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Cook with your heart

Michelle Bernstein,

celebrity chef

Q: My fiancé is Cuban American (Jewish Cuban American, to be exact) and I'm an old-fashioned Italian girl who loves pasta, soups and traditional dishes. I want to surprise my future in-laws with an amazing meal. Help!

A: It's kinda funny, I always thought the Jews and the Italians were so incredibly similar! Especially in the way we respect and love food. Growing up in a Latin-Jewish home, all conversations, good and bad, were at the dinner table. To this day, when someone needs help, or friends or co-workers visit, some type of food is served.

I always tell people, cook what is in your heart. Cook what you know best. Cook what you love! Latins love flavor, Italians love good products, Jews love family and tradition. Cook your favorite pastas; duck, chicken or turkey sausages (no pork!) are delicious with peppers and onions. Big salads are always a huge score. Cornish hens marinated in mojo with creamy rice, grilled meats with roasted vegetables and soups are awesome. Who doesn't love chicken soup? Just add some noodles, lime juice and float a jalapeño in it.

Don't be scared or the food will feel it. Don't cook with your hands; cook with your heart and they will adore you even more than the food. Bon Appetit!

Michelle Bernstein will appear at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Feb. 23 and Feb. 25.

Coming Feb. 14: Celeb mixologist Tony Abou Ganim on stocking your home bar.