March 29, 2011

Hamantaschen Part 2

Once you've made the dough and let it rest for several hours it's time to make your hamantaschen. Roll out part of the dough on a lightly floured surface, until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. You don't want it so thin that it is slightly transparent, but a little thicker is fine. If you don't have a rolling pin, try using a thick glass, making sure to press down gently as you roll.

Using a glass/ measuring cup/two-inch circular object of your choice, cut out circles from the dough and set aside. Make the circles as close to each other as you can without overlapping to save time. Any remaining dough can be rerolled.

Take a small custard dish or bowl and fill it with water.

Take out desired filling(s).

Dip your index finger in the water and draw a circle around the top edges of a hamanataschen. Immediately add about a teaspoon or two of filling. If you add too much filling, you will be able to tell, because the hamantaschen will not close easily. Simply remove excess filling.

Essentially, what you will be doing is folding the edges of a circle into thirds.

Fold the top edge of the circle so that it covers the edge of the filling. Take more water and gently rub down the edges of the fold. The edges should nearly disappear into the cookie. Turn and fold remaining edges of the hamantaschen similarly two more times so that they overlap, making sure to use water to bind them together. There should be a well defined triangle of filling visible.

Move completed hamantaschen to a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until tops begin to turn brown. Cool on a baking rack.

Traditional fillings include poppy seed and other fruit fillings including prunes.

Jam Filling
jam of your choice
chopped nuts

These fruit fillings can be easily made using different kind of jams. Be warned that the jam may bubble out of your hamantaschen, however. To keep this from happening, simply add a few finely chopped nuts to your jam in a small custard dish.

Poppy seed filling is a bit more complex. It is also my favorite kind of hamantaschen filling. This recipe does make a lot of it, however, so it should be made for a large party or if you only make one kind of filling, otherwise you may have a lot leftover. Poppy seed filling can also be bought at some supermarkets in the baking section, next to other canned pie fillings.

Poppy Seed Filling
(adapted from Jewish Holiday Kitchen )
1/4 pound sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 pound poppy seeds
1/2 egg white
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
rind and juice of 1/2 lemon or orange
1 oz raisins
1/2 oz figs or dates or additional raisins
cinnamon to taste
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 tablespoon butter

Combine the sugar and water in a pot. Simmer mixture over low heat.
Grind the poppy seeds in a food processor or blender.  Add to sugar mixture.

Add egg white, vanilla, lemon or orange rind and juice, raisins, figs, and cinnamon.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  

Add jam and butter and continue simmering until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.  You can use the filling then or let it chill in refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes until the filling becomes a bit firmer.

Now you're ready for the nontraditional fillings. Basically, the sky's the limit.

One of the interesting things about baking hamantaschen with friends who didn't grow up eating the traditional flavors is that they come up with something so blasphemous- like pumpkin pie hamantaschen- that you have to stare at them in shock and horror for several minutes.... Then totally do it.

And it turned out awesome.

Non-traditional Fillings:

Chocolate Options


Chocolate Chips

They both melt beautifully. Apply peanut butter when necessary. 
Chopped nuts as well.

Lemon Curd
Lemon Curd Jar

Doesn't burn. Thank goodness. Add white chocolate chips for extra sweetness.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
about 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
skim milk
dash or two of bootstrap molasses
generous pinch of cinnamon and ginger
dash of nutmeg 
(pumpkin pie spice works as well)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. You want to use just enough milk to wet the mixture without it becoming watery. 

This only makes enough for 3-4 hamantaschen, which if you've made it this far, you may find relieving, as you probably have started to wonder just how many batches of dough you'll need for all these fillings. 
If you want to make a larger batch of pumpkin filling, simply increase the amount of pumpkin and add a little extra of everything else.

Pop those hamantaschen in the oven for 10-15 minutes, at 375 degrees. Let cool 3-4 minutes.

Bite.  Chew.  


March 23, 2011

Hamantaschen- Part 1

Hamantaschen. Traditional Purim cookies. I could go on about them for hours.

If the only hamantaschen you have ever consumed came from a grocery store, drop everything and get your apron ready. It's time to make the real stuff.

