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Foods of Purim

Hamentashen

Among Ashkenazic Jews, a common treat at this time of year is hamentashen (Yiddish for ‘Haman's pockets’). These triangular fruit-filled cookies are supposed to represent Haman's three-cornered hat.

2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup orange juice (the smooth kind, not the pulpy)
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour (DO NOT substitute with white flour! The wheat flour is necessary to achieve the right texture!)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
Various preserves, fruit butters and/or pie fillings.

Blend butter and sugar thoroughly. Add the egg and blend thoroughly. Add OJ and blend thoroughly. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating white and wheat, blending thoroughly between each. Add the baking powder and cinnamon with the last half cup of flour.

Refrigerate batter overnight or at least a few hours.

When you are ready, roll the dough as thin as you can without getting holes in the batter (try rolling it between two sheets of wax paper lightly dusted with flour.) Cut out 3 or 4 inch circles.

Put a dollop of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, folding the last corner under the starting point, so that each side has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under. This will reduce the likelihood that the last side will fall open while cooking, spilling out the filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown but before the filling boils over!

The number of cookies this recipe makes depends on the size of your cutting tool and the thickness you roll.

Traditional fillings include poppy seed and prune; you can also use apricot, apple butter, pineapple preserves, cherry pie filling or even chocolate-hazelnut spread. Use your imagination and your taste buds! If you're looking for a no-bake, no-fuss filling for your hamantashen, try Reese's mini peanut butter cups, Hershey's kisses, jarred fruit preserves, chocolate chips—white or dark, slightly crushed M&Ms, or Junior Mints (great in a chocolate hamantashen)

Other food customs

A special Purim challah, known in Russian as keylitch, is sometimes made. This challah is oversized and extensively braided. The braids on the challah are intended to remind people of the rope used to hang Haman.

Italian Jews prepare a pastry called “orecchi di Haman” (ears of Haman). Because the Purim is topsy-turvy, and one of the themes of Purim and the megillah is how the appearances are deceiving, and insides are hidden by outward appearances, filled pastries (such as kreplach) are also popular.

In addition to the notion that the hidden filling is reminiscent of the surprises and secret meanings wrapped up inside the Purim story, Kreplach, stuffed cabbage and other foods with fillings are eaten on Purim, there is another tradition which centers on the chopped meat in the kreplach. Jews in Eastern Europe began to eat food that had been chopped or beaten on Purim to be consistent with the Purim tradition to make noise, stomp feet, clap hands whenever Haman's name is mentioned during the reading of the Book of Esther.

Bean dishes are also eaten. They include salted beans boiled in their jackets, and chickpeas boiled and seasoned with salt and pepper. This is meant to remind us that Esther would not eat anything at the court of King Ahashuerus that was not kosher, so she mainly ate peas and beans.

Among Sephardic Jews, it is a custom to wrap pastry dough around a decorated hard-boiled egg to create the shape of a Purim character or an animal. After baking, these artistic creations (Folares) are displayed with pride and eaten with delight.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

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