Last week I got the wonderful opportunity to partner with Chabad of DC to host an amazing Shabbat dinner meal. The theme of the dinner was Turkish food, and I got to prepare many Turkish dishes that have been passed down in my family for generations.
Over 120 people attended Friday’s event, a totally mixed up group of Sephardim, Ashkenazi, religious and secular, but what they all had in common was the desire for something both familiar and unique.
It’s interesting to see so many cultural and historical cuisines having a resurgence. Just today, my friend Jeffrey Yoskowitz was featured on NPR for his new book the Gefilte Fish Manifesto and the Washington Post just featured a story on the revival of old recipes at the African American Museum of History’s new restaurant.
Anyways, back to my actual recipes from that evening which several people have asked me for. Surprisingly, the potatoes I made were one of the hits of the evening. They are so ridiculously easy to make and perfect for feeding large groups of people!
Cooking Time: 2.5-3 hours
- 25 small red potatoes
- 10 cloves of garlic finely minced or even liquefied
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon Moroccan Paprika
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- Peel and wash your potatoes well, then chop them into 3×3 squares.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Take a clean baking dish and use about a tablespoon of your olive oil to coat the bottom
- Place your potatoes in the dish and coat with the remaining olive oil, garlic, paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper. You may want to use your hands (preferably very clean ones) to really coat the potatoes thoroughly in the spice mixture. As soon as you’re done, seal tinfoil on top of the baking pan and put into the oven for about an hour and a half.
- Check to ensure the potatoes are soft and fully cooked, if they’re not, then let them cook a bit longer. Once they’re soft and fully cooked, remove the tinfoil and bake for another 10 minutes, until the outside is slightly crunchy/hard.
In a previous entry I shared my love of leeks, one of the most popular vegetables in a traditional Sephardic kitchen. This recipe merges some of my favorite things: leeks and preserved lemons!
This recipe is basically another version of Keftes de Prasas, similar to the one I posted a few months ago. Depending on your family and community, there are many different iterations of this recipe. My Abuelo’s (grandfather) family is from Istanbul and he learned and then taught my mother and I to prepare a parve version, but many other recipes call for adding either cheese or minced meat to the recipe. All of these preparations are traditional and delicious – so feel free to experiment!
As prepared below this recipe is low calorie and fairly low carb, to make it even healthier substitute breadcrumbs for finely ground cauliflower rice.
Cooking Time: 45 mins
- 1 pound ground turkey/chicken or minced chicken meat
- 4 leek stalks (cleaned very well – strip the outer leaves) – 2 whole leeks and 2 should be sliced.
- 1 small white onion
- 1 egg
- 5 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 4 cups of chicken or beef stock
- juice of two lemons
- 1/2 of a preserved lemon – finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Using a steamer, place 2 of your whole clean leek stalks, onion, and all of the peeled potatoes in the steamer tray and cook until very soft (45 mins). If you don’t have a steamer you can boil your leeks/onion/potatoes.
- Remove your potatoes and leeks and set aside to cool.
- Once your leeks/onion/potatoes are at room temperature place them in a food processor. Use the low setting for about 2 minutes until they’re chopped and mixed well. You don’t need the mixture to be super smooth, some small pieces are okay, just make sure there are no large pieces remaining.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in a large bowl. Add your egg, minced meat, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat your oil in a large frying pan. Then using wet hands take the mixture and make small patties, about 4 inches long and 2 inches across. Place these in your frying pan and let cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Remove the patties from the heat once you’re done cooking. Then using a clean deep frying pan, heat your broth, there should be about 4 inches deep in the pan.
- Add the sliced two leeks to the broth once it’s boiling and then the lemon, honey, salt, pepper, and preserved lemon. Let cook until very soft (30 minutes). Add more broth if it gets lower than 3 inches.
- Then add your patties to the broth mixture. Let cook on medium heat for 25 minutes. Flip them in between to ensure they’re soaking up the broth mixture.
- Remove from the heat, then serve!
Okay I realize that borekas are neither paleo, low carb, or low calorie – but bear with me because they are delicious and very much an integral part of Sephardic food. If you’ve been to Israel or Turkey then you’ve had them before, since they’re sold on every street corner and pastry shop.
Many food historians believe that borekas were introduced by Spanish Jews to Turkey. However, most cultures seem to have some variation of a boreka, whether it be an empanada, pasty, turnover, dumpling, etc. Borekas and their related counterparts, were likely invented as a great way to stretch limited meat and vegetables.
Due to the high amount of calories and carbs in the dough and filling, I suggest eating these in moderation. Harder then it sounds, because they’re so good!
Cooking Time: 1.5 hours
Serves: 10 people
- 5 medium white/red potatoes (washed and peeled)
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium onion sliced very thinly (use a mandolin)
- 1 package of Premade boreka dough – this is a controversial suggestion but honestly I find baking and dough making complicated and tedious so I’m content outsourcing this part of the recipe. Most kosher markets sell this dough and you can likely use phyllo pastry or puff pastry (unsweetened) as a decent substitute.
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 leek sliced very thinly
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil
- 5 cups of water
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
- Pam non-stick cooking spray
- Using a mandolin or sharp knife very thinly slice your onion and leek. Ideally you should have paper thin almost translucent slices of both.
- In a frying pan heat your oil until it’s hot, then add the sliced onions, minced garlic, leeks, honey and salt.
- Turn the heat down and let your onion/leek mixture caramelize – this should take an hour or so.
- In another pot, set water to boil. Once it’s boiling add your peeled and cleaned potatoes. Cook until they’re soft (30-40 mins).
- Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the heat and let them cool.
- Do the same with the onion/leek mixture.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Also
- When both are at room temperature you can either use a potato masher to mix it together or a food processer. Make sure to taste the mixture as you cook it, feel free to add more salt, honey, garlic, etc. Once you’re content with the taste add an egg to the mixture, and mix well. Your looking for a very soft and well mixed paste – you shouldn’t have too many large pieces of vegetables or potatoes.
- Remove your premade boreka dough, this dough is generally prerolled and cut for borekas.
- On each piece, spoon about a tablespoon and a half of the mixture on the left side. Then fold over until you create a triangle shaped pocket. Use your fingers to press the sides together and close them. Repeat.
- Once you’re done with folding the borekas, add them to a non-stick cookie pan and lightly brush your beaten egg over them. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
- Bake for 20-25 mins, once they’re golden brown they’re done.
- Let it cool down, borekas are best consumed slightly warm or room temperature
I hope everyone had an amazing Summer!
So this dish was originally introduced to me by a good friend of mine in DC. She has since moved back to Israel, but I make this dish often since it reminds me of her. This salad is SUPER easy – and the taste is both complex and light. Perfect for the spring and summer and it pairs nicely with a variety of dishes.
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
- 30 grape tomatoes
- 4 cloves of Garlic (finely minced)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 10 basil leaves finely minced
1. Slice the grape tomatoes length wise, add salt, minced garlic, olive oil and minced basil.
2. Mix well and let sit for about twenty minutes. Then serve!