Archive for March, 2011
I spent this past weekend, while on my way to Israel for Passover, with my sister and her family in Flatbush. I joined my brother-in-law on Saturday morning at one of the many local shtiebels (Yiddish for “little room,” connoting a small, informal synagogue). While some of these establishments barely fit more than a minyan (ten people), this was a particularly large place, replete with a new gleaming catering hall downstairs. The men’s section covers the first floor, while the women are sequestered upstairs. During services, the men sit five abreast facing forward along narrow tables with the overflow of the crowd positioning chairs haphazardly where they could.
It so happened that the shtiebel hosted an aufruf this Shabbat, packing the main room, with a large communal kiddush held after services. Toward the end of services, the tables in the men’s section were spread with plastic covers and plastic plates, utensils, and cups were dispersed. The food, hustled upstairs by three waiters, started off inauspiciously with slices of stale seven layer cake and marbled sponge cake. I was prepared to save my calories for lunch. This, however, was followed by two types of herring, schmaltz and pickled, accompanied by crackers and kichlach (egg wafers lightly sprinkled with sugar). More interesting to be sure, although not exactly earth-shaking. It’s been a while since I’ve seen actual kichlach at a kiddush. When I was growing up, they were a mainstay. But for decades now, these old-fashioned wafers have been replaced in most shuls with Entenmann’s cakes or various commercial packaged cookies, not ideal fare for use with herring. But then herring too has been largely lost in many kiddushes.
Then, lo and behold, came a flashback to Eastern Europe. The waiters brought in plates of jiggly squares that I immediately recognized as p’tcha (calves’ feet gelatin) surround by extremely large pieces of gribenes (fried chicken skin). Soon there arrived plates with cholent and kishke as well as potato and noodle kugel. I was in hog heaven, so to speak. This was not the namby-pamby fare of modern American kiddushes. This was old school.
To tell the truth, I’ve never been a big p’tcha lover. Too many versions have an off-taste or strange texture. My mother informs me that her father used to make p’tcha when she was young, but he never presented any to the grandchildren. (We probably wouldn’t have tried it anyway.) I can only recall about a half dozen times in my life that I have been at functions or homes that offered p’tcha. I remember when I was a teenager, our local Richmond butcher and wife, the Grabins, came for a Shabbat meal and she sent a platter of p’tcha. (I failed to appreciate it at the time.) I think the last time I saw it at a kiddush was at the now defunct Jackson Hotel in Far Rockaway for the Sheva Berachot of my niece Efrat, who now has five of her own kids. (Thanks Elli for all your efforts to promote EJF.) On two occasions over the years, I procured calves’ feet and boiled up my own p’tcha. No easy task there and the Upper West Side kosher butcher shop that aided me in obtaining the feet is long since gone. It takes quite a bit of potchka to make this simple gelatin and most people, myself probably included, don’t adequately value the final aspic product. P’tcha is one of those items that people either love or hate. It is amazing that our society loves gelatin loaded with sugar, but fails to appreciate versions of the same gelatinous texture (so prized by the upper class during the Victorian Age) flavored with garlic and lemon. My three young nephews sitting with me at the kiddush refused to touch it. But I did. This time, the p’tcha was actually quite tasty. (Or perhaps, my palate has expanded over the years.) I even had a second helping, while nibbling on some flavorful, crunchy pieces of gribenes. I realize that this fare is not for everyone — although many of the older gentlemen at the kiddush also joyously partook — and I certainly would never eat it every day. But I was enjoying my flashbacks to the Pale of Settlement.
While I was finishing the compilation of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food (if I can toot my own horn, it was just nominated for a James Beard Award in the research and scholarship category) and we were looking for ways to trim some excess, my editor Linda wondered about the need for a p’tcha entry. But I protested. Love it or hate it, p’tcha is one of those foods that anyone exposed to real Eastern European Jewish food knows and has an opinion about. Ironically, earlier in the week, I had given a talk on “The Mainstreaming of Jewish Food in America” at the main branch of the New York Public Library (of course, my appearance fell on the same day that it snowed in late March), and among the questions afterwards was about p’tcha, and every Ashkenazi in the audience seemed to have an opinion. And here, a plate of the jiggly, paprika-sprinkled squares and browned, crinkled gribenes stood in front of me at this kiddush and I could not, nor wanted to, resist.
