Monday, March 30, 2015

Settembre Cellars and Bakers Brew Shortbread Cookies

Wine. Did someone say wine? It must be happy hour! I have never written a post about wine except to say how much I love to drink it.  Growing up when wine was quickly becoming a fashionable way to imbibe, I had a mother and father who quickly became wine connoisseurs. As good parents, they let us taste whatever it was they were opening that day. ( I quickly decided no more brown bag Boone's Farms or Mateus, would suffice for me.) Soon they found themselves buying more than they could open and now we are the proud owners of 11 cases of wine, many of which can not be bought anymore and all of which are needing to be drunk. Poor me! They were downsizing and realizing that even if they drank a bottle a week, they would never get through all they had accumulated. My mother did most of the buying and most of it is from France and California, though other regions of the world are represented too!

I guess that is one thing I love about wine. Wine takes me to places I can't get up and visit easily. It transports me to Italy or Napa or South Africa. I love wines from Chile and Australia and of course, France. But Boulder? Never did I think wine would transport me to Boulder, but I'm sure glad it did. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Boulder and attend a wine tasting at Settembre Cellars. Tracy and Blake greeted us with hospitality and food. And well, you know-wine!

They were joined by Savory Spice and Cured to entertain and educate us about the terroir of wine and also explain the wine making process that they use to create their extraordinary vintages. All of their grapes are grown in Colorado and currently they have 11 different wines to choose from. Check out their wine club if you wish to learn more. One can also visit their tasting room and see the oak barrels and talk the talk of wine. I'm not so good talking it, but I am very good at drinking it.

I loved their Chardonnay because it wasn't full of oak, though it is aged in new oak French barrels. They impart a gentle, soft quality to the wine but leave the wine very drinkable, without leaving your mouth too dry. I would never have believed that this wine is from Colorado grapes. Bottles are cellared for 11 months before release. Paired with a great endive and quinoa appetizer, it was the perfect way to begin our night of education.

We also tasted a Syrah and a dry Reisling. The Syrah was excellent with a spicy,earthy profile that would pair perfectly with my chicken scarpariello. (I do not know this for a fact, but I believe it to be so. Yes, it would be fun to test this!) This is coming from someone who normally is partial to Pinots and Cabernets. Take me away with this.

Tracy and Blake are so easy to talk with. They are both engineers and Italian food lovers.  By balancing art, science and patience they try to create wines with elegance, balance and depth. No, I didn't make that up! That is their foundation for developing wines and after trying them, I would say they are succeeding well. Listening to Blake talk about the differences in two identical Cabernets, except for the fact that they were grown 3 miles apart, is fascinating. It was only the terroir that was different, and the fun was in experiencing both wines side by side. One could actually taste what he was talking about.

Paired with our wine, were great appetizers from Cured, a local Boulder cheese shop and charcuterie. Though I have never been in, Will promised me he'd send me the mushroom pate recipe that they served that night. I may just have to stop in and get it myself! It was so good. And if you do decide to visit and taste Settembre wines, Cured will pack you a picnic brown bag of great cheese and appetizers to go, that will balance well with your new favorite wine.  You will want to sit and savor and talk with Blake and Tracy about their wines. These are two interesting, engrossing  people and I have no doubt they could engage me for hours.

Last, but certainly not least, were the spices we tasted with the Syrah. Pairing several spices from the Savory Spice shop (one of my favorite places), showed us how different spices bring out different nuances of the wine.  I particularly enjoyed the Baker's Brew spice that I used to make these shortbread cookies. (If you don't have access to a Savory Spice Shop near you, you can always order online.) These buttery, slightly sweet cookies, would make a simply perfect ending to a meal of Settembre wine, Cured cheese and charcuterie, and a bit of Savory spice. What epic synergy was created that night. I am so ready to create my own!

If you decide to visit Boulder, make sure to visit Settembre. You will have fun. You will drink great wine. And you won't believe those grapes are from Colorado!

