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Family Portrait: Food writer Jennie Perillo and her family

Food writer and Brooklyn mom Jennie Perillo talks about her first cookbook and honoring her late husband's legacy.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabella, 10, and Virginia, 5

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabell, 10, and Virginia, 5

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabell, 10, and Virginia, 5

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabella, 10, and Virginia, 5

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabella, 10, and Virginia, 5

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabella, 10, and Virginia, 5

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Cafe Mogador

    Cafe Mogador

  • Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    Queens Zoo

  • Photograph: Kathi Littwin

    One Girl Cookies

Photograph: Jessica Lin

The Perillo Family: Jennie, Isabella, 10, and Virginia, 5


Jennie Perillo’s life took an unexpected turn when her husband, Mikey, died suddenly of a rare autoimmune disorder in 2011. As she struggled to cope with the tragedy, the food writer turned to her lifelong passion for the culinary arts—the same passion Mikey had encouraged her to pursue when they first met. Perillo threw herself into cooking for (and with) her daughters, Isabella, now 10, and Virginia, 5, in their Carroll Gardens home, as well as for the devoted fans of her popular blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen. Perillo’s first cookbook, Homemade with Love, which debuted in March, is the fruit of that labor. Many of the healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes feature interchangeable ingredients, influenced by Isabella and Virginia’s finicky palates as well as their friends’ dietary restrictions. Mikey’s memory also lives on in the book’s recipes—including his favorite dish, drop-biscuit chicken pot pie—and in the family’s Friday movie night tradition. “We make pizza from scratch and watch classic movies,” explains the Brooklyn mom. “Mikey was a huge fan of the Marx Brothers.”

THEIR FAVORITE...

BRUNCH SPOT

“We love the servers and hostesses at Café Mogador (101 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A; 212-677-2226, cafemogador.com). They’re so friendly, and are always armed with a smile—no matter how busy it is. Isabella typically goes for the pancakes or French toast. I’m addicted to the Moroccan eggs, which are poached and served with a spicy tomato sauce. Virginia loves them too, sans the sauce.”

WEEKEND ACTIVITY

The Queens Zoo (53-51 111th St at 53rd Ave, Flushing, Queens; 718-271-1500, queenszoo.com) is the best-kept secret in the city. Everyone goes to the Central Park or Bronx Zoo, but the Queens Zoo is often more peaceful. The girls love the bears and the puma. We also enjoy the ricotta-and-spinach empanadas at nearby Empanadas Café (56-27 Van Doren St at 108th St, Corona, Queens; 718-592-7288, empanadascafe.com).

SWEET TREAT

“Next to baking my own desserts, One Girl Cookies (onegirlcookies.com for locations) is my go-to place. I love their Lucia cookies, a combination of shortbread, caramel and chocolate. The kids are all too happy to help me indulge. We also like the cupcakes at Sugar Sweet Sunshine (126 Rivington St between Essex and Norfolk Sts; 212-995-1960, sugarsweetsunshine.com). The girls are on a red velvet kick lately.”


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