My Best Brisket

 

Brisket was a dish I became familiar with after I was married.  My Sephardic mother never served this ultimate pot roast when I was growing up.  I loved brisket the first time I tasted it.  The juicy, melt in your mouth, savory-sweet meat is an easy dish to make for everything from Shabbat and holiday dinners to tailgate parties for the team.   I reworked all the old recipes Continue reading

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Dateline: Two Days Before Rosh Hashanah

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Every year as soon as the days start getting shorter, my instinct to start preparing for Rosh Hashanah kicks in.  Three weeks ago I placed an order with the kosher butcher and wrote out my menu plans for several dinners.  I started baking as well.  I am not preparing for one evenings celebration Continue reading

Pumpkin Borekas

Pumpkin Borekas 008

PETITE PUMPKIN BOREKAS

Borekas are the Sephardic Jewish version of the turnover or empanada.  Turkish in origin, the Sephardic Jews adopted these pastries as their own.  I make borekas with homemade dough, the way my mom and my grandmother did, and bake them until crisp and golden.  Once a year for Jewish New Year Continue reading

Leek and Ground Beef Patties

 

 

 

Kufte de Prassa

Kufte de Prassa

KUFTE DE PRASSA

Leek and Ground Beef Patties  

Somewhere between a meatball and patty is a kufte.  Made with ground beef, they are light and fluffy with a delicate crisp exterior Continue reading

A Sephardic Rosh Hashanah

053A Sephardic Tradition for Rosh Hashanah

My family has a unique culinary heritage, migrating from the Holy Land to Spain; my ancestors lived and flourished in the Golden Age for centuries.  The Golden Age was a time of religious tolerance in Spain’s history from around 711  to the 13th century, an age of civility, poetry, enlightened medicine, and delightful cuisine.  If you visit Spain today, you will find influences in art, architecture, poetry and the ethnic makeup of the people left from their presence in cities like Toledo, Barcelona, and Seville.  The history of Spain is full of famous Jewish physicians and various advisors to the ruling caliphate.

When times changed and Jews faced the cruel expulsion edict by Queen Isabella (1492), my ancestors chose an escape route, heading east, along Mediterranean shores.  Ultimately, they settled in parts of the Ottoman Empire, centered in Turkey.  The Sephardic people took this route at the Sultan’s invitation, as he welcomed us into his lands.

The Sephardim settled in exotic places like Salonika, Rhodes,tuulijumala090800025runamock090200007and Turkish cities and towns.  In these Mediterranean, cerulean blue skied islands and coastal towns my family found a safe haven where they would flourish.  They lived a gracious life style with family and friends, indulging in the abundance of regional foods with which to create holidays and celebrations.  From an elaborate afternoon coffee time called La Tavla de Dulce (the tray of sweets) to this Rosh Hashanah feast, my mother, grandmother, and great grandmothers used local fresh ingredients.

The influences from Spain to the Eastern Mediterranean on the cuisine of the Sephardim were truly incredible.  This part of the globe features much  fine cooking and sophiscated flavors.  Jewish dietary law with rules about useable ingredients and combining gives the cuisine a unique difference.

Now that I represent the next generation of Sephardic home cooks I put my American influence into the mix and the cuisine continues to evolve.  Sephardic Jewish cuisine is a culinary heritage, rich in the diversity of vegetables, grains, fruits, honey, and spices that reflect the regions traveled by my family.  Some of the best ritualized tasting happens at the Jewish New Year’s Eve dinner, after sundown.

Our tradition is to make a Seder, Continue reading

Pastelicos (meat and rice borekas)

 Steak and sides 029PASTELICOS WITH MEAT AND RICE 

Pastelicos are triangular borekas with a savory meat and rice filling.  As with other Sephardic pastry, you can find versions in different shapes, with different dough and different spice blends.  This is the recipe my mother always made, but with the addition of the cinnamon and allspice.  A Pastel is a pie in Ladino or Judeo Spanish, and these individual small ‘pies’ use the suffix indicating smallness.  Crispy, savory, and beautiful, Continue reading