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.
It’s Purim again, and I’ve been busy making hamantaschen (again). You know, the little triangular pastries with jam-like fillings. Hamantaschen means Haman’s ears in modern Hebrew (and refers to the evil guy in the biblical Book of Esther, the one who, like many before him and many more since, keep trying to annihilate the Jews) and Haman’s pockets in Yiddish.
Trying to make these while following generations-old recipes for pastry is enough to make anyone think of annihilation. Climatic idiosyncracies (humidity levels, cold, etc) may warrant adjustment of various ingredients. In my latest experiment, a few of the pockets annihilated themselves in the oven because (I can’t help it) I decided to be adventurous 1) by deviating from a tried and tested recipe from years before because I was unhappy with the stiffish pastry and 2) by stuffing the darned pockets with new-fangled notions such as lemon curd and strawberry jam. (more…)