Thinking of Purim, one of the most joyous of the Jewish holidays, brings back a flood of memories. Purim, celebrated this year on March 4, commemorates the triumph of Queen Esther and her cousin, Mordecai, over Haman, the evil prime minister of King Ahasuerus of Shushan, Persia. Haman wanted to kill all the Jews in the city.
As the only Jewish student in my elementary school class, I became the teacher's side several time a year, to help explain the meaning of each Jewish holiday to my classmates. In anticipation of Purim, my mother and I spent many hours in the kitchen baking the dozens of hamantaschen that I would bring to school as part of my lesson.
Hamantaschen , triangular pastries, are folded in three-cornered shapes to resemble Haman's hat. The name comes from the combination of two German words - taschen (pockets) and Mohn (poppyseeds) - plus the name of Haman.
The dough for the these pastries may vary from a rich cookie dough to a cream cheese dough or even a sweet yeast-raised dough. And although poppyseeds are considered the traditional filling for the hamantaschen , prune filling (lekvar), apricot jam or honey arepopular substitutes.
Lekvar and mohn (poppyseed filling) may be obtained locally at Katz' Kosher Supermarket in Rockville, or Posin's and Silbert's, both on Georgia Avenue NW. Giant supermarkets carry cans of poppyseed filling (Solo brand).
Below are my mother's recipes for hamantaschen dough and two possible fillings that made me the hit of the class HAMANTASCHEN (Makes 4 dozen) 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup oil 3 eggs 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 1/2 cup orange juice 4 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons baking power
Combine sugar with oil, eggs, vegetable shortening and juice. Stir in dry ingredients. Flour hands, board and rolling pin. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick pieces. Cut round shapes with an inverted glass 3-inches in diameter.
Place 1 teaspoon of filling in center of each round. Shape into hamantaschen by bringing up edges of dough almost to center to form a triangle. Make small opening in center of each. Pinch edges together to seal.Bake 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven until lightly brown PRUNE FILLING 1 jar (12 ounces) prune filling (lekvar) 1/2 cup chopped nuts 4 teaspoons honey 1 teaspoon lemon juice 3/4 cup raisins
Combine all ingredients; mix well. MOHN FILLING 1/2 pound poppyseeds 1 cup milk 3/4 cup honey 3/4 cup raisins
Combine milk and poppyseeds. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until mixture thickens. Cool and strain. Add honey and raisins.