Category Archives: Jewish Holidays

Poppy Seed Hamentashen

bowl of hamentashenThis 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.All 3 on black trayMake 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. ground poppyseedsThe poppy seeds get cooked down into a paste with some milk, sugar and butter. Lemon zest adds a perfect zing of freshness. making fillingI 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.making filling 2 I found it easiest to fill hamentashen if I first put the filling into a disposable piping bag.3 fillings

Click here to print recipe for Poppy Seed Hamentashen.

on black tray

Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen

Salted Caramel Apple hamentashen 1FI’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.with a latteGrating Applesapples cooked downadding dulce de leche

Click here to print recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen.

with a latte 2

Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen

with a cup of teaHamentashen 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. All 3 stacked 72dpiMy 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!dried fruit in jarThis 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.before choppingafter choppingThis 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.

Bite through the crisp buttery almond shortbread shell to reveal the sweet-tart dried cherry filling. The honey-pecan topping make these hamentashen very special.Dipped

Click here to print recipe for Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen.

5 hamentashen

Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Latkes

plated-1On the 6th night of Chanukah I made Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Latkes. I could never make these on the first night of Chanukah. They would not be well received by my family. On the first night our family insists on traditional latkes. (I think it might actually written in Jewish Law somewhere!!). But feel free to let your freak flag fly and make these unorthodox latkes when Chanukah is almost over and everyone has had their fill of classic potato latkes.6th-nightThese latkes are based on a Japanese savory pancake called Okonomiyaki. I learned about them in the November 2016 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. As I read the recipe I was inspired to adapt it and create latkes using these ingredients.cutting-potatoesready-to-mixThe Brussels sprouts must be thinly sliced. The thin slicing blade of the food processor will do the job quickly. A sharp knife will also work. The sweet potatoes need to be cut into 1/8 inch thin matchstick pieces. A mandoline will do this quickly. If you don’t have one, cut the potatoes to fit the feed tube of the food processor and thinly slice potatoes first. Then stack them up and cut across with a sharp knife into matchsticks.

Eggs and flour act as the glue to hold everything together. mixed-and-ready-to-fryfrying-1Fry until deeply golden brown and crispy. frying-2Serve them with some chipotle mayo and a squeeze of lime or go traditional and top with applesauce. Savory, deeply crispy and very delicious, these latkes are sure to please even the most die-hard traditionalists.two-plates

Click here to print recipe for Sweet-Potato-and-Brussels-Sprouts-Latkes.

“Everything” Holiday Challah

3-challahs-on-wooden-boardI have been making the same holiday challah for at least 15 years now. Everyone in the family loves it and looks forward to it. It’s possible I risk a mutiny if I dare to bake a different recipe. Yet, when I saw this challah in Uri Scheft’s book “Breaking Breads” I was enchanted. It looked like an everything bagel! I had to make it. Since Rosh Hashanah doesn’t start until Sunday night, I decided to do a test run for Friday night dinner at my son’s house.

Uri’s dough is much leaner than mine. Mine contains more eggs and oil. One recipe uses a kilogram (7 cups) of all-purpose flour. It’s enough to make 3 small challahs. A scale will be your best friend for dividing the dough. divide-into-3Each piece of dough gets further divided into 3 pieces and rolled out into 14 inch ropes.14-inch-ropesI like to start my braid in the center and work out toward both ends. Braid loosely. if the braids begin to stick to each other, give them a light dusting of flour. Wrap the braid into a circle, with a hole in the center. I found attaching the ends a bit challenging. I just sort of squeezed them together. Cover the challahs and let them double in size.

Now comes the fun part. Get all your toppings ready. I used sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, golden flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and nigella (black onion) seeds. I finished it off with a scatter of maldon sea salt flakes. toppings Brush the braid with egg.brushing-with-eggHave fun with the toppings.looks-like-an-everything-bagelInsert a small ovenproof bowl in the center so that the hole does not get filled in when dough bakes.ready-for-ovenBake at 400°F for about 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Serve with honey in the middle for dipping.baked-with-honey-in-cernterOr serve the honey on the side for drizzling. a-drizzle-of-honeyThis challah dough is much denser than mine.A very different, but delicious challah experience. It really did remind me of an everything bagel. They are just so freaking adorable. We took a vote and decided to make both kinds of challah for our Rosh Hashanah lunch on Monday. I’ll let you know what everyone says!

Click here to print recipe for Everything-Holiday-Challah.