Tag Archives: Jewish

Hamantashen

12 Feb

Through the years I’ve tried several different types of Hamentashen.  Some of my favorites include almond pastry with apricot filling, gingerbread pastry with pear filling, cream cheese pastry with any fruit filling, yeast pastry and chocolate pastry with cherry filling.  Though all good, sometimes I think there’s nothing better than a plain-old-simple-pastry with assorted fruit fillings.

Here’s my recipe for Simple Hamantashen dough.  You can fill these with anything you want — jam, pie filling, chocolate, etc.  I’ve made my own apricot, pear, poppy seed, prune and other fillings, but there are lots of great fillings out there, ready to go.  Use whatever you like.

I use lemon zest in the recipe because I really love the hint of lemon flavour it adds to the cookies, but you can leave it out and they’ll still be delicious.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine, soft
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • assorted fruit jams, pie fillings or other fillings

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Preheat an oven to 350°.

Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the lemon zest, baking powder and salt and mix through.  Add the flour and mix on low until it’s all combined and a ball of dough forms.

Divide the dough into 2 sections, setting one aside.  Roll the other section approximately 1/8″ thick on a well-floured counter.  Use a cutter to cut out 2 1/2″ – 3″ circles.  You can keep the scraps and re-roll them once.

Place about 1 tsp. of a filling of your choice in the center of each circle.  Bring three sides of the dough together to make a triangle.  Pinch the three corners together and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Continue with the rest of the dough.

Place the hamantashen in the oven and bake 15-17 minutes, or until the bottom and edges are golden brown.

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You can make the dough the day before you want to make them, keeping it in the fridge, well wrapped.

Makes approximately 4 dozen hamantashen.

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It’s all about the Charoset

5 Apr

With Passover less than two weeks away, it’s time to make some serious decisions.  The most important decision, in my opinion, is what kind of charoset to make.  I love charoset.  I like that charoset being passed around the table means dinner is about to start.  I love that charoset is symbolic — it’s there to remind us of the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt to build cities.  And I really love charoset because it’s delicious.

When I was growing up, charoset was always a mixture of shredded apples, cinnamon, honey, chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) and some sweet red wine.  Nobody in my family used a precise recipe — we just added what looked right and kept tasting and adjusting until it was perfect.

Eventually I started experimenting and came up with some different flavour combinations that I really liked.  Now I have a few charoset recipes that I love.  Here’s my recipe for date charoset.  I like it so much I make a double batch to use it on matzo throughout the week (great for breakfast!).

Date Charoset

2 oz. | 55 g walnuts (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

8 oz. | 225 g pitted dates (1 cup | 235 mL)

3 oz. | 85 g golden raisins (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL dried ginger

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL sweet red wine

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh orange juice

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL orange zest

Toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 350 F | 175 C.  Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 8-9 minuets, or until golden brown.  Cool.

Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the charoset reaches a texture you like.  I like to pulse it until it is mostly paste, with some small chunks remaining.  If you like it chunkier, stop pulsing before it gets too smooth.

Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 1 1/2 cups | 355 mL

* Adapted from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection

Latkes

29 Nov

I’ve been thinking about the latkes I’ll be frying for Chanukah this year.  I spend days and days making latkes.   As often happens, when I start thinking about a holiday food it brings back memories of the foods I enjoyed as a kid. I grew up with traditional foods prepared by my mother and grandmothers and though I will always love them, I also like throwing new twists at old favourites.

As I was thinking about using sweet potato, leeks, zucchini, mushroom and maybe some blue potatoes in latkes, the blue potatoes reminded me of my Baba’s (grandmother) blue latkes. No, Baba didn’t use blue potatoes like I was planning. Her pancakes were made from red, waxy potatoes that had turned a purplish-blue as the starches oxidized after they were finely grated. Some people add white vinegar to the potatoes to stop the oxidizing but I always grate the onions first and let their juices keep the potatoes from discoloring.   Baba went au natural and we ate them as they were —  and loved them! But, if I want blue latkes I’ll use those blue potatoes.

Here are a few of my favourite latke recipes.  While I love, love, love potato latkes, it’s nice to have a few variations to have throughout the holiday. Try one or all of them.

Remember – Chanukah is a holiday that calls for eating things fried with oil. So I use oil to pan-fry all of the latkes. If you are looking for a lighter version, you can spray a non-stick frying-pan with vegetable spray – but be warned – the results will not be the same. For crisp on the outside, soft on the inside latkes use the oil. (You are commemorating a miracle!)

