Posts Tagged 'Purim'

Phil’s World Famous Never Fail Hamentashen

OK, maybe not world famous, but it was published on a long ago defunct website called JCN (Jewish Communications Network) where I wrote their cooking column.  It is very easy and creates about 2 dozen great Hamentashen.  I posted this here last year, but here I add some commentary.

Ingredients –

1.  1 stick of margerine (or 1/2 C of Crisco)
2.  1 C sugar
3.  1 large egg
4.  1 1/2 t baking powder
5.  1 t vanilla
6.  2 C flour

1.  Cream the margerine and the sugar in a large bowl.  Creaming just means mixing fat (usually butter) with sugar.  You want it well mixed together .  I use my kitchen aid standing mixer, and highly recommend using a mixer.

2.  Add the egg and mix well.

3.  Add the baking powder and vanilla and mix.

4.  Add one cup of the flour and mix in.  Depending on many factors you may use any amount of the second cup of flour (perhaps even a bit more).  The most major factor is humidity.  The more humid, the more flour you will use.  Today for example, doing a double batch I only needed 3 cups of flour!  I suggest adding the second cup by quarter cups.  You want the dough to be like cookie dough, but just a bit dryer as you will need to roll it out.  You also do not want too much flour as you will add flour to the board when you roll.  I like to let the dough stand for a short while to allow everything to incorporate.  You can wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour.

5.  Roll out to about 1/4″ thickness and then cut out circles with a cookie cutter or a glass.  I use an “old fashion” glass which is about 3 inches in diameter.

6.  Put about 1/2 t of filling in each and then fold up the edges to make a hamentashen (see photo).  Place on cookie sheet sprayed with non stick spray.

7.  Bake in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes.  You want the hamentashen to just start browning.  Don’t let them get dark brown.  Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Fillings –

This is not meant to be an endorsement, but I have tried them all. The best filling that one can buy for Hamentashen is Solo brand pie filling. It has the best consistency of the pie fillings I have found. Traditional flavors would be Prune, Poppy or Apricot, though they have many different flavors. You could also use Chocolate Chips, or Nutella, which is a hazelnut chocolate combination.  Be careful with Chocolate chips though as the cookie will dry up when baking.  I like to put a small amount of raspberry or strawberry filling in the center and put two or three chocolate chips in the filling.

If you would like to make your own fillings, you should take your fresh fruit, peel then and take out any seeds or pits and then cut them into smaller pieces. Place in a pot and put in some sugar to taste. If the fruit dried, like apricot, you should just cover the fruit with water.  Cook this down slowly until you are left with a thick syrup. If it is not the right consistency, mix one teaspoon of corn starch with 1 teaspoon water in a glass. Pour into the fruit mixture. It will thicken up quickly.

NOTES:
You can use 1/2 stick of regular Margarine and 1/2 stick light margarine to cut down on some of the calories.

You can use your food processor for this recipe. Put the Margarine and the sugar in the bowl of the food processor, and process for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour and process for about 1 minute until mixed through. Add the flour and process until the dough begins to form a ball in the center of the bowl. At this point, take it out and finish it on your floured board.

It is best to chill the dough before rolling so it is easier to work with.

Enjoy!

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Busy day

Yesterday was kind of slow, but today, at least tonight will be a bit busier. Tonight will be my first pack meeting as the new cubmaster for my son’s cub scout pack. I am a bit nervous, but I am sure everything will work out ok. Avi love the cub scouts and I hope that he will continue in scouting all the way to Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. Below is a photo of Avi in his Cub uniform.

Avi in Uniform

After scouts, we have to put the finishing touches on Avi’s Purim costume (photo on Friday). I discussed some about Purim the other day, but we get dressed up in costume the kids usually have some sort of costume parade before or after the public reading of the book of Esther at our Synagogue (Thursday night). It is a lot of fun and the kids also get goody bags. This will be the first time we have Purim in our Synagogue building since the fire last August, so hopefully it will be even more fun!

Then on Friday the kids will have a carnival at school and I even have off that day, being that the calendar has been nice enough to put Good Friday on the same day as Purim.

So I am looking forward to a fun few days and a nice little vacation from work.

Here are some fun Purim videos.

This next one requires a few definitions. A Gmach is a communal organization where someone will have a bunch of a particular item that people use a lot and loan them out to other members of the community. A good example is a one in my community that has artificial flowers that can be borrowed for different events. A Purim Shpeil is a funny skit that is traditional to do on Purim. And finally many families who have moved from the US to Israel have kept some part of their business or work life in America, so the husbands often fly back to the US for short trips.

