Purim, which begins next Saturday (Feb. 23) at sundown, is my favorite Jewish holiday. For children, it is a time to wear costumes and enjoy carnivals. For adults, it is a time for heavy drinking. You are actually required to get drunk on this holiday (how drunk is up for debate). It was a very popular holiday on my college campus.
While religiously mandated binge drinking can lead to some memorable moments, my greatest memories of Purim come from making the holiday's official food—hamantaschen. These are triangle-shaped cookies with a filling made of fruit, poppy seeds or various other edible items.
Here is a hamantaschen recipe from my grandfather Albert Friedman. I am especially proud to share the recipe this week because my grandfather, who is nearing 85, had a real scare last week and was taken to the hospital, where he remained for several days. Just as it appeared the worst was about to happen, he recovered and is back at his home in Pembroke Pines, Fla. with improving health.
- 1 package of yeast
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 tbs. sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour and 2 tbs. flour
- Dash of salt
- 2 tbs. milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbs. melted margarine
1. Lightly beat one egg white to create glaze that you will use later
2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
3. To the yeast mixture, add the remaining sugar as well as salt, milk, egg, flour and margarine. Mix well until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put on a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Lightly spray a bowl with cooking spray, put in dough and then lightly spray the top of dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in warm spot until double in bulk. This should take about 30 minutes.
5. When dough has risen, punch down. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out three-inch rounds, re-rolling trimmings to make 16 rounds. Place one rounded teaspoon of filling of your choice in each center, pinch ends together to form a triangle over the filling.
6. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place pastries on sheet about two inches apart. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. This should take about 15 minutes. Brush with beaten egg white.
7. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. When cool, the hamantaschen can be sprinkled with powdered sugar if desired.