Some latke pointers that I shared a couple of years ago and thought it’s time to share again:

  • Use a food processor or box grater to grate vegetables and then squeeze as much liquid from the vegetables as you can. Discard liquid.
  • Use a non-stick or cast-iron frying pan for frying. Heat 1/4” – 1/2“ of canola or vegetable oil over medium heat. The oil should be hot enough for the latkes to sizzle and bubble as soon as they touch the oil, but not too hot or they will burn before they are cooked through.
  • To keep your potatoes from oxidizing grate the onions first. Toss the potatoes with the onion juices as you grate them and it will keep them from turning brown or blue.
  • Drain the cooked latkes on paper towel.
  • Fry one latke and taste it, checking the seasoning before frying the whole batch. If you like things light on salt and pepper cut back my quantities – taste one and add seasoning to suit your tastes.
  • Serve with apple sauce, sour cream, crème fraiche, Greek yogurt or or tzatziki.
  • Latkes are best served hot, right out of the pan (after draining). If you are feeding a group, place the fresh latkes on a baking sheet and keep in a 200º oven as you make them. If necessary, they can be frozen, thawed and reheated on a baking sheet at 350º degrees, uncovered, until warm (about 10-15 minutes).
Potato Latkes (adapted from Passover – a Kosher Collection)
  • 1 lb. | 454 g yellow onion, peeled and grated (2 medium)
  • 2 lbs. | 910 g red potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ oz. | 14 g cake meal (or flour) (2 Tbsp. | 30 mL)
  • 1 ½ tsp. | 7 mL salt
  • ¼ tsp. | 1 mL black pepper
  • canola  oil for frying
Grate the onion first, then grate the potato and mix them together. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the onion/potato mixture and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, cake meal, salt and pepper and mix well.
Heat ¼-inch | 5-mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use two spoons or an ice-cream scoop to gently place batter into the oil (use about 2 Tbsp. | 30 mL of mixture for each latke).
Fry for about 4 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 3–5 minutes until both sides are golden brown.
Transfer to paper towel to drain.  Continue frying the rest of the latkes, adding more oil if necessary.
Enjoy on their own or with sour cream or applesauce.
Makes 12-16

Zucchini Leek Latkes (adapted from Passover – A Kosher Collection)
I’ve seen young children who maynot enjoy vegetables gobble these up. They’re a little softer than potato latkes, so be gentle when you flip them over.
  • 1 ½ lbs. | 680 g zucchini, trimmed and shredded
  • 8 oz. | 225 g red potato, peeled and shredded
  • 8 oz. | 225 g leek, washed well and thinly sliced (2 medium)
  • 1 ½ tsp. | 7 mL salt
  • ½ tsp. | 2 mL black pepper
  • 2 ½ oz. | 70 g cake meal  (½ cup | 120 mL) (or flour)
  • 1 tsp. | 5 mL paprika
  • 3 large eggs
  • canola oil for frying
Grate the zucchini and potato and squeeze out any excess liquid. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Heat ¼-inch | 5-mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use two spoons to gently place the mixture into the oil (use about 2 Tbsp. | 30 mL of mixture for each latke).
Fry for 2–3 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 2–3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
Transfer to paper towel to drain and continue with the rest of the latkes, adding more oil if necessary.
Makes 16-18

Wild Rice and Mushroom Latkes

  • 3 cups button/crimini mushrooms – thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion – peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 can (425 g) cooked wild rice – rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • canola oil for frying

Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes in oil over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place the cooled mushrooms and onions in a mixing bowl and add the salt, pepper, eggs and flour. Mix well.

Heat oil in a frying pan and carefully spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and set.

Drain and serve.

Makes 16-18

Sufganiyot for Chanukah

22 Nov

It’s hard to believe that Chanukah is just around the corner — but it will be here next week. Around here, we usually celebrate Chanukah in the depths of winter and thankfully we’ve had a few solid days of snow so we’re all set for this year.

The most common food for Chanukah is probably the potato latke. Crisp potato and onion pancakes fried in oil and served with sour cream or apple sauce. There is nothing wrong with a good potato latke, and I am sure I’ll be frying up hundreds, but that’s not your only option.

First of all, you can do all sorts of interesting latke recipes and I’ll be sharing a few of my favourites here, before the holiday starts. But you know, I think any good, fried food could be considered a good Chanukah dish.

In Winnipeg, as in Israel, sufganiot or jambusters or jelly-doughnuts are a treat often served for Chanukah. Or at least they have been for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, boxes of sufganiot were always brought into school at Chanukah and my mother would always picked some up for us at the bakery.

The typical jelly doughnut around here is usually filled with a fruit filling, but you can go crazy and fill them with all sorts of things. In Israel they do go crazy and you can find many interesting fillings. How about caramel? Maybe a chocolate or mocha filling. Green tea? Sure.

If you’d like to try making some yourself, a few years ago I put up a step-by-step how-to demonstration at eGullet.org. The demo includes pictures so you can see how easy the process is — and make them yourself!

Click here for the demo.


Starting to think about Rosh Hashana (and meat kreplach)

12 Aug

It’s been a hectic summer and though it feels like summer just started, we’re less than a month away from Rosh Hashana.  It’s hard to believe and I’m sorry if I’m making you think about something you’re not ready for.  The good news is that there’s still plenty of time to prepare goodies for the holidays.  

 
One of the things I love for Rosh Hashana (or erev Yom Kippur) is a steaming bowl of chicken soup with home made meat kreplach.  The silky dough surrounding the oniony meat filling is my favourite soup accompaniment. 

 
When I was growing up, my grandmother always made kreplach for the holidays and when my parents started our catering company, meat kreplach were always offered for Rosh Hashana. It’s true that some time and work is involved in making them, but they really are quite easy to make and wonderful to have in the freezer.
 
A few years ago I put together a step-by-step kreplach demo (with pictures) for eGullet.org.  You can find the demo here. I  hope you try making them and enjoy them during the holidays (or anytime!).