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Purim Recipes

Poppy Seed Cake with Blueberries and Labneh

By: 
Michael Solomonov

The earthy fruitiness of poppy seeds makes them shine in recipes both sweet and savory; they’re equally at home on top of a buttered bagel as in a sweet filling for hamentashen, the stuffed, three-cornered Purim cookie. This poppy seed cake is basically a madeleine batter - almond flour, egg whites, and butter. The butter is browned first to give it a bit more complexity and a nuttiness that complements the poppy seeds. The egg whites keep the cake nice and tender and lend a bit of crispness to the crust.

Labneh (or labaneh or labné) is yogurt that has been salted and drained to remove excess water. The result is a thick, tart, and creamy spread that’s similar in texture to Greek-style yogurt, but richer in flavor. The tradition of drained yogurt comes from the Levant, but Israelis adopted it wholeheartedly and use labneh in sauces, eat it instead of yogurt, and just smear it on bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of za’atar. Although kosher laws mean that labneh seldom appears on the Israeli dinner table (where meat is typically served), I use it often at Zahav. Pureed with tons of soft herbs and garlic, labneh is the base of the striking jade-green sauce for Zahav’s famous fried cauliflower. Labneh also works beautifully as a sauce for fish (amazing when mixed with amba, mango pickle). I love to use labneh in desserts because it mellows the sweetness.

Ingredients: 
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 large egg whites
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups blueberries, for serving
1 cup labneh, for serving
Directions: 
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling frequently, until the foaming stops and the butter turns a rich brown color and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Combine the egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer and a big bowl). Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold in gently with a spatula until just combined. Whisk about 1/4 cup of the batter into the brown butter until well combined, and then fold the brown butter mixture into the batter. Add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and fold in gently until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Line a 9-by-13 inch baking dish with oiled parchment.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan. You can turn it out of the pan before slicing and serving, topped with blueberries and labneh, or serve straight from the pan.

Yield: One 9-by-13-inch cake
 


Excerpted with permission from ZAHAV by Michael Solomonov. Copyright © 2015 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2015 by Mike Persico. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Chef Michael Solomonov was born in Israel and grew up in Pittsburgh. He and Steven Cook are the co-owners of CookNSolo Restaurants, home to some of Philadelphia's most distinctive culinary concepts, including Zahav, Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Rooster Soup Co., and Goldie. They are a combined four-time James Beard Award Winners, including the 2016 "Best International Cookbook" and "Book of the Year" awards for their first cookbook, Zahav, and a 2011 "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic" win for Solomonov and who in May, was named the 2017 JBF's "Outstanding Chef".

Tina's Tidbits: 

Michael Solomov Introduces Labneh

  • Prepared labneh is available in Middle Eastern markets. Making it is simple: Add salt to taste to plain (not nonfat) yogurt, scoop it into a cheesecloth-lined colander, and set that over a bowl. Place the whole contraption in your refrigerator to drain overnight, and you’ll have labneh for breakfast.

Hamantaschen are the most recognizable food associated with the Purim holiday, but there are many different foods for celebrating Purim. Check out some favorite recipes from around the world.

When we say "Purim," three-cornered cookies are one of the first things that come to mind for many people. But where did they come from? Learn about the history of hamantaschen and browse a selection of recipes for all types of hamantaschen, both sweet and savory.

Savory Persian Herb and Cheese Hamantaschen

By: 
Amelia Saltsman

Hamantaschen, the traditional triangular Ashkenazic Purim pastries, are typically a sweet treat. I’ve taken a savory approach here, using spring herbs, a Persian favorite, to honor Esther and Mordechai’s heritage, as well as the season. With their flaky dough, these Haman’s hats (or pockets or ears) are reminiscent of bourekas, the small hand pies popular in Israel and the eastern Mediterranean. You can make snack-size hamantaschen or large ones for a vegetarian main dish (see the variation at the end of the recipe).

Ingredients: 
For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups (190 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 g) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) ice water
For the filling:
1 bunch each Persian or regular mint, leek or garlic chives, pepper cress, green onions, and tarragon
3/4 cup (170 g) labneh, homemade or store-bought
6 ounces (170 g) feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Directions: 

To Make the Pastry

In a large bowl, stir together the flours and salt with a fork. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some flattened pieces of butter still visible. Stir in the ice water, a little at a time, until the dough just sticks together when pressed between your fingertips. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten into a thick rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated; let it rest at room temperature until soft enough to roll out, about 15 minutes.)

