Shavuot with Rabbi Howard: Tiramisu

Tiramisu. TheCubanReuben.comThis past week, our friend and newly minted rabbi, Howard, invited us to his home to celebrate Shavuot. As the custom on Shavuot is to serve dairy dishes, Howard challenged his guests to a “cheese-off.” Anyone who knows me knows that I take cooking challenges very seriously, so Kenny and I put our heads together, and brainstormed what we wanted to bring to the celebration. I suggested my Cuban-style flan, which resembles a crust-less cheesecake, but I made that last year, and Kenny vetoed this idea. Then, I suggested my herb and goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes, but Kenny had something else in mind. He wanted us to bring something nobody else would ever think of bringing: Tiramisu.

Tiramisu.Slice.TheCubanReuben.comKenny and I learned to make truly authentic Tuscan-style tiramisu while on our honeymoon in Italy. During our highlight tour of the country, we spent some time in the Tuscan hilltop town, Cortona, where Allessandra Federici opened up her home to us, as she taught us to cook traditional Italian recipes. This was, by far, the best day of the honeymoon, and when Kenny suggested tiramisu for the party at Howard’s house, I knew just the recipe.

WholeTiramisu.TheCubanReuben.comSince classic tiramisu calls for the use of *raw eggs, we felt the need to make a disclaimer when we arrived at Howard’s, but Howard assured me that if it tasted good, it would get eaten. Sure enough, as soon as we set it down, it wasn’t long before word got out about its rich coffee and mascarpone flavor, and the party-goers went at it. As we ate, played a really fun and new board game (team Stempel won!), and discussed Howard’s plans for the future, we gave Howard a lovely send-off, filled with cheesey/dairy goodness and good memories.

Later, Kenny shared with me that since tiramisu is his favorite dessert, and suggested we don’t need to wait for Shavuot to make it again.  Kenny has a big graduation coming up this week. Who knows… maybe he’ll get a double dose of the good stuff.

*Note: My dear friend Ali, who is a champion for all things public health, shared with me that it is best to use fresh, pasteurized eggs in this recipe. Click here for a store locator where you can find the type she recommends.

Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8-10
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Impress your friends with this creamy, authentic Italian treat.
  • 6 FRESH, pasteurized eggs
  • ¾ cups fine sugar
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup brewed coffee or espresso
  • 1 large package of ladyfinger cookies
  • 1-2 Tbs. good quality cocoa powder or bittersweet chocolate shavings
  1. Carefully separate the egg whites from the egg yolks into two large bowls.
  2. In the bowl with the egg yolks, mix in the sugar, using a hand mixer until they are soft and cream-colored. Add the softened mascarpone cheese, and mix well, and set aside.
  3. In the bowl with the egg whites, add the pinch of salt, and whisk using a mixer until firm peaks are formed. Gently fold the egg whites unto the egg yolk mixture until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Spread a light layer of the egg mixture on the bottom of a 9x11-inch dish. Individually dunk ladyfingers in the coffee, and layer over the egg mixture. Add another layer of egg mixture, and top with coffee-dunked ladyfingers. Continue layering until ingredients run out.
  5. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the cocoa powder over top layer.
  6. Cover and place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours.
Find your local purveyor of fresh, pasteurized eggs here:


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What’s in a name: Peas with Pasta and Mint

Peas and Pasta The year I was born, Jennifer was the most common name for girls. Suffice it to say, I grew up with no less than 3 or 4 Jennifers in my class at any given time. With that in mind, we all had to adopt our own variation of the root name, and soon I was known as “Jenny.” But never had I regretted that decision more than the Summer of 1994, when the American classic, “Forrest Gump,” was released in theaters. I thought I’d never hear the end of the phrase, “Jenny and me were like peas and carrots.” My SoCal friends would do their darndest to take on a Southern drawl, but their Golden State roots always betrayed their accents. I never fully understood the phrase to be one of endearment, either, because the only peas and carrots I knew where the mushy variety served from a can in the school lunch line. I don’t think I know anybody who ever liked those.

If I could go back in time and rewrite the script for the movie, I’d change the line to peas and pasta. Peas and pasta and mint, for that matter. To me, few things go better with peas than pasta and mint, and my latest recipe features this exact mix. To recreate my recipe, you could easily use any old pasta shape of your liking, but I specifically chose campanelle pasta for its signature bell shape, which acts as a sort of basket for the little peas. Each pasta bell is coated in luxuriously creamy and slightly sweet mascarpone cheese, which melts into a light sauce, perfumed by caramelized onions and woodsy crimini mushrooms.  With just a sprinkle of fresh mint, this dish is elevated from ordinary to irresistible. Since Shavuot is quickly approaching, keep this recipe in your arsenal when you’re looking for something cheese-y.

Peas and Pasta close-upIf ever a sequel to Forrest Gump is in the works, we’ll have to make sure the producers know about the newest best pairing in town.  “Jenny and me was like peas, pasta and mint.” If you ask me, I’d say it has a nice ring to it.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Peas with Pasta and Mint
Recipe type: main
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Bell-shaped pasta acts as the perfect basket for these peas, coated in a warm mascarpone sauce.
  • 16 oz Campanelle pasta
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 pint crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 8oz mascarpone cheese
  • 3 TBS fresh mint, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to packaging, until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, add olive oil in a separate saute pan, and heat over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, and stir gently. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms have cooked through. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  4. Gently fold in the thawed peas to the onion mix. Stir in the hot pasta, and mix in the mascarpone cheese. Lower heat, and let cheese melt. If needed, stir in 1 TBS of the reserved pasta water, to thicken the sauce.
  5. Top with fresh mint.
  6. Can be served hot or at room temperature.
*If you are using fresh peas, be sure to steam them before adding to this recipe.


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