Passover Concludes and A Recipe for “Ahashu”

Passover 2011 is behind us! We marked the conclusion of the holiday in the tradition of the Jewish community of Rhodes with a picnic at Lake Balboa, as planned by Sue (di Edward) Mizrahi. “Tradition tells us”, said Sue, “that our families in Rhodes would conclude Pesah with a picnic at Zimbouli (Rhodini) Park. On their return to the Juderia, they would pick sprays of greenery and spring blossoms to decorate every room in the house. Bunches of willows would be displayed to indicate that Pesah had ended and that the home could be restocked with leavened foods. Time for borekas again!!!” So, together with a group of family and friends, we enjoyed the beautiful spring evening in the San Fernando Valley and and concluded our celebration of Pesah!

Now, what to do with the matzah that might be still be in our kitchens? After eight days, it is hard to contemplate another meal with the flat bread. My mom mentioned Ahashu, a caramelized confection that brings memories of a time gone by. And then Howard Franco mentioned it in a note today. SO….it’s time to post the recipe my mom uses for Ahashu, a treat, indeed…..and a great use of that left over matzah!!


1 c. water
3 c. farfel or 4 chopped matzah
1/2. tsp. ginger
1 c. sugar
1 c. chopped nuts, toasted
1/2 c. honey

Toast farfel or matzah lightly in oven. Cook sugar, honey and water until sticky. Add matzah and let cook over medium heat 5 minutes while stirring. Add ginger and nuts. Spread in flat Pyrex dish; spoon into pastry cups. Enjoy!

From NY…..a Rhodesli Seder

Thanks to Howie Franco for posting this clip of their family Pesah Seder in New York. Howie leads the Seder with his cousin Richard Franco (thanks to Sally Mann and Rae Cohen for sharing the clips!)

I love the telling of the story…..”este es el pan di afision…..” My father, Jack Israel, started reading this in Ladino during our Seders some thirty years ago. He remembered the sound of HIS father, David Liezer Israel (z’l) {hijo di Yaaco Pasha} reading it during the Seders while my dad was growing up in Seattle. Since then, several of my cousins, our children and I have begun learning the traditional Ladino rendition. L’dor v’dor…from generation to generation…..we keep our traditions alive!!

I’ve copied the words from the ‘Agada de Pesah’ (according to the customs and traditions of the Seattle Sephardic Community), edited by Isaac Azose, August 2004. Watch the clip from the Franco Seder and read along:

“Esta es el pan de la afri-ision ke komieron muestros padres en tierra de Ayifto. Todo el ken tiene ambre venga i koma; todo el ken tiene de menester venga i paskue. Este anyo aki, a el anyo el vinien en tierra de Yisrael. Este anyo aki, siervos, a el anyo el vinien en tierra de Yisrael ijos foros.”

“This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat of it; all in need come and celebrate. This year we observe it here; next year may we be in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves in exile; next year may we be free men in the land of Israel.”

Thank you to the Franco family! Record and share your family memories….with your families and with us. Together, we can keep our memories and our traditions alive!

“Bendichas Manos!”

Some final Pesah recipes, links and “The Blessing of Bibhilu”

A final post before Pesah. First, some links for desserts for your Seders or for during the week. Our previous posts for “marochinos” (almond macaroons), “mustachudos” (nut confections), “masa di vino” (wine cookies) and “ashuplados” (merguines), are always winners!! This year, as well, I want to share with you some great finds from some of the favorite blogs I follow.

I’m looking forward to trying this “Passover Raspberry or Strawberry Tart” by Jamie Doueck, posted on ‘The Jewish Hostess’. Also, “Matzah Toffee with Almonds”, posted on ‘Serious Eats‘ looks delicious and divine!! As always, my friends, Linda Capeloto Sendowski, is always cooking up something fun and special at ‘the Boreka Diary’ Finally, from ‘the Jew and the carrot’, a compendium of great Passover recipes from some of the best the web has to offer. Take a look and see what’s going on in the world of Passover food bloggers!!

