Gabay Cookbook

Home Up The Gabay Family Gabay Cookbook Mumya



1/16/07: This is still in draft format. We are hoping for our final version within the next 2 months.

4/25/07: We're not quite there yet -- we have collected the last recipes, but still need to add them to the book -- and test a few that no one has done since we were kids.

8/26/09: Time never seems to be available, but we still have plans to finish this up.

The Gabay Family Cookbook


Mary Gabay Benjoya seated,

From left to right: Molly Sukenik, Pauline Perahia, Esther Altabet, Jennie Sussman


The recipes of Pauline Perahia as received from her mother Mary Gabay Benjoya and adapted by her daughters, Madelyn Perahia Fink and Lynda Perahia Meltzer.


This also includes some additional recipes and comments from the families of the other sisters.


We are still collecting recipes for: Huevos con tomat, Enjinara (artichokes), Molejas (Sweetbreads), Miyoyo (brains) – of historical interest, since Mad Cow, they can no longer be purchased in the US or Europe., Taramas, Likierda (salted raw mackerel), Marzapan



© 2006 by the Gabay family, with all rights reserved to the contributors as noted for each recipe. Duplication for non-commercial purposes is permitted, but all commercial duplication is prohibited without the written consent of the authors and editors.


Table of Contents






Fillings For Desayuno


Huevos Haminados

Comidas Principales (Main Dishes)

Roasted Lamb

Dolmades (stuffed vegetables)

Stuffed Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers

Yaprakes/Grape Leaves I

Yaprakes/Grape Leaves II


Pescado (Fish) con Agristada


Fasoulia I (String Beans)

Fasoulia II (String Beans)


Sephardic Cauliflower

Apio/Celery Root

Acompanimentos (Avas y Aroz y Fideo)

Red Rice

Beans For Beans and Rice

Lentejas (Lentils)

Avas Fresca (Fava Beans)






Burekita De Muez




Haroset For Passover

Keftes (or Keftikes) de Prassa (Leek)



Bumuelos de Pesach


Bumuelos de Hanukah


Nuts, Breads & Miscellaneous

Roasted Nuts

Roskas – Bread

Shoeleather Candy

Cheese Appendix




Most of these recipes are from Madelyn Perahia Fink and Lynda Perahia Meltzer as they learned and adapted them from their mother Pauline Gabay Perahia. Pauline probably learned most of these from her mother, Mary Gabay Benjoya.


Mary Gabay Benjoya had 4 daughters: Esther Gabay Altabet, Pauline Gabay Perahia, Molly Gabay Sukenik and Jennie Gabay Sussman. As the first in the family to try to document the recipes, these recipes from Madelyn and Lynda are probably the most authentically preserved of any in the family. There are some comments and glosses from others reflecting some variations or further adaptations to ingredients more readily available today.


Mary Gabay Benjoya came to the united States from Izmir, Turkey known for some of the best cooks in the Sephardic world.


This cookbook was prepared in the current format to assure that our children will continue to pass on the recipes for these traditional Sephardic dishes and the memories that go with sharing them with family, and will continue to enjoy them as much as we the 12 Grandchildren and their spouses have.







Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1 pkg. yeast

1½ cup warm water

4 cups flour

1 Tbsp. salt

1/3 cup veg. oil

1 cup grated kashkaval* cheese


Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water.

Add above to flour with salt and water a little at a time.  Knead until dough is soft, smooth and sticky, 15-20 min.

Cover and set aside in warm area for 15-20 min.

When dough has rested:

Take half the dough with well oiled hands.  Place on greased surface (baking board) and flatten to a rectangle.

Sprinkle with cheese and roll up like strudel.

Take pieces about 2 inches and flatten out as thin as possible.  Add filling. 

Bring corners together, overlapping generously to seal filling in.  Hands will need to be re-oiled, as well as, the work surface.

Pat down top with well oiled hands.

Place in greased/sprayed baking pan (might need a drop of oil also).

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and grated cheese.

Bake at 400F for 30-40 minutes until golden. 


*If top does not brown, place under broiler for a few minutes.