Now the video

Slow morning

Not much to write about this morning (aside from the news about Heather Mills stealing all that money from Sir Paul, but you can read about that at wrekehavoc). I was up late last night baking 5 dozen Hamentashen and I have at least another 5 dozen to go tonight. So I would not expect much from me tomorrow either.

Hamentashen

If people have not guessed yet, food is a somewhat important part of my life, as is Judaism. Luckily for me, food is also an important part of Judaism, so life, at times, it quite good. Years ago I used to write a Jewish food column on an early Jewish website called the Jewish Communication Network. I am posting my Purim entry from that site here today.

We are now beginning a period of time in which many Jews think of so much food it can make them go crazy. Purim is just around the corner, and right behind that is Passover. Today I would like to talk about Purim and Hamentashen.

In the Purim story the Jews are living peacefully in Persia, but Hamen, one of the kings advisers, does not like them because they are different. He gets the King’s permission to destroy all the Jews. A Jew named Mordecai and his niece Esther save the day, the King moves his support to the Jews, and they win the war and kill Hamen and his people. For more info, read the book of Esther.

Esther then proclaims a holiday for all time to commemorate this. There are not really any traditions about the foods to be eaten at this meal, but there is one special traditional food for Purim, and that is known as Hamentashen.

Hamentashen is a three cornered cookie like pastry with some sort of filling in it. It is very easy to make, and I hope that you will print out this recipe and make it tonight! The recipe makes about 18 Hamentashen, and can be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled without any problems. I hope you enjoy.

Well, enough talk, on with the recipe:

  1. 1 stick Margarine – softened
  2. 1 c. Sugar
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1 tsp. Vanilla
  5. 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  6. 2 c. Flour
  1. Place the Margarine in a bowl and add the sugar.
  2. Mix the two together with a fork or beaters until totally incorporated. This is called creaming.
  3. Add the egg and mix together.
  4. Add the Vanilla and the Baking Powder and mix.
  5. Add the flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Use more or less flour as needed.
  6. Flatten into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured board or table. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness and then cut circles with a cookie cutter or use an “old-fashion” glass.
  8. Set aside your cut cookies. You may stack them with a bit of flour between each layer.
  9. Take one circle and put about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the center. Bring up one side and then a second side and pinch together one corner. You will now have a “third side” to bring up and pinch together the two remaining corners.
  10. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and put in pre-heated 350° oven for about 10-15 minutes or until just beginning to turn color. I like my Hamentashen to be just turning brown.
  11. Remove from oven and cool on racks.

FillingsThis is not meant to be an endorsement, but I have tried them all. The best filling that one can buy for Hamentashen is Solo brand pie filling. It has the best consistency of the pie fillings I have found. Traditional flavors would be Prune, Poppy or Apricot, though they have many different flavors. You could also use Chocolate Chips, or Nutella, which is a hazelnut chocolate combination.  Be careful with Chocolate chips though as the cookie will dry up when baking.  I like to put a small amount of raspberry or strawberry filling in the center and put two or three chocolate chips in the filling.
If you would like to make your own fillings, you should take your fresh fruit, peel then and take out any seeds or pits and then cut them into smaller pieces. Place in a pot and put in some sugar to taste. If the fruit dried, like apricot, you should just cover the fruit with water.  Cook this down slowly until you are left with a thick syrup. If it is not the right consistency, mix one teaspoon of corn starch with 1 teaspoon water in a glass. Pour into the fruit mixture. It will thicken up quickly.

NOTES:
You can use 1/2 stick of regular Margarine and 1/2 stick light margarine to cut down on some of the calories.

You can use your food processor for this recipe. Put the Margarine and the sugar in the bowl of the food processor, and process for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour and process for about 1 minute until mixed through. Add the flour and process until the dough begins to form a ball in the center of the bowl. At this point, take it out and finish it on your floured board.

It is best to chill the dough before rolling so it is easier to work with.

Enjoy!

Passover in Winter?

OK, I have to write a small rant today.

A couple of weeks ago Passover foods began showing up in the supermarkets in New Jersey. I have no idea if this is happening in other parts of the country, but it seems that each year the stuff comes out at least a week earlier than the previous year. I mean we still have Purim coming up and no one wants to be thinking about planning seders yet.

Lets get real! Soon the stuff will be on the shelves in January!

I think the food should come out exactly one month before Passover and no earlier!

There, my rant is over.

Thanks.

Now for something silly.


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