holidays & recipes: purim hamanstaschen

holidays & recipes: celebrating purim hamanstaschen (spice and spirit by esther blau) 1Purim and Passover are my two favorite holidays. The celebration is joyous and there is a lot of good food. Purim is the Jewish form of Carnival or Mardi Gras if you will. There is just riotous fun to be had; costumes, bright colors, Purim spiel, eating and drinking. But, before we get too involved in the fun we read and learn. {Video Below} One year a Rabbi was talking about Jewish holidays and food. She said, “Most of the holidays [Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover] are celebrations of survival. They tried to kill us; we survived; now let’s eat.” While the Rabbi was joking, she really was telling a basic truth about the commonalities of these holidays. However, each holiday has a unique and beautiful story to tell about the spirit of survival and the strength of faith. The festival of Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from a plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” We celebrate on the 14th day of Adar (Hebrew calendar). During the 4th century BCE the Persian Empire was extensive (It was also during the 4th century BCE that Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire.) The Persian Empire was located in South Asia. It ruled over a very large portion of the ancient world; from the Indus Valley to the northern borders of Greece. The peoples living within the Persian Empire were its subjects, including the Jews. The Persian kind, King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders. In order to find a new wife he held a 4th century beauty pageant of sorts. Ahasuerus orders all young women to be gathered and presented to him. One of these is Esther, a young Jewish woman who was raised by her older relative, Mordecai as her parents were deceased. Esther is favored by Ahasuerus and is made his wife. Esther does not reveal that she is Jewish. During the same time frame the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was outraged and he persuaded the king to issue a decree. This decree called for the extermination of all Jews on the 13th of Adar. Esther displayed remarkable courage and love of her people when she asked the king and Haman to join her for a meal at which time Esther revealed her Jewish identity. The king was incensed. He ordered the death of Haman, who was hanged. The king then appointed Mordechai as his new prime minister, at which time a new decree was issued that stated Jews had the right to defend themselves against their enemies. On the 13th of Adar the Jews defended themselves against their enemies. On the 14th of Adar they celebrated their survival. Some ways we celebrate Purim: 1. We read the Megillah (the Scroll of Esther) twice: once on Purim eve and once on Purim day. Purim eve is March 7th and Purim Day is March 8th for the year 2012 2. We practice an act of charity, which is important for us all year, but on Purim day it is a mitzvah to remember at least two needy individuals. 3. We send gifts of food to our friends as a symbol of unity. My favorite part: eat, drink and be merry! There should be a festive meal and it is a mitzvah to drink wine or other alcoholic beverages. Purim spiel; a comical acting out of the story of Esther, during which the audience has groggers and other noise makers. Each time Haman’s name is said the audience makes noise to blot out his name. The baking of hamanstashen (Haman’s pockets) or Oznei Haman (Haman’s ears) a cookie that is triangular in shape and filled with jam. {Featured Products Featured Designer Michael Aram}
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Hamanstaschen (Spice and Spirit by Esther Blau) Ingredients 4cups flour 4 eggs 3/4 cup sugar 1 cup margarine, softened 1 Tbsp. Orange juice 2 tsps. Baking powder 1 tsp. Vanilla extract Pinch of salt 1 tsp. Orange rind 1 medium to large jar of preserves (we used raspberry) Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350°. 2. Line cookie sheets with parchment. 3. Place all ingredients in a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, and mix together. You may add a drop more juice or flour, depending on consistency of dough. Roll dough into a ball. Divide into four parts. Chill the dough if it is too warm (about 30 minutes to 1 hour). Proceed to assemble and bake according to Hamantashen illustrated. Illustrated Guide: 1. Prepare dough of your choice. Divide into four portions 2. On a floured board roll out each portion to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter cut 3-inch circles. 3. Place 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon of desired filling in the center of each circle. 4. To shape into triangle, lift up right and left sides, leaving the bottom down and bring both side to meet at the center above the filling. 5. Bring top flap down to the center to meet the two sides. Pinch edges together. 6. Place on grease cookie sheet 1 inch apart and bake at 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. Dough should not be too dry or too warm. Your hamanstashen will be hard to roll out if too dry. And, if it is too warm the triangle will open up during baking. And, do a good job of pinching the edges together so that they stay secure.
[embed width="600" height="600"][/embed] Photography Data: Featured Photographer: Carly Hennigan ApertureFNumber: f/3.2 Make: NIKON CORPORATION Model: NIKON D200 ExposureTime: 1/100 FNumber: 32/10 ExposureProgram: 1 ISOSpeedRatings: 100 MaxApertureValue: 16/10 MeteringMode: 3 LightSource: 9 Flash: 0 FocalLength: 500/10
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  • March 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm //

    They look lovely and quite simple to make. I think I will have to try making them. :-)

    • March 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm //

      They are, hope you’ll give them a try, they are really versatile too, you can fill them with anything.

  • March 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm //

    These little guys look delicious and easy to make! I must try :)

    • March 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm //

      Thank you so much for commenting Sydney.

  • March 7, 2012 at 10:51 pm //

    Beautiful Hamantaschen. :) I love them with poppy seeds, too!

  • March 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm //

    I love hamenstaschen! Great with apricot jam. Most traditional, I think, is prune (lekvar) filling. What makes the dough in the photo look so yellow, I wonder?

    • March 8, 2012 at 7:50 am //

      So do we Blair, we used Lightroom to give it a more warmer tone in the photo, and opted to use butter instead of margarine. Yes, that’s right, Prune filling, we quite like both. The cookies are so versatile in that respect.

      Thanks so much for commenting Blair.