Tahini Boyos/peanut butter

Mix Tahini paste (or peanut butter) with sugar to taste and fill boyo dough. Once sealed sprinkle with sesame seeds.  The peanut butter variation is an example of Pauline’s cooking creativity in adapting available items to traditional recipes.




Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


3-4 cups flour

1 cup veg. oil

1 cup water

1 tsp. baking powder

Handful of salt to taste


Add flour (about 3-4 cups) to above ingredients until it is smooth and can be rolled out with a rolling pin.

Separate dough into sections or small balls.

Roll out with rolling pin into a circle.

Add filling on one side of circle.  Fold other side of circle over to seal.

Press sides down and trim with knife or fold over in pretty, decorative edge.

Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 350F in greased/sprayed pan until golden.


Comments from the Altabets: We have a plastic turnover mold that cuts the dough circles and when it is folded together, seals the edges with the scalloped decorative edge.



Defrost fila in refrigerator. Dampen a dish towel, put fila sheets on top and top with another dampened dish towel.


Fold fila in 3 and then put filling.

Fold up like in the triangle pattern used to fold an American flag for cheese filling.

For spinach filling: once sheets are in 3 roll tightly and then roll into spiral.

Brush above with egg yolk & sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Comments from the Altabets: Prepared fila dough can be purchased at most supermarkets and is found in the frozen baked goods section. Some specialty middle eastern shops also provide a non-frozen, refrigerated variety. One can do either filling in triangles or spirals, but using a different pattern for each helps keep track of which is which.




Fillings For Desayuno

Borekas, boyos, fila, minas

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer




2 eggplants, peeled & cut into cubes

2-3 tomatoes, skinned & cut into cubes

2-3 onions, diced

1 Tbsp olive oil


¼ cup water


Put onions and tomatoes in deep pot.  Add eggplant,

Salt to taste, 1 Tbsp. olive oil and ¼ cup water.

Heat to boiling, cover and let vegetables cook down until no water is left.

Spill out excess liquid, if needed.


Cheese Filling

¾ lb. pot cheese or cottage cheese(pot style)

1 potato

Grated kashkaval* cheese to taste

Eggs (2-4)

Salt & pepper to taste.


Peel and cook potato, let cool.

In a bowl mix pot cheese, cooked potato, eggs, kashkaval cheese, salt and pepper.  Mixture should be thick, not too loose.


Comments from the Altabets: We use farmer cheese, which is a compressed cottage cheese. You can also mix in feta cheese (keso blanco in our Spanish) for flavor rather than the kashkaval.  See the cheeses appendix.



Spinach Filling

2 bags spinach (with stems removed and discarded), rinsed and cut into small pieces

Grated kashkaval* cheese, sprinkled to taste

Handful of Kosher salt

Drain Spinach well so that it is almost dry.

Mix above ingredients in colander or large bowl.


Comments from the Altabets:

The spinach filling can be done without cheese for a parve variant, especially useful for those with lactose allergies.

We have used frozen spinach for years and been quite satisfied. While Madelyn and Lynda stick to fresh preparation here, it was interesting to see their choice of frozen for the bamyas and fasoulia where we always use fresh vegetables.




Huevos Haminados

Baked Eggs

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


3 dozen large eggs

½ cup water

Veg. oil to drizzle


Line a small enamel pan with aluminum foil.

Place eggs in pan.  They must be packed tight and should be stacked on one another.

Drizzle oil and pour water over them.

Thoroughly drench a dish towel and place it over the eggs, covering them thoroughly.

Bake at 225F for 7-8 hours.


* Madelyn does 8-9 hours


Comments: Esther Altabet and Molly Sukenik bake eggs in the container in which they were bought if it is a cardboard container soaked in water and oil as above and believe that the results are the same as using a metal pan. If the eggs come in one of the new plastic containers, paper towels are required to provide the moisture. The chief benefit of the alternative is simplified clean-up and a container to store them in once prepared..




Comidas Principales (Main Dishes)


Roasted Lamb

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


8 round bone lamb chops, trimmed of fat

2-3 lamb shanks, trimmed of fat

1 large onion, diced

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced

Salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika


Place some diced onion and garlic on bottom of roasting pan.