Meanwhile as I savored this taste of the past, a seven-year-old nephew snuck away to the women’s section upstairs and eventually returned with some fancy pastries and a cookies for himself and a white-glazed petit four for me. It seems that the women were chauvinistically served a completely different menu than the men — fancy cakes, fresh fruit, and an array of interesting salads.
I was both jealous and content. It’s a dichotomy. I love healthy, fresh, modern cuisine and heavy, old-fashioned, Eastern European fare. I am, after all, a foodie. Much of the time when I am making food for myself, I prefer healthy and vegetarian fare. However, since it so is infrequent that I actually have the opportunity to sample again p’tcha and gribenes, I was content with the men’s menu. Every once in a while, I appreciate p’tcha, gribenes, kishke, schmaltz, and the various other Ashkenazic traditional foods that have nearly disappeared in an age of image-, calorie-, fat-, and cholesterol-consciousness. There is, after all, a reason that these items were once so popular. Still both old school fatty foods and some fresh fruit and salads would have been even better.
Here are a few new articles about my new James Beard Award-nominated book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Food nominated for James Beard Awards 2011:
Savvima review of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food: http://savvima.com/2010/11/15/savvima-review-giveaway-of-%e2%80%9cencyclopedia-of-jewish-food%e2%80%9d/
a comprehensive compilation of perhaps every food, from traditional to exotic, associated with Judaism and the Jewish people.
Although this brilliant book does contain an encyclopedic amount of information (656 pages worth, including many recipes), it reads like anything but.
Culinaria Libris on Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
…one thorough and fascinating read on the history of Jewish food, recipes and customs
Encyclopedia of Jewish food quoted again, i.e. hamantaschen: http://www.jwi.org/Page.aspx?pid=2730
Nice mention of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
My p’tcha recipe (you can read about all 10 foods in Encyclopedia of Jewish Food http://www.forward.com/articles/135781/
Nice comment on Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Food quoted by Faye Levy in Jerusalem Post: http://www.jpost.com/LifeStyle/Article.aspx?id=206861
I got a nice mention in LA Weekly http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/2011/02/cookbook_review_pretty_delicio.php
Faith Kramer on Jewish chili sauces
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview with Gil Marks about Encyclopedia of Jewish Food http://www.jsonline.com/features/food/113239569.html
Gil Marks on Celebrity Chef Chat
LA Weekly Best 2010 Food Reference Books:
“There are a handful of books that render you speechless…A must-have for anyone (Jewish or otherwise) who’s interested in food history or just pretty damn excited about rugelach.”
Jewish Forward on Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
“Readers intent on learning more about these familiar foodstuffs will find much to enjoy in Marks’s lucid and lively descriptions of them. But those inclined to browse and meander through the pages of this compendium will have even more fun, encountering lots of culinary revelations.
“It isn’t everyday that you get to read about kosher foods and live through the 3000-year Jewish experience as well.”
Before there were hamantaschen, Sephardim and Italian Jews had their own Purim treat, oznei haman (Haman’s ears), which consisted of deep-fried strips of pastry coated in honey or sugar syrup. Cutting and twisting the dough has practical as well as aesthetic purposes, by eliminating any raw centers and making the fried items easier to turn in the fat.
Ashkenazim never did much deep-frying, as they historically had only schmaltz for fat. In northern Europe, oil was rare and expensive; the predominant oils in much of Germany were poppy seed and turnip. On the other hand, Jews from the Mediterranean generally had plenty of inexpensive olive oil or sesame oil available and, consequently, developed a number of deep fried items in their culinary repertoire. In addition, many North African Jewish communities had the custom of serving the same treats prepared for Chanukah on Purim “to connect miracle with miracle.”
Among the recipes in an anonymous thirteenth century Moorish cookbook from Andalusia was a deep-fried pastry called udhun (Arabic meaning “ear”), so named because the dish resembled that part of the human anatomy. The directions to make these pastry ears entail kneading white flour with olive oil and water, rolling the unleavened dough out into thin pieces the size of the palm of a hand, folding in half, inserting a stick in one end to keep it ajar (like a cone), frying, then coating with rose water-accented sugar. The fried pastry was typically filled with ground pistachios or almonds mixed with sugar and rosewater. In this vein, Isaac Abarbanel (born in Lisbon in 1437 and died in Venice in 1508) in his Biblical commentary in a discussion of the manna, noted, “The wafers are a flour food cooked in oil in the form of a water flask that are eaten with honey and it is like the wafers that they make from dough like the shape of ears, cooked in oil and dipped into honey, and we called them ozneim (ears).” Fried pastry strips became traditional Sephardic Hanukkah fare, a symbol of the miracle of the oil. When the dish went from “ears” to “Haman’s ears” for Purim is uncertain, but it initially appears in Renaissance Italy.
