Reader Interview: Katherine Martinelli

Food blogger Katherine Martinelli Since starting this blog I’ve enjoyed interviewing a wide range of home cooks about their family memories and everyday cooking. Today I’d like to welcome food writer Katherine Martinelli.

  1. Introduce yourself! My name is Katherine Martinelli and I am from New York City, where I have lived most of my life. My husband and I moved to Be’er Sheva, Israel in the summer of 2010 so that he can attend medical school at Ben Gurion University. I am a food and travel writer and photographer and have fallen in love with Israeli ingredients and foods. I write about what I cook and eat on my blog, which can be found at You can also follow me on Twitter at@martinellieats and on Facebook at
  2. What do you remember about family meals and your mother’s cooking style when you were growing up? Growing up we ate dinner together every single night, without exception. It was my father, not my mother, who did all the cooking, and he prepared delicious, home cooked meals using fresh ingredients every single night. He owned his own business and worked six days a week, so we typically ate quite late, around 9pm, since he would leave work, go grocery shopping, and come home and cook. He learned from his Italian father and Hungarian mother, so most of the food was inspired by those two cultures. Nothing fancy, just huge plates of delicious pastas, meatballs, goulash, etc.
  3. How is your cooking style different from your mother’s? I learned the basics of cooking from my father, so in many ways our cooking is similar. I love simple, homestyle food, and Italian is my absolute favorite. But I am much more adventurous in my tastes. Whereas growing up we never ate out at ethnic restaurants because my father didn’t like those foods, I cook Indian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Moroccan, and globally inspired dishes all the time. Growing up in New York those were all a kind of comfort food to me.
  4. What is your favorite gadget? Hands down my three-in-one Cuisinart mini food processor, immersion blender, and electric whisk. It’s one of the only kitchen items I brought with me to Israel and I use it nearly every day.
  5. Do you entertain, and in what circumstances? What is the biggest party or meal you have hosted to date? I love to entertain! I like to host sit-down dinners every other week or so, and for those I think six to eight is the perfect number (although right now we’re limited by space to six). I think the biggest sit-down meal I’ve cooked for was probably 15 or so. I also love to host cocktail parties where I prepare lots of small bites and dips. Those can be as big as 50 people, depending on space.
  6. Can you share a typical daily menu? Weekly menu? I do try to plan out what I’ll make for dinner each night a week in advance as I find it helps me with my grocery shopping, and to keep me on budget. I try to make a range of dishes in a week with a variety of proteins, grains, and vegetables. We have a vegetarian dinner a few times a week and otherwise eat chicken or turkey, with beef showing up only rarely. I love Thai-inspired coconut curry with either chicken or tofu and lots of veggies. I usually make at least one pasta dish a week. The rest depends on the season and my mood! In the winter I like to roast a chicken one night, then used the bones to make stock the next day. I make a lot of salad, and I am a huge fan of quinoa.
  7. How has your cooking style evolved over the years? When I first started cooking it was a replica of my father’s cooking style, because that’s what I knew. Over the years I have expanded my repertoire by leaps and bounds. I love to try new things and I find my cooking style is evolving all the time.
  8. Can you recommend any cookbooks, TV shows or websites that have inspired you? Oh dear, too many to count!! I don’t have a television and am not a huge fan of food tv so that’s out. The first cookbook that I owned and loved was The Joy of Cooking. This is where I taught myself to make many basic recipes that have created the base of my cooking skills. Right now my favorite cookbooks are Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, The Food of Morocco by Paula Wolfert, The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur, Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan, Jam It Pickle It Cure It by Karen Soloman, and anything by Mark Bittman. I also love to collect older cookbooks (I have a growing collection of old Israeli cookbooks). My most cherished cookbook is The Art of Italian Cooking by Maria lo Pinto (out of print). My father has my grandmother’s copy, but my aunt found a copy to give me on my wedding day. And websites – oy! So many! I love to read food blogs and find them to be incredibly inspiring. I’m also a food magazine junkie!
  9. What posts on CM have you enjoyed? Do you have suggestions for future posts? I really enjoyed the recent lentil and squash casserole! I think lentils and squash make for an incredible flavor pairing and I loved the simplicity of your dish. The sourdough bread post was great as well. Since I am new-ish to Israel, I always love to read about interesting ways to use local (Israeli) ingredients.
  10. What is the most unusual dish you’ve ever made? Just a year ago I would have thought making Mark kubbeh adom would be completely and totally unusual, but now it doesn’t seem so! I recently made homemade Marshmallows, which was fun and something I never thought I would do.
  11. What is the oldest item in your kitchen? The newest? The oldest is my husband’s maternal grandmother’s hand beater, which I brought to Israel with us knowing I couldn’t lug my stand mixer. The newest is actually also old, but I brought my dad’s old hand-cranked pasta maker back with me to Israel this winter.
  12. What would you like to change about your cooking style in the coming year? I’d love to become even more adventurous, and experiment even further with any local ingredients I have yet to try.
  13. Please share a favorite recipe and cooking tips. Ever since visiting Greece in October my husband and I have been obsessed with Greek food! I probably make this chicken souvlaki recipeat least once a week now. You can serve it without the tzatziki to keep it kosher. So simple and delicious! As for cooking tips, I love to always have frozen cookie dough on hand. Every time I make a batch I just bake up a few cookies then form the rest into loose cookie dough balls, freeze them on a sheet, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Then any time I want a fresh baked cookie I can just pop one (or four…) out and put directly in the oven.
If you’d like to be interviewed please contact me via Hannah at
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  1. Sounds like quite a bit of delicious food being cooked in Katherine’s kitchen. This book (Jam It Pickle It Cure It by Karen Soloman) caught my eye, because it has the word “pickle” – love pickling.

    “roast a chicken one night, then used the bones to make stock the next day” – delicious (roasted chicken), nutritious (the stock), practical (using a chicken twice, second time in a new way).

  2. Thanks so much for interviewing me Hannah! I’m so happy to be featured on your fabulous site 🙂

    • The pleasure is all mine! My mother used to keep rolls of “icebox cookies” in the freezer, ready to slice and bake. The recipe is from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.

  3. Wow – freezing balls of cookie dough is brilliant! I am totally going to adopt that one 🙂

  4. My father was also the main cook in my house when I was growing up — dinner every night and most of the Shabbos food. My friends always got such a kick out of it.

  5. Enjoyed reading about Katherine’s creative cooking and her enthusiasm for new flavors. I too like the frozen cookie dough balls idea.

    The marinade for the chicken souvlaki sounds delicious. I wonder if the souvlaki is also good broiled. For the tzadziki since it uses strained yogurt, could you use labneh? Does it really keep up to a week, with fresh cucumber in it? (Also, should I have put these questions on the recipe page instead of here?)

  6. It was lovely meeting Katherine via your interview.
    I can’t wait to try her Chicken Souvlaki recipe!

  7. Ms. Krieger says

    Oohh, pickling! I like the idea of pickling, but I have never been successful at it. Perhaps an idea for a column for blog? Maybe Leora or Katharine could do a guest post on it!


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