Top with meat, seasoning both sides.

Top meat with remaining garlic and onion.

Add ¼ cup water to start, adding more if needed during cooking.

Cover and bake at 350F until fork tender, at least 3-4 hours.


Notes from the Altabets: Lamb shanks are too good not to makes lots more when you are cooking. We use fewer lamb chops and lots more shanks, but each to his own taste.



Dolmades (stuffed vegetables)


Stuffed Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


2-3 tomatoes

3 large zucchini/squash, cored and cut into 3-4 sections (should be like a tube)

2 peppers

1 ½ - 2 lbs chopped beef

½ cup rice

2- 8 oz. cans tomato sauce

1 tbsp oil

Salt, garlic powder & pepper to taste


Core squash, tomatoes and peppers.

Dice inside of squash and tomatoes and reserve.


Line Dutch oven or deep pot with some of the inside of the squash.

Combine ½ cup rice with meat and seasonings.  Mix well.  Add reserved zucchini and tomato pieces and mix again.

Stuff vegetables and place in pot.

Pour 2 cans tomato sauce and on cup water over vegetables. Salt to taste. Add oil.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat/rice has cooked and sauce has thickened slightly.


Comments from the Altabets: We also stuff onions.


Yaprakes/Grape Leaves I

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink


1 jar of grape leaves, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked white rice

1 minced onion sautéed

lemon juice to taste

salt & pepper to taste

1Tbsp oil

2/3-1 cup water


Sauté onions and mix with rice, salt, pepper & 1 Tbsp lemon juice. 

Spread grape leaf out and put 1 Tbsp above filling on leaf. Fill like stuffed cabbage (filling in center, roll, tuck in sides and continue to roll.) 

Place in shallow pan seam side down. Sprinkle lemon juice, oil and water over grape leaves.  Simmer about 30 mins. Serve warm or cold.


Yaprakes/Grape Leaves II

Recipe from Esther Altabet & Allegra Katz and adapted by Robert & Marcia Altabet


1 jar of grape leaves, rinsed and drained. (California grape leaves are much better to work with than Greek grape leaves and don’t require as much trimming of the stems; if you can find them we recommend Orlando)

1 lb ground beef or ground veal

1 cup uncooked rice

8 oz tomato sauce

Juice from 2 large lemons

2 cups water

Salt & pepper to taste


Mix cooked rice and seasoning into the chopped meat.

Line a corning ware pan with some leaves.

Spread each leaf out and fill as described above.

Add water and lemon juice. Cover and cook on a low flame until done about 2 hours.

This also works very well in a microwave.

It will have a very lemony, non-oily taste

Serve warm.


Notes from Robert: Robert likes to brown the meat first to seal in the juices and mixes with raw rice to help expand the filling into the grape leaves; Marcia insists that a raw meat mixture is better.

















Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


4-6 large zucchini, peeled and grated -large grate

4-5 eggs

Grated kashkaval* cheese to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Matzo meal


Mix above ingredient in bowl adding matzo meal to bind.

Spray baking pan.

Pour mixture onto pan and bake at 350F until golden.


Can also be made with 4 boxes of frozen spinach (substitute for zucchini).


Pescado (Fish) con Agristada

Recipe from Esther Altabet & adapted by Robert Altabet


1½ to 2 lbs fish (can use any substantial fish: salmon, flounder, halibut, etc)

1 to cups water

1 Tbs oil

Salt to taste


Simmer fish for about 10 to minutes and place on a serving platter; save broth for sauce below.


Agristada sauce

Juice of 2 lemons

3 eggs

3 Tbs flour

½ cup water

Mix flour and water.

Separately mix lemon juice and beaten eggs, then add the flour and water mixture.

Then add the hot broth from the fish and simmer over a low heat for 1 to minutes after it begins boiling, until it reaches your preferred thickness.

Pour sauce over fish and serve.

The sauce is also great on pasta.







Fasoulia I (String Beans)

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


2 boxes frozen string beans, French style

2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce

1 cup water

2 tsp. olive oil

Salt to taste


Put all ingredients in deep saucepan. 

