Tag Archives: Ottoman

What do you call a Sephardic butter pastry (besides divine)?

My grandmother was born in Turkey and used to make bourekas and montees, which were essentially the same but shaped differently. The bourekas were turnovers filled with potato and cheese or rice or meat and onions, or spinaca. The montees used the same dough (oil, water, flour), but were made like spiral spanakopita. I’ve never found any info on montees anywhere on the web, and everyone I could ask is gone. Have you heard of them and can you tell me the origin of the name?
Thanks very much

Sure, Len!

First, let’s get you back on track with the spelling. “Montee” should be mantí, a pastry better known as mantikos.

Though your grandmother made her mantí from an oil dough, the name refers to its original star ingredient: butter. The word comes from manteca. In modern Spanish usage, “manteca” on its own brings to mind lard – emulsified pig fat – but the formal meaning indicates any emulsified fat derived from animals or plants. In the past, the specific fat was understood from context; under kosher law the consumption of fat from cow, sheep, and goat meats is forbidden, hence in a Sephardic kitchen, manteca would only mean butter. Continue reading



Filed under Glossary, Your Questions Answered

Harosi: For the Seder Plate and Then Some


At Passover, whatever’s on a Sephardic Seder plate makes its way into the meal, too, and onto the table throughout the entire week. In my family, harosi is one of the holiday’s most treasured extended pleasures.

Making the harosi each year was one of my grandpa’s favorite cooking projects, as far back as anyone could remember. He made huge batches of it – huge! – with real loving care for both the tradition and for the family. At the Seder we always placed several generous bowls of it around the table to enjoy through the meal, and afterwards, Papú would gift each of us a jar or two – labeled with our names, and swaddled lovingly in acres of paper towel and rubber bands – so we could each keep spreading the love throughout the weeklong holiday. We spread it on matza. We spread it on cake. On cheese. Over ice cream.  On spoons – it’s great straight from the jar.  Ottoman Sephardim eat spoon sweets, and harosi is one more. Continue reading


Filed under Holidays (fiestas judias)

Time to make the donuts!

This just in: The Spanish Inquisition may have been on the lookout for telltale signs of the Festival of Lights, but they didn’t turn up much. Hanukah wasn’t a big deal in Spain. Hanukah wasn’t a big deal anywhere, really, until American Jews got overwhelmed by Christmas-driven consumerism and decided to put some muscle behind the menorah – which, when you come to think of it, already represents a lot of muscle, otherwise known as the Maccabees. No shrinking violets, they.

This year we’re having to compete with Thanksgiving! Oddly enough, last year I wrote about Sephardic food and Thanksgiving, after one Alan Moskowitz asked me whether I could re-create his Sephardic grandmother’s mysterious chopped liver “stuffing” recipe, which was really an Ashkenazi/Thanksgiving-inspired mina. Despite the funky name, the result is truly delicious and the story is fun. You should check them both out here, and consider putting a Thanksgiving mina on your holiday table, or your day-after-holiday table – especially if you’re ordinarily inclined to add liver to your stuffing, or giblets to your gravy.

But you really want donuts. No – you want fritters. Bimuelos, it’s bimuelos you want, soft, spongy fritters that puff up with air when you cook them, and are light as a feather. Continue reading


Filed under Holidays (fiestas judias), Recipes

October Cooking Workshop in New York

IMG_3094Are you in the New York Tri-State area?

Save the date!
Sunday, October 20, 2013

I’m offering one workshop in New York, and I’d love for you to come participate.

In this class we’ll make an Ottoman Sephardic brunch of savory and sweet flavors and luscious textures – a classic desayuno celebrating the fruits of autumn, with some modern twists a la muestra…  If you’re new to Sephardic cooking, this is a wonderful introduction.

Regardless of your skill level, the workshops are always informative, delicious, and fun. They’re also very limited in size, so it’s best to reserve your spot early.

I’d love to welcome you! If you’re interested in attending, leave your request below. I’ll send you all the details in a personal email.

– Janet


Filed under Tours & Workshops