To Make the Filling

Finely chop enough of each of the herbs in any combination preferred to total 1¼ cups (75 g) lightly packed. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together the labneh and feta. Stir in the egg, then stir in the chopped herbs.

To Assemble the Pastries

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Have ready 2 sheet pans. If you like, line them with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in half and rewrap and refrigerate half of it. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the other half into a rectangle or circle 1/16 to ⅛ inch (2 to 3 mm) thick. Cut out 12 circles each 3½ inches (9 cm) in diameter, rerolling any scraps as needed.

Mound 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold the sides of the dough up over the filling to form a triangle, leaving a nickel-size bit of filling exposed. Pinch the three corners of the triangle very firmly to seal. Arrange the pastries on a sheet pan, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Refrigerate the first batch while you make more with the remaining half of the dough and filling. Top off the pastries with any leftover filling. Brush the pastries with the egg wash.

Bake the pastries for 12 minutes; the bottoms will be light golden. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C) and continue to bake until the crust is a rich gold and the filling is puffed and browned in places, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Using an offset spatula, transfer the pastries to a wire rack and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftover hamantaschen; they can be reheated in a 350°F (180°C).

Main Dish Variation

To make 6 large hamantaschen, cut three 6-inch (15-cm) circles from each piece of dough. Use about ⅓ cup (70 g) of filling for each dough circle and fold as directed. As you complete shaping each hamantasch, use a wide offset spatula to move it onto the baking sheet. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes and at 375°F (190°C) for about 25 minutes.

Kitchen Note

Unbaked hamantaschen can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 week. Brush frozen pastries with egg wash just before baking, and increase oven times to 15 and 18 minutes, respectively.


Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photo by Staci Valentine.

Almond Poppy Seed Pound Cake

By: 
Tina Wasserman

Use leftover hamantaschen filling in this delicious almond poppy seed pound cake! When you're finished making hamantaschen for your family and friends for Purim, there’s a good chance that you have leftover filling. There’s even a better chance that you have more than one filling left over! I created this cake using canned almond and canned poppy seed filling but you could use apricot/almond or apricot/poppy seed or even prune/poppy seed combinations. All are delicious, although the last choice will create a cake that looks more chocolate than vanilla.

Ingredients: 
1 cup unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ cup canned poppy seed dessert filling
½ cup canned almond dessert filling
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat, thick Greek yogurt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly spray four mini loaf pans or one large bundt pan with cooking spray, or lightly grease with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add poppy seed filling, apricot filling, almond extract, and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture and mix at medium high speed until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Add eggs and beat at high speed until mixture is lighter in color and aerated.
  6. Add the yogurt and mix on high speed until well incorporated.
  7. In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add this mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed just until the batter is well combined.
  8. Pour the batter evenly into four prepared mini loaves or one large bundt pan. Place on a low-rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 40 to 60 minutes (depending on size of pan) until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let cakes cool for five minutes and then remove from pans and place on a cooling rack or on their sides (mini loaves) or upright (bundt cake). Cool thoroughly before covering or freezing for later use.

Persian Spinach and Pine Nut Kuku

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée to Judaism for Families, filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

Kuku might sound like a silly name, but it is a delicious omelet-like pancake made in Iran. Before 1935, Iran was called Persia, and Jewish people have lived in Persia for almost twenty-five hundred years! When King Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, thousands of Jews were exiled to Babylonia, which at that time included the lands of Persia. The story of Purim takes place in Persia, in the city of Shushan.

Kuku are light and fluffy and often contain vegetables and green herbs. Here are two recipes, one using cauliflower and this one with spinach. This recipe for kuku combines some of the foods that the Moors brought from Persia and the Middle East and introduced to Jewish people living in Spain. When, in 1492, the Jews were no longer allowed to live in Spain, they brought their love of spinach, raisins, and pine nuts with them to Italy. Persians introduced the Moors to spinach, and cauliflower was introduced to Persian cuisine from neighboring Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). After the Moors conquered Spain, they introduced the vegetables to the Jews, and along with raisins, they were favored by the Spanish Moors and Jews for centuries. Although the Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492, their cooking traditions continued. So whenever you see a recipe that combines raisins with spinach or cauliflower, you can tell that it is a dish with Jewish connections!

Najmieh Batmanglij is my (and most Americans’) go-to authority on Persian cuisine. Her recipes inspired me to create the following.

Kuku can be served hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or cold. This is a perfect recipe to make with children because it can be served whenever you have time to eat it as a snack or rewarmed as a light lunch or brunch dish.

