A fun cooking and baking week for me!  Monday I had the pleasure of being at Sephardic Temple working with a delightful group of ladies as they prepared for the Sephardic Food Festival this Sunday ( at STTI, doors open at 3 p.m.!)  I look forward to sharing some of their recipes next week.

On Thursday, while at the market, I found some beautiful eggplants…..just looking to be made into a “conduchu” (filling) for “Burekas de Berengina” ( eggplant filled turnovers).  SO…I brought them home.    I called my mom on Friday morning to see if she would come spend the day baking with me.  When she said yes, I asked if we could tackle “Boyos de spinaka” ( pronounced “Boyus” by Rhodeslis!) (individual spinach/cheese pies).  She said yes and reviewed with me the ingredients we would need.  I ran to the market, stopped to pick up my mom, and our day of baking began!!!

While I began slicing, dicing and preparing the filling for the burekas, my mom began the dough for the boyos.

Just so you know…..we ultimately made a full recipe of boyos ( 45), a recipe of burekas (84), then decided that we would have dinner together….maybe some fried fish and “agrestada” ( a divine lemon sauce for fried fish)….which definitely requires homemade “panizicos” (bread) for “untaring” ( dipping and scooping) the “agrestada”….so we made a recipe of “pan de casa” (homemade bread), too!!!   With all this good food, we invited some guests and enjoyed the evening!! For today, we’ll share the recipe and method for making Boyos de Spinaka.

Let us know what you think!!!  Your comments, aside from offering us feedback, will let us know what other recipes to tackle and provide an interactive forum for your ideas, recollections, and thoughts!  We look forward to hearing from you!

Boyos de Spinaka

An absolute all-time favorite in any Rhodesli household, these individual spinach pies ( a description that never quite does them justice!!), are distinguished by their flaky dough and savory filling.  The following rhyme, penned by my dad, Jack Israel, some 50 years ago, seems to say it well:

“O, Boyo, hear my anxious plea, that I might taste your savory cheese,

with spinach and dough in it’s flaky form, and a delightful aroma when you are warm,

O Boyo, please reveal yourself, so I might find you on our grocer’s shelf!”

Kaye Israel’s Method for Boyos de Spinaka

Ingredients for filling:

Fresh spinach

(large bag, 2.5 lbs, works well)

wash spinach, cut and DRY WELL

sprinkle with salt (1 tblsp)

add 3 – 4 C grated cheese

mix cheese and spinach well during process of filling boyos ( cheese will often settle to bottom of bowl).

Ingredients for dough:

4 C water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

8+/- flour

1 tsp salt

Begin by proofing your yeast:  combine 1/2 C water (tepid, lukewarm), 1 tsp dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes, making sure it foams.

Using an electric mixer outfitted with a dough hook:

in mixing bowl ad 3 1/2 C water (tepid, lukewarm), add yeast mixture, and salt. Turn mixer on low as you begin adding flour, 1 cup at a time. After all flour is incorporated into dough, mix on medium, until dough begins pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  Looking for a smooth, soft dough – one that does not stick to your hands.  Key is using as little flour as possible to achieve this consistency.  Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface.

Work into a smooth dough.  Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap.  Spray plastic wrap with a cooking spray so it will not stick to the dough. Tuck plastic wrap around dough….nice and snug.

Cover with a towel and place dough in a place with no draft ( a cold oven works well). Allow dough to rise for 20 minutes.

After the dough has risen, return to your work area.  Prepare a “marina” ( baking pan) or a baking sheet with sides by adding approx. 1/4″ of oil to bottom of pan.  Make dough balls ( approx 1 1/2″ in diameter- see video). Roll them on your work surface so they are smooth. Place in oil on baking pan.  Turn them so all surface of ball are cover in oil.  Continue making all dough balls. (will likely require more than one baking pan).

If working solo, it will likely take 20-30 minutes to prepare the dough.  This will allow the first balls made to have a chance to sit and  “rest” and become ready to open.  Begin opening the dough that was rolled and placed in the oil first.

