We are cooking our way through December with the only kinds of recipes acceptable this time of year: family recipes. Written, made, and adapted over generations, our passed-down recipes are what transport us back to our childhoods, connect us to our foremothers and fathers, and, of course, our holiday traditions.
Traditions are rarely uncomplicated, and while there are many we will continue, we will also break some and make new ones. Like a recipe that’s been passed down for generations, the beauty isn’t always in following it to a T, but making it new again, year after year, in honor of those who came before us.
This year, we’re lucky enough to have a seat with our name on it at the tables of 5 home cooks. We’ll be feasting on Mark Indelicato’s Night of the Seven Fishes stew, memorizing Emily Alben’s Hanukkah sufganiyot recipe by heart, putting all our hope in Tylynn’s good luck collards, and so much more. We hope you cook alongside us this month, and maybe pick up a new tradition to add to your own celebrations.
We’ll be adding to this post as the month goes on, and you can follow along on our Instagram and by subscribing to our email. Be sure to check back and keep cooking with the ones you love!
First up, we’re celebrating Hanukkah with home baker Emily Alben. Emily hosted us in the backyard of her Ojai, CA home over zesty sufganiyot and made-by-hand latkes. We spoke about the traditions and the flavors that punctuate the holiday...
“We may not be able to celebrate all eight nights together, but there is at least one where we gather and all light the candles on the menorah together, basking in the glow of the ancient ritual.” Emily Alben
Read more about Emily’s celebrations and try her zesty recipe yourself!
Next, we invited ourselves to crash Tylynn Burn’s Christmas-ish dinner party with her friends. Raised on soul food, Tylynn’s Christmas dinner is the height of the day (it helps that she does her gift exchange on Christmas Eve). Lucky for us, her big dinner menu isn’t reserved for just one day, and she often makes a tradition out of cooking for her friends in December...
“Christmas always feels like my thing. I get to invite my family to a culinary playground while also just showering them with gifts and a good time.” Tylynn Burns
Get Tylynn’s recipe for Christmas collards and read more about her traditions here.
Still full from Tylynn’s, we made our way to Marielle Sales’s Noche Buena celebration. She walked us through one of her favorite recipes to enjoy at the midnight meal: arroz valenciana, a Filipino-style paella. But of course, one dish isn’t enough for a feast like Noche Buena, so we also ordered take-out favorite Jollibee fried chicken. Maligayang pasko!
“Growing up, my parents would always have ham in pineapple glaze and traditional Filipino desserts such as bibingka, fruit salad, or kakanin (sticky rice cakes) on the table.” Marielle Sales
Get Marielle’s recipe for a full and happy midnight belly and read more about her celebrations here.
Next up, we made our way over to Mark Indelicato’s home to observe the Italian tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes. He showed us how his family has made the fish-forward stew for generations and credits his great-grandmother’s version with his intense love for seafood. As the name suggests, the more variety of fish, the better…
“My family’s twist on this traditional feast has come to symbolize my being an Italian-American, and the ways in which classic cultural traditions morph and change over time.” Mark Indelicato
Grab your grocery bags, head to your freshest local fish market, and let’s get to work on Mark’s sacred family recipe.
It’s time we head over to D’Ara’s house to hear stories of holidays past, which are normally packed-to-the-brim with extended family and loved ones. Big gatherings call for big tables full of food, and we’re lucky enough to share her recipe for kuku sabzi, a herb-forward egg dish that is as refreshing as it is lively. While many traditions may ebb and flow with time, good food and rest are ever-present reminders of the season...
“The older I get, the more I’m called on to create my own traditions and my own ways of interpreting what this time means to me. I’m finding that it doesn’t matter where I am as long as I’m with people I love, that I feel safe with, that I can laugh with, and there’s got to be good food!” D’Ara Nazaryan
Go find the freshest greens you can scrounge, prepare yourself for the infamous 180° flip, and let’s make D’Ara’s kuku sabzi.