Normally, what you can find in the bakery section of your local supermarket is in reality a jam cookie with a basic sugar cookie base. This is not what hamantaschen are supposed to taste like. They are actually made from a thin, flaky, slightly sweetened dough. There is a wide range of filling options, from traditional to non-traditional. And furthermore, hamantaschen are meant to be shared and enjoyed by family and friends.

Every year, my parents and I would go to a hamantaschen making party. For me, this was the highlight of Purim and an essential part of the holiday. We would walk into the house, where the dough would be sitting out on long wooden tables. The adults would roll out the dough, which had been prepared by the host, while the children ran about, impatiently waiting with glass cups to cut the circles.

When the dough was prepared, we would then busy ourselves filling as many hamantaschen as we could, with as many different flavors as possible. Chocolate would always a favorite around the younger set, as well as peanut butter, and we were determined to make as many of our favorites as possible, knowing that they could very well be eaten as soon as we turned our backs.

Our hosts and some of the adults would whisk in and out of the rooms with large baking sheets. We would fill them up quickly with cookies and pop them into several ovens. As soon as they were done, they would be placed onto cooling racks, where they would inevibly be found and devoured, warm and delicious. As many hamantaschen as we ate, there were always more.

Eventually, the remainder would be packed up and we would take our spoils home.

So many different types of hamantashen fillings. Endless possibilities. Let's get started.

Hamantashen Dough
from Jewish Holiday Kitchen
(makes enough for 24-36 depending on size)

2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk or water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 to 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and continue mixing until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in the shifted flour until a ball of dough is formed. 

If you do not have a dough hook or a food processor to help mix the dough, roll up your sleeves and wash your hands. Add the flour a little at a time, mixing with a spoon, scraping down the sides and making sure to incorporate all the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Continue adding flour, until mixture becomes harder to work with and stick your hands right in, adding more flour until it becomes a workable dough.

Once your dough is formed chill dough 2-3 hours or overnight.

The cookies will need to bake in the oven at 375 degrees. 

Proper folding technique will be discussed in a later post, as well as different kinds of fillings, both traditional and nontraditional.

Happy Purim Everyone!

March 21, 2011

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ah, vegetables, what can't you make sound healthier?

This isn't the prettiest cookie in existence, although it's certainly not the ugliest. It's slightly lumpy looking and you can see flecks of a green vegetable of some sort if you stare really hard at it.

It's also soft.

And cakey.

And melts in your mouth, leaving no zucchini aftertaste whatsoever...just a strong desire for a cold glass of milk.

There are other cookies that as you chew you are able to contemplating life, the universe and all other such matters. Then you swallow, say, gosh-darn-gee-whiz, that was one decent cookie. And then you go on with your day, desire for cookie sated, not one thought of the remaining cookies wrapped in foil in your pantry in your mind, because they were "just okay".

Not these cookies my friend. Not these.

Please enjoy responsibly.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from
(makes 24 cookies)

1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Shred one cup of zucchini. Set aside.

Combine flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

Beat egg lightly in a small custard cup. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, butter, sugar, honey, and vanilla until a well combined liquid mixture forms.

Add wet ingredients to flour mixture. Mix. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Bake cookies on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes.

March 17, 2011

Portobello Mushroom Burger

Quick and delicious- my favorite food related words. I love meals that I can whip up after I get in the door after a long day. The best part about these burgers are that being mushrooms, they lend themselves to being the perfect single's burger, because you can make just one as easily as making two. And if you have a packet of two portobellos and decide you only want one mushroom burger this week, then it can lend itself to dozens of other tasty mushroom dishes.

But back to the burger. It's wonderful and juicy and everything you could want in a burger of any kind. The best part? It's loaded with hidden toppings.

My grandmother deserves credit for introducing me to this one. She sat me down one day and plopped one on my plate, piled higher with toppings than any meat burger I had eaten previously.

Grandma- a mushroom? Really?

You'll like it, she said. I really think you'll like it.

I was skeptic, but I came around fast. And now the portobello and I are inseparable.

