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Recipes that put a new spin on Purim

With love from Grandma Beauty
Hamantaschen go healthy

By Dawn Lerman/JNS.org

my fat dadIn her recently published memoir My Fat Dad : A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes, (Berkley Books, September 2015), New York Times wellness blogger and nutritionist Dawn Lerman shares her food journey and that of her father, a copywriter from the “Mad Men” era of advertising. Dawn spent her early childhood constantly hungry as her father pursued endless fad diets from Atkins to Pritikin, and insisted that Dawn and her mother adopt his diets to help keep him on track. As a child, Dawn felt undernourished both physically and emotionally, except for one saving grace: the loving attention she received from her maternal grandmother, Beauty.

In Chapter 1 of her new book, Lerman explains how, for her grandmother, food was a religious experience.

“Beauty would say, ‘God is in my kitchen, not in temple’—which was really upsetting to her very good friend and neighbor, the rabbi next door. My grandmother lived in a neighborhood with many religious families, although Beauty never believed in organized religion or going to temple herself. ‘I am a culinary Jew,’ she’d proclaim. ‘I honor tradition and those who came before me, and I want to pass the history of the food on to you. I can find my heritage in a bowl of soup. I believe in the power of sweet-and-sour meatballs. I believe that when I combine, eggs, raisins, cottage cheese, yogurt, and baby shells into a kugel,

I honor my own grandmother. I believe that stuffed cabbage connects me to my father, whom I miss. My bible is recipes that fill your soul and will keep you healthy and nourished for years to come.”

“From the time I could hold a spoon, my grandmother involved me in the cooking process, allowing me to mix the onions, green peppers, and bread crumbs for the salmon patties and decide what kind of soup we were going to prepare. And Beauty always made sure I was the one who tasted whatever we were making first. In her arms, I was never hungry for food, love, or affection. She was my mentor and my savior—saving my life, spoonful by spoonful.”



Taken from Chapter 15 of My Fat Dad, this hamantaschen recipe includes almond and oat flour, coconut oil, and some flaxseeds — making it not only delicious, but nutritious. It’s a win-win as both a dessert or an on-the-go breakfast/snack.

grandma beauty's hamantaschen -- with a healthy twist. credit- Courtesy Dawn LermanGrandma Beauty’s hamantaschen with a healthy twist 
(Can be gluten-free or vegan)
Yield: 12 cookies

8 tablespoons coconut oil or softened butter (put a tablespoon aside for greasing the baking sheet if you are not using parchment paper)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons nondairy milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond flour or oat flour (plus additional, as needed, for thickening)
1¼ cups oat flour (you can make your own oat flour by blending oats in a blender)
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the oil or butter, egg, vanilla, nondairy milk, and maple syrup, and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, salt, and baking powder. Then combine the ingredients from both bowls and mix together with your hands until they form sticky dough. If the dough feels a touch dry, you can add a splash of water to thin it. And if it feels a bit wet, you can add a touch more almond or oat flour. Chill the dough for 10 minutes, then roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Make sure it is firm but not dry. Cut in 3-inch circles, or larger if you prefer. The larger, the easier to fold and fill. Make sure your jam for the filling has been refrigerated so it is thick, not runny. Use about one teaspoon per cookie. Place filling in center and pinch the edges firmly together to create a triangle, leaving the center open to expose the filling. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly brown on the bottom. Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired) before eating.


Mangia! Hamantaschen go cannoli
By Sheri Silver

cannoli hamantaschen1(The Nosher via JTA) — My love of Italian cuisine was honed at a very early age — there was no lack of Italian restaurants, pizzerias and bakeries. If I had to pick my favorite Italian pastry, it would be no contest – cannoli. Something about the sweet, creamy filling, rich chocolate chips and crunchy shell has always been the trifecta of what a dessert should be. So why not put that delicious filling into an iconic Jewish pastry – hamantaschen? As it turns out, this is a pretty amazing mash-up, one I’m sure will bring smiles to your friends and family at Purim. If you’ve struggled with making hamantaschen in the past, I’m sharing all of my tried-and-true tips gathered over years of trial and error.

Cannoli Filling:
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Hamantaschen Dough:
1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for sealing the hamantaschen
1/2 cup chocolate chips, for drizzling
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Make the cannoli filling: In the bowl of a mixer, beat all ingredients except the chocolate chips till light and fluffy. Fold in the chocolate chips and refrigerate, covered, until needed.