On your work surface, open your dough.  The goal is to open the dough as flat, thin and large as possible, WITHOUT making any holes in the dough.  This is best accomplishes using a small rolling pin.  My cousin Sarita recently found a great one for this purpose online from Pampered Chef.  You might want to check it out:

Once your dough is opened, place a hand full of your prepared spinach and cheese in the middle of the dough.  Roll it like a jelly roll.  Coil the roll, as in the video.  Place on your baking sheet.  Repeat, making all your boyos.  Paint with an egg wash ( 1 beaten egg with 2 tsp of water added).  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Watch  oven until boyos are a golden brown ( about 15 minutes).   Remove from oven.   (Take a bite of one…and know divine flavor!!!!)

**Once cool, boyos freeze well.   ***To enjoy from freezer, remove from freezer and allow to sit for about 30 minutes, then reheat in a 300 degree oven.  Can defrost for 30 seconds in microwave before placing in 300 degree oven or toaster oven.  DO NOT REHEAT  IN MICROWAVE !!!  (This will result in a soggy boyo….the beauty of a boyo is the crisp, flaky dough!!!!)

Bendichas Manos!!!!!

Food Festival, new Ladino music CD….

A reminder about the Sephardic Food Festival taking place next Sunday, January 31, 2010 at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel.  Culinary treats in the Sephardic tradition from Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Rhodes, Salonika, and Turkey…..(all under Rabbinical supervision).    $25/person   It is always a fun day to eat, visit and echar lashon!!!   (catch up on the news of the day!)

Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel

10500 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, CA

Doors open at 3 p.m

for more information:  STTI   310-475-7000   or check this link:

New Music CD

One of my favorite Hazzans is Isaac Azose, Hazzan Emeritus of the Ezra Bessaroth Congregation in Seattle, Washgington. He has recorded a new CD of Sephardic Romansas and folksongs titled “Ladino Reflections”.

Two discs, with a total of 34 songs, including:  Pasharo D’ermozura, Durme Durme, Morenika, La Vida Do Por El Raki…a virtual hit parade of Sephardic favorites!!!    ( I know…you’re beginning to hum each song as you read the titles!!)   I’ve order a few copies…..perhaps you will, too!!!

Order today from his website:


Tomorrow, we begin cooking at STTI for the Sepahrdic Food Festival next Sunday.  Looking forward to posting recipes and step-by-step guides from our master chefs!!!!

Thanks for your comments on the blog.  Please pass it along and remember to subscribe ( see box at right of this post).  You will receive an e-mail when new enteries are posted.

Wishes for a good week…semana buena!!!

Rhodes Jewish Museum

Check out the website for the Rhodes Jewish Museum!  Thanks to Aron Hasson for a wonderful site and great memories!!!!

The “audios” section is priceless…from Morris Mizrahi blowing the shofar, the Nehila pray chanted by Heskia and Vida Franco, to the Passover Seder recoring by an “all star cast”….  each and every recording is a treasure, and they make my spirit soar each time I hear them.  Take a listen!

Rhodesli Luncheon, January 19, 2010

What fun to share time with people with whom we share a history, a culture and life long relationships !!!

Rain or shine ( and today, it was RAIN !!!!) we love being together!  Today we met at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, CA for lunch and lashon. Thanks to Ed and Sue Mizrahi for arranging the day at El Cab, and to organizers Sally Mann, Shirlee and Dave Peha and Peggy Scapa for keeping the Rhodesli group organized.

Some snapshots from today’s outing!

Be sure to subscribe to this blog, Bendichos Manos, to keep up to date on Sephardic cooking, music, updates and happenings!!!  (see box to the right…whenever a new update is posted, you will get a notice sent to your e-mail!)

Love your comments.  Let us know what you think!

Sephardic Food Festival

We invite you to join us on Sunday, January 31, 2010
Sephardic Food Festival
Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel
10500 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood
Doors open at 3 p.m.

Music, food, dancing and fun!
taste of traditions and cultures featuring foods from:
*all foods Kosher, under rabbinical supervision

(includes 5 tickets for food)

Looking forward to having you join us! See you there!!!!