Baker's Brew Shortbread
Time to Make: About 25 minutes active
Makes about 24 cookies

1/2 lb  butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baker's brew coffee spice or a mixture of coffee, cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, mace and ginger

1 c powdered sugar
1-2 T milk
1 pinch of baker's brew spice

Cream butter and sugar together for 30 seconds until it is light and fluffy. Add egg yolk. Mix flour, cornstarch, salt and spice together. Mix well into butter mixture. Gather dough into  a 12" long roll. I attempted to shape mine like a triangle. Don't ask! I then wrapped this in plastic wrap and froze the dough for about 45 minutes. Cut into 24 slices. Bake at 275 for 30 minutes. Cool on rack. While cookies are in the freezer, prepare glaze by blending powdered sugar and milk together with a whisk. You don't want this too runny! When cookie are cool, glaze them. Sprinkle with a bit more spice. Enjoy!

More Good Food:
Chicken Scapariello
5 Incredibly Quick Appetizers
Red Onion, Blueberry and Pesto Tart
White Beans and Red Peppers
Two Bodacious Appetizers

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, Pine Nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano Plus a Giveaway!

                                      "Parmigiano Reggiano is best eaten daily." (A. Odenwalder)

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, Pine Nuts and Anchovies is a delicious pasta dish with lots of salty and sweet addictive flavors going on! You will love it! #cauliflower #pasta

 I've had a lot on my plate this week and I wish it was just this pasta. Spring cleaning is in full force since I found out that I am going to have a full house for Passover this year! It is hard to believe that Alex came home last Thursday night from China; I know; and he already left! He is though, due back today. I am choosing to believe that he came home to see us, though he left less than 12 hours later to join his Bucknell Ski team buddies in Utah for a ski team reunion. Well, he is staying for Passover and I should count my blessings!

It was less than two weeks ago that he decided to return and in that time Zoe decided she must come from Philly to see her bro, and my parents decided to come up from Phoenix, because God knows when they might see him again! He is so popular, isn't he? And Zoe is bringing THE boyfriend, and her friends and the rest of the famille can't wait to check him out. (OK. He is very nice and I know him, but we will see how well he holds up under pressure, though I'm not too worried because he has held up under Zoe!) Wow. That was a long sentence.

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, Pine Nuts and Anchovies is a delicious pasta dish with lots of salty and sweet addictive flavors going on! You will love it! #cauliflower #pasta

The family will be together again this Passover which leaves me frantic and happy and may miracles never cease. And speaking of miracles...I was in shock the other day when I knocked THIS glass off the counter and it landed just as you see it.

 That's a miracle, isn't it? I was ready for the shatter and looking to make sure the dog was out of the way, and then I peeked and this is what I saw. I have never, EVER had this happen!

Well, Whole Foods has a lot on their plate this month too, and one of them is this incredible Parmigiano Reggiano. I've been eating this stuff ever since I realized that parmesan cheese doesn't taste like what comes out of a can. Sold in giant 85 lb wheels, Whole Foods broke new wheels open on March 7th. Each wheel carries a number, and a production date done in pin dots. A few more notes from Whole Foods:
  • First we choose cheese made with the season's best milk—fall and spring when grass is most flavorful. Then our chosen wheels are carefully aged and hand tended for a full two years to bring out the desirable "pleasant fireworks" on the tongue. In a world of mass-produced food products, we are proud to offer a true hand-crafted work of art.
  • Take a closer look at a whole wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano in our stores. Each wheel carries proof of its authenticity. During production, the future rind is impressed with the number of the "caseificio" or cheese house, production date and pin dots forming the words "Parmigiano Reggiano." The pin dots guarantee that the cheese was made under regulation of the Consorzio del FormaggioParmigiano Reggiano, conforming to its stringent standards of quality. After one year of aging, each wheel that passes the test is branded with an oval certification mark and left to finish aging. Almost every piece we cut includes part of the marked rind, so you can verify it is the wheel thing, Parmigiano Reggiano!

  • There are only 11 farms with an average of 35 cows per farm who produce the Parmigiano Reggiano sold at WFM; it's made in copper vats by a man named Massimo Buttura who makes only 4 wheels a day; it hails from the Reggio Emelia county (one of 5 in Parma that can own the distinction of calling their cheese this); it's aged 24 months! Check out Massimo here:
  • Each wheel is hand stamped with a number—anything under 1000 means it hails from one of the original producers of these cheese, dating back hundreds of years; those found in the Rocky Mountain region are stamped 597! Learn more about the history of the stamp and the process parmigiano reggiano has to go through to get its name here:
I do love Parmigiano Reggiano and that's no lie. Truthfully I love eating it all by its lonesome but there is nothing like the real thing added to pasta. I even use the parmigiano rinds to make broth for soup. Lesson here: Do not throw away those rinds. They are great thrown into soup pots or risotto or beans. The rinds add a ton of flavor to food, so don't waste them.

