After my last debacle with almond flour and citrus, you would think I’d be reluctant to go down that road again, but I guess I’m just a natural born gambler. Well, a gambler in the culinary sense, at least. I have never understood the appeal of real gambling. If I’m going to throw money away, I’d at least like to have a pair of shoes to show for it.When I saw this recipe for Flourless Almond Cookies with Cardamom, Orange Zest and Pistachios, I thought it would be a perfect addition to our Passover dessert table. I changed it up and used lime instead of orange and deleted the cardamom. It’s one of those flavours I want to like, but haven’t yet acquired a taste for. I used to hate cilantro and now I love it, so there’s still hope for cardamom.These are a slice and bake cookie. They’re fast to make. You do need to allow time for chilling the logs before slicing, so plan ahead. The logs get rolled in finely chopped pistachios. When slicing, make sure you rotate the log 90° (a quarter turn) after each slice to keep from getting one flat side.I decided to glam up these cookies by adding a sweet-tart glaze. I finished them off with a sprinkling of lime zest and more chopped pistachios.These cookies are the perfect little bite to end the Passover seder with. Chewy in the center, crispy on the edges and an ideal sweet-tart balance. I also made a batch with lemon and they were fantastic.
On the next full moon, Monday April 10, Jewish families, all over the world will gather to hold a Passover Seder. Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt over 3000 years ago, and the formation of the Jewish nation.
The word “seder” means “order” in Hebrew. It refers to the 15 parts of the Seder ritual which are followed in a very specific sequence. In the retelling of the story, the goal is to relive the Exodus, both symbolically and vicariously, with tastes, sounds, sensations and smells. We do this to link our past to our future, to teach the next generation. This is no mean feat and can make for a long night!
Every family has their own unique customs and traditions. My youngest sister (I have 4) likes to decorate the table with items that symbolize the 10 plagues. Plastic jumping frogs, wild animals, cattle, and stale mini marshmallows (plague of hail). One year my mom covered the table in blue, green and purple jelly bellies to represent the River Nile. We have had Cadbury Cream Easter Eggs (much tastier than the roasted egg on the seder plate and the hard boiled egg dipped in saltwater we eat to represent the tears shed by the Israelites in slavery). I fully expect Dark Chocolate Moses this year.
That same sister is fond of making guest appearances at the Seder, dressed in various costumes. Some family members find this humorous. Others do not.This year, I’m planning to get the party started by bringing little bags of Passover Party Mix to the table.
Salty, spicy, sweet and addictive. Not normally adjectives associated with a snack that contains matzoh and kosher for passover crispy o’s cereal! But, add mixed nuts, sugar, salt, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and smoked paprika and magic happens.Watch the culinary alchemy occur.
Click here to print recipe for Passover Party Mix.
This is the final instalment of my hamentashen treatise (see part 1 and part 2). Today we’re taking it old-school with the classic Poppy Seed Hamentashen. This is the hamentashen I grew up with. This recipe comes from Uri Scheft. These are the most popular hamentashen at Lehamim, his Tel Aviv bakery.Make sure you start with very fresh poppy seeds. You’ll need to grind them up a bit. I found that my spice grinder was perfect for the task. The poppy seeds get cooked down into a paste with some milk, sugar and butter. Lemon zest adds a perfect zing of freshness. I learned a great trick from Uri for keeping the hamentashen dough from getting soggy. A handful of cake or muffin crumbs absorb any moisture in the filling leading to hamentashen with a nice crisp bottom crust. I didn’t have any cake or muffin crumbs on hand, so I bought a package of 6 inexpensive white cupcakes at the supermarket, scraped off the icing and ground them up in the food processor to make crumbs. I let the crumbs sit out at room temperature for a few hours to let them dry out a bit. Extra crumbs can be stashed in a freezer bag for another day. I found it easiest to fill hamentashen if I first put the filling into a disposable piping bag.
Click here to print recipe for Poppy Seed Hamentashen.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (to be released March 17). The original is time honoured and perfect. Frankly, I’m worried. Sometimes you shouldn’t mess with a classic. Remember Lindsay Lohan in the remake of Parent Trap? Jackie Chan as the updated Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid ? Billy Bob Thornton in Bad News Bears? Enough said.
But sometimes messing with the classics works. Traditional hamentashen are filled with either prune or poppyseed filling. In this updated version, apples are cooked down to a thick sauce. A big scoop of dulce de leche and a judicious sprinkling of salt are added and the resulting filling is quite sublime. I have to give credit for this filling to the talented blogger Tori Avey. It was her genius idea. I just took it and wrapped it in a buttery almond shortbread shell.
Click here to print recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen.
Hamentashen are the traditional treat baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which falls on Sunday March 12 this year. Essentially, the Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination. If you’re curious to learn more about Purim, check out a more thorough post I wrote in 2012.
I’ve been busy creating and this year I have 3 delicious hamentashen recipes to share with you over the next few days. Dried Cherry and Pecan, Poppyseed and Salted Caramel Apple. My childhood Purim memories consist of store bought hamentashen. My mom bought them from Open Window Bakery in Toronto. They made two varieties, prune and poppyseed. My sisters and I vastly preferred the poppyseed filing. Home-made hamentashen didn’t enter my life until I got married. My husband’s aunts, Carol and Jenny, made their own hamentashen. Tender little triangles brimming with a prune-raisin filling and covered in honey and walnuts. I felt like I’d entered an alternate universe. But a universe I was thrilled to be indoctrinated into . All hamentashen should be topped with toasted nuts. Because, crunch!This hamentashen is my twist on their classic recipe. I halved the amount of prunes in the filling and replaced it with dried cherries. The original strawberry jam was swapped out for sour cherry preserves. And then I went really rogue with the dough! I used a butter dough. Carol and Jenny’s hamentashen dough is made with oil, so if you’re looking for a dairy free option, Aunt Carol’s Hamentashen Dough is a great option.This dough recipe comes from Uri Scheft’s new book, Breaking Breads. It is essentially an almond shortbread cookie dough which gets rolled quite thin.
I created this video to show you how to fill and shape the hamentashen.