The first record of the term oznei haman was in 1550 in an Italian Jewish comedy Tzachut Bedichuta de-Kiddushin (An Eloquent Marriage Farce) written in Hebrew by Judah Leone Ben Isaac Sommo (1527-1592) of Mantua, the oldest extant Jewish play, drawing from the Midrash and Italian comedy (Commedia dell’arte, which began in the 16th century, was also the source for the custom of dressing up in costumes on Purim). This play was originally produced for a Purim carnival. In an exchange between two characters, one asks:
“Behold it is written in the Scroll of Purim ‘and they hung Haman,’ and in the portion of Balak it is written in explanation ‘and the Children of Israel ate ha’mahn (the manna).’ How could the Jews, who keep themselves from every wicked thing [Deuteronomy 23:10], eat the carcass of the one that was hung, but to the dog you shall cast it?”
To which his friend provides an answer, “For what the Torah says ‘and they ate ha’mahn’ it is a warning and commandment to us that we eat during these days of Purim from oznei Haman (Haman’s ears) — they are the thin wafers made from fine semolina flour mingled with olive oil [based on Exodus 29:2], and thus it says afterward ‘and their taste was like wafers with honey [Exodus 16:31].’”
This pun and the custom of ozeni haman, fried strips of dough in honey, soon spread throughout the Mediterranean and parts of Europe. By eating a pastry formed to represent part of Haman’s clothing or anatomy; most notably his pocket, hat, foot, or ear, symbolically and tastefully erased the villainous prime minister’s name. As with many Jewish food traditions and names, after its appearance reasons were retroactively attached to it, in the case of Haman’s ears the phrase “oznayim mekutafot.” The Roman scholar and poet Immanuel ben Solomon (c. 1261-1328) translated this phrase as “clipped ears,” contending that Haman’s ears were cut off after his hanging, a misnomer arising from the medieval Italian custom of cutting off a criminal’s ear before execution. The phrase more precisely means “twisted ears,” denoting either that someone wrenched his ears or they were deformed, twisted or triangular in shape, like a donkey.
After the Expulsion of 1492, the name and dish spread to become the most widespread of Purim dishes, called oznei Haman in Hebrew, hamanmuetzen in Germany, aftia tou Amman in Greece, hamansooren in Holland, orecchi de Aman in Italy, and hojuelos de haman. Variations on the dish include schunzuchen (“shoddy cakes”) in Alsace, heizenblauszen (“blown up little pants”) in Austria, burbushella in Georgia, kichelkies in Holland, and mafis (“not found/unavailable”) in Turkey, and variously fijuelas, fazuelos, faduelos, and figeolas in Morocco.
Judith Montefiore in The Jewish Manuel (London, 1846) included a recipe for “Haman’s Fritters,” directing: “Take two spoonful of the best Florence oil [olive oil], scald it, and when hot, mix with it one pound of flour, add four beaten eggs and make it into a paste, roll it out thin and cut it into pieces about four inches square, let them dry and fry them in oil; the moment the pieces are put in the frying pan, they must be drawn up with two silver skewers into different forms according to fancy; a few minutes is sufficient to fry them, they should be crisp when done.”
In northwestern Africa, cooks developed a special coiled shape called debla, a Ladino word for “rose.” In the Middle Eastern manner, the fried pastries are dipped into a sugar syrup or honey syrup, appearing like flowers glistening with dew. Deblas are traditional Purim and Hanukkah treats in Morocco through Libya. Using semolina produces an interesting crunchy texture. There is also a nut-filled version very similar to the venerable Iberian udhun, not in the coiled shape, though still called debla, utilizing the traditional triangular shape for Purim. Moroccans commonly enjoy debla with mint tea.
In colonial America, fried pastry strips became known as a cruller or cruller. Most dictionaries attribute this name to the Dutch krullen (to curl). However, the word cruller (or kruller) was unknown in Holland in the nineteenth century and is definitely of American origin. Therefore, some New York historians offer an alternative explanation to this now popular appellation, one entailing a specific person – Bastiaen Jansz Crol -— or the Anglicized spelling, Sebastian Jansen Krol (in either case pronounced crull) – appointed in 1630 the new commander of Fort Orange (later known as Albany, New York). One of the major problems facing the new captain was the monotony of the food and frequent short supplies, including starter for making yeast dough. In response, Crol substitute fried unleavened pastry for the yeast-dough of oliekoeken, forming the pastry into rectangles with several slits. The troops and later community called these pastries after their leader, crolyer (or krolyer).