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer.

Let cook until liquid has thickened somewhat and string beans are thoroughly cooked.


*Best made 1 day in advance.


Fasoulia II (String Beans)

Variation from Allegra Katz adapted by Marcia Altabet


Start with 2 lbs of lamb neck for flavoring. Brown in a large dutch oven then add ingredients and cook as above.



Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink



2 boxes frozen okra

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup water

2 tsp. oil

Salt to taste

Lemon juice to taste


Put all ingredients in deep saucepan. 

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer.

Let cook until liquid has thickened somewhat and okra is thoroughly cooked.


Comments from the Altabets: Fresh whole okra has become readily available in recent years and is very easy to work with.


Sephardic Cauliflower

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces

Matzo meal for breading

Tomato sauce, 1 8 oz. can per cauliflower

Eggs, beaten

Oil for frying

Salt to taste



Rinse cauliflower and leave wet.

Dip into matzo meal.

Heat oil.  When oil is hot, dip matzo mealed cauliflower in egg and then place in hot oil.  Turn so all sides are golden.


In deep pot, place fried cauliflower, 1 can tomato sauce, ½ can water, salt to taste and drizzle small amount of oil.

Bring to a boil; lower heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower is soft and sauce has thickened somewhat.


Apio/Celery Root

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink


1 bunch celery

1 cup Celery Root

lemon juice to taste

salt to taste

1 Tbs oil

½ cup water


Slice veggies in 1-2 inch pieces. Add juice of 1 lemon ( add more as cooking if needed), salt, oil & water. Bring to a boil cover and cook on low until veggies are tender.  Add more water if needed.



Acompanimientos (Avas y Aroz y Fideo)


Red Rice

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1 cup rice

1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Salt to taste

4 tsp veg. oil

2 cups water


Combine water, tomato sauce, oil and salt in a pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low.  Add rice, cover and cook 20-30 min. until liquid has cooked down.

Stir occasionally.


Note from Arthur Perahia: When cooked as a side dish for chicken, this recipe used chicken fat instead of oil. Substituting two chicken bullion cubes for the salt helps to approximate the flavor of the chicken fat.

Beans For Beans and Rice

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer



1 lb. Great Northern Beans or pinto, soaked, rinsed and drained

1 Large onion, diced

2-3 marrow bones

1 lb. boneless chuck

1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce


Salt to taste


Brown meat and then cut into cubes.

In Dutch oven or very large pot:

Fry onion in small amount of oil; add beans, meat, bones, tomato sauce, and salt.

Fill pot with water.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 4 hours.


*Serve as a soup or over red rice.  French/Italian bread is also served with this dish.


Comments from the Altabets: Esther Gabay Altabet always used flanken; Robert & Marcia Altabet use lamb neck


Lentejas (Lentils)

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer



 1lb. bag of lentils

1 Large onion, diced

1 8 0z. Can tomato sauce

1 lb. boneless chuck, browned and cut into cubes

2-3 marrow bones

Salt to taste

Veg. oil


In Dutch oven or deep pot; Sauté diced onion in small amount of oil.  Add meat, lentils, tomato sauce, and salt. Fill pot with water.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils and meat are cooked.  About 1 hour.


*French/Italian bread is served with this dish


Avas Fresca (Fava Beans)

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink


5lbs. Fava Beans

3-4 bunches of scallions

salt to taste

1Tbsp oil



Slice both spines of 1/3 to 1/2 of the beans and cut the pods at the separation point between the beans, leaving the beans in the pod.

Remove the remainder of the beans (the other 1/2  to 2/3) from their pods.  Put all the beans into a deep saucepan.

 Slice scallions into 1/4 to 1/3 inch pieces and add to fava beans. Add salt, oil and water to cover beans. Cook until beans change color.


Notes from the Altabets: This was always a traditional dish for Passover, which is when fresh fava beans become available. But note that our Ashkenazi friends do not  consider legumes like this kosher for Passover, so be cautious if you are having guests.




