Ok, so it’s only week three and I’m already going off plan. Not that anyone else is holding me to it, but I am supposed to be sharing ideas and projects for re-crafting at home. For taking something old and making it new again. That is my thing, afterall. But I’m going to stretch it a bit here. I’ll come around to it. I will, you’ll see. But humor me a little, because today is actually going to be more about something I did for the first time.
Yesterday, I celebrated Purim with my family. Having grown up in a Christian home, I now find myself married to a Jewish man (who himself wasn’t raised in a particularly traditional Jewish family) and raising Jewish children. I haven’t converted, but I am working hard at learning about the culture as we make our own traditions. Which mostly means that I am starting with food and going from there.
In the case of Purim, the best place to start seemed to be Hamantaschen. I won’t go into the whole story of the holiday here, but I’ll tell you this: there’s a bad guy, Haman, and a heroic Jewish Queen, Esther. If my Jewish Holiday Cookbook is to be believed, most of the foods of the Holidays have symbolic reference of some kind. In this case, the triangular shape of these cookies are said to be in mockery of the tri-cornered hat worn by the villain. There are numerous variations and secret family recipes, but all involve a dollop of yummy filling in the center of a cookie dough circle that is then pinched into a triangular pocket and baked. Not a hard recipe, but, for me, definitely a concerted effort at kicking off our own “history” of celebrating this holiday.
As I creamed and sifted and blended, I got to thinking. I looked over at the ceramic milk pitcher painted with blueberries that had belonged to my paternal grandmother. The one she had received at a church supper in the Fifties. The one that was now propping open my Jewish cookbook. I looked down at her Fire-King mixing bowl that now held the beginnings of Purim cookies. And I laughed to myself at the blending of traditions and blurring of generations that was happening right there on my counter in 2011. Everything old is new again, indeed.
In the interest of your tummy, here is the recipe I used. My grandmother’s mixing bowls and I will be trying again next year, maybe making a few changes to come up with our own secret recipe. And who knows …one day, perhaps, a little girl somewhere will be using that recipe to make her own Hamantaschen right there in the FireKing mixing bowls that were handed down to her by her “Bubbe”.
Hamantaschen from The Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene
½ cup butter*, softened
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter with the brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Then mix in the baking powder, soda, and flour until very well combined. Form the dough into a thick circle, wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for several hours until it is firm.
Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8” thick. Cut out circles using a 3” cutter. Put a generous teaspoon of filling** in the cnter of each circle. Fold up the edges of each circle in thirds to form a triangular base and pinch the edges together tightly, leaving a small opening in the center of the cookie where the filling peeks out. Place ~ 1” apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350-degrees for 15 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
*as written, this makes a cookie that is kosher with Dairy meals. For a Pareve cookie, substitute margarine for the butter.
**The traditional fillings are poppyseed filling (which can be found prepared in many groceries) and prune. Alternatively use cherry or other fruit preserves, chocolate chips or nutella.