The term cruller made its first appearance in print in an advertisement in the December 13, 1802 issue of the New York City paper, Commercial Advertiser (page 2), promoting the upcoming publication of the American edition of The Frugal Housewife. The first recipe for crullers appeared in the appendix (page 215) of the American edition of The Frugal Housewife by Sussannah Carter (New York, 1803), “To which is added an appendix, containing several new receipts adapted to the American mode of cooking,” including:
To Make Crullers
One pound of flour to half a pound of good brown-sugar, and half a pound of butter, let your hog’s lard be boiling, then make them into what form you please, and put them in to fry.”
Soon thereafter, Washington Irving in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1819) used the term cruller to describe “a crisp and crumbling” fried dough, in contrast to the soft fried yeast doughnut: “Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender olykoek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller.”
Suddenly in 1845, recipes for crullers leavened with saleratus appeared in American cookbooks, including The Orphan’s Friend and Housekeeper’s Assistant by Ann Allen (Boston, 1845) and The Farmer’s and Emigrant’s Hand-book by Josiah Marshall (New York, 1845). Sarah Hale in The Ladies’ New Book of Cookery (New York, 1852) offered recipes for two types of crullers, one leavened with saleratus and the other unleavened, as well as directions for forming them into twisting them, “divide one end in three or four parts like fingers, and twist or plait them over each other.” In the first edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer (Boston, 1896) crullers were pastries leavened with baking powder: “roll thin, and cut in pieces three inches long by two inches wide; make four one inch gashes at equal intervals. Take up by running finger in and out of gashes, and lower into deep fat.”
Eventually, the term cruller came to encompass any twisted doughnut, whether unleavened and leavened (a Crol twist of fate), not only in America, but many places overseas as well.
With the mass arrival of eastern Europeans toward the end of the nineteenth century, hamantasachen emerged as the preeminent Purim treat in America and fried pastry strips were neglected. The word was perhaps first recorded in America in July 1896 issue of The Medical Missionary edited by John Harvey Kellogg (Battle Creek, MI) in an article entitled “The Feast of Purim,” explaining, “Jewish women are, however, very busy, in spite of the fast, in preparing choice dishes for the next day, and especially certain little cakes, called “krapplech” fritters, and also cakes in the form of a triangle, called “Hamantashen,” which are delightful morsels to both old and young.” The Jewish Encyclopedia (1903), “The Haman Tash, a kind of a turnover filled with honey and black poppy-seed, is eaten on the Feast of Purim, but probably has no special meaning.”
Oznei Haman (Sephardic Haman’s Ears)
(About 30 pastries)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks; or 6 large egg yolks)
¼ cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, vegetable oil, or melted margarine, or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) sour cream
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water, seltzer, orange juice, sweet red wine, brandy, or rum
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped blanched almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cinnamon, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) rum extract, or ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract (optional)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking powder (optional)
About 2½ cups (12.5 ounces/355 grams) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
About 6 cups (2 pounds/910 grams) vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
Confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon-sugar for dusting
1. Blend together the eggs, sugar, oil, water, and salt. If desired, add the almonds, zest, vanilla, and/or baking powder. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead until very smooth (2 to 3 minutes). Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. With a pastry cutter, fluted pastry wheel, or sharp knife, cut the pastry into strips 1-inch wide and 4- to 6-inches long. Pinch the strips in center and twist. (The pastry can be prepared ahead to this point, placed on a floured baking sheet, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 hours.)
3. Slowly heat about 2 inches oil to 375 degrees (190 C).
4. Fry several strips at a time in the oil, turning to fry evenly, until golden brown on all sides (about 1 minute). Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon-sugar. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
TO CUSTOMIZE – Cut dough into semi-circles, then pinch center of straight edge to suggest an ear.
– Klenatter: Starting 1/3 of the way from 1 narrow end, cut a 1-inch slit lengthwise in each pastry strip; and pull longer end through slit.
– Cut dough into 2-inch squares; cut a 1-inch slit through center of each square; and pull on corner through the slit.
Orecchi di Aman (Italian Haman’s Ears): Add 2 cups (480 ml) chopped candied peel and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fennel seeds, and substitute 3 tablespoons (45 ml) orange blossom water for the water.
