A Day for Hamantaschen (Gezundheit!) and Ester’s story

Once upon a time in Persia, there was a beautiful Jewish girl named Ester who was brought up by her stepdad (a cousin, Mordecai). One day, stepdad-cousin Mordecai, who purportedly loved Ester dearly, thought it would be a brilliant idea to have her join the harem of the King of Persia. The king, luckily, fancied Ester and made her queen, so she wasn’t just any old sex slave but the chief one.

The king had an adviser with a fragile ego named Haman, who took a dislike to Mordecai because the latter wouldn’t kiss up to him. Based on this slight, Haman decided to punish Mordecai’s entire race of people – the Jews – and persuaded the king that it was in his interest to annihilate them. Read my post last year, here.

Ester, tasked by stepdad-cousin Mordecai to plead with the king to spare the Jews, became one of the first Jewish women to go on a diet. She fasted for three days so that she would (ironically) be fit to speak to her own husband about saving her own people.

Luckily, her pains weren’t in vain and the Jews were saved, Haman was hanged, and everyone lived mostly happily ever after (in between other episodes of people attempting to annihilate them).

This happy news has since been celebrated with the reading of the Book of Ester on Purim and with carnival-like celebrations.

And also, with the eating of hamantaschen, shaped like Haman’s hat. Why anyone would be inspired to make a tart that looked like a villain’s hat is beyond me. But here’s how you make them. See here for previous recipes for pastry and fillings alike. This year, with a nod to my roots in Southeast Asia, I made a pineapple jam (these are traditionally used in tarts made during the Lunar New Year). Pineapple jam has more texture, flavor and aroma than applesauce, and is wonderful on toast or Weetabix.

Happy Purim!

Pineapple Jam

  1. In a saucepan, add equal weight of pineapple (chopped up tiny) and sugar
  2. Add the juice of a lemon and zest if you wish
  3. Allow to simmer over moderate heat for 25 mins (or till it’s golden yellow and thick and looks jammy)
  4. Cool

Pastry

  • unbleached fine flour, just about two cups
  • butter/pareve margarine, 2 sticks, chopped up into little cubes
  • lemon, zest of
  • sugar, 2 tbsp
  • salt, pinch
  • egg, 1 whole
  1. In a food processor, whizz the flour, butter, sugar, salt and zest till it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add a whisked egg and bring together with a fork before using hands to knead
  3. Shape into two discs, wrap in cling film and refrigerate at least 3o mins.
  4. Then, roll out a disc of dough, use pastry cutter to cut out circles, plonk jam in middle and fold into triangles.
  5. Brush with an egg wash and bake at preheated 375F for about 20 mins, till slightly brown.
  6. Remove and try not to eat them all at once!
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March 7, 2012. Tags: , , . Baked Goods, Cookies, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Jewish, Kids, Purim.

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