Chicken Keftes

One of the great Sephardic comfort meals is “keftes con arroz”…Sephardic meatballs and rice.  We grew up on this meal made with ground beef.  Today, my family prefers chicken keftes. These light, juicy meatballs in the most flavorful and savory of sauces is wonderful served on Sephardic rice!

I use a recipe passed on to me by my cooking collaborator and “kosher cooking cousin” Sarita Hasson Fields.  It come from an original collection of recipes by Joseph N. Benon of Beverly Hills.  Joe is the producer of a series of videos that takes you step by step through a series of Sepahrdic cooking demonstrations.  His DVD’s and videos are available by contacting the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Los Angeles at 310-475-7311.

Try this recipe and tell me what you think!!

Chicken Keftes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

2 – 8 oz cans of tomato sauce

6-8 cans of water

6 – 10 cloves of crushed/ground garlic

juice from 2 lemons

salt and white pepper

1+ heaping tsp chicken seasoning

1+ heaping tsp  sugar

Combine all ingredients in large pot and cook on low flame on stove for one hour

Ingredients for Keftes:

2 lbs ground chicken ( recommend 1 lb dark meat and 1 lb white meat)

4-5 garlic cloves crushed/ground

juice from 2 lemons

1 cup + bread crumbs

1 cup parsley  ( I often substitute cilantro)

2 -3 eggs  ( + an additional 2 -3 eggs for egg bath before browning)

(I add a pinch of red pepper flakes )

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Prepare a pyrex baking dish ( “marina”) with 1/4 C of flour, salt and white pepper (to taste)  mixed together on bottom of dish.  Use a small scoop to make  chicken meatballs and place them in flour lined baking dish. Turn them over so they are “floured” on both sides.

Prepare a saute or frypan with approx 4 tblsps of olive oil.  Take each floured meatball, dip in egg to coat on each side.  Lightly brown on each side in olive oil. Take from pan, drain oil and put into pot of mild boiling sauce.  Repeat until all chicken patties are in sauce.  Continue cooking on low an additional 45 minutes.

Prepare your rice. I have always had difficulty with rice.  I either open the lid too often to check it while cooking it on the stovetop, or leave it too long and burn it!  My mom’s ( Kaye Hasson Israel) method for oven cooked rice works perfectly for me each time!!

Sephardic Rice

preheat oven to 350 degrees


1 1/3 C water

3 tblsps tomato sauce



2 tsp olive oil

1 C rice

Combine water, tomato sauce, S & P and olive oil in a oven proof pan with a lid.  Bring to a boil.  Rinse rice.  When water comes to a boil, add rice.  Bring again to a light boil, stirring occasionally.  Put lid on pan and transfer to a preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for approximately 30 – 40 minutes ( or until all liquid is absorbed).  Perfect every time!!!!

Serve rice, topped with several keftes and generous amounts of “kaldu” (sauce).  Wonderful with a salad dressed with light oil and fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper.   Comfort food at it’s best!!! Enjoy!!!!!

Ladino/Sephardic Songs and Culture

If you are on Facebook, visit the page:

Ladino/Sephardic Songs and Culture.  They post some wonderful links!

If you are not on Facebook, check out the following two links of songs sung by Berta Bienvenida Aguado.  Her style takes me back to the days of my grandmother!  Let me know what you think!

Visit "the Boreka Diary", a blog by Linda Capuloto Sendowski…

One of my favorite food blogs is “The Boreka Diary”, produced by chef and culinary writer extraordinaire, Linda Capeloto Sendowski. Linda is a creative cook, for years taking the finest of gourmet recipes and adapting them for the Kosher kitchen, and taking comfort foods from days gone by and updating them for today’s palette. She is also a dear friend and an incredible inspiration in the art of living!!! You can now subscribe to her blog so that you will receive notification of new recipes as they are posted. Check it out:

(make sure you check out her recipe for BBQ steak….the rub she developed make the MOST flavorful steak we’ve ever enjoyed!!!)