For Zaynab Issa, cooking isn't just a craving — it's also her career. The recipe developer, content creator (@zaynab_issa), and food editor for Bon Appetit brings her Khoja-American culture into her kitchen as often as she can. Her Indian and East African heritage influences many of her recipes, but she also loves to get down with some good old fashioned pastries — like her mouth-watering berry and cheese danishes which she shares below.
Does the dish you're sharing today have a story behind it?
I love pastries and this is my favorite way to get that vibe at home!
How would you describe your relationship to home cooking?
I'm an avid home cook and have loved it since I was a child.
What do you like about cooking in the oven?
Cooking in the oven is one of the most leisurely cooking experiences so it's particularly great when I'm feeling lazy or want a chilled cooking experience.
Are there any recipes or dishes that are just better made in the oven?
One of my favorite categories of cooking, baking, is almost always done in the oven!!
What's special to you about the new Ovenware set?
I love how thorough the design is. The 1" checkerboard pattern on the silicone baking mat is genius!
Tell us about a meal that makes you feel connected to your heritage or loved ones.
Kuku Paka, a coconut curry, is one of my favorite Khoja dishes. It really has elements of both my Indian and East African backgrounds and is so easy to make and super delicious!
If you could only cook (and then eat!) one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
This is so hard! Papri chaat. It's got a little bit of everything. It's spicy, sweet, tangy, and crunchy.
Zaynab's Berry and Cheese Danishes
1/2 c. jam
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 block (1/2 lb.) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
1 c. powdered sugar, divided
1 box (2 sheets) store-bought frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Combine strawberries, jam, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Using a whisk or electric beaters, combine cream cheese, egg yolk, kosher salt, vanilla, and 1/2 c. powdered sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Roll out creases in the puff pastry sheet and cut into 6 rectangles. Transfer to the Oven Pan (be sure to line with the Oven Mat).
- Score a 1/4-inch border around the edges of each rectangle.
- Fill the inside with a heaping tbsp. of the cream cheese mixture and top with a heaped tsp. of the jam mixture. Do your best to contain everything within the border.
- Brush the edges with the beaten egg. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
- Repeat with the other sheet of pastry using up the rest of the filling and jam.
- Optionally, whisk remaining 1/2 c. powdered sugar and 1 tbsp. milk in a small bowl to create a drizzle glaze for the pastries.
- Drizzle glaze over the warm pastries and serve.