Noodles served after lentils

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer



1 pkg. Goya Fideo noodles

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

¼ cup veg. oil

3 cups water

Salt to taste


Toast noodles on pan in 350F oven until golden.

Combine water, tomato sauce, oil and salt in deep pot.   Bring to a boil.  Add fideo; reduce heat, cover and simmer.  Cook noodles as if making rice, stirring occasionally until liquid is cooked down.


Comments from the Altabets: We serve this with lamb chops that have been browned in a skillet and then mixed with the fideo to absorb the lamb flavor.







Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


6 large eggs, beaten

4 tsp. baking powder

2/3 cup sugar

½ cup oil

5-6 cups flour

Egg yolk for glaze

Sesame seeds


Mix above ingredients.  Dough should be dry.

Divide into 2 sections.  Work on floured board/table.

Knead and fold dough.

Form rolling pin shape with dough.

Cut off ½ inch sections.  Roll into 4 inch length and form circle, seal by pressing ends together. With dull knife make slits in cookie on outer edge every ¼ to ½ inch.

Place on floured cookie sheet.

Glaze with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Bake at 350F for 15-20 min.


*Can also form loaf with dough, garnish with almonds.

Bake and slice like mandel bread.


Comments from the Altabets: Another variation was to roll out the dough in a sheet, coat with apple butter, then roll up into a loaf form and bake for a fruit filled variety.


Comments from the Sussmans: Rhonda Sussman adds a bit of vanilla extract which she says improves taste and dough handling.




Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1 cup oil

¾ cup sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts

3 cups flour

3 tbsp. sesame seeds, browned


Lightly brown sesame seed in small pan (do not use oil).

Mix all ingredients.

Shape dough into small balls.  Flatten into round cookie shapes or diamonds.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 350F oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.


Makes 3 dozen.



Recipe from Pauline Perahia/Jean Steir & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink



1/3 cup cream of rice

1/3 cup sugar

1 qt. milk (I use skim plus)


Dissolve cream of rice and sugar in some water to make a paste.

Bring milk to boiling point, do not boil.

Add paste and stir continuously without boiling for 10 min. until it thickens.

Pour into pan, 9x12”

Bake uncovered in oven at 200F for 3-4 hours or until top becomes golden and wrinkled.


Notes from the Altabets: For Hanukah, Grandma would pour these into individual sized baking dishes and then decorate the tops with cinnamon in various designs for season.



Burkina De Mues

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer



1 cup veg. oil

½ cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1 ½ cup ground walnuts

1 ½ -2 1/2 cups flour


Browned sesame seeds, 3-5 tbsp

Sesame seeds


Mix oil, water, sugar and flour so that dough can be rolled out using rolling pin.

Form small balls.


Brown sesame seeds in small fry pan on stove, stirring so as not to burn.

Mix sugar, sesame seeds and cinnamon to taste with nuts in separate bowl.


Roll out balls into small circles.  Fill with nut mixture; placing it on one side of circle and then folding other side over.  Press edges together to seal and trim with a knife.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350F for 15-20 min.



½ small jar honey

1/3 cup sugar

Little water

Little lemon to taste


Combine above ingredients in small saucepan.  Cook until it starts to thicken.  Dip cookie in syrup while still on flame.  Place on plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds.




Recipe from Bella Capone & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink


1 lb. Fila dough

2 lbs. chopped walnuts mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon

2 sticks margarine, melted and mixed with 1 cup oil

Sesame seeds


Grease 11x13 inch pan.

Put 4 to 8 sheets fila dough on bottom of pan.

Brush oil/margarine mixture on sheets and then add a layer of nuts.  On top of that put 2 sheets fila dough, repeat the oil/margarine mixture and more nuts.  Keep layering in this fashion with 4 layers of nuts. Ending with 5 to 8 sheets dough on top.  Grease top with mixture.  Cut/score into diamond shapes and sprinkle with sesame seeds before baking.

Bake at 350F for 45 min.



2 cups sugar

2 ¾ cups water

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lemon juice

Boil above ingredients and let reduce somewhat to thicken.

Pour cooled syrup over baklava while it is hot or hot syrup over cooled baklava.


