Love & Lemons on Knives, Salt, and the Importance of Mom


Photo courtesy of Love & Lemons

Jeanine Donofrio is open and chatty on her gorgeously photographed blog, Love & Lemons, which mean that her the many folks who follow her on social media have plenty of stories—and recipes—to feast upon. But we still had a few questions about the woman behind the blog, whose knockout sweet miso udonmushroom and caramelized onion polenta, and sun-dried tomato soup have left us downright ravenous.

Here, Donofrio dishes about how to create masterpieces out of leftovers, her abiding love for Japanese cuisine, and her very complicated relationship with her mandoline. (She likes it, but apparently it doesn’t like her very much.)

Go-to kitchen utensil:
One good knife. I’m completely in love with my Miyabi Santoku knife.

Most under-appreciated ingredient, in your opinion:
Salt! Well-seasoned food is everything. Also (the obvious), lemon—I love food that’s zesty and bright.


Donofrio’s vegan soft-baked pretzels.

Favorite food:
Anything with avocado smushed on top.

Kitchen “sin” for which you won’t apologize:
I never use the safety piece on my mandoline slicer.

Worst kitchen blunder you wish you could undo:
A few lasting scars from not being careful enough using the mandoline.

Essential cookbook:
Any book by Deborah Madison or Yotam Ottolenghi.


Her dukkah-spiced yogurt.

You’re about to bite the big one. What’s your last supper?
One of everything on the menu at Uchi.

Proudest food moment:
When I can make something tasty and inventive out of random, scrappy ingredients that I happen to have in my fridge. I get a surprising amount of inspiration by not going to the store.

Toughest dish you’ve mastered:
The classic omelette.

Kitchen skill you want to learn:
To make perfect tamagoyaki (a Japanese rolled omelette).


A clean sesame noodle salad.

Ice cream or gelato?
Gelato, when in Rome.

Caramel or hot fudge?
Salted caramel.

Vanilla or chocolate?
Am I the only one who doesn’t like chocolate ice cream? Always vanilla.

Hamburger or hot dog?
Can I cast a write-in vote for tacos?

Cheese or pepperoni pizza?
Cheese, with red onions and shaved brussels sprouts on top. More cheese on my husband’s side of the pie, though.


A spiced carrot and chickpea salad from Donofrio’s kitchen.

Ingredient that you just can’t stand:
Rye bread, orange in desserts, and bananas (although I love banana bread).

You can only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?

Dream vacation spot (for eating, of course):
A long trip eating our way through Southeast Asia.

Ingredient or tool that you always buy in bulk:
Grains, beans, nuts seeds—I spend “the bulk” of my shopping time in the bulk section at Whole Foods.


Her edamame hummus and radish crostini.

Best thing your parents taught you about food:
My mom taught me to make things from scratch. While this meant that my sister and I had to get Keebler Soft Batch Chocolate Chip cookies and Doritos at the other kids’ houses, it also meant that we never bought pasta sauce in a jar. She’d make big batches of homemade sauces and soups and line the freezer with tupperware containers of them. She’s the reason why I now feel inspired to write about food made with whole, unprocessed ingredients.

More from Love & Lemons:

A sweet miso udon inspired by Donofrio’s travels in Japan

Mushroom and caramelized onion polenta to warm the bones

Sun-dried tomato soup for a burst of summer in the dead of winter

Who’s your favorite food blogger? Tell us below!