I’m Yvonne Maffei, Founder, Recipe Developer, Photographer, Food Stylist, Writer, and Publisher of My Halal Kitchen. My passion is researching and writing about healthy food, all-natural ways of living, growing food, and traveling to places where I love to explore these topics. That’s mostly what you’ll find here from me. I like to also keep up to date on Halal food industry topics so you may find information here that I feel is useful for you as a consumer and home or professional cook,
I received my formal education from Ohio University (Athens, Ohio) where I got my Bachelor’s degree (BA) in Latin American Studies & Spanish and my Master’s degree (MA) in International Development also from Ohio University. All of my culinary skills and techniques come from taking courses, reading books, watching videos, attending conferences and traveling the globe to talk to people about how they cook their traditional recipes. The last one is my personal favorite.
So how did this all start?
I’m from a small town in Ohio (Midwest of the United States). I had a wholesome upbringing in a place where the people were nice, the surrounding was safe and peaceful and the schools fantastic. It shaped everything about the person I am today because it was the launching pad I needed to go forward in life to set off satisfying all of my curiosities about the world.
I was raised visiting farms on the outskirts of my small-town. Every week my parents would visit the local flea market where we could directly interact with Amish farmers or other local producers about their farm stand produce and hand-crafted goods. School trips and family outings involved things like hay rides, visits to apple orchards, pumpkin patches and summer strawberry picking, all of which are memories I cherish deeply and one of the reasons why the Fall and Spring are my absolute favorite seasons of the year.
Because I’m also half Sicilian and half Puerto-Rican, I was super fortunate to have grown up eating some really amazing food. My Sicilian grandparents had Sunday suppers for the entire family: pasta with meatballs, lasagna, homemade sauce, homemade bread, homemade pizza and so much more with every meal ending with an espresso and some sort of biscotti. It was all a part of the culinary experience of my youth and something I deemed normal in the culinary sense; on my Puerto Rican side, the traditional meals consisted of arroz con pollo y gandules (rice with chicken and beans), pasteles (banana-leaf wrapped tamales), and all sorts of Caribbean-style sweets made with guava, mango, coconut and pineapple. I still have visions of my grandmothers cooking and nurturing our family with the things that were traditional to them.
A trip to Sicily when I graduated from high school changed everything about how I viewed food, cooking and living. I experienced how to shop, select, cook and savor the freshest ingredients one could possibly put on the table. My aunt showed me around the markets of my family’s seaside home town in a small village outside of Catania, Sicily. I tasted fruits, veggies, meats and fish that I had never imagined would taste so good; and family meals around the table took on a whole new meaning. I was never the same after returning. I also never returned to yo-yo dieting or eating processed foods; instead I began to learn to make things from scratch
It’s no wonder I grew a burning desire to hold on to the culinary tradition in which I grew up. As I got older and started to shop for food on my own, I saw so much more of the not-so-real stuff and much less time to do the same things our mothers, aunts and grandmothers did. It felt as though traditions were fading fast.
During and after university, I lived all over the U.S. and traveled the world for studies and leisure: Mexico, the Caribbean, France, England, Switzerland, Morocco, Spain, Greece and all of Italy. I couldn’t get enough of learning about how people around the world cooked and lived and enjoyed the freshest and most local ingredients on hand. I talked to everyone I could about how to prepare food from scratch and why they used certain cooking methods over others. I gathered recipe from home cooks around the globe and have incorporated much of that into my home cooking, and much of what I hope to teach through my work in My Halal Kitchen.
