Sephardic Bak­ing from Nona and More Favorites

Lin­da Capelo­to Sendowski
  • Review
By – June 6, 2016

Grow­ing up in a Sephardic fam­i­ly, Ladi­no was the native lan­guage in Lin­da Capelo­to Sendowski’s grand­par­ents’ homes. This cul­tur­al inher­i­tance — from the lan­guage to kitchen prac­tices to nos­tal­gia — infus­es this self-pub­lished cook­book of glimpse into dif­fer­ent regions of the Sephardic world.

Begin­ning with a sec­tion on breads, Sephardic Bak­ing with Nona offers a chal­lah recipe with ground anise seeds and topped with sesame, among oth­er vari­a­tions includ­ing raisins, dried cran­ber­ries, dried cher­ries, can­died orange peels, and even Dulce de Toron­ha, can­died grape­fruit peels, togeth­er with a list of use­ful tips for suc­cess­ful chal­lah bak­ing. Oth­er breads make their appear­ance, as well: laf­fa, with its yeasty aro­ma, and panezikos, sweet rolls rec­om­mend­ed for a Thanks­giv­ing feast.

For the Jew­ish hol­i­days, tra­di­tion­al­ly rec­og­niz­able recipes like Hamen­taschen appear beside folares, a pas­try dough flecked with cheese in a cage-like shape, rep­re­sent­ing Haman’s hang­ing noose.” She sug­gests kezadas, Sephardic rice and cheese pies, for Shavuot and lah­ma­jun, a Turk­ish lamb-spiced piz­za pop­u­lar on Syr­i­an tables, to be fol­lowed by a non-dairy bakla­va or ka’ak.

The book’s acces­si­bil­i­ty and clear instruc­tions reflect its ori­gins on the author’s pop­u­lar cook­ing blog, The Boure­ka Diary—now a series on The Glob­al Jew­ish Kitchen. The author takes a prac­ti­cal approach to these recipes, not­ing which ones can be frozen and how to best pre­pare made-ahead goods once they’re out of the freez­er. The pho­tographs are excel­lent and entic­ing, beck­on­ing the read­er to the kitchen and prac­ti­cal­ly jump­ing off the page. The book also thought­ful­ly inserts blank pages here and there, some­times at the end of a sec­tion or a recipe, allow­ing space for the home cook to write down their own notes for each dish. 

Relat­ed Content:

Danièle Gor­lin Lass­ner (wife, moth­er, grand­moth­er) retired after 35 years at Ramaz where she served as Dean of Admis­sions, For­eign Lan­guage Depart­ment chair and teacher of French and Span­ish. She owns hun­dreds of cook­books. She has trans­lat­ed sev­er­al chil­dren’s books from French into Eng­lish. She has recent­ly trans­lat­ed “ A Mem­oir of Sanc­ti­ty “ by May­er Moskowitz (Mazo Pub­lish­ers, Jerusalem, Israel) from Hebrew into Eng­lish. No mat­ter the lan­guage, food is a con­stant.”

Discussion Questions