Purim 2009

Chag Purim Sameach everyone. This year I added two new cookies and two new hamantashen fillings for my mishloach manot (gifts of food) that I am giving to my neighbors. The hamantashen fillings I made this year are: peach lekvar, cranberry-orange and pecan-fig. The hamantashen dough recipe and other filling recipes is here.

The peach lekvar is the same recipe as the apricot lekvar, but I used dried peaches instead. The filling is deliciously peachy and the mixture of the dried figs and pecans is also a very nice filling for the hamantashen.

Pecan-Fig Filling for Hamantashen

Yield: about 3 cups

2 cups dried figs

1/2 cup seedless raisins

Apple juice

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Place figs and raisins in large bowl with enough apple juice to cover. Refrigerate 3 hours, or overnight. Place fig mixture in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool; drain, reserving syrup. Puree figs and raisins in food processor along with 1/4 cup reserved syrup. Transfer to bowl; mix in pecans. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to use.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/10/purim-2009/

I have wanted to try and make Iraqi date cookies ever since I first tried them a couple of years ago after finding them in a local greengrocer near my office . I was so happy when I found Maggie Glezer’s recipe. The recipe looks complicated, but the cookies are actually very easy to make and even easier if you can find ready-made date paste. You should be able to find a package or two at a Middle Eastern store. The ready-made filling is just pure dates without any added sugars or fillers. This filling is also used to make mamoul cookies.

These are a flaky semolina pastry filled with pure date filling. The sweetness of the dates is all that is needed for this delicious cookie. They are perfect for afternoon tea.

Ba'abe

Yield: 16 date pastries

Ba'abe

Iraqi Date Pastries from Clemence Horesh

Adapted from A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World by Maggie Glezer

For the dough:

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup warm water

2/3 cup semolina (a.k.a. pasta flour)

1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

140g (10 tablespoons or 2/3 cup) melted butter or margarine

For the filling:

2 pkg date filling

or

1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds to coat

For the dough:

Stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Mix the semolina and the flour, then stir in the melted butter or oil until it is well distributed and the mixture clumps together. Add the water and mix; the dough will feel very soft at first and then firm up. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two more water to make a smooth, soft dough, or a tablespoon or two more flour to firm it up. Wrap the dough in a plastic bag and let it rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Date Balls

Make the filling if you can't find packaged date filling: In a sauté pan over low heat, heat the dates just until they are warm to the touch, then turn off the heat. Using your hands, knead the dates into the oil in the pan. When the filling is smooth and cohesive, roll the filling up into 16 tablespoon-sized balls with your hands, setting the balls on a plate.

Shape and bake the ba'abe: Arrange the oven racks on the upper- and lower-third positions. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly flour a work surface and have more flour available. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, or oil or butter them. Have ready the date balls, the beaten egg and the sesame seeds.

Date Ball on Dough

Roll out the dough into an 18-inch-square. Using a 3- to 4-inch-diameter glass, teacup or cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Put a slightly flattened date ball in the center of each and seal the dough around the ball. Pinching each pastry by the seal, dip the smooth half first in the beaten egg, then in the sesame seeds. On your work surface, with the seeded-side up, flatten each pastry into a 2-inch disk with a rolling pin. Punch a decorative pattern into the pastry with the end of a wooden spoon or a skewer.

Ba'a'be or Iraqi Date Pastries

Arrange the ba'abe on the baking sheet, leaving room for expansion. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then store them in a sealed container.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/10/purim-2009/

These oatmeal cookies take me back to when my brother (z”l), of blessed memory, used to come home from school and whip up a batch of these cookies. They filled the house with such a wonderful smell of cinnamon and love. And, it reminds me of how much I miss him.

When I first found oatmeal in the supermarket in Israel, I really had a big chuckle because Israelis, who find it difficult to transliterate foreign words into Hebrew without making funny mistakes, call it Quacker oatmeal.

Mr BT who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, except for chocolate, really likes these cookies, especially because he can use the pretext that they are healthy.

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

From the Quaker Oatmeal Can

225g (1 cup (2 sticks)) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

3 cups Quaker Oats Old Fashioned, uncooked

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 170C (350F).

In large bowl beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 11 to 12 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/10/purim-2009/

Chag Purim Sameach – Happy Purim!

My first post on this blog was during the holiday of Purim and here we are one year later making Hamantaschen again. I decided to make three of the four fillings I made last year: Cranberry-Orange, Date-Walnut and Apricot Lekvar.

My family did not have a tradition of making Hamantaschen for Purim. My German grandmother made Haman’s Ears, which was dough that was rolled out and cut into strips, fried in oil and dusted with powdered sugar. I only started making this biscuits about 12 years ago when the little old lady that used to make them for our synagogue developed dementia and couldn’t make them anymore. She was not a member of our congregation, and so we used to drive 60 miles to Birmingham to buy them from her to serve at our congregation’s Purim party. One of the congregants went to pick up the 10 dozen Hamantaschen she had ordered and the little old lady didn’ t know why she was there and hadn’t made any biscuits. So, I received a frantic phone call asking if I could make them. I said I had never tried, but how hard could they be? I found a recipe and I have been making them ever since.