*When working with fila dough, unroll and place on damp-wet dish towel and cover with another damp-wet dish towel.  Carefully peel off sheets and replace towel immediately so dough doesn’t dry out.


Comments from the Altabets:


The higher number of fila sheets for the bottom and top in the Above is from our version.



We use a filling of:

 ½ lb of shelled walnuts

2/3 cup of sugar

2 Tbs of grated lemon peel

1 Tbs cinnamon


For the syrup we use:

1 1/3 cups honey (= 1 16 oz jar)

3 Tbs lemon juice

1/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of water





Composto (Compote)

Recipes from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1 package dried mixed fruit

1 package dried apricots

¼-1/2 cups sugar/sweetner to taste


Drop of lemon juice to taste


Put dried fruit in saucepan and cover with water. Add sugar/sweetener and lemon juice (if desired) to taste. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until liquid cooks down for desired consistency.  As this is kept in refrigerator the mixture thickens and water may be added as needed.


bulletThis was always served during Passover.


Notes from the Altabets: Sour cherries are a nice addition. See shoeleather in miscellaneous for using any left-overs.



Haroset For Passover

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1-2 containers dates, no pits

Chopped walnuts, fine-med chop


Cook dates in saucepan with a little water until dates become mushy.

Add chopped nuts to thicken and to taste


Comments from the Altabets: We begin with equal weights of shelled walnuts and pitted dates, typically 1 lb of each (alternatively, equal weights of unshelled and unpitted dates.) Once the dates are cooked, we create a date mash and then add the chopped nuts. The date mash can also now be purchased, canned in specialty grocery stores.


This recipe is different than other Sephardic Jews from Turkey, Greece and the Balkans and is similar to Haroset recipes from Baghdad, providing some evidence for Mary Gabay Benjoya’s comment that she had grandparents who originally came from Baghdad.


Keftes (or Keftikes) de Prassa (Leek)

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer



3 bunches leek, sliced into ½ inch rounds, washed thoroughly

1-11/2 lb. chopped beef (1/2 lb. per bunch of leek)

3-4 eggs for mixture

1 egg, beaten for dipping

Matzo meal

Salt& pepper to taste


Place leek in a large sauce pan and add water until the leek is covered. Add salt to pot. Boil leek in water.   Cook until leek turns color.


Drain leek, squeezing out excess water.

In bowl, mix chopped meat with leek.

Add eggs and enough matzo meal to make small patties.

Sprinkle individual patties with matzo meal.

Dip in egg and fry in hot vegetable oil.  Turn when lightly golden/brown and cook on other side.


*Can also be made with spinach. Easiest to use 1- 2 boxes thawed frozen chopped spinach.


Comments from the Altabets: Meryl Altabet Fried and Sharon Altabet Ball now prepare this on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350ºF, then turn over for another 10 minutes. This makes for a less oily dish which some prefer on health grounds.


The liquid from the boiled leek can be used for preparing or flavoring other dishes.



Spinach, cheese, meat

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


Spinach Mina, mina d’espinaka


6 eggs

Grated kashkaval[*] cheese

Spinach, same as for desayuno filling.


Soak 6-8 boards matzo in salted water, don’t thoroughly drench.

Drain on dish towel.

Heat pan with a little oil and veg. spray.

Line bottom of pan with wet matzo making sure surface is covered.

Arrange layer of spinach mixture.

Beat 2 eggs and pour over spinach, place another layer of matzo, spinach, 2 eggs – beaten, final layer of matzo, 2 eggs-beaten and a sprinkle of grated kashkaval cheese. Drizzle veg. oil on top.

Bake at 350F until golden.


Cheese mina de keso

5-6 Matzo, soaked in salted water and drained on dish towel

Cheese filling, same as for desayuno except add ½-1 wet matzo board

2 eggs for topping


Heat pan as above.

Line pan with wet matzo, covering surface.

Spread cheese mixture on matzo, top with wet matzo; pour 2 beaten eggs on top.  Make small wholes with tines of fork, sprinkle with grated kashkaval cheese and drizzle veg. oil on top.

Bake at 350F until golden.