I also love making parmesan fricos. At first I wasn't going to give you the recipe because Whole Foods sells their own. I then searched their site and found a recipe so I figured it was safe to give you mine.Theirs are flavored simply with thyme and mine are plainly simple. These make a great Caesar salad addition, though I could just munch them all day long and be quite happy. Because of the extravagance of the real thing, a little parmigiano goes a long way. 

Since I'm feeling generous because I didn't post last week, today you will find two recipes. As I said Passover is getting close, which means no pasta for 8 days. Best get it in now which is exactly what I did. Cauliflowers are gorgeous this season, so what better time than the present to give you this recipe! Mangia!

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins, Pine Nuts and Anchovies is a delicious pasta dish with lots of salty and sweet addictive flavors going on! You will love it! #cauliflower #pasta

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Raisins Pine Nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano
Serves 4-6
Time to Make: About 20 minutes active and 35 minutes roasting (the tomatoes and cauliflower, that is!)

2 c cauliflower florettes 
About 20 baby tomatoes
Coarse Salt
2-3 T olive oil
12 oz campanelle pasta, cooked according to package directions in salted water (I like this shape because it is shaped like cauliflower)
1/3-1/2 c golden raisins softened (Just cover them with hot water until soft)
1 pinch saffron, blended into 1 T hot water

4 chopped anchovies in oil
4 minced garlic cloves
1/4-1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T butter
1/4 c pasta water

3 T pine nuts
1/4 chopped Italian parsley
1/3 c Parmagiano Reggiano, finely grated

Begin by preparing your tomatoes and cauliflower for roasting. Toss with oil and salt and place in 375 oven. Do not crowd your pan or it will take longer for vegetables to brown! You can do these in two separate pans if you want.

Boil your pasta and set it aside.

Cover your raisins with water and let soften. Let saffron dissolve a bit in hot water, too.

Heat anchovies in skillet over medium heat and cook with garlic until they break up. (I will be honest. I do not like anchovies out of the can. Cooking them to make sauce though is divine!) Add the saffron, red pepper flakes and butter after garlic is soft. Stir in your pasta water. When cauliflower and tomatoes are roasted, stir them into the pasta and add anchovy mixture and drained raisins. Garnish with pine nuts, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy!

Parmigiano Reggiano Fricos
Makes 1 10 x 10 pan
Active time: 5 minutes
Baking time: About 15 minutes

1 1/2 c shredded Parmigiano

Line a 10 x 10 pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bottom of pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree convection oven. This will bubble and darken. Take out and let sit until cool. Break into random pieces and try not to eat them all!

More Great Recipes:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guinness Irish Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon

The problem with some people is that
when they aren't drunk they're sober.
--William Butler Yeats

An Irish grilled cheese with Guinness and apricot jam and bacon and Irish cheese and oh my...this is good! Don't forget the Irish soda bread! #Irishrecipes #St.PaddiesDay #grilledcheese

Well, St. Paddie's Day will soon be here, don't you know? I'm not one to celebrate, but for those that are, this breakfast grilled cheese might be a good way to start the day. Or end it, for that matter. I don't believe I've ever posted a recipe for a sandwich that many love, myself included. The weird thing is that I hated grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid. Perhaps it was because I only remember three cheeses ever in our house.

Mom always bought those American slices that I never liked, but I  remember my brother peeling off the plastic and shoving them into his mouth, one slice at a time. I remember sliced Muenster that my Dad would melt on toast for breakfast. And I remember Colby-which is a cross between Colby and Monterey Jack. I never ate cheese on sandwiches. I never ate it on burgers. (Yes, I ate burgers back then.) I didn't eat Mac n' cheese. I didn't even sprinkle the cheese from THE can on my spaghetti.

Truly I do not remember when I discovered grilled cheese. Or when I discovered bacon. This however is a post on cheese. Grilled cheese, that is. I was so excited when I went to our newly reopened grocery store last week. They have entered the modern era with a real cheese shop! And then I discovered that Irish Soda Bread was back. You have no idea how delirious that made me. It was just last year that I bought my first loaf. I'd never eaten Irish Soda Bread before. I then went home and made some from a James Beard recipe and I couldn't believe it, but I loved the store version more.

