Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Purim!

Sorry again for the delay in posting another recipe... The last one that I posted was over a month ago! I'm terrible, I know. But for what it's worth, I've been very busy. I just got back from photographing a Jewish deli in Toronto that's been getting a lot of hype: Caplansky's Deli. It's not kosher, but it's kosher style... And it's got to be the only place in Toronto where you can have a pint of beer good beer and a knish! Anyway, Zane Caplansky has a blog and he's a good guy, so you should go his site and read his blog and if you're in Toronto you should go and try his smoked meat sandwich because it really is phenomenal. It beats Shwartz's in Montreal hands down. Seriously. The guy makes his own mustard!

So it's Purim tonight! I'm not going to a Purim party or to a reading of the Magillah (the Book of Esther) because R is working late and I have a lot of work to catch up on here at home. But I did make hamantashen with my niece last weekend, and I'm here today to share my super easy (and not super fattening) recipe for these famous Purim cookies.

Me and Ava making hamantashen.

Hamantashen: (adapted from a recipe by Noreen Gilletz):


8 tbsp margarine, cut into chunks
8 tbsp 1% cottage cheese
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsbp sugar
2-3 cups raspberry jam (or other flavour... traditionally these have an apricot or prune filling, but I like raspberries)


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients (except for the jam) in a food processor bowl. Process until dough forms a ball on the blades, about 18-20 seconds. Chilling is not necessary.

2. On a well floured surface, roll dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into circles with the top of a juice glass. Place circles on a greased baking sheet and put about a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each circle. Close the top of the circle with a pinch, then pinch both sides and the bottom to form a triangle, leaving the filling exposed in the center.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Hamantashen for Purim

So now maybe you're wondering: What is Purim and what are these wonderful jewel-like cookies called hamatashen? Let me share what I've been learning:

Purim a holiday that celebrates another biblical story in which the Jews were supposed to be eliminated but they survived. (Isn't that basically what Channukah was about too?) The bad guy in the story is a guy named Haman who tries to convince the king to kill all of the Jews after one Jew named Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. Haman basically says to the king, "These people are different and they have values that differ from ours and therefore we shouldn't have to tolerate them!" Mordecai's beautiful cousin Esther was married to the king and convinces the king to change his mind and kill Haman instead of Mordecai and the Jews.

There's a sort of "woo, feminism!" thing going on in the story of Purim because back in those days, going before the king without being summoned was punishable by death. So yay for Esther!

So hamatashen are named after Haman, and they're supposed to be shaped like either his ears or his hat depending on who you listen to. Eating hamatashen is supposed to be a way of mocking Haman. Also, during the reading of the Magillah, people bring noisemakers and shake them whenever Haman's name is read so that his name will be blotted out from history. In my opinion, those two things kind of cancel each other out because making the cookies pretty much forces you to say his name out loud, but I get the general idea.

There's also a tradition to dress up. Our rabbi is going to the Magillah reading tonight as Batman in The Dark Knight and the cantor is going as Robin!

One more fun thing about Purim is that you're supposed to get so drunk that you can't tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai" although I'm not exactly sure how drunk that is or why it's a commandment. But a lot of people like to get very drunk on Purim. That's another thing that I'll be skipping this year, since I don't think that it's wise to spend the evening editing photos while I'm too drunk to see straight. But don't let me stop you!

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