Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HAMENTASCHEN FLU

I had big plans for last week. Celebrating both my Irish and Jewish heritage, I was to offer two fantastic recipes in a single blog, gently weaving together the beauty of each culture and my love for my family. In a cute nod to St. Patty’s Day, I would forego traditional (and bland) corned beef and cabbage for my Aunt’s Grasshopper Pie, a green-tinted mint chocolate confection. I would then reign in Purim with the annual batch of hamentaschen. As the Irish Prayer says: “Twas [to be] Heaven…” Or rather I should say: “Twould’ve been Heaven.”

Then everyone in my family got sick.

God love my son, but in his flu-induced haze he became a Snuggle Nazi. For two days straight, I was ordered to remain on the couch and hold him. No talking, no reading, and absolutely no TV.

Lying in this monastic infirmary, I kept hope alive. “He’ll be better by Thursday, and we’ll bake. It’s all good.” Alas, no such luck. As the week progressed, our family’s physical and mental health fell apart like a cheap toy from China. By St. Patrick’s Day, I was so deeply entombed in the sick day cocoon I could barely figure out why everyone was wearing green.

Things were marginally better by Purim, so my husband suggested that we make hamentaschen. I hesitated. Did I really want to eat Danish forged by sick people’s hands?

Ultimately, I relented and we soon launched into our routine of squabbling over measurements and analyzing the best triangle-making technique. (The trick is in an extra twist to the corners.)

Early in our marriage, we made hamentaschen –a batch whose doughy goodness still linger in my memory—and have yet to capture this past glory. Our quest for the perfect recipe pushed the outer limits of hospitality the year we –as house guests at my brother’s-- turned his kitchen upside down and baked long into the night.

By the time, my son begged to help, thus getting his own germy little hands in on the action, I was completely resigned. Who cares if our hamentaschen are laced with cooties. They were our cooties, darnit! Besides, wouldn’t The Jeanne have frowned upon such germophobia? (I can already hear her rattling of an incredibly scientific argument about how societal fear of germs simply creates mega-viruses.)

In the end, the whole family agreed this was our best batch yet. We seem to have hit upon a winning recipe. Nonetheless, I won't offer you one. They’ve got cooties, you know.

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Easy Hamentaschen

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

One of the biggest problems with hamentaschen is that to get the tasty butter kinds, you usually have to freeze the dough for two hours. This recipe, however, uses oil but is still flavorful. The orange juice seems to give it a nice kick. Try almond extract instead of vanilla.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup vegetable oil

2 ½ tsp vanilla extract (or try almond, but use less)

½ cup orange juice

5 ½ cups all-purpose baking powder

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 cup fruit preserves, any flavor (We like apricot)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until lightly and fluffy. Stir in the oil, vanilla and orange juice. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter to form a stiff dough. If dough is not stiff enough to roll out, stir in more flour. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or the rim or a drinking glass (the smaller the circumference, the better). Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of preserves into the center of each one. Fold over three edges and twist the corners. (The Danish is yummiest when there is jelly caught in the folds!)
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

NOTE: I'll post the grasshopper pie recipe later this week.

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