Baklava…and pictures from our cooking day for the Rhodesli Luncheon

What a joy it was, being with some of my favorite people at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Los Angeles as we prepared for our Rhodesli Luncheon. Spending many hours on their feet, this group came, recipes in hand, ready to prepare our traditional dishes with love. All were willing to share their recipes, techniques and ideas, and encouraged others to participate and learn. Their time and effort is greatly appreciated…..and the love came through in the delicious foods they prepared and served at the luncheon!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Baklava is a sweet pastry made of layers of Filo dough filled with chopped nuts and bathed in a sweet syrup. It is labeled as a Turkish, Greek or any of a variety of Middle Eastern delicacy. Our families made it on the Island of Rhodes, so we claim it as our own.

There are many variation in making Baklava. Different communities feature different nut mixtures and dIfferent configurations when baking. My mom makes a rolled variety. Here is her recipe:

Kaye Hasson Israel makes Baklava


1 Lb prepared FIlo Dough
5 Cups almonds, ground (or other nuts of your choosing)
1 C Sugar
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 C oil in a small bowl.
1/2 C Tasted Sesame Seeds (optional)

Prepare a mixture using ground nuts, sugar, cinnamon and gloves. Set aside.

Open package of Filo. Keep moist and usable by placing a moist cloth over the waxed paper covered batch of Filo that you are not currently using ( otherwise, Filo has a tendency to dry out).

Place one layer of Filo on your work surface. Brush with oil. Place a second layer of Filo directly on top. Brush second layer with oil.

Sprinkle nut mixture in a thin, even layer on brushed Filo. Top with one additional sheet of Filo. Brush with oil.

Begin to roll Filo tightly. Slice rolled Filo log at a diagonal. Cut approximately 1 inch in length. Place cut pieces on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes (Since ovens vary, watch as it bakes…when it begins to take on color, you can remove from the oven)

Allow to cool.

In the meantime, prepare syrup.

Syrup ingredients:

1 1/2 C Honey
1 1/2 C Sugar
1 C Water

Combine all ingredients. Boil on stove. Cook until it becomes “sticky” (if you have a cooled bit between your fingers, it should form “strings”)

When syrup is ready, pour over tray of baked Baklava. Allow syrup to soak in.

For serving, “soaked” piece of Baklava can be placed in size-to-fit paper Bake Cups (often called Cupcake liners) and placed on a serving platter.


My good friend, Linda Capeloto Sendowski, in addition to being one of the most fun and positive people I know, is a veteran gourmet food blogger. She has published a video of my mom making Baklava as well as a few photos of our cooking day on her blog, The Boreka Diary. Check her blog often…. she is a wonderfully creative cook!

Aron Hasson has also published some pctures on the Rhodes Jewish Museum site. Another fun site to browse!!!

Enjoy visiting our sites….tell us about your cooking adventures.

Bendichas Manos!!!!

Fasulia (Green Beans a la Turka) {with added video!!}

For our last Rhodesli luncheon, we decided to have a homemade meal, “comida di casa”. Cooking for our families…we can do. Cooking for extended family gatherings, o.k. Cooking for a group of 100 (turned out to be 118)……a bit of a challenge!!!! However, an incredible group of volunteers made the arrangements, purchased and carted all the necessary ingredients, brought their recipes and energy and spent the day(s) in the Sisterhood Kitchen of STTI and got the job done!!!

Morrie Y. Angel made Fasulia (green beans) for us!

Here he shares his ingredients list and recipes:

(Green Beans a la Turka)

3 – 4 lbs Fresh Green Beans
2 Onions, peeled and chopped
2 Tblsp Olive Oil
2 Cans ( 14.5 oz size) Diced Tomatoes (Morrie prefers Fire Roasted)
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tblsp Sugar
1 Small Can Tomato Sauce
Mrs. Dash Seasoning, to taste

Wash and cut tips off green beans. If bean seems too long, cut in half.
Saute chopped onions in 2 tblsp oil, until translucent.
Add two cans of diced tomatoes, juice of 1 lemon and 1 tblsp of sugar. Add Mrs. Dash’s Seasoning, to taste.
Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.

Add string beans to simmering sauce. Coat beans, bringing sauce up from bottom of pan. Add 1 small can of tomato sauce, for more “caldo” (sauce). Cook over medium heat for 1 hr, turning and basting every 15 minutes.

(editors note: Green beans were crisp, flavorful and excellent!!!!!!)

