Re-Posting…..a Passover favorite!!!!Keftes di Prassa ( Passover leek patties)

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

PANIZIKOS DI KAZA (Home Baked Bread Rolls)


“Home baked bread always had a special place in my mother’s house. With every baking, my dad would repeat in his Old World Ladino, Los panizikos di kaza ki no manki (Home made bread should never be lacking). Not surprising, each time I whiff the aroma of my wife’s bread baking in our oven, Continue reading

"Purim, Purim, Purim lanu, Pesah, Pesah a la mano!"

Purim is here, Pesah is right around the corner!!!   So some Purim “allegre” for now…and Pesah recipes coming!

I remember when my boys were young, my mother would make “Folares”, or “Haman in Jail” as the boys called them, for Purim.  The Folare was made of Bureka dough wrapped around a hard boiled egg.  The strips of dough for a “cage” or “jail” around the egg. The egg represented the evil Haman from the Purim story, who is ultimately punished for his plot to harm the Jews. Continue reading

Finally….Boyos!!!!!!

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:

http://www.pamperedchef.com/ordering/prod_details.tpc?prodId=363&catId=122&parentCatId=122&outletSubCat=&viewAllOutlet=

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!!!!!

Burekas de Beringena ( Burekas with Eggplant filling), Biscochos de Huevo and Reshas!

I asked my mom to come over one day last week so we could bake.  And what a day we had!!!  Eggplant burekas, biscochos and reshas!  My husband and sons have been thrilled!   Home-baked goodies are the best…..great ingredients, great recipes and lots of love!  What more can you ask?

I started preparing the eggplant filling first thing.  When my mom arrived, we made the dough for the reshas as it is a yeast dough and needs time to rise.  Then we made the bureka dough, formed the burekas and got them in the oven, shaped the reshas and let them rise again, and started the biscocho dough.  All the while, we talked, visited and had a wonderful day!  My friend Yvonne stopped by and visited with us for awhile, my Dad joined us and helped to pack all the finished goods (he’s an expert at that!), and my husband, Bob and son, David, got home in time to provide the official taste tests!  What a special day!  And we have been enjoying the bounty ever since….

saute the eggplant and onions

Filling for Eggplant Burekas

4 medium eggplants, diced

3 large onions, diced

2 heaping tablespoons of parev chicken seasoning

2  – 8 oz cans (yes, that’s 16 oz) of tomato sauce

1 level teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

pinch of red pepper flakes

Sauté the eggplant and onions in a large pan using approximately one tablespoon of olive oil. When onions become soft and begin to become translucent, add parev chicken seasoning, tomato sauce, lemon juice and sugar. Finally, add a pinch of pepper flakes. This is optional, and does add a kick. (I used a full level teaspoon, and it added QUITE a kick!)  Continue to cook on low for at least an hour.

add tomato sauce, chicken seasoning, sugar and pepper flakes

For the dough, we’ll repeat the recipe from the previous post:

Kaye (Hasson) Israel’s Recipe for Bureka Dough

Ingredients:

3 C Ice Water

2 1/2 C Oil

1 tsp salt

10 – 12 C Flour

Fill measuring cup with ice cubes, add water to 3 C mark on measuring cup. In large mixing bowl, add mix of water and ice, oil and salt. Let stand for as few minutes for water to get ice cold before beginning to add flour. Continue to mix. As flour begins to take on elastic consistency of dough, remove ice cubes. Knead until dough is not sticky and has the consistency of a pie dough.

Separate dough into 4 portions. Pinch off “walnut” sized balls and place on a work surface. Work each ball in the palm of your left hand (if you are right handed). Use your right hand to tuck the dough under and into itself, working to make it a smooth ball. As balls are formed, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all the balls are prepared and the dough has had a chance to “rest,” begin by placing 6 balls on work surface. Using your fingers, press out the dough; then, with a small rolling pin, make oval shaped, flat forms. Using a tablespoon or small scoop, scoop filling into the middle of the flatten dough.

After all 6 have been filled, fold each on in the middle, pinching the edges shut and making a moon shaped, filled pastry. You can make a beautiful edge by pinching and rolling under the edges (see video clip). Or you can use a fork to crimp the edges with a nice, clean pattern. (Remember, you “taste” first with your eyes.).