I admit to not liking that I couldn't pronounce half the ingredients, but really people, this is good bread. Maybe it isn't really Irish soda bread, but it tastes as Irish as any soda bread I'll ever eat. Unfortunately even though I consider myself a Denverite, I really am a suburbanite. And in our tiny spot in the Mile High, we don't have a bakery. I've always wanted to open a bakery-any backers out there?

An Irish grilled cheese with Guinness and apricot jam and bacon and Irish cheese and oh my...this is good! Don't forget the Irish soda bread! #Irishrecipes #St.PaddiesDay #grilledcheese

So the bread. Damn, the bread. The next time I go to the store I am going to buy like 5 loaves and freeze it, because they only make it this time of year. It is dense. It is slightly sweet, And it has raisins in it. Oh. I almost forgot. It has Demerara sugar sprinkled on the outside of the loaf. This is a very good thing and I'll tell you why. When you grill your grilled cheese, (Hence the name!) the sugar on the outside starts to melt a bit. It starts to even burn a little bit. And it gets all caramelly on the outside. Plus it smells really good! And well, I'll let you guess how good that tastes.

An Irish grilled cheese with Guinness and apricot jam and bacon and Irish cheese and oh my...this is good! Don't forget the Irish soda bread! #Irishrecipes #St.PaddiesDay #grilledcheese

But I kind of veered off the track and forgot to tell you about the cheese. It is so easy to do when drinking Guinness in the middle of the day. I think one good reason to make this sandwich is because it lets you start your day off with beer. (Well, I didn't want to waste it!) And back to cheese...Being close to St. Patrick's Day, they were featuring Irish cheese. I love cheese and honestly, I've not eaten a lot of Irish cheese. Well, I came home with three kinds. An Irish whiskey cheese that was mellow and rich. Probably tastes a lot like you'd feel after tipping a few. I came home with a Dubliner stout, which was very fragrant with the aroma of stout. Probably like you'd smell after tipping a few; stouts, that is! And last but not least, I arrived home with a simple sweet Irish cheddar, which is probably what you'd be like after not tipping any! (But that's not fun!)

So no, this isn't a post about corned beef. This isn't a post about potatoes. Thought there's nothing wrong with serving some with this. This is a post about cheese. And good bread. And bacon. I did vaguely mention that, didn't I? Glazed baked bacon with Guinness and pepper that becomes spicy and sweet. Well, since my original thought was to make this an Irish breakfast sandwich, I thought some bacon would work. Now Irish bacon doesn't get good and crisp, which is the only way I like my bacon by the way, but I will let you decide; how you like your bacon, that is.. I then grilled a few leeks and tomatoes, for health reasons. If you do this just remember to deglaze your pan with Guinness. Skipped the beans. Whoever heard of beans for breakfast? Well Manservant has. He loves beans for breakfast. Damn, I'm wandering again. Just make this. It will start your day off right. It will end it even better. Cheese. Bread. Beer and Bacon. Four staple foods in my book.

An Irish grilled cheese with Guinness and apricot jam and bacon and Irish cheese and oh my...this is good! Don't forget the Irish soda bread! #Irishrecipes #StPaddiesDay #grilledcheese

Guinness Irish Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon
Makes 2: Serves 1 (just kidding!)
Time to Make: Depends on how many you've tipped or maybe 15 minutes active

6 slices thick bacon
1/2 T coarsely ground black pepper
2 T brown sugar
1 T Guinness

4 slices Irish Soda Bread (with raisins)
1/2 T brown mustard
1 T apricot jam
1 T Guinness
1 c shredded Irish cheese

2 T butter

Directions: (I used a convection oven to bake my bacon. It will take longer in a regular oven. But it may not. Because I like my bacon crisp and you may not. Got that?)
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking pan with foil. Place rack on top of that. Place bacon slices on the rack.
Make a paste of the pepper, sugar and Guinness. Smear it on the bacon. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bacon is as crisp as you want it. It will crisp up a bit after removing it from oven. Now have a swig of Guinness while you grate your cheese. 

In a small bowl mix the cheese with mustard, jam and Guinness.

