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
I just discovered, through DNA testing, that my ancestors lived in Girona. They left when the Alhambra Decree was issued. Do you have any recipes of Jewish specialties from Girona? Thank you. Ronit
Sure, Ronit! It may well be you know one or two already, as Catalonia’s medieval Jewish recipes were its first culinary exports.
If you’re familiar with spinach with pine nuts and raisins, you probably think of it as an Italian or Italian Jewish dish. You’d be right. But there, too, in its endless regional variations (adding lemon and garlic in Rome, chive and anchovy in Genoa, sweet onion and vinegar in Venice, etc.), the basic recipe is attributed to the arrival of Sephardim at the time of the expulsion from Spain.
This classic dish is still eaten all over Catalonia, and you’ll be just as likely to find it made with chard as with spinach. Dressed simply with salt, pepper, raisins, pine nuts and olive oil, today’s typical traditional Catalan recipe is far tamer than European food was in the spice-crazy Middle Ages. In that era spices were wildly expensive and people who could afford them made a big show of using them. Recipes were Continue reading
The symbolic foods of Rosh Hashana are chosen for specific attributes or for their Hebrew names, which sound like the words naming qualities or states of being that we hope to attain in the new year. When you delve into it, the word play turns out to be pretty lame – just a lot of bad puns – but who am I to pick on the Talmud. And they’re mostly about sweetness and abundance, which is nice. Several are also about being freed of enemies one way or another. This theme figures big on Rosh Hashana; it’s repeated while eating dates, leeks and beets, not one or two but three ceremonial foods of the holiday – talk about hedging your bets.
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.