Enjoy!!!

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We also made reshas or reshikas as they are sometimes called. They are a wonderful, light, crunchy tea biscuit that are a favorite in our family. A resha is not actually sweet or savory; it is light and has a crunch that is sensational, especially if you love texture in your food! I think of reshas with a cup of coffee or tea and with a chunk of sharp cheese. My husband and my sons love them with dips such as tarama (a Sephardic caviar spread), with tzatziki (a Greek yogurt dip), and with ajada (a potato and garlic dip). Mostly, they love knowing they are in the kitchen, and grab one when passing through!!!!   Reshas take time to make.

Start by making a yeast dough.

Kaye’s Resha Recipe

2 packets of Yeast Powder or 4 heaping tblsp of dry yeast

1 1/2 C + 1 tsp sugar

1 C lukewarm water

1 C oil

6 – 8 C flour

Start with 2 packets of fresh yeast ( always check expiration date on package).  Place in a glass bowl. (*rinse bowl in warm water first).  Add 1 C of lukewarm water. Add 1 cup of sugar.  Set aside in a warm place ( a toaster oven or microwave….not turned on).  Allow yeast to proof ( foam), about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift flour into a mixing bowl.  (How much flour? you ask.)  Start with 1 – 2 C to get mixing started. Add 1 ½ C of lukewarm water, oil, and 1 1/2 C of sugar.  You’ll note that we have said “lukewarm” water several times.  This means…..not cold from the tap, and not hot.  Hot water will kill the yeast, and not only will your dough not rise, it will become heavy and brick like. Trust me….I’ve figured in the past that if warm is good, hot is better.  Was I wrong!  I ended up with a batch of doorstops, paperweights and hockey pucks!!!!   SO…warm means….just that, warm!!!!  (Now, go forth and figure out for yourself what that means!!!)

My mom use an electric Mix Master with a dough hook.

As you start mixing, add the foaming yeast mixture. Then, add additional sifted flour, approximately 1/2 cup at a time…..ultimately about 7 Cups. (Add it slowly….it will “suddenly” start to come away from the sides of the bowl and become “dough”). When it begins to come away from the sides, turn the dough onto a floured wood surface or table, adding approximately 1/2 cup additional flour. Work the dough; knead it. You want the dough not to be sticky as long as you can handle it without it sticking to your hands. To achieve this feel with the least amount of flour produces the best results. (You’ll get the feel of it, honest!)

Put it in a bowl, cover with a piece of Pam-sprayed plastic wrap. Tuck the plastic edges in nice and cozy! Put the dough in a “warm” (i.e. draft-free) place and let it rise for about an hour. My mom will tell you this is a good time to go make the beds, or straighten up the house. My cousin Sarita will tell us it’s a good time to run up to Neiman’s and see what’s new. I’ll tell you it’s a great opportunity to start preparing some biscocho dough and make a day of baking!!!! You choose!

After it rises for an hour, punch it down…

Cut the dough into walnut sized pieces.

Roll each piece into a long rope, perhaps 12″ long:

Turn into a pretzel-like shape.  “Paint” with an egg-wash and dip into sesame seed.  Place onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Now, let them rest for another hour under cover as they rise again. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Here’s the important part: place baking sheet on low oven rack for about 10 minutes or until bottom of reshas begin to turn a golden color. Then place them on the upper rack of the oven. It should take about another 10 – 15 minutes until the tops become a golden brown as well. (This depends on the oven and might take a try or two to figure out the exact timing).

Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Return them to a 200 degree for 1 hour to “biscochar” ( crisp ’em up). Enjoy!!!

Biscochos de Huevo

Biscochos are often called tea biscuits.  We think of them as a “biscotti”, a crunchy treat!  Biscochos are a bit sweet and are wonderful with your morning coffee (could be afternoon or evening coffee or tea or even milk, for that matter!!)

Ingredients for My Mom’s Biscochos

1 C eggs

1 C sugar

3/4 C oil

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla flavoring

5 – 7 C flour

Topping:

1 egg + 1 drop of water, beaten well

sesame seeds

(alternative to sesame seeds:  cinnamon and sugar or “sprinkles”)

These are my mom’s directions:

With electric mixer, beat eggs and oil in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended.  Add flour and baking powder gradually, knead into a medium dough until no longer sticky.