You will be too.

Upside-Down Portobello Mushroom Burger
(serves 1)


portobello mushroom
bun/english muffin
olive oil for frying


1 small onion
sharp cheddar cheese
additional toppings

Prepare your portobello. Clean using a damp paper towel. If desired cut away the stem and gills. These are fine to eat, however it will make stuffing the mushroom easier.

Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil, coating the frying pan. Pre-heat on medium.

Chop onion. Sprinkle onion pieces onto pan. Saute for several minutes until onions begin to look translucent. Turn down heat slightly if the smaller pieces begin to char slightly. Move onions from center to the edges of the pan.

Dab a small amount of olive oil onto the mushroom, coating both sides lightly and/or add more olive oil to the center of the frying pan. Cook mushroom about four minutes then flip and cook four minutes more. Time will be affect by size of your mushroom. When it is juicy and the skin is tender- it's done.

During this process, make sure to watch the onions, stirring them occasionally. If they begin to brown, take off the heat and place on a small plate. If not, continue cooking them the entire time, so they will be nice and warm when you're ready to eat.

Turn heat to low. Flip mushroom so the cap is facing upright. Place pieces of cheese in center and add a dab of pesto. Wait for the cheese to begin to melt. Then cover with cooked onions. Move mushroom to bun. Add any further toppings that may be desired- such as lettuce, ketchup or tomato. Consume.

March 11, 2011

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies

I've been gone for a bit. I know.

Forgiven me yet?

These are adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend's mother. I have yet to figure out which cookbook the cookies actually come from, however. The original called for orange zest, which also tastes wonderful. But I'm more of a lemon person myself.

These are thin cookies that are crispy on the outside and chewy and lovely on the inside.

They have white chocolate chips in them.

They are super sugary with a hint of sour.

You can spread lemon curd on them after they've cooled for extra lemony flavor.

Do it....

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies
adapted: source unknown
(makes 40 cookies)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Grated zest of 1 lemon (or more if you like a strong lemon flavor)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Use a microplane on the outer lemon peel, stopping when the peel turns white. Place zest in a small bowl and set aside. Measure out white chips in a separate bowl.

In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until throughly combined. Add the egg, lemon zest and the vanilla extract and mix.

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients or mix carefully with a fork. Combine dry mixture with wet and add the white chocolate chips, stirring until combined.

Roll the dough into balls, flattening two inches apart on the baking sheet. They will spread thin.

Bake 8-10 minutes.

Remove from baking sheet and let cool on a rack.

March 2, 2011

Blueberry Pie Greek Yogurt with Coffee Flavored "Crust"

Protein. It's important.

So is pie.

Let's eat pie everyday.

And do it responsibly. Yes, there is a way.

I like Greek yogurt because it's rich and can take me out to dinner. It's also got a great personality. Full of protein packed goodness.

You should buy a huge tub of plain Greek yogurt. It's easy to make your own flavors. Coffee's one of my favorite kinds of yogurt, so I choose it for this recipe. It also turns the yogurt a light brown color, which works out great for the "crust".

Blueberry Pie Greek Yogurt Parfait
(serves 1)

3/4 cup plain or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt (if using vanilla yogurt omit honey and vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-3 heaping teaspoon(s) honey
1 teaspoon instant coffee(optional)
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
pinch of cinnamon
1/3 cup (Heart to Heart and Go-Lean Crunch)
2-3 walnuts chopped

Take out frozen blueberries. Add blueberries, cinnamon and just enough water to almost cover the bottom of the pan. Stir constantly on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Decrease heat to low and let sit, stirring occasionally.

Measure out yogurt in a liquid measuring cup. Add honey, vanilla, and instant coffee. Mix throughly.

Cook mixture in coffee maker for five minutes.... 


Empty mixture into a bowl, smoothing down the yogurt in a circle, making a small crust on all sides.

Make sure the berry sauce is warm enough for your liking. Spoon blueberries onto the center of the yogurt. Pour remaining liquid around the edges. Sprinkle extra cinnamon on top.

Add cereal and nuts.

Enjoy while still warm.