Wine Wednesday: Celebrating Purim with sweet and savory Hamantaschen

Here’s wishing my readers a good Purim and wondering, who is going to make your Hamantaschen? I know that it can be really hard to find the time to make them (especially if you work & take care of children) and even more difficult to get them from a store that ‘reminds you of your grandma’s’. I’ve often enjoyed these and am really happy to share a recipe that I hope you like.

So for those of you who aren’t Jewish, what is Purim? Purim is the most carnivalesque Jewish holiday. It is a day when norms are subverted and reversed to commemorate the reversal of fortune recorded in the Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated with drinking, dressing up, and satirical performances, all recalling the evil decrees of Haman that were ultimately overturned. In other words…PARTY and what is a party with out something sweet?

The cookies, get their name from their triangular shape thought to represent the hat of Purim villain Haman and are stuffed with a sweet filling and enjoyed at bakeries across the world during this time of year. Traditionally filled with apricot (my personal favorite), prune or poppy filling.  There  are loads of options…as may as your favorite jam. Why not make a selection of lots of flavors and let everyone discover a new favorite this year.
No actual wine this week, a tea is the best option for this beautifully buttery cookie.

“Sweet” Hamantaschen (Makes about 4 Dozen)

1 cup butter or unsalted margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 t vanilla
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 T lemon juice
filling (prune, poppy, preserves, etc)
Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla, baking powder, eggs, salt and lemon juice. Mix well. Add flour (may need more if sticky). Knead dough and chill a few hours or overnight if possible.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough and cut into 2 1/2- 3″ circles. Place filling in center of circles. Bring edges together to form triangle and pinch seams together from top down to corners, leaving small opening in center.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until lightly brown.

“Savory” Hamantaschen (Makes about 4 Dozen)

Hamantaschen Dough

2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (about 3 twigs, stripped)
1 cup butter, chopped into 1 inch sqares

Onion Filling

3 onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter or oil
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
pinch of pepper
(optional garnish) course sea salt

Make pastry:
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and herbs. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender or two knives, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center.

Pour in 1/4 cup of water and mix until large clumps form (if you need it, you can slowly add the other 1/4 cup of water). Pat the clumps into two balls but be careful not to overwork the dough. Put the dough in the refrigerator and chill for one hour. Keep your flour on hand for the rolling out part of the hamantaschen making. In the meantime, make the filling.

Make the filling:
Melt butter or heat oil in a heavy skillet and cook the onion with the pinches of salt and sugar. Begin at medium high heat to get a bit of color, then lower the heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Once your onions are caramelized you can set them aside until your dough is ready. Once they come to room temperature, mix them with your egg and feta cheese and a bit of pepper. Set the filling aside.

Roll out one of the balls (if you’re new to rolling out dough, keep in mind that you want everything to stay as cold as possible and that adding flour prevents your dough from sticking to surfaces…you can always brush off the extra). Press out rounds using cups with about a 3 inch diameter. Place a 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of each one, and then pinch up 3 points to make a triangle. Repeat with the other ball of dough. Arrange on your baking sheets and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the hamantaschen have a nice golden brown hue.

So matter which you enjoy…simply enjoy!

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