Food and home are so intrinsically linked. Whether it be a rushed weekday morning breakfast at the kitchen counter, hosting friends in the living room, or your family’s traditional meals at the holidays, we find there is so much overlap in the food and design worlds. We always love seeing the homes of professional cooks because we often find people in the business of creating great food also create the coziest, convivial spaces. Bon Appetit editor Zaynab Issa is no different. Zaynab’s New York City apartment is tonal and textural featuring several of our favorite L&G pieces. Read on for more about Zaynab’s journey and for a recipe that we will be making immediately.
You’re an editor at Bon Appetit, cook, and recipe developer. Tell us about your journey in the food world.
Food has always been incredibly important to me– it’s been a vehicle for love, connection, and safety throughout my life. Around the same time that I started consistently posting recipe content to social media, I also began formalizing my family’s Khoja recipes in college through a zine-style cookbook titled Let’s Eat. My videos online were performing well and the zine garnered some media attention, and my career in the food media space began.
It’s an absolute joy having the privilege to work with food regularly and use it as a medium for storytelling.
Walk us through the process of creating a new recipe or dish?
Honestly, it depends on the dish. Generally speaking, inspiration will strike (usually through travels, browsing books/magazines, or trying a new restaurant) and research begins. My research guides my initial ingredient list, which is where I like to start. From there I consider the possible techniques that could be explored to execute the dish. Then, it’s just about trial and error. keep cooking until I reach a place I’m confident in. After that, I cook through the recipe again, paying closer attention to timings and cues; this is where I imagine being a cook experiencing this technique for the first time. How can I minimize risk for the end user? Then it’s time to write the recipe up and share it.
How would you describe your home style? What energy do you look to create in your home?
Comfort really is key for me. My space needs to be both functional and beautiful. I lean toward high contrast and pops of color with a neutral base for a comfortable look that doesn’t feel boring. Layering in textural elements and prints helps to add some visual interest to the space.
What was the inspiration for your space’s transformation?
Not to sound like a broken record, but, comfort! I had a gorgeous large, curved couch that a family member gave to us when they were moving. We reupholstered it in a beige boucle, and in the end, it ended up feeling a little too stuffy for our day-to-day life. It’ll make an appearance in a formal living room someday, but for now, having furniture that supports my current lifestyle is more important.
We’re so excited to see what recipes you come up with! Walk us through your recipe and what we’ll need.
This plush loaf cake is inspired by one of my favorite drinks: a dirty chai. The buttery yellow loaf cake gets a coffee-spiked chocolate ganache glaze. You won’t need anything out of the ordinary ingredient-wise for this one.
Now that we’ve got food covered- what’s your go-to cocktail or drink to compliment your recipe?
I’m a coffee & cake kind of girl. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth, so the bitter, slightly-acidic notes of a fresh pull help to balance out the sweetness from a decadent slice of cake.
What is one thing you want all of your readers to know about your recipes?
That I do my best to consider them throughout my recipe development process. I try to call for ingredients that are easy to source, keep things as streamlined as possible, and prioritize big flavor in as little time as possible.
How did you strike a balance between function and aesthetics in your kitchen space?
I won’t lie, I don’t always follow my own rules, but my current philosophy is to only purchase things that are beautifully purposeful.
What’s your motto in the kitchen?
Less is more, most of the time.
What’s next for you and what are you looking forward to most this year?
My cookbook! I’m starting a brief sabbatical from my work at BA to focus on developing recipes for my new cookbook, and I cannot wait to spend time on this project.
Zaynab Issa for Lulu & Georgia
1 ⅓ cup (167g) AP Flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp diamond crystal kosher salt
¾ tsp ground cardamom
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup (113g) whole milk
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
½ tsp instant coffee
2oz well-melting, baking chocolate (ideally between 25-65% cacao), chopped
Flaky sea salt, for finishing
Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease and line a loaf cake tin with parchment paper.
Add flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and ground cardamom to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium speed until combined and lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla, oil, and whole milk and stir to incorporate. Add dry ingredients and mix to combine using a rubber spatula. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool until warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare glaze. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave (in 15 second increments) until steaming but not boiling. Add instant coffee and chopped chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir well to combine.
Remove cake from pan and discard parchment paper. Transfer to a platter or cutting board. Pour over the glaze and finish with flaky sea salt.