Tag Archives: Rhodes

Spinach Cuajado / Cuajado de Espinaca

We’re deep into summer now, and one of the nicest things to eat on a lazy summer day is cuajado and a fresh salad. There’s no need for a big spread every time you make a cuajado, as it’s quite filling on its own.

When my grandma and great aunt Reina were alive, we ate a lot of spinach cuajado (as opposed to my favorite, zucchini). When I was very young, the aroma of spinach & all those cheeses cheese baking in the oven was too intense for my sensitive little nose (which is no longer quite so sensitive nor, alas, quite so little).  But once out of the oven, the flavors mellowed and I couldn’t get enough.  Because spinach itself has a more intense flavor than zucchini,  this cuajado needs a stronger cheese, too: pecorino romano instead of parmiggiano, which works perfectly with zucchini but would be too delicate here.

So here’s my recipe for the spinach, also adapted from my Aunt Reina’s.  The sesame seeds aren’t traditional, though I wonder why. They are well within the bounds of tradition and a nice finishing touch with the spinach.



Filed under Recipes


masapan_-ojaldres_-mustachudos1MUSTACHUDOS  (“mōō-stä-CHŌŌ-thōs”)  Here is a prime example of the way in which many Sephardic foods are infused with symbolism.

As a general rule, Sephardic custom doesn’t call much for cooking with wine. There are exceptions, of course, and these can be unusual enough as to impact the name of the recipe in question.  During Passover, any wine consumed must be ‘new’; this means using either grape juice or young wine that is kosher for Passover.  The mustachudo gets its name from this specific ingredient:  musto in Ladino; mosto in Spanish and Italian, must in English. The name has absolutely nothing to do with ‘little moustaches’, despite the similar-sounding root word. Continue reading


Filed under Glossary, Holidays (fiestas judias)


CUAJADO (“cua-XA-do”) quiere decir tanto “coagulado” como “con grumos”, y describe una clase de sabrosos platos hechos al horno, que combinan queso fresco suave (como queso cottage o queso de Burgos) con otros quesos más o menos salados, muchos huevos, un poco de harina de matza (pan ácimo) para ligar la masa y cantidades copiosas de verduras frescas con alto contenido en agua: espinacas; calabacines; berenjenas; puerros; o tomates. Algunas recetas usan pan para ligar la masa y otras usan patatas, dependiendo de la verdura elegida y de la tradición particular o de la preferencia personal. La textura es suave pero no demasiado floja, algo así como un sabroso pudín de pan en el que resalta, no el pan, sino las verduras ralladas, cortadas a tiras o machacadas. El queso se usa de forma que confiera sabor sin dominar en la textura. Continue reading

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Filed under Escrito en castellano, Glossary, History, Holidays (fiestas judias)

Boyos / Bollos (glossary)

Okay, this is it.  I’ve revised the glossary entry based on my new and improved understanding of boyos.  This replaces my post of January 7, which you won’t find any more.

BOYO (BOY-ōō) is the Ladino word for bun – spelled bollo in modern Spanish.  In Sephardic cookery it is a generic term applied to a broad range of savory & sweet baked goods, be they doughy, crunchy, chewy, flaky and so forth.  Some examples include boyos de vino (biscocho cookies made with wine); boyos de rayo (flaky cheese biscuits) and just plain boyos, which are savory pastries filled with spinach, or cheese, or spinach & cheese (yes, there are more kinds of boyos). 

Boyiko is the diminutive of boyo.  The literal translation is ‘small boyo’, but it can just as easily imply ‘without filling.’  Either way it signifies an abbreviated form of boyo.

It’s the use of the word ‘bun’ that has intrigued me, since cookies (boyos de vino) and biscuits (boyos de rayo) are not buns, obviously.  To understand why these, too, would fall under the bun category, I looked to the word itself and to technique for an explanation.  And therein lay the answer.

All of these wildly different boyos share a specific technique when made according to tradition.  After a pastry is first either folded and filled or rolled into a small ball, it is then mashed down lightly with the heel of the hand prior to baking, forming a small cavity or dent.  It is the dent itself that turns out to be the origin of the pastry name, as the word ‘bollo’ has a second meaning:  dent.  In Spain today (if not elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world), this usage is more colloquial, having been replaced by the more lofty-sounding ‘abollatura’.

The dent serves a purpose.  In the case of non-filled boyos or boyikos, it is a quick and effective means of making a reasonably flat cookie without a rolling pin, and in the case of filled boyos, pressing the dough seals the pastry shut.  It’s that simple.  You want to make boyos of any kind?  Flatten them with your hand before you bake them.  I’m retiring my rolling pin.

My thanks to Michael, Zoe and my Aunt Rady, whose recollections of hand-pressing the dough of three radically different pastries helped me get to the bottom of boyos! There’s much, much more to say on the subject, but I’ll leave that for another day.

You have no idea how much I love this work.


Filed under Glossary