Place onto floured work area and finish kneading dough with additional flour as needed. Dough should not be sticky as long as you can handle it without it sticking to your hands.

Take walnut-sized pieces and roll down on table with palms of hands into a rope 5 inches long and only 1/2 inch thick.

Press down with fingers to create channel;

Fold rope over and cut slits into the edge.

Join into a bracelet shape.  Brush egg on top side.

Dip top side into chosen topping ( sesame, cinnamon sugar or sprinkles):

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from pan.  Allow to cool.

We look forward to your comments!

Have a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Bendichas Manos!!!!!

Baking Burekas!!!

An absolute favorite in any Sephardic household…….and to any guest at a Sephardic table…..is the bureka!

A flavorful, savory, tasty filled pastry that can simply melt in your mouth! Each community has their unique varieties; each family, their favorites! Our “Rhodesli” family, (from the Island of Rhodes, currently Greece, but in the times of our family, a Turkish or Ottoman possession) loves this moon shaped pastry, filled with a “conduchu” (filling) of rice and cheeses, as well as those filled with a mouth-watering mixture of sautéed eggplant, onions and tomatoes!

My grandmother was always baking burekas in the kitchen, along with lots of other homemade goodies! I remember my mom and her aunt spending hours preparing and baking these treats, and the amazing aroma that filled the house when I got home! As our sons have grown, Grandma’s burekas have been a favorite for snacks, special meals, breakfast….even in their lunch boxes! I think they are my husband’s favorite Sephardic treat.  They are flavorful, delicious and definitely filled with love!!!

Now that I am learning the art alongside my mom, I can absolutely appreciate the work, skill and patience that goes into making them.

My mom came to bake today and we made burekas of both kinds. The house smells heavenly! I am learning from her the joy of baking and of sharing these very special treats!!! Here we share her recipes and some of her tips on making them. Let us know what you think!

Begin by making the filling.

Kaye (Hasson) Israel’s recipe for Rice/Cheese Burekas

Ingredients:

5 C Water

1 tsp Salt

8 oz Cottage Cheese

2 C Rice

1 C Feta Cheese

1-1/2 C Romano Cheese

(Optional) Parmesan instead of Romano

½ to 1 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

4 Lge Eggs (5 to 7 if smaller)

Bring water and salt to boil. Add 2 Cups rice (rinsed and drained), cover, and keep on a simmer flame until all the water is absorbed. (Prox 30 minutes constantly watched.).

Remove from flame; allow to cool!

Mash rice w/potato masher; Add cheeses and eggs and continue to mash. Mixture should be damp, not dry.

Kaye (Hasson) Israel’s Recipe for Bureka Dough

Ingredients:

3 C Ice Water

2 1/2 C Oil

1 tsp salt

10 – 12 C Flour

Fill measuring cup with ice cubes, add water to 3 C mark on measuring cup. In large mixing bowl, add mix of water and ice, oil and salt. Let stand for as few minutes for water to get ice cold before beginning to add flour. Continue to mix. As flour begins to take on elastic consistency of dough, remove ice cubes. Knead until dough is not sticky and has the consistency of a pie dough.

Separate dough into 4 portions. Pinch off “walnut” sized balls and place on a work surface. Work each ball in the palm of your left hand (if you are right handed). Use your right hand to tuck the dough under and into itself, working to make it a smooth ball. As balls are formed, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all the balls are prepared and the dough has had a chance to “rest,” begin by placing 6 balls on work surface. Using your fingers, press out the dough; then, with a small rolling pin, make oval shaped, flat forms. Using a tablespoon or small scoop, scoop filling into the middle of the flatten dough.

After all 6 have been filled, fold each on in the middle, pinching the edges shut and making a moon shaped, filled pastry. You can make a beautiful edge by pinching and rolling under the edges (see video clip). Or you can use a fork to crimp the edges with a nice, clean pattern. (Remember, you “taste” first with your eyes.).

Continue with all the dough. This recipe SHOULD make approximately 84 burekas. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, “paint” with a wash made by beating an egg and 2 drops of water. Finish with a sprinkle of grated cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes…or until golden brown. They are divine right out of the oven! Can be frozen and easily be warmed again in oven or toaster oven. Note: Microwave makes them soggy. Great for a brunch!