Mint Julep with an Italian Twist

I like to think of bourbon as putting on its summer outfit with the mint julep, the warm weather libation that gets its kickoff with the running of the Kentucky Derby (where it has been the traditional beverage for nearly a century). And I love how a little Italian Limoncello elevates this drink. Although you are […]

Cheesecake with Strawberries

A creamy cheesecake, especially topped with beautiful fruit, almost always delights everyone. Did you know that it became an essential Jewish classic decades ago? In the 1930s, Jewish bakers substituted a relatively new product—cream cheese—along with sour cream for the more-typical-at-the-time cottage cheese in their baked custards, and the New York-style cheesecake was born. The […]

Asparagus, Artichoke, Fennel, & Mozzarella Salad with Lemon-Oregano Dressing

Asparagus, artichokes, and fennel become unlikely but absolutely delicious partners in this Jewish-Italian inspired salad. The dressing of bright lemon and herby slightly pungent oregano—a classic Sicilian pairing—unites the spring and early summer vegetable flavors in beautifully tangy way.  This salad spares not one second in delighting the taste buds with flavors and textures that […]

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Sformato

The Italians were onto something with sformato, a creamy egg and vegetable dish that is elegant and yet homey, plus irresistible in flavor and texture. Most traditionally, sformato (pronounced sfohr-MAH-toh, coming from the Latin word for “form”) is a vegetable flan prepared in large ring mold or individual molds. But this dish doesn’t have to […]

Spinach Arancini

Rice laced with spinach and cheese and fried—spinach arancini bring home a delightful taste of Sicily. That’s where I first tried this version of deep fried risotto balls a couple of years ago when we visited to explore some of my Sicilian roots. The treat—shaped as big as oranges, ovals, or pears in the case […]

Marzipan Pignoli Hamantaschen with Salted Honey Butter

These hamantaschen are a love letter to Sicily, starring two iconic Sicilian ingredients—pine nuts and marzipan.  The pine nuts particularly evoke the Jews of Sicily who called the island home going back more than 2000 years. When Arab conquerors introduced pine nuts—especially in combination with currants or raisins—Jews welcomed the ingredients into their repertoire, such […]

Mushroom and Barley Soup

A comforting and earthy classic, this soup emerged hundreds of years ago as an essential for Eastern European Jews. Although porcini mushrooms seem like an exotic item today (and are pricey to boot), Jews in places like Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine had ready access to this type of mushroom, which grew profusely in the forests […]

Almond Kifli

Almond Kifli are delightful crescent-shaped sweets from Ashkenazi Jewish traditions, particularly in Hungary and Austria. They might remind you of recipes like snow balls or Mexican wedding cookies with their wonderfully crumbly and light texture and inviting white coat of confectioners’ sugar. This style of cookie has become popular across many traditions worldwide, and it’s […]

Fried Mashed Potato Balls

At once crispy and creamy, fried mashed potato balls take you right from Thanksgiving’s leftover mashed potatoes to a Hanukkah fried delight. And actually, even if I don’t have leftovers, I will make this recipe (don’t worry, latkes, we will be making you, too) because it is uniquely fun and a texture and flavor sensation […]

Deconstructed Pumpkin-Bourbon Cannoli

You might not normally think of cannoli for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. But they are perfect, especially for this year’s confluence of these two beloved holidays. For Hanukkah, this classic Sicilian dessert neatly captures both the frying and dairy traditions in one package. For Thanksgiving, the filling takes beautifully to a spike of warm holiday flavor […]

Cranberry-Walnut Rugelach

Cranberry sauce moves from roast turkey side relish to pastry superstar in this rugelach recipe celebrating the delicious intersection of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.  I can’t think of a better use for that leftover cranberry sauce than to become a filling and glaze for rugelach. And although these make a beloved sweet for the festival of […]

Turkey and Fennel Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage earned its place as a beloved comfort food long, long ago—and this slightly updated version offers tender texture and more flavor without sacrificing the qualities that made this dish treasured among communities across a large part of the world.  Now, I know there are plenty of stuffed cabbage skeptics out there. Confession: It […]

Apple Bourbon Caramel Sundaes with Hot Honey Cinnamon Crunch

When apple season begins but it still feels like summer, a creamy sundae with sweet apples, caramel sauce, and my special cinnamon crunch brings it all together. This sweet concoction is out of the park with homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream BUT offers shortcuts so you can enjoy it in a snap. In a […]

Peach Crostata

The best package for summer’s luscious peaches might just be in the rustic Italian crostata. At peak peach season, there are many ways to turn the stone fruit into a dessert. But I’ve long thought the Italian idea—the free-form tart—topped them all. It satisfies my longing for pie and a bit of crumble topping without […]

Spicy Stuffed Artichokes

Although the most famous Jewish-Italian artichoke dish might be the deep-fried Carciofi alla Giudia (Artichokes Jewish-style), Italian Jews enjoyed artichokes many ways. It helps that they got a head start on other Italians by warmly embracing the petal-packed thistle buds after the vegetable was likely introduced to Sicily by Arab conquerors. One of the ways […]