Ingredients: 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup raisins
½ cup finely chopped chives or the green part of scallions
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
10 grindings of black pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Persian advieh, baharat, or cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
5 eggs
2 tablespoons matzah meal
Directions: 
  1. Add all of the oil to the pan and coat well. The excess oil will help cook the kuku.
  2. Place the defrosted chopped spinach in a colander. Take small handfuls of the spinach and squeeze very hard until almost all of the moisture has drained. Place the spinach in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the spinach, and mix with a fork until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the kuku begins to brown.
  5. Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into 1-inch squares.

Kitchen Conversations

Create your own kuku. What vegetable or vegetables would you like to use? What spices would make it taste good?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • This is a good recipe to introduce cooking at the stove because the mixture won’t spatter and scare a young child.
  • It is very important that the child be standing on a stable surface—chairs are not appropriate!
  • Make sure that the stove is at least at midriff height. Faces should be far away from cooking utensils.
  • Hot casseroles should be removed from the oven by an adult or a supervised child over the age of ten.

Persian Cauliflower and Raisin Kuku

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée to Judaism for Families, filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

Kuku might sound like a silly name, but it is a delicious omelet-like pancake made in Iran. Before 1935, Iran was called Persia, and Jewish people have lived in Persia for almost twenty-five hundred years! When King Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, thousands of Jews were exiled to Babylonia, which at that time included the lands of Persia. The story of Purim takes place in Persia, in the city of Shushan.

Kuku are light and fluffy and often contain vegetables and green herbs. Here are two recipes, one using spinach and this one with cauliflower. Persians introduced the Moors to spinach, and cauliflower was introduced to Persian cuisine from neighboring Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). After the Moors conquered Spain, they introduced the vegetables to the Jews, and along with raisins, they were favored by the Spanish Moors and Jews for centuries. Although the Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492, their cooking traditions continued. So whenever you see a recipe that combines raisins with spinach or cauliflower, you can tell that it is a dish with Jewish connections!

Najmieh Batmanglij is my (and most Americans’) go-to authority on Persian cuisine. Her recipes inspired me to create the following.

Kuku can be served hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or cold. This is a perfect recipe to make with children because it can be served whenever you have time to eat it as a snack or rewarmed as a light lunch or brunch dish.

Ingredients: 
20-ounce bag frozen cauliflower (or ½ head of large cauliflower)
2 medium onions
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped or put through a garlic press
5 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper, about 15 turns of a pepper mill
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons dark raisins
Directions: 
  1. If the cauliflower is fresh, then chop into small pieces; if frozen, defrost and drain in a colander. Cut the onions in half top to bottom and then thinly slice. You should have about 4 cups.
  2. Heat a large frying pan on high for 15 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat for 10 seconds more. Lower the heat to medium. Add the cauliflower, onions, and salt to the pan, stir to combine, coverthe pan, and then cook for 3 minutes.
  3.  Uncover the pan and sauté until the cauliflower is soft and the onions are light golden brown. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Do not burn the garlic.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower/onion mixture to a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher until the cauliflower becomes a coarse puree. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 1½-quart casserole or 10-inch glass pie plate with the additional 2 tablespoons of oil.
  6. Using a fork, combine the eggs, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and raisins in a 1-quart bowl to the cauliflower and mix to thoroughly combine. 
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the greased casserole or pie plate, and bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the eggs are cooked in the center. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Note: Cut the cooled kuku into 1-inch squares, and place on a plate with toothpicks for bite-sized snacks or appetizers during the seder or anytime you need hors d’oeuvres.

Kitchen Conversations

Create your own kuku. What vegetable or vegetables would you like to use? What spices would make it taste good?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • This is a good recipe to introduce cooking at the stove because the mixture won’t spatter and scare a young child.
  • It is very important that the child be standing on a stable surface—chairs are not appropriate!
  • Make sure that the stove is at least at midriff height. Faces should be far away from cooking utensils.
  • Hot casseroles should be removed from the oven by an adult or a supervised child over the age of ten.

Chocolate Filled Hamantaschen

By: 
Temple Beth El Sisterhood, Madison, WI

Celebrate Purim with these delectable chocolate filled hamantaschen!

Ingredients: 
DOUGH
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
............................................................................
FILLING
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, beaten
Directions: 
  1. Combine all dough ingredients and blend well to make cookie dough. Roll thinly on lightly floured board.
  2. Combine all filling ingredients except egg in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Blend in egg.
  3. Cut dough into circles and place one teaspoon of filling in each center. Pinch up sides to form 3-pointed hamantasch.
  4. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

 

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