During a trip to Morocco in 1995, my interest in Islam was piqued when I had my first encounter with Muslims that included my first view of a mosque, and my first experience hearing the adhan (call to prayer), which I feel immediately penetrated my heart. I later met many Muslims from around the globe while studying at university, all of whom were integral to my understanding of the beauty of Islam and the true meaning of Halal, as well as the multitude of ways in which it is expressed in the culinary traditions of Muslims around the globe from Malaysia to Palestine to Turkey to Saudi Arabia. I had the best teachers guiding me to a path I never expected I would be so honored and blessed to be on, the one here…
It’s an honor and a blessing to be able to spend my life’s work as a Teacher of Culinary Arts in a Halal Context. I’m passionate about wholesome food, nutrition, gardening, homemaking and learning about fascinating culinary traditions of people all over the globe. I love real food and am concerned about the current state of our food industry and other factors that jeopardize our food freedom and fair and equal access to healthy food for everyone. It helps that I love to cook, I love to be in my kitchen or garden, and I love to travel and cook and garden anywhere else in the world, too. I could literally cook and discuss food and everything that surrounds the topic all day long.
To combine my academic background with my current work, I’m interested in culinary diplomacy as a way forward.
I’m always scoping out food and products that are natural, organic, pure, halal, raised humanely, sourced ethically and brought to market without poisonous toxins and chemicals. Unfortunately, that’s not always an easy thing to do, but it is getting easier as more great companies produce wonderful products for our global marketplace.
My hope is that on this website you’ll find something of interest, inspiration and, of course, good to eat. If you’d like to contact me directly, please go to this page.
If you’d like to cook from either of my two cookbooks, you can find them both on Amazon: My Halal Kitchen and Summer Ramadan Cooking are both available in print and digital formats.
I am a journalist based in South Africa, I work at an Islamic radio station and I would love to chat to you.
Subhanallah, salam Ramadhan Al Mubarak. I am so glad reading your articles, recipes, living etc and anything in here are so informative and usefull. You are gifted by Allah for all this and wish you the best and may Allah granted you rahmah and barakah. I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and looking forward for all your new ideas for halal food and spreading the beauty of Islam to the world. Allah bless you always.
Asalamoalaikum Yvonne! Thank you for this wonderful website! I am going to share it with my entire family inshAllah. You have opened up a resource to halal loving home chefs that I cannot possibly begin to thank you enough for! There are so many Italian, Puerto Rican and South American recipes that I have wanted to try, and with the knowledge you offer here I can finally begin to indulge in my love of cooking again. Wishing you and your family all the best, and may Allah (swt) fill your life with his Barakah.
Hope you are well ان شا ءالله. Any tips on baking wholesome healthy, different kinds of breads st home. Was hoping to open a small deli, cafe with these kind of breads and foods, any advise.
Look forward to your valued advise….
Assalamualaikum wr. wb. Yvonne.
Ahmad Rizudin, from Malaysia, HERE! 🙂
Came across your site while searching for information about vinegar. More specifically, how to produce it.
My actual aim is to figure out how to produce some mustard, without having to rely on wine to make it. Apparently, when it comes to making Dijon mustard, some element of alcohol is required, notably that of white wine. Do you happen to have a recipe for making such mustard that can be made relatively easily?
I mean, I was thinking that I needed to produce the white wine vinegar first before I could even use it to make my mustard. Yes, the Internet has a tendency to over-complicate things for me. ^_^;;
Would you also happen to have a recipe (or two) for making any basic condiments like mayonnaise or salad dressing, or the like? You know, the sort of stuff that goes into the more satisfying (and occasionally, the “I can’t believe it’s NOT fast food!” fast food, made at home) dishes?
I’d really like to know, because here in Malaysia, prices have been going up lately, and if it’s possible to learn how to make some basic items for future use, it would help me immensely.
Mayonnaise is easy. Put egg yolks in a blender (or you can use whisk if you have lots of energy), turn it on, and SLOWLY drizzle olive oil while it’s running. Continue until desired consistency is reached. Add salt & paprika to taste. Store refrigerated.
Salam im randa 32 year sold iwent learn how cook different foods like middle east food and british foods ilook for ward to hear from you
Tonight I made your Hearty Chicken and Zucchini soup. My family loved it. This recipe was fantastic! I posted it on Instagram, with your recipe and website link! @jesyka_rachel
I used homegrown zucchini from my own garden. I had to make my own broth and base, but for the rest, it was fabulous.
Thank you for your hard work in the kitchen. I have subscribed and I will continue to try your recipes to entertain the neighborhood.
– Jesyka Rachel