This year, I wanted to make another cookie in addition to the Hamantaschen because I had to make gifts to give to our landlords, who live about 100 yards away, and our new neighbors. It is Jewish law that on Purim one must send at least one Mishloach Manot (sending gifts of food) to a friend and also send Matanot La’evyonim (gifts to the poor). You are suppose to give two different types of ready-to-eat food, each of which require a different blessing. So, you can give two different cakes or biscuits or fruits, etc or mix them up.

I was looking at an Italian blog and found a link to a recipe for biscuits that are from the Jewish Ghetto in Venice. A friend of mine who is from Venice told me that he remembers going to a bakery in the Ghetto and buying these biscuits. They are called Impade and they are filled with an almond filling and rolled in icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar). Have a look at the link below for more pictures on how to make the cookies. If you speak Italian, then you can read the entire recipe. Here is a loose translation (I did a few things differently):

Impade

Yield: About 45 biscuits

Venetian Jewish Almond Cookies

Pastry:

500g all purpose flour

275g sugar

3 small or medium eggs

125 ml corn oil

Filling:

250g whole blanched almonds

200g sugar

2 eggs

Zest of one lemon

Impade Dough

Mix the sugar and the flour together and create a well. Add the eggs and the oil and bring the flour-sugar mixture from the sides into the egg-oil mixture. Mix until you create a ball, similar to pie dough. It should be soft and elastic. Set aside and prepare the filling.

Impade Almond Filling

Grind the almonds and place in bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest, the eggs and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Rolled dough

Take 1/3 of the dough and roll into a 2cm (4/5 inch) diameter snake. Cut the snake into 5cm (2 inch) pieces and roll each one flat into a rectangle.

Rolled out and filled

Put one teaspoon of almond filling in the middle of the rectangle and bring the long sides together over the filling and pinch together into a crest.

Impade Prebaked

Then shape the dough into the shape of the letter "S".

Impade

Bake the biscuits at 200C (400F) for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180C (350F) for an additional 15 minutes.

Roll them immediately in icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) and let them cool.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/03/21/chag-purim-sameach-happy-purim/

Welcome to my world!

This is my first post on my first blog. I am excited to start this new blog and hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride as I show you my home that I love.

Most of this website will be about my food adventures, but I will also share the beauty of my country.

Israel is a country of contrasts. We have the mountains and forests in the North, the Mediterranean Sea on the West coast, the Dead Sea in the East, the Negev desert and the Red Sea in the South.

We are the third largest flower exporter in the world and grow some of the best produce in the world.

Flowers

I will show you how I cook with the wonderful bounty we have here.

Shuk HaCarmel

Tonight is the evening of Purim and I just returned from the reading of the story of Esther. I am making hamantaschen, which are three-cornered biscuits filled with a variety of fillings. The standards are apricot, prune and poppyseed fillings. But, I like to experiment with other fillings. My usual fillings are apricot lekvar and date-walnut filling. This year I am adding my take on mincemeat and cranberry-orange filling.

Hamantaschen Fillings

My hamantaschen recipe is from Claudia Roden’s, The Jewish Book of Food. I like this dough because it is more of a flaky pastry than the crunchy cookie ones you find in the bakery. These are more delicate.

I also like the fact that this recipe only contains 2 tablespoons of sugar. I do not add any added sugar to my fillings. I think they are sweet enough.

Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen

Yield: 20 hamentashen

Dough

250g (1-3/4 cup) flour

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 or 3 drops of vanilla extract

150g (5oz) unsalted butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

1 egg yolk

2-3 teaspoons milk or water, if necessary

Egg wash (1 egg + a teaspoon of water)

Mix the flour, salt sugar and vanilla extract. Add the butter or margarine and mix in with your fingers to resemble cornmeal. Mix in the egg yolk and form the dough into a ball. Try not to overwork the dough. Cover with plastic film and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into four parts, roll one part at a time to about 1/8 inch (3mm) thick. Cut circles with a 3-inch (7-1/2 cm) round cookie or American biscuit cutter.

Hamantaschen Dough

Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the dough and pinch three sides together to form a triangle. Make sure that you pinch the ends well. Place them on a cookie sheet, preferably with a silpat liner and brush the dough with the egg wash.

Hamantaschen Jewels

Bake at 375 F (190C) for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on the tray for about 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

 

Apricot Lekvar

Yield: 2 cups

200g (2 cups) dried California (I prefer these sour apricots) or Mediterranean apricots

1/2 cup orange juice or water

Cook over low heat until very tender and most of the liquid has reduced. Cool and process in the food processor until smooth.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

 

Cranberry-Orange Filling

Yield: 2 cups

200g (2 cups) dried cranberries

100g (1 cup) golden raisins

1 medium orange, seeded, unpeeled and cut into quarters

1/2 cup water

Process the orange quarters in food processor until finely chopped.

In a saucepan, add all of the ingredients, including the chopped orange and cook on a low flame until the cranberries and raisins are tender. Cool and process to a chunky paste.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

Date-Walnut Filling

Yield: 2 cups

250g (2 cups) date filling

(you can find this a Middle Eastern store) or chopped dates that have been cooked over a low flame with water to form a paste.

200g (2 cups) walnuts

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground clove

Warm water

Place the date filling, walnuts, cinnamon and clove in the food processor and add 2 tablespoons of warm water. Mix until smooth. You can add more water, if necessary. The filling should be thick.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

 

 

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