Meat, mina de carne

2 lbs. chopped beef or veal

1 large onion, diced

Salt /pepper to taste




Sauté/brown meat, onion and season. Cool slightly.

In bowl mix meat with 1-2 boards wet matzo and eggs.  Mixture should not be too liquidly.  Re-season to taste, if needed.

Follow directions for cheese mina.  Make only 1 layer but do not top with cheese.

Bake at 350F until golden.


Notes from the Altabets: All these work beautifully outside of Passover in a covered pie crust. We also add fresh parsley to the mina de carne.


Farfel With Lemon

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink


1 ½ cups chicken stock or water

1 cup farfel

Salt, to taste

1 tbsp oil

2 eggs, beaten

Lemon juice, to taste


Boil stock, oil and salt.  Add farfel and cook until soft.

When done add 2 eggs and lemon juice, stir well and re-season.


Notes from the Altabets: We use ¼ of a lemon


Bumuelos de Pesach

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer


1 Box Matzo Farfel (Maneshewitz)

8-10 eggs

Salt & pepper to taste

Oil for frying


Soak matzo farfel in warm, salted water for 5 minutes.

Drain farfel and squeeze excess water out.

Add eggs, salt and pepper.


Heat oil in large fry pan.

Drop farfel mixture using a tablespoon into hot oil.

When under side is golden, turn and cook other side.


Serve with honey or sugar.


Notes from the Altabets: We start with whole matzo, soaking 4 at a time, then draining on a towel. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture. If you want larger quantities do another batch of matzo as required, but doing too much at once lets some matzo get so wet they are hard to handle.


Ratios are for 4 portions, use 4 matzoth and 2 eggs and salt to taste. Fry as above.




Bunuel’s de Hanukah

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink



1 pkg. yeast

3 cups flour

1 egg, beaten

1 1/3 cup water


Honey, confectioner’s sugar

Oil for frying


Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup water. Add egg and salt.  Mix well.  Add mixture to flour, and stir, adding remaining water gradually.

Let rise 20 min. and mix.

Heat oil, drop dough by spoonful into hot oil.

Drain on paper towel.

Serve with honey or confectioner’s sugar.


Notes from the Altabets: We use 6 packages of yeast (or 2 cakes) of yeast. The dough will take longer to rise, 1 hour, and will be a bit lighter in consistency once prepared.




Recipe from Jacob Gabay, candy-maker as transmitted to Esther Gabay Altabet and adapted by Robert Altabet


Makes about 1 1/2 pounds

1/2 cup untoasted sesame oil (You may have to go to a health food store; local supermarkets frequently carry only the toasted version which is rather different in taste.)
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup tahini paste (The oil tends to rise to the top, so stir before using.). (This can be found in the same section as peanut butter)
3/4 cup honey

1. Warm the oil in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Add the flour and stir until the oil and flour are thoroughly combined. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to turn pale brown. Add the tahini and stir until the mixture has a uniform color and consistency. Turn off the heat.

2. In a separate small saucepan, bring the honey to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Immediately add the hot honey to the flour mixture. Stir until the honey is completely incorporated.

3. Spread the mixture into a small ungreased 5 by 9 inch aluminum loaf pan and pack the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Let the halvah cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours or until the pan feels cool. The halvah will shrink back slightly from the edges of the pan as it cools, and should therefore unmold easily when the pan is inverted. Wrap the halvah in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

4. To serve, cut the halvah into thin slices.


For the purist, to make your own tahini/sesame paste:
In a blender, mix raw sesame seeds with a small amount of sesame oil until creamy. 
For flavor variations add chocolate (with a bit of vanilla) in swirls for a marble version or add almonds, or both.




Nuts, Breads & Miscellaneous


Roasted Nuts

Recipe from Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink & Lynda Perahia Meltzer




Pepitas (squash seeds)



Any of the above can be roasted for a snack.


Put rinsed nuts in baking pan with salt and ½-2/3 cup


Bake at 350F until water evaporates and nuts are roasted to taste.

Mix, especially pepitas frequently.