Get out your favorite cast iron pan. Melt 1 T of butter in the pan over medium heat. Have another swig and remove pan from heat because your bacon probably isn't ready. Now take the 4 slices of bread and put 1/4 c of cheese mixture on each slice. When bacon is ready, put 2-3 slices on two slices of the bread. (If you are nice you gave one extra slice to the dog and you probably ate the other.) Now carefully place the cheese slice without the bacon, on top of the slice with the bacon and cheese.Got that?

Now get that pan hot again and place both sandwiches in skillet. Take a piece of foil and place it over the top of the bread and using your hands smush the bread towards the bottom of the pan. Not too hard, as you don't want the cheese all over the bottom. A little won't hurt though, because that part tastes so good! Cook about 2-3 minutes and then add 1T of butter to pan and flip your sandwiches. Replace your foil and smush again. I always keep my pan covered as the heat retained in the skillet helps the cheese melt. Now take another swig of that Guinness. Open another. And flip that grilled cheese onto a plate. This is the best way to start St. Paddie's Day!

An Irish grilled cheese with Guinness and apricot jam and bacon and Irish cheese and oh my...this is good! Don't forget the Irish soda bread! #Irishrecipes #St.PaddiesDay #grilledcheese

More to Try:
                                            Irish Corned Beef, Potato and Cabbage Pie


                                                              Sweet and Spicy Mustard

Old Photo but this is GREAT mustard!

An Irish grilled cheese with Guinness and apricot jam and bacon and Irish cheese and oh my...this is good! Don't forget the Irish soda bread! #Irishrecipes #St.PaddiesDay #grilledcheese

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pickapeppa Shrimp or 1 More Use for Pickapeppa Sauce

Pickapeppa Shrimp. If you have a bottle in your fridge this is the easiest and most delicious way to use it! Makes one fast dinner! #shrimp #pickapeppa sauce #seafood

 During my informative years to the best of my knowledge, Kankakee, Illinois did not have bottles of Pickapeppa sauce available at the grocery. They certainly didn't at Weiner's Superette. Kankakee did not have parties where Pickapeppa sauce was dripped over blocks of cream cheese and served with crackers. The refrigerators in Kankakee did not contain bottles of Pickapeppa sauce lurking in their innermost recesses. I venture a guess that the closest thing that Kankakee had to a pepper sauce was Tabasco, and that is about as close as it got.

They had Lipton's French onion soup mix, available to blend with sour cream to create your own dip. They had plastic tubs of beer cheese. And they had little weenies one could dip in bbq sauce. They had Ruffles with ridges. They did not have salsa and chips. They had cheese balls and meat balls and ham balls. But they did not have Pickapeppa sauce.

It was just a few posts ago that we ventured into the wilds of Jamaica and now we are going back, oh so quickly. It is not from Jamaica that I received my first bottle of Pickapeppa sauce. I believe the first bottle I received came from my mother in law who shared with me the Southern hostess's secret of pouring Pickapeppa sauce over cream cheese to create an appetizer. This wasn't really a secret to me as I never knew the stuff existed. Being sworn into the sorority involved knowing this little tip. Have guests surprising you? Get out the bottle. Nothing in the house? Well, everyone has a bottle of this in the fridge. And everyone has crackers, even if they are stale!

So after pulling out all of my dibs and dabs of stuff to find the hot sauce required to make patties, I discovered the Pickapeppa sauce calling out to me. Use me. Use ME! I'm dying. I'm DYING! Even though Pickapeppa sauce never dies. It lurks. I told you that already. So to make a long story short...
I found this recipe in my Jamaica book, mon. It is quick and simple and uses a lot of Pickapeppa sauce. Some nights we all need something simple and this will do ya! 

Now a bit of trivia. Pickapeppa sauce was invented by a 16 year old boy in Jamaica in 1921. He created Pickapeppa sauce in his mom's kitchen. If you've never had it, Pickapeppa sauce is a sweetish, thick tomato sauce containing onions, vinegar, mangoes, raisins, tamarinds and pepper. The famous parrot logo was designed by a relative. It is aged one year in oak casks and is sold in 41 countries around the world. I just never found it in Kankakee, Illinois. Go figure.

My point is this; when you are out of cream cheese to make the above appetizer, you can surprise your guests with this. I served the shrimp over rice flavored with thyme and coconut for our dinner, but they would also be great speared with toothpicks and shoveled into your pie hole!