Rhodesli Luncheon….Sunday, October 24, 2010

How absolutely fortunate we are to have the chance to be together and enjoy each others company!!!   We, Rhodeslis, whose parents, grandparents, or great grandparents hailed from the Island of Rhodes….. eventually landing in Southern California.   So many of those early immigrants settled and raised their families in the L.A. area, near 55th and Hoover, where our community synagogue, Ohel Avraham, was built.
The next generation moved to all parts north and south to raise their families, post WWII, and still we stayed connected, through familial and community ties.  We stayed connected even when we didn’t have a synagogue center, holding High Holiday services at the rented YMCA building on Santa Rosalia in Baldwin Hills. Eventually we built our Sephardic Hebrew Center near Slauson and La Cienega. Through all the years we gathered for picnics, social events, beach parties, always enjoying each others company and our shared history and heritage. Our social gatherings were legendary: Luaus, Mediterrean Nights, Fideo Rodeos…..what great memories we have!   Ultimately, we merged with our friends at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel on Wilshire Blvd in Westwood.   And as we share our traditions with the greater Sephardic and Jewish communities, we still enjoy those occasions when we gather together, Rhodeslis, to share that connection that is uniquely ours.  How very blesesd we are!!
Some photos and videos from our gathering.  Please pass this site around to those who may not receive Bendichas Manos yet.  All are invited to subscribe (free of charge!) and receive updates as they appear.   Stayed tunes this week for recipes of the goodies served at this luncheon!!!
A great time!  Sincere thanks to all who worked to plan and create this event and to all the cooks who lovingly prepared the lunch – Bendichas Manos!!!!



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pastelles (Pastelicos)…..Savory Meat Pies (updated with “how to” video)

Pastelles (Pastelicos)

Savory Meat Pies

Beautiful to behold – a delectably delightful treat!  Something special to add to a Meze (appetizer), or as part of a special meal!
My boys grew up enjoying the treat of their grandmother’s pastelicos.  I remember my mom taking them out of the oven and onto the “Bancu” (countertop) to cool. My two sons, playing that day with their cousins of similar ages, stopped by the kitchen a dozen times that afternoon….walking out with a fresh and warm pastelico each time!!!!  As my mom recalls, “a grandmothers true joy!”, seeing them enjoying the labor of her heart and hands!!!!
Pastelicos are made from the same dough as burekas ( a great dough to use for an All-American pie, as well!!)
When baking with my mom, we make the “conduchu” (filling) first.
Ingredients for Meat Filling
2 onions, peeled and diced
2 lbs ground beef
5 tsp tomatoe sauce
a dash of cayenne pepper (or pepper flakes) and garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 C rice
1 egg
1/2 C chopped parsley
Parboil rice. To do so, bring 3/4 C water to a boil.  Add 1/4 C rinsed rice.  Cook covered on stove approximately 10 minutes on low/simmer heat.  Rice should be only partially cooked.
Next, in a large skillet (or electric frying pan) saute diced onions, using 3 -4 Tblsp of oil.
Add 2 lbs of ground beef and brown.  Add tomato sauce and spices, Add parboiled rice, followed by chopped parsley.  Add 1/4 C of water to mixture.   Cover and cook on medium heat until all water is absorbed. Add egg to mixture to bind.  Should take approximately 35-40 minutes to cook.
While cooking, begin making dough.
Ingredients for Dough ( to make pastelicos and burekas)
3 C Ice water
2 1/2 C oil
1 tsp salt
10 – 12 C flour
Put ice in measuring cup and ice water to 3 cups.
Add  oil and salt.
Incorporate flour into dough as you add it.  (Ice cubes will melt and/or will “pop up” and you will remove as dough is mixed.)
Once dough is ready, prepare balls the size of an apricot for the “cup”, and a ball the size of a walnut for the “hat”.
Using your thumb, open the “cup”. Fill with a scoop of the meat mixture.  Take a walnut sized ball and dip it in a bowl of sesame seeds, then flatten. Place on top of the filled “cup” (sesame seed side facing out).  Crimp close the edges.  Place in a cupcake tin. (helps pastelicos keep their shape). Brush with an egg wash (beat an egg with a few drops of water).
Place in oven at 350 degrees,
Keep on lower shelf until bottom begins to turn color (golden)….about 20-25 minutes.  {this will depend on your particular oven.  Check a few times first time to be sure}.
Move to top shelf until tops are a gold color.
Pastelicos are delicious right out of the oven! (after a few minutes of cooling).  They freeze well.  Pack in airtight freezer bags or boxes.   To enjoy from the freezer, defrost (or zap in the microwave) and reheat at 350 degrees in the oven.
Enjoy!!   Bendichas Manos!!!