), a holiday staple of Filipino homes.  



  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted

Topping per piece:

  • Butter unsalted, creamed
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Sugar


Pre-heat oven to 325° F.

  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/3 part of water. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl with dough hook or flat beater attachment, place the sifted all-purpose flour, sugar and salt. Mix at low speed until incorporated.
  3. Add the dissolved yeast, remaining water, eggs and evaporated milk. Mix for 2 minutes at low speed then mix at medium speed for approximately 4 minutes.
  4. Add unsalted butter and continue mixing until gluten is slightly developed.
  5. Transfer the dough in greased bowl and cover with plastic.
  6. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes at room temperature.
  7. Punch down the dough and divide it into pieces weighing 60 grams each.
  8. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes then cover with plastic sheet to prevent from drying.
  9. Roll out the piece thinly into 8” x 5” rectangles. Brush surface with butter.
  10. Roll into a long rod and twirl into shape, locking ends to seal.
  11. Place each piece in a greased ensaymada molder.
  12. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size. (Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes at room temperature)
  13. Bake for 17 minutes or until golden in color.
  14. Let the bread cool then remove it from molder.
  15. Brush the top of each ensaymada with creamed butter and sprinkle with grated cheese and sugar.

Ingredients may be mixed by hand. Be sure that all ingredients are incorporated well. The gluten must be developed.