Pickapeppa Shrimp. If you have a bottle in your fridge this is the easiest and most delicious way to use it! Makes one fast dinner! #shrimp #pickapeppa sauce #seafood

Pickapeppa Shrimp
From: Travelling Jamaica
Time to Make: About 10 minutes and 2 hours to marinate plus 10 minutes baking
Serves: 2-4 depending if this is an appetizer or entree

1 lb large to jumbo shrimp (I shelled and deveined them but it isn't necessary.)
1/4 c olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 T coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 t coarse salt
3/4 t dried rosemary
1/2 bottle Pickapeppa Sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c room temperature beer, Red Stripe to be authentic!
2 T butter

Place shrimp in a 9x12 ovenproof glass dish. Mix olive oil, garlic, pepper, salt and rosemary with Pickapeppa sauce and lemon juice. Marinate shrimp for abut 2 hours at room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 350. Pour beer over shrimp in dish. Dot with about 2 T of butter. Bake for 10 minutes, turning them if necessary. You can use the sauce over rice or sop it up with bread. You know you want too!

Other Great Shrimp Dishes:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hamantashen or Hamantaschen? And Purim! And Yiddish! What a Spiel!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

Hamantashen who? It seems no one can even agree on the correct spelling. So, before we get started on these sweet three cornered pastries-let's kibbitz a bit. Hamantashen (which in Yiddish means-Haman's pocket's) are eaten traditionally during the Jewish festival of Purim, which takes place in early March. The original story took place over 2500 years ago in Persia when King Ahasuerus reigned, Haman was his evil advisor, the beautiful, and smart Esther, and her Uncle Mordechai helped right the kingdom and everyone joined together to celebrate.

The Book of Esther is a story where good triumphs over evil and is celebrated with stories, food, drink and carnivals. Well, that's it in a nutshell. As children we used to look at it as a time to dress up in costume, the girls dressing as Queen Esther and the boys were often the evil Haman, the good Mordechai, or King Ahasuerus. We always attended the Temple carnival where we won goldfish as prizes. (Oy! the poor goldfish.) My children continued the tradition until I finally put my foot down and told them they couldn't bring home any more goldfish! The evening of Purim found us sitting through the Purim spiel where the Rabbis and staff enacted the story of Purim in a parody kind of way, the WHOLE megillah was read, and we beat on the floor and spun our greggors whenever the bad Haman's name was mentioned. Today we still do the same and it is also customary in some parts, to give gifts of fruit and cookies or nuts, and also to give to charity.The eating of hamantashen are all part of the fun. Purim is a joyous holiday and it is intended to be celebrated as such. So forget all your tsuris!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

Now to the hamantashen...I am not a maven when it comes to this delicacy. Personally, I think someone took a little joy out of Purim when some Bubbe somewhere decided that we should turn circles into triangles, all to symbolize a very evil man's hat. Or pocket. That has even yet to be decided. I always wonder why there is a circle cookie cutter, but not a triangle? You see I was never very good at geometry, part of the problem maybe being that I was a good Jewish girl, being taught at an Irish Catholic high school, and the Brother teaching me had a French surname. It was also rumored that he couldn't see, or hear and maybe tippled from the bottle a little too often. In any case, I guess he was very kind to me, because somehow I did pass geometry and it may have involved looking at my neighbor's paper. But I did mention that the Brother couldn't see...
So what does that have to do with turning circles into triangles? Absolutely nothing, except that I always find this a challenge. There are two Jewish recipes, one being kreplach, which is a Jewish meat stuffed ravioli, and the other hamantaschen, which are essentially rounds of pastry that are filled and then shaped into triangles. I am not good at turning circles into triangles. I said that already but I thought you should know. I do believe that my mother did me a great favor in never teaching me to make hamantashen. Of course, she never made hamantashen that I can remember. Little did I know, that there are not many Bubbes going around making their own. Temple sisterhoods make lots of money every year ordering hamantashen from the closest kosher bakeries. They then package them in little bags to sell at the Purim carnival to people like me, who never have great success making their own. Well, apparently some do because their photos are all over the internet. Mine are not among them.

Remembering that I write this blog (mostly for my children), I felt the need to put a hamantashen recipe on it. In preschool the kids would make their own hamantashen with refrigerated sugar cookie dough. They weren't bad. I, however, would try my version at home and often end up with pan that looked like this. What a shanda.