One more tradition for Passover to mention again. My cousin Avi Abikzer, whose family is from Morocco, introduced the tradition of lifting the Seder plate above the heads of each family and reciting a blessing called ‘Bibhilu‘…. “Bibhilu yatzanu mi’mitzrayim” (in haste we came out of Egypt). {in this clip, Avi and Leah’s son, Evan, passes the plate over the heads of the guests as his father recites the Bibhilu blessing}

At synagogue yesterday, a friend asked if we have this custom, and I responded that it was introduced to us and we adopted it. She told me that they do it at her Seder table as her husband’s family came from Turkey, and it was their custom there.

A few years back Rabbi Daniel Bouskila wrote a story which appeared in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal titled “The Blessing of Bibhilu“. Perhaps it is a tradition you might choose to bring to your table.

Wishing you a joyful and meaningful Pesah, and good times with family and friends!

~”Bendichas Manos!”

Passover Megina (meat quajado)

One of the staples of our seder meal is a Megina, sometmes refered to as “mina”, or a “meat quajado”. My mom’s is made with crumbled matzah mixed in giving it a quajado like consistency once cooked, and able to be cut into and served in squares. The “mina” version is often made with layers of soaked and softened matzahs and constructed more like a meat lasagna. I am sharing the recipe as my mom makes it for our family and as she has taught it in community cooking classes. This is one of those dishes you can customize to your liking, adding different spices for a differnt flair ( think cumin or ‘ras el hanut’ or even cilantro instead of parsley, to name a few). This version is made with ground beef, although ground turkey could be substituted. Let us know what you think!

My Mom’s (Kaye Israel) Recipe for Passover “Megina” (meat casserole) {sometimes called Quajado de Carne or Mina}

2 C chopped onions
2 lbs ground meat
2 tblsp oil
1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
1 tblsp salt
1/4 c parsley, chopped
10 eggs
1 C farfel (soaked in warm water, and squeezed dry) or 4 sheets matzah (soaked in warm water, squeezed dry and crumbled)
touch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Brown meat with onions in oil; transfer to bowl and allow to cool. Add salt, pepper, parsley and farfel (or matzah). Add 2 beaten eggs at a time until 8 eggs are mixed in.

Grease 9 x 13 inch pan (pyrex type) and heat in oven for 2 – 3 minutes. Pour mixture into pan. Spread remaining 2 beaten eggs to top of mix. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve. Delish!!!!

As with all things Passover…..enjoy the opportunity to be with family and friends. Document your family recipes and traditions, cook together, enjoy the time. With each dish we serve and each traditional song we sing, we recall lovingly those family members who are no longer with us, whose recipes and memories are present at our table, and whose names we mention at various time throughout the evening (and throughout our many family gatherings).

As we retell the Passover story, so too, we retell our family stories. I love the fact that our sons, aged 19 and 23, “know” and talk about family members, several who passed away years before the boys were born…..but whose life lessons and stories are still very much a part of our family gatherings. Memories live on!

We would love to share some of your family stories with “Bendichas Manos” readers…..please feel free to send them on to us! Most important, share them at your seders. This keeps our histories and our stories alive!

~”Bendichas Manos”

Our Family’s Haroset

My cousin Sarita (Hasson Fields) is a great cook! She has learned our traditional family recipes and often adds a new and novel twist to update a dish and make it her own. She just finished making Haroset for our family Seder……a gathering of about 35+ at our cousin Leon’s home this year.

I always enjoy cooking with Sarita. On occasion, we’ve cooked with my mom and pass the time telling family stories of days gone by, reflecting, remembering and laughing. At times, she and I have cooked and try adapting recipes…..sometimes more successfully than others! Always a good time together. I wish we lived closer…especially when she was cooking today, so I could have filmed and photographed her making the Haroset.

Here is her recipe for Rhodesli Haroset, as made by her mom, Belina Beton Hasson (z’l) {*similar to the recipe in the Atlanta Sephardic Sisterhood Cookbook)…..for 35 people (with leftovers, for the many who like to take some home, and spread it on matzah for a treat!!) You can cut it in half ( or quarter), depending on the size of your crowd.

