Recipes for Comfort and Celebration

Compiled by Eva Mayhabal Davis

Food is more than our nourishment. It’s a ritual and an identity; as the saying goes, you are what you eat. An ultimate staple food for me is the tortilla,a versatile, ancient and modern, dynamic, cross-cultural superfood. Growing up in a Mexican-American fusion home, there was a rooted understanding of cultural identity through food. The foods that nourishes the home, and builds the home and in this case, is surviving and thriving through a past down history of making tortillas from abuela to madre y hija. After reading Paula E. Morton’s Tortillas, A Cultural History, I came to understand a richer history of the very food that I consume on a daily basis. The very food that is proof of generational vigor of the matriarchal space and hearth, the kitchen.

Share a recipe with us, to celebrate the nourishment that we pass on.

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Grandma Esther’s Bourekas
(Jewish Triangle Pastries)
By Marina Murayama Nir

Every Friday evening when my dad was a child, his mom would prepare pastries. The neighborhood children quickly became aware of this, and so young Yuval and Grandma Esther had their neighborhood Friday night pastry club.

In early adulthood, my dad compiled a recipe book of his mom’s recipes, which are preserved in the photos below.


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Part 1 – Make Filo Dough
Mix the following together:
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 glass of warm water

mix into 1 lb of flour and knead until smooth

1. Divide dough in 3 parts. and roll out. spread butter over the dough.
2. Fold over 4 times.
3. Put in fridge until cold.
4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 and put in fridge until next day.

Part 2 – Make filling
You can make a filling out of potato, spinach, meat or cheese. Today we will make the cheese filling.

Cheese Filling
2 parts riccotta, 1 part parmesan cheese. Mix together “real well.”

Part 3 – Put it together and bake
1. Roll out dough and cut into 6 squares. This serves one person.
2. Put filling in each square and fold into a triangle.
3. Seal the triangle by pressing fork on edges
4. Make egg wash by scrambling egg yolk only and brush on the pastries.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until golden

Strawberry Shortcake
By Linda Huber

My mom isn’t much of a cook (sorry mama). Perhaps this has to do with being from the midwest, a land not known necessarily for its culinary finesse, perhaps it also to do with my mom not being the kind of lady that invested much in learning how to do the things that women are so often expected to be good at (cooking, cleaning, the subtle art of makeup and french braids…). On top of that, for most of my childhood she was a single mom putting herself through med school, so our meals tended to be whatever could be made and consumed fastest (frozen fish sticks, quesadillas, bowls of cereal).

One of her favorite breakfasts // desserts is strawberry shortcake, a delicious and simple recipe pulled from the side of a box of Bisquick. Instead of topping with whipped cream, my mom’s version includes pouring cold skim milk over the hot crispy shortcakes and topping with diced strawberries tossed in a few tablespoons of sugar. It isn’t very sweet, but it is creamy and warm and colorful and soothing and generally has great motherly vibes.


My mother’s shrimp and pork wonton recipe
by Hilary Fung

Makes about 80 wontons

Main ingredients:
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. shrimp
1 cup napa cabbage, minced and drained
1 16-oz. package of wonton skins

Marinade for pork:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
dash of sugar
dash of white pepper
dash of garlic powder

Mince the napa cabbage, mix it in a bowl with a spoonful of salt, and let sit. The salt will extract water from the cabbage, reducing its volume and preventing bubbles from forming inside the wontons while they cook.

Marinate ground pork in salt, soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, and garlic powder.

Chop the shrimp.

Squeeze excess liquid out of the cabbage and drain. It shouldn’t be too salty, because you’re pouring out most of the salted water. Mix drained cabbage, chopped shrimp, and marinated pork in a big bowl.

Wrap the wontons. We use square wonton skins, fold them over into a triangle, seal the edges with water, then stick the two pointy corners together.

Cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes, until wontons float.

Ponche de Navidad de Abuelita Ofelia
By Eva Mayhabal Davis

Word by word…

3 cinnamon sticks
2 handfuls of tejocotes
About 12 guavas
Half a mug of chopped up prunes
4 apples cut into cubes
1 pear cut into cubes
Half a mug of raisins
3 sugar cane sticks, cut the long way
1 handful of tamarind pods peeled
1 handful of of  hibiscus flowers
1 large piloncillo cone
4 quarts of water

  1. Place water in a large stockpot.
  2. Add the piloncillo and cinnamon to cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the ingredients.
  4. Simmer for about 1 hour.
  5. Serve hot with fruits.
  6. Add Rum or Tequila to taste.