Photograph taken from kids on the internet.
You see, making hamantashen involves skill using either the fold technique or the pinch technique. My technique might be labeled the schmuss technique, because I say when the pinch or fold doesn't work, just schmuss those ends together until they stick! Do you remember I also mentioned that Purim involves drinking? Well, I figure that no one is checking to see what method you used to make your Hamantashen. Even ugly hamantashen taste good. And if one's vision isn't quite perfect, that could make those imperfect triangles look awesome. IMO!

That is evidenced here.

Just because you know how to make an angle DOESN'T mean you can.
Now these are made by an anal baker. Oh. Those are Duff Goldman's.
And these, well, these are not only creative, but perfect. This woman would never be allowed in my kitchen. She would cause me shpilkes.  But I do love her technique. Peace.
Hamantashen were traditionally made in jam flavors, such as apricot and raspberry and also a delectable poppy seed version. My father and I loved those. Hamantashen are now made in every flavor known to man. There are now savory hamantashen with schmaltz fried onions. There are everything bagel versions. There are nutella and cookie butter varieties. Yes there is a red velvet one, a carrot cake one, and even a chocolate chip cookie or brownie stuffed inside a pastry one. I venture to say that someone, somewhere, has probably even made a bacon cheese version in a butter pastry, but we won't go there. Oy gevalt!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

Speaking of pastry. That is one other little thing that throws a kink into this entire mishegas. Pastry can be made with butter, in which case the pastry takes on more of a rich pie crust type thing. It can also be made with oil, for those who keep kosher and don't want to mix dairy products with meat. That dough tends to be crispier. Then just to make things more complicated one could throw in some yeast, which makes a more cake like hamantashen. Now I didn't say this was easy, did I? You will find camps on both sides. Or some in the middle. I do prefer the cookie, pastry like version over the cake type. But, I would never refuse the cake type if I was offered one. I can kind of roll any which way when it comes to sugar.

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen
These are definitely an oil based dough. You can tell because they are schmussed together.
This year I was determined to give it my all. I  read and read and came up with these. All in the name of research, she roars! With my love of chocolate I decided we (meaning me) needed to have a chocolate dough. I made an oil version dough with cocoa. It has a cookie like crunch and when filled with a Reese's peanut butter type filling and coated with caramel and chocolate glaze from Chocoley, well, this kind of takes me out of this hemisphere.  If you are ever in need of candy making materials or chocolate coating they are the nicest people to talk to and even give out recipes!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

So feeling such naches under my belt, I  decided to continue the creative process and came up with this sweet, not so little, cinnamon type cream cheese filled hamantaschen. Perfect with that cup of tea, I'm getting ready to swill; or your favorite latte. Both are pretty, pretty good. Unless you want traditional, in which case, any jam filling will work with either dough. And don't eat too many or you might become a bit zaftig!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

Now back to technique. I personally preferred rolling the dough and cutting it into rounds with my favorite blue glass. I found that so much easier than making golf ball sized balls and then schmussing them down to make a round. Then I had to shmutz them together to make triangles. Way to much schmussing and shmutzing in my opinion. And even though I liked the cocoa cookie flavor of the dough with oil, I loved the pastry, more tender pie crust type dough, better. Guess you will have to make both and find out. I also think one can fit more filling into the folded hamantashen than into the pinched, crimped type. Then again, you may be more skilled than I am. In that case, I say more power to ya!

The pastry, butter dough was easier to work with chilled. It rolled out like a charm. The use of powdered sugar also helped the roll out process. And though there was no cream cheese in the dough, it did remind me of rugelah dough.  Suffice to say, that today you've got a lot of choices in recipes. I'm writing up the cocoa, oil cookie dough and the Eastern European Cookie dough with butter, plus the two fillings-one peanut butter, the other cinnamon roll. You can use either filling in either type of dough. Choices of fillings are yours so feel free to study the above paragraphs and come up with your own creation. Each recipe makes about 3 dozen so there is no reason you couldn't have at least three varieties in each batch. And there is certainly no reason to make both recipes. (After reading this paragraph, I am feeling so farmisht!)

