Unlocking Memories

Unlocking Memories
Revealing Old Memories and Creating New Ones

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hamantaschen Time!

Hamantaschen are great to make in advance because they keep at room temperature for up to 5 days (though chances are they will be eaten on the 1st day).

Let's begin with a little background information before we delve into the recipe.


Purim is a holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman the Agagite. Jews and Christians alike may be familiar with the Megillah (the story of Esther).

Purim celebrates Esther (a Jew) who became Queen of Persia by marrying King Ahasuerus (a non-Jew). She called for a fast and saved her Jewish people from genocide by the order of Haman.
According to the story, once Haman had convinced King Ahasuerus to kill all the Jews in his realm, Queen Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, told her of Haman’s plans. He asked her to use her position as queen to speak with the king and ask him to annul the edict. However, entering the king’s presence without an invitation was a capital offense, even for the queen.  Esther decided to fast and pray for three days before speaking with the king and asked the Mordecai and other Jews in the kingdom fast and pray as well. In commemoration of this fast the ancient rabbis decreed that Jews should fast from sunrise to sunset the day before Purim is celebrated. http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Purim-Food-Customs.htm

 It’s also the story of a successful intermarriage between a Jew (Esther) and a non-Jew (King Ahasuerus of Persia).

What are Hamantaschen?

Hamantaschen are delicious little sugar cookies stuffed with delicious fillings (typically fruit). These cookies are pinched into little triangle “hats” to represent Haman the Agagite. Haman the Agagite was the man who wanted to rid the ancient Persian empire of the Jews. It is said that Haman wore a hat that was in a triangular shape (much like “Napoleon hats or French hats”) This is where we get the name: HAMAN-taschen or the singular hamantash.

"Hamantaschen” is Yiddish for “haman’s pockets.” In Israel they are called “oznei Haman,” meaning “Haman’s ears.”

The triangular shape of hamantaschen represents a triangular-shaped hat worn by Haman, the villain in the Purim story. We eat them as a reminder that his plot was foiled and HAMAN WAS HUNG.

Once again, this is a recipe that I gathered bits and pieces of from various sources, put it all together, and made it my own, to my liking.

Step into my bakery.


Filling and Syrup                                                 

1 C Almonds, ground or grated
1 C Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 TBSP Cinnamon + 1 stick
1 tsp Nutmeg
6 TBSP Orange Juice
1 Orange zested
3 TBSP sweet butter
3/4 C Honey
1/2 C Water

  • Toast almonds in 300 degree oven for 10 minutes, then stir in melted butter.
  • Mix with 1/2 C of sugar,  salt (1/4 tsp), orange juice (3 TBSP)/zest, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.

  • Boil 1/2 C sugar with 1/2 C water.
  • Add honey and cinnamon stick, and simmer for few minutes.
  • Stir in orange juice and cool. Set aside.

3 Eggs                                                       
1 C Sugar
1/2 C oil, shortening, or butter
zest of 1 lemon
3 TBSP Orange Juice
4 C Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
  • Whisk eggs, sugar, oil, zest, and orange juice together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Sift flour, salt and baking powder together.
  • Stir egg mixture in with flour mixture.
  • Knead until dough comes together, form a ball and flatten.
  • Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick at the most.
  • Cut circles.
*Brush the honey mixture onto each disc.

*Place 1 TBSP almond filling in center of each disc.

*Pinch edges together to create a triangle (tri-cornered hat). Make sure there are no visible seams and that the edges are firm to prevent leaking of filling and collapse of sides.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Cool 10 minutes, drizzle honey mixture over each cookie and remove from pan.

*Hamantaschen should keep at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Melt in Your Mouth Yeast Biscuits

Melt in Your Mouth Yeast Biscuits
Every batch of biscuits is better than the one before. Perhaps it's because of trial and error in action. Nevertheless, for those of you who would like a fluffy, airy texture this is the perfect go-to recipe. It does include rise time so you may want to make the dough ahead of time if you plan on having this pillowy goodness for breakfast. This biscuit yields less crumbs than your traditional southern baking soda/baking powder biscuit, yet it's just as flavorful and filling. It holds up for sandwiches, sauces, jams and preserves. My recipe makes 16 small-cut biscuits and within 10 minutes of taking them out of the oven . . . they were gone. My son (who is the current version of Mikey from the old 1970's LIFE CEREAL commercial) asked for more . . . that's a stamp of magnificence.

1 TBSP yeast 
(quick rise or bread machine yeast is what I used)

2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp  Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Baking Soda
1 tsp  Salt
2 TBSP  Sugar
1/2 C  Shortening or Butter (I used a combination of both)
1 C  Buttermilk 
(or soured milk - regular milk with 1 TBSP vinegar or lemon juice)

  1. Mix dry ingredients together (except for the yeast)
  2. Cut in shortening/butter. Make sure the butter is cold and cut into cubes or grate with a cheese grater
  3. Stir in yeast.
  4. Add buttermilk and stir until all dry ingredients are moist. It will be sticky and loose.
  5. Cover the bowl and set aside for 1 hour. You may set it in the refrigerator.
  6. Turn on to floured board and knead lightly 4 to 6 times (you may need to sprinkle additional flour).t 
  7. Roll out and cut.
  8. Place on greased pan touching. At this point preheat the oven at 400 degrees.
  9. Place in a warm area (a good place is on top of the oven) and let it rise slightly - 20 to 30 minutes.
  10. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.