50 – 60 oz pitted dates
10 large red apples peeled and chopped
5 – 6 C finely chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts)
1 1/2 C sweet red wine
1/2 C white vinegar

Place apples and dates in a pot and cover with water. Cook until soft. Drain and let cool a bit. Place apple/date mixture in food processor and puree, a batch at a time. Add wine to mixture. Add chopped nuts. Add vinegar.
(Sarita’s note…..mixture should not be watery. If it is, add more nuts; if it seems too hard, add more wine.)

It is definitely delicious. Give it a try…..and let us know what you think! “Bendichas Manos”!

Keftes di Prassa con Carne AND an Egyptian Leek Mina

I posted the recipe for Kefte di Prassa (leek patties) earlier this week. The recipe is as my mom has made them for all the years I can remember. Morrie Y. Angel has asked for a recipe that includes meat. Although we’ve never made them this way, I recall a year that Lenora (di Morris) Mizrahi (z’l) made them with meat and brought them to our Seder. I called her daughter, June Grossman, to see if she could share the recipe. She referred me to her sister-in-law, Sue (di Edward) MIzrahi. Sue took out her cookbook, and found the recipe (“handwritten on a gin rummy score sheet of Morris and Lenora…. incidentally Lenora won that particular nightly game by 36 points”). These are family heirlooms! Here is Lenora Mizrahi’s recipe for Keftes di Prassa con Carne as shared by Sue:

10 medium leeks
2 large potatoes boiled and mashed (approximate 1 cup)
1 lb ground beef
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp salt
pepper (to taste)
1 tbs chopped parsley

oil for frying

Soak and clean leeks well. Cut leeks into 1/4 inch pieces and boil in water until soft. Boil potaoes until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Add leeks and mashed potatoes and mix well with ground beef. Add eggs, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Form into patties. Fry until golden brown. Remove from frying pan onto absorbent paper towels (on top of brown paper bags).
Can be frozen and then reheated.

*MW: I asked Sue how long she warmed them when removing from the freezer. She responded: “When I would ask Madre how long to cook them she would say…”Ija, you’ll know,” but I don’t…I just guess each time and hope for the best!!!”

A great recipe….and memories of a great lady!!! Thanks, Sue, for sharing the recipe (and stories!).


In addition, I am linking a blog I enjoy called “the carrot and the jew”. There was a posting this week by Elizabeth Alpern where she writes about an ‘Egyptian Leek Mina’, a variation on our Pesah megina. Looks yummy! Check it out and perhaps, try something new this year!

Lots of cooking going on! Enjoy. “Bendichas Manos!”

Ashuplados (meringues),,,,,a Pesah treat!


Meringue clouds…..a divine confection of the Gods!  A special occasion delicacy passed down by our grandmothers !

Growing up, we knew it was a very special occasion when Grandma made Ashuplados……meringue clouds!  Sweet….light as a feather, a light shell on the outside. Texture, sweetness……simply….divine!!!

They look beautiful on a sweet table, and delight young and more mature and sophisticated palettes alike!

These are one of my mom’s signature delicacies.  Last year, we prepared this post when my mom made these for my young cousin’s  “Banyo di Novia”. (She prepared them again this month for the Brit Milah and Pidyon haBen of the new baby son of the same cousin……mashala!!!) They are a superb Pesah treat, as well. Continue reading

Re-Posting a Passover Favorite…….Keftes di Prassa

We JUST celebrated Purim…..and walking into the market today, I was bombarded with Passover!!!!! Time to start planning our Seder meals, menus for the week…….while preparing delicacies for a Banyo di Novia, in between! Our cooking calendar is busy for the month ahead….all in preparation for happy and wonderful things!!!!

There are several foods that my mom prepares especially and only for Pesah.  Keftes di Prassa (leek patties) is one of those specialities.

In our family, these are vegetarian – others make them with ground meat. (these are one of my husband’s very favorite Sephardic treats!!) Continue reading