Sesame Dough: Add ¼ cup (60 ml) sesame seeds.
Debla (Northwest African Sweetened Roses)
(About 20 pastries)
About 2 cups (10 ounces/280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking powder
Dash of salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten (scant 2/3 cup/5.25 ounces/150 grams)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract, grated orange zest, or grated lemon zest (optional)
About 6 cups (2 pounds/910 grams) vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
2 cups (14 ounces/400 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (11.75 ounces/340 grams) honey
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/240 ml) water
1. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat the eggs until thick and creamy. If desired, add the vanilla or zest. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to make a soft dough.
2. Place on a lightly floured surface. Using oiled hands, knead the dough until smooth and uniform (about 10 minutes).
3. Roll out the dough into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 1-inch-wide strips.
4. Heat at least 4 inches oil to 360 degrees (180 C).
5. Meanwhile make the syrup by combining sugar, honey, and water, bring to a boil, and boil until syrupy (about 10 minutes).
6. Dip a metal tablespoon into the hot oil. Wrap a dough strip around the spoon to form a rose-like shape. Place into the oil, removing the spoon slowly so that the dough retains a coiled shape. Fry until golden.
7. Remove with a slotted spoon. Carefully place the warm pastry rolls into warm syrup and simmer for 2 minutes. Cool on wire racks or wax paper. If desired, sprinkle with ground cinnamon or chopped pistachio nuts.
Koeksisters (Dutch Pastry Twists)
(About 18 pastries)
These braided pastries are pronounced KO-uk-sis-ters.
½ cup (3.5 ounces/100 grams) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) water
½ cup (5.9 ounces/170 grams) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) ground cardamom or cinnamon
2 cups (10 ounces/280 grams) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
1 tablespoon (15 ml) baking powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 grams) shortening or margarine, chilled
About 1 cup (240 ml) milk or water (or 2/3 cup (160 ml) milk or water and 1 egg yolk)
About 6 cups (2 pounds/910 grams) vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
1. To make the syrup: Simmer the sugar and water until syrupy (about 10 minutes). Add the honey, lemon juice, and cardamom or cinnamon and simmer until flavors meld (about 2 minutes). Let cool, then chill.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening to produce small crumbs. Stir in the milk or water to make a soft dough. Knead briefly to combine (about 1 minute) and form into a ball. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a ¼-inch thick rectangle. Cut into strips 3-inch long and 1/3-inch wide. Braid 3 dough strips together, pinching the ends to seal.
3. Heat about 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees (190 C).
4. Fry the braids, 3 to 4 at a time, until golden and crisp (about 1 minute per side). Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Coat the hot koeksisters in the cooled syrup, letting the excess drip off.
I freely admit that I love Google. It’s amazing that this relatively new innovation (founded in 1998) has become, in such a short time span, an integral part of my work and existence. There are many Google offerings that I have yet to discover, but those that I do use are a great boon. Someone emailed me this week requesting a picture of Oznei Haman (Haman’s Ears), which I quickly found on Google Images (make sure to add “fried,” or you’ll find overwhelmingly hamantachen and not the fried pastry strips). Recently, I used Google Maps to figure out how to get to my great nephew’s brit in Brooklyn. But mostly I depend on Google Search for work. Google makes my life and research so much easier. I literally use Google every day, if not sometimes most of the day. I can find and scour numerous texts without setting foot in a library and without flipping from page to page. I can look for alternate spellings and variations of recipes. I can determine that some of the OED’s listing of first citations of various words and foods are inaccurate. There is, of course, a tremendous amount of misinformation on the net – the trick is to recognize the difference and to check out everything, which is also made easier by Google.
And then there is Google Alert. When the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food was published in September of 2010, I arranged for Google Alert to email my gmail account whenever EJF is mentioned on the web. For the initial couple of months following the release, most of the alerts concerned reviews of the book. Fortunately, they were universally positive. At least those sources that covered my book. I was actually somewhat disappointed that so much of the Jewish media ignores Jewish cookbooks. I learned that the Jewish Forward had included me in their annual Forward Fifty for 2010 (because of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food) by way of a Google Alert. Anyway, the reviews understandably eventually dried up, but the alerts continued. Scarcely a day passes when I don’t receive at least one alert and usually I receive a bunch of them a day. Sometimes the alerts may be rather delayed, coming from sources days or weeks earlier. (I’ll wait to see when this blog shows up in the Google Alerts.) Occasionally, a few of the Alerts are inaccurate, perhaps containing the word gil or who knows for what reason. But, in general, I can follow the current mentions of the EJF in the media and on the internet.I can see when various articles and blogs mention EJF. I have to humbly admit that I appreciate the number of sources in Google Alert that cite EJF in reference to various Jewish and/or food topics. Sometimes it’s one of my recipes. Many others quote information from EJF. Someone wrote an article about the best matza ball soups in Los Angeles and mentioned EJF. Another writer examined challah and relied on EJF for the background information. A writer did an article on mezze, not from a Jewish perspective, and cited EJF.
