>> Friday, February 26, 2010
It's that time of the year again....Purim starts Saturday night. Purim (literally, "lots") commemorates the events of the book of Esther and involves all sorts of celebratory activities involving noise, costumes, drinking, and food. Though I think Purim is supposed to be one of those holidays everyone loves (see: noise, costumes, drinking, and food), I can't say it's up there with my favorites (see: noise).
To be honest, however, I'm not sold on the book of Esther. I think Vashti (the deposed queen) is much maligned for totally reasonable and even responsible behavior. She rejects the King's advances to promenade in front of his court, or in modern lingo, his frat. While this helps set up the annointing of Esther as queen and then savior of the Persian Jews of yore, I find it a highly problematic nonetheless.
But this textual issue notwithstanding, there are some lovely aspects of the holiday. In particular, the tradition of mishloach manot, or the sending of gifts, is fun. Basically, you make packages of food and drink and deliver them to friends. I haven't quite figured out why raisins and twizzlers appear so often in these gift bags and baskets (I get that they're sold in individual packaging, but still....), but hamantaschen always make the rounds. Hamantaschen, which represent Haman's ears or hat or anything else related to the misanthropic character, are triangular stuffed cookies. Traditional fillings include prunes, poppyseed, apricots, dates, and cherries. I'm more a of modernist, however, and use chocolate and strawberry jam.
I wrote my recipe on an index card at some point, and I don't know its original source, though I imagine most hamanraschen recipes are somewhat similar.
Friday Recipe: Hamantaschen
2/3 cup butter (or margarine if making them pareve)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
Filling of your choice (chocolate chips, nutella, jam, etc)
1. Cream butter with sugar.
2. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well.
3. Add in dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Cover and chill for ~ 1hour.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degreed.
6. Take a chunk of dough and roll it out, about 1/8 inch thick.
9. Use a cookie cutter (or pint glass!) to cut out circle shapes.
10. Place a small amount of the filling in the center of the circle. Pinch the sides together to create a triangle (a little water often helps hold the pinched points together. Place of greased baking sheet.
11. Bake on 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.
*I've forgotten the baking powder and salt and they still turn out fine.
*One year I had no chocolate chips, so I used Hershey's Kisses. I think some of their newfangled filled ones (e.g., caramel) could be excellent in hamantaschen.
*Be careful with jam. Sometimes it leaks and/or bubbles out of the dough and creates a mess.
A few friends came over on Wednesday night to help bake hamantaschen and make mishloach manot. The bag decorating (which I only watched) was pretty hilarious.
For those who celebrate it, Chag Purim Sameach!