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Sephardic Jews

Cheese Scones

By: 
Stella Cohen

These Greek inspired cheese scones are so quick and easy to make that even my young grandchildren often bake them for a scrumptious savoury snack. In Rhodes Island, the Sephardim who called these cheese scones boyikos de kezo also referred to them as boyikos de rayo – derived from rayo in Ladino (grater) – that refers to the decorative imprint that was traditionally made on the scone with a grater.

Boyikos de kezo are best eaten warm, freshly baked with some crumbly Greek feta cheese and olives at teatime or at brunch. They are customarily served after the Fast of Tishah B'Av and for the festival Shavuot.

Ingredients: 
SCONES
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
A large pinch of salt
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup coarsely grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup full-fat milk or cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
.................................................
EGG WASH
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten, mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
.................................................
TOPPING
3 tablespoons finely grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese
Directions: 
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir in the cheeses. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk or cream, egg and oil. Mix the ingredients together with a spatula until well combined.
  • ​Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Do not overwork the dough. Roll into about 30 walnut-size balls with your hands and flatten slightly.
  • Arrange the scones on the baking trays 2.5cm (1in) apart. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to wire racks. Serve warm.

Reprinted with permission from Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes © 2012 by Stella Cohen, The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. Photography by Marc Hoberman.

Sephardic cuisine expert, artist, textile designer, and cookery writer, Stella Cohen is a passionate ambassador for the Jewish community, dedicating her life to the celebration, preservation, and education of Sephardic values and traditions. Stella’s heart lies in Southern Africa as well as in the Mediterranean, as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has a family tree entrenched in Sephardic history. Her parents originate from Rhodes, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey and she is the great-granddaughter of Yaacov Capouya, the Rabbi of Rhodes.

Tina's Tidbits: 

Stella’s Hints

  • In Turkey, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes are added to the dough for a spicy bite.
  • To freeze baked scones: Open-freeze on a plastic wrap-lined tray. Store in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, defrost in the container for 1-2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and reheat the scones on a baking tray for 10 minutes.

You know how the food you eat can sometimes trigger memories? Jewish tradition knows this too, and a kosher for Passover diet is a yearly reminder of the Jewish people’s distant past as slaves in Egypt.

Today the compliment "worth your salt" might be cause for a smile, but in ancient times the same saying was cause for celebration!

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