Roska – Bread

Recipe from Mary Gabay Benjoya/Pauline Perahia & adapted by Madelyn Perahia Fink


8 cups flour

handful of salt

1 package of yeast dissolved in ½ cup warm water

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup sugar

½ cup oil

1 tsp baking powder

5-6 cups warm water.


Add sugar to dissolved yeast. Add eggs. Add this to flour & baking powder.  Add in warm water slowly while kneading dough.  Cover and let rest and rise in pan for approximately 30-45 mins. Knead again and place on floured surface.  Shape in a circle (can slit like biscochos). Let rest & rise again. Brush with egg yolk & sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350F for 20-30 mins.


Comments from the Altabets: This smell of the rising yeast dough with its traces of alcohol always remind me of Friday and the approach of Shabbat when Esther Altabet would bake Roskas for dinner.



Shoeleather Candy

Recipe from Esther Altabet and Allegra Katz & adapted by Robert Altabet


Use fresh or canned fruit – any flavor, but apricot is most commonly used

Put in blender and puree

Cook 10 minutes in covered double boiler. (The double boiler prevents the moisture from ever getting too hot)

Simmer in deep saucepan and stir till thick

Place on a cookie sheet lines with plastic wrap and spread mixture to 1/8 to ¼ inch thick

Dry out in oven at 130°F with door cracked open 4 to 8 hours


You can also start by stewing up tour own fruit and then pureeing. If you have left over composto (see the dessert section) you can make up shoe leather candy with it.



Cheese Appendix

Cheeses for our Sephardic Recipes


pot cheese
A soft, fresh cheese that is basically cottage cheese that is drained longer and therefore has a slightly drier texture.


farmer cheese
This fresh cheese is a form of cottage cheese from which most of the liquid has been pressed. The very dry farmer cheese is sold in a solid loaf. It has a mild, slightly tangy flavor.


cottage cheese
A fresh cheese made from whole, part-skimmed or skimmed cow's milk. "Sweet curd" cottage cheese has a rather mild flavor because the curds are washed to remove most of the cheese's natural acidity. The texture of cottage cheese is usually rather moist. If the curds are allowed to drain longer, pot cheese is formed; longer yet and the firm farmer cheese is created. Cottage cheese comes in three forms: small-curd, medium-curd and large-curd. Creamed cottage cheese has had 4 to 8 percent cream added to it, low fat cottage cheese has from 1 to 2 percent fat, and nonfat cottage cheese has, of course, zero fat.


feta cheese or keso blanco
This classic Greek cheese is traditionally made of sheep's or goat's milk, though today large commercial producers often make it with cow's milk. It is frequently cured and stored in its own salty whey brine. White, crumbly, feta is usually pressed into square cakes. It has a rich, tangy flavor, contains from 45 to 60 percent milk fat and can range in texture from soft to semidry. Grandpa would soak it in water for a few days before using it to reduce the salty taste from the brine it was packed in.


kashkaval is a yellow sheep's cheese from the Balkans and Turkey. This is a hard yellow table cheese, made of sheep’s milk, and aged for about six months, during which time it develops a slightly tangy flavor with a perceptible hint of olive oil. Kashkaval has smooth surface, without any spots, straw color, semi-firm and fine texture. Kashkaval is the Turkish word; in Greek, this is known as kasseri. We use it most recipes in a grated form. Kashkaval is difficult to find except in specialty groceries (Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish, Armenian). You can also use parmesan or romano as a substitute in varying combinations depending on your taste; Parmesan is molder than kashkaval, most varieties of romano are a bit stronger than kashkaval. Parmesan is hard, dry cheese made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk. Romano can be found in 3 varieties, from goats (caprino romano), sheep (pecorino romano) or cows (vacchino romano); vacchino romano is milder than the other 2. Madelyn’s preferred substitute for kashkaval is pecorino romano.

* Kashkaval cheese is traditionally used, but hard to find unless you have access to a Middle Eastern grocery  romano cheese is a good substitute. Grated Romano or Parmesan are substitutes. See the appendix on cheeses.




Home | The Gabay Family | Gabay Cookbook | Mumya

This site was last updated 08/26/09

© 2007 R. Altabet