For folding directions see Tori Avey's blog. She is a professional. She makes money. I do not. I do this for FUN! Can't you tell? But I digress. You decide. It's Purim. And freedom is what it's all about! And last but not least, let your Bubbies kvell over your hamantashen.You know they would! I send mazel your way!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

European Cookie Dough Hamantaschen
From: 1000 Jewish Recipes
Makes about 3 dozen
Time to make:1 1 /2 hours working time, 2-3 hours chilling and baking time
2 3/4 c unbleached flour
1 c powdered sugar
1 t baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 sticks very cold butter, cut into about 32 cubes
1 t vanilla
1 large beaten egg
1 to 3 T of water

Combine flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Pulse briefly to blend. Add butter cubes through tube until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Mix vanilla with beaten egg. Slowly pour into food processor while motor is running. Dough will come together quickly in a large ball. If the crumbs are dry, you may need to add through the tube, 1 -3 T of ice cold water to bring dough together into a ball.

Take out of food processor and pat down into a thick oval shape. Knead lightly to blend. Enclose dough into a sheet of plastic wrap and push it together into a large thick, flat disc. Refrigerate until very cold. You can do this in your fridge but with the weather we've been having lately, I just set mine out on the deck. It chilled in about 2 1/2 hours. I then brought it in and divided it into two pieces. Let it warm up a bit and then start working it.  I rolled it out gently between two pieces of plastic wrap and cut out rounds with a 3" glass. I then put a spoonful of jam or peanut butter or cream cheese in the middle of each round.

For folding directions see  Tori Avey's instructions. After folding, chill again and then bake at 350 for about 15-25 minutes until they are golden on the edges and the bottom. It is hard to be more exact because this all depends on how chilled your dough is. If your dough is to warm, it will spread and your schmushed edges will not hold together. You will end up with a delicious mess!

Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen

Cocoa Oil Dough:
2 eggs
3/4 c canola oil
1 t vanilla
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 c flour
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa

Beat eggs, oil and vanilla together.Mix baking powder, salt, flour and cocoa together in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil and vanilla mixture and stir well until you can press mixture together into  a giant ball. Place ball in plastic wrap and let chill about 15 minutes. Start breaking off pieces of dough about the shape of golf balls. Roll or press out into about 3" circles. Place your choice of filling in the middle. I found this dough harder to work with, so you may have to pinch and schmuss!

Place formed hamentashen on a parchment lined sheet and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Using the cocoa dough makes it hard to see if the edges are turning gold. These will get crisp upon cooling.

Peanut Butter Filling:
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
Pinch of salt

Combine together with hands and knead the peanut butter well into the sugar. Freeze this mixture. When ready to use, break this into pieces and form into balls. Place those in the center of a dough round and bake according to directions. If you'd like you can drizzle with melted chocolate and caramel. Thanks to Chocoley for this!

Cinnamon Bun filling:
2 T maple syrup or honey
1/2 t vanilla
2 T powdered sugar
4 oz of cream cheese
1 pinch of salt
1 T cinnamon

Combine well and then freeze mixture. When this is frozen break off big chunks and form into balls and place in the center of the pastry round. Bake according to directions. I drizzled these with a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Other good things:
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka
Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels
Halvah Stuffed Baked Apples
Browned Butter, Apricot, Cream Cheese Rugelah

My Yiddish Dictionary:
Kibbitz - have a chat
Whole Megillah - The Book of Esther is always read at Purim. It is a long story. So sitting through the Whole Megillah is a lot like looking at someone's photos from a three week trip abroad.
Greggor - a noisemaker
Tsurris - troubles. "That woman has more tsuris than President Obama."
Maven - expert. "She thinks she is a maven at everything."
Shanda - shame or pity.  "What a shanda those Democrats don't believe in free speech."
Schmuss - I made this up!
Schmutz - I made this up, too!
Mishegas - craziness. "If the Democrats hadn't made such a big deal over the speech there wouldn't be all this mishegas!"
Shpilkes - To be on pins and needles. "The Democrats may be sitting on shpilkes after this speech."
Naches - Pride. Usually used  to mean pride in one's children.
Farmisht - Confused. "The New York Times makes me feel so farmisht. I am so glad that the Wall Street Journal clarifies it for me!"
Oy Gevalt - Oh man. I can't believe it!
Kvell - To beam with joy. "I am kvelling at seeing these hamentashen not fall apart."
Mazel - luck
Zaftig - Pleasingly plump

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Hamentaschen. Everything you ever wanted to know about baking this three cornered Jewish cookie. #hamentaschen #purimrecipes #hamentashen