Make the dough: Beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar till light and fluffy; scrape down the sides. Add the milk and vanilla and beat till incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Add the flour and salt and beat again. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and place each between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll each to a 1/2-inch thickness, stack the doughs on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one dough at a time, place on your prepared baking sheet and cut out circles using a drinking glass or cookie cutter (I used a 2 1/2-inch cutter). Gather trimmings, re-roll and cut.

Brush the edges of the circles with a bit of the beaten egg white and place 1/2 teaspoon of cannoli filling in the center. Fold the dough into a triangle shape and pinch the corners and edges firmly together. Brush the dough with more of the egg white. Bake hamantaschen until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When cooled, place on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Last, melt the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in the top half of a double boiler set over barely simmering water. Cool slightly and transfer to a disposable pastry or Ziploc bag. Snip a small opening in the corner and drizzle the chocolate over the hamantaschen. Refrigerate till set. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving .

Sheri Silver writes the blog Donuts, Dresses and Dirt (http://sherisilver.com/.) The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at  TheNosher.com.


Purim pairings: Fun ways to combine costumes, mishloach manot

By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman/JNS.org

Groggers, candy, and music. A story that involves royalty, a beauty pageant, and the antagonist getting hung on a tree. And let’s not forget the costumes. Purim is a joyful holiday that children of all ages can enjoy and appreciate.

My children start thinking about their next year’s Purim costumes before I can even rid the house of the chametz (leavened products) from the traditional “mishloach manot” Purim gift baskets in order to prepare for Passover cleaning. Throughout the course of the year, their ideas change and evolve. One of my daughters will want to be a princess in April and a surgeon in October. While my son may envision a character from one of his computer games, he’ll eventually be a character from a popular film.

One year, we all dressed up to the theme of pirates—except for one daughter, who insisted on being a princess. She became the princess captor. Our mishloach manot included Pirate’s Booty snack balls, chocolate coins, and a miniature bottle of whiskey.

Pairing family-themed costumes with mishloach manot never became a family tradition for us, but there are loads of families who do it. There’s even a Facebook group, “Purim Themes and Ideas for Shalach Manos,” through which families share their ideas, stories, and pictures, and even barter off pieces of costume clothing.

Considering a theme this year? Here are a few costume-mishloach manot pairing ideas to get you started:


Lego family

Neeli Engelhart and family of Modi'in, Israel, dressed up as a Lego family. Credit- Courtesy Engelhart family.Neeli Engelhart of Modi’in, Israel, started with family-themed costumes before she even had children. Now, with four boys aged 4 to 13, it has become a family tradition. Engelhart says the kids get involved early on.

“They give us ideas and we work with those,” says Engelhart. “It’s important to get your kids involved as much as possible.”

One year, they dressed as a Lego family. Months before Purim, Engelhart started buying cheese balls in large plastic jugs from Costco. As the containers emptied, she cleaned and dried them, converting them into Lego heads. Cardboard placards were cut to create bodies, and plastic strips were assembled for arms and legs.

Each family member picked his or her own character.

“My husband had a sweater vest and a kippah on his Lego head. I was more like a princess, with pink appliqués. One son was a football player,” Engelhart recalls.

To complete the theme, the Engelharts gave out mishloach manot that looked like Lego characters, too: a can of Pringles (the body), topped with a baby jar head (cleaned and filled with candy).


Bugs and butterflies

Meghann Schwartz of Silver Spring, Md., and her family have been dressing up and theming their mishloach manot for seven years, ever since they had their first child. It started because someone gave them a butterfly costume for their baby. Mom and dad decided to transform into bugs, too—a bee and a ladybug, respectively—and they became an insect family.

For the mishloach manot, “I filled small pots with chocolate cake to look like dirt. I added gummy worms and lollipops,” Schwartz recalls. She says she makes 70 mishloach manot packages a year, so doing something clever, cute, and inexpensive is key.

To find good mishloach manot packing ideas, Schwartz says she looks at stores such as Oriental Trading.


An A-Waze-ing Purim

Last year, the Engelharts chose a theme that was fitting for their aliyah: Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, which was invented in Israel and later acquired by Google.

Engelhart was the map of the family’s old neighborhood in Chicago, wearing a t-shirt that said, “Let’s get started.” Her husband, Ari, was the map of their new neighborhood in Modi’in. The kids were each one of the traffic issues to which Waze alerts you while driving: accident, police reported ahead, traffic jam. Engelhart painted logos onto white pieces of fabric and glued them onto t-shirts.

For mishloach manot, they made bowls and filled them with cheese-cracker fish, accompanied by a poem about being a fish out of water and needing Waze to get around. A bottle of water was re-labeled with, “Have an A-Waze-ing Purim.”

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