That’s one of the uses I wanted for EJF to serve. Some writers still call me for information on various topics – last week I talked to people seeking info on halva and hamantaschen (she didn’t realize that yeast-dough hamantachen, the original type, even existed) – but many now simply rely on EJF. I also occasionally stumble across writings on the web that use my information, but fail to mention me, but that’s another story. Misappropriation is probably one thing Google will probably never control.
And for those of you looking for Hamantaschen recipes, here are ones for both yeast and cookie doughs:
Yeast Dough Hamantaschen M or P
(About thirty 4-inch pastries)
This is the type of hamantaschen that I grew up on and the type I still enjoy the most. They, however, do not keep as long as the cookie dough style.
1 (¼-ounce) package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1 ounce fresh yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
½ cup sugar
About 4½ cups (22 ounces) bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter or vegetable oil
¾ cup water or milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, grated lemon zest, rum, or rum flavoring (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
About 2 cups poppy seed filling (mohnfullung), prune jam (see lekvar), apricot lekvar, or chocolate (see below)
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) (optional)
1. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, beat together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast mixture, butter, remaining sugar, water, eggs, and, if using, vanilla. Add enough remaining flour in make a workable dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. The dough may be prepared ahead to this point, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Cover and let rise until double in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
3. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease the sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough ¼-inch thick. Using a 3- to 4-inch cookie cutter or glass, cut out rounds. Reroll and cut out the scraps until all the dough is used.
4. Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each round. Pinch one side together. Press together the other two sides to form a triangle. Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. If desired, brush the hamantaschen with the egg wash. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Extra-Rich Yeast Dough: This will take longer to rise. Increase the butter to 1 cup, eggs to 3, and sugar to ¾ cup and reduce the water/milk to ¼ cup.
Cookie Dough Hamantaschen M or P
(About 42 small pastries)
This makes a very tender cookie. The recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger batches.
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
1 large egg or 3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons orange juice, sour cream, milk, white wine, or water (or 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or cognac)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, grated lemon zest, or grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt
About 2¾ cups (13.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
About 2 cups poppy seed filling (mohnfullung), prune jam (see lekvar), apricot lekvar, or chocolate (see below)
1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes. Beat in the egg. Blend in the orange juice, vanilla, and salt. Stir in enough of the flour to make a soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months. Let stand at room temperature for several minutes until malleable but not soft.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have several baking sheets ready. Do not grease the baking sheets, but it’s preferable to line them with parchment paper.
3. For easy handling, divide the dough into 2 to 4 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2½- to 3-inch cookie cutter or glass, cut out rounds. Reroll and cut out the scraps until all the dough is used. It the dough warms up too much and becomes crumbly, return to the refrigerator until it firms.
4. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each round. Pinch the bottom side of the dough round together over the filling. Fold down the top flap and pinch the other two sides together to form a triangle, leaving some filling exposed in the center. Hamantaschen can be prepared ahead to this point and frozen for several months. Defrost before baking.
5. Place the hamantaschen 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 13 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Firmer Cookies: Omit the water, increase the eggs to 3 (or 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks) and sugar to ¾ cup, and add 2 teaspoons baking powder.
Oil Dough: Omit the water, substitute ½ cup vegetable oil for the butter, increase the eggs to 2 and sugar to ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons, and add 2 teaspoons baking powder.
Sour Cream Dough: Increase the butter to 1 cup (2 sticks), add ½ teaspoon baking powder, and substitute ½ cup sour cream for the water.
Chocolate Filling M or P
(About 2 cups)
This is not a traditional hamantaschen filling, but those Westerners who lack a taste for poppy and prune can enjoy this chocolate filling I created for Kosher Gourmet magazine. It has since been borrowed, generally without proper accreditation.
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup milk, soy milk, or strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons shortening, melted
1 cup raisins or chopped nuts (optional)
Combine all the ingredients.