Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hamantaschen Fail. Now What?

Well, they say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions... So, I really meant to make hamataschen this year. In fact, I was so close. My youngest was in a flour-covered smock and everything. We made the dough, smelled the delicious orange zest, and put it in the fridge. But then I was tired. So I took a nap. And then the kids had a birthday party to go to. And when we got back, the Man and I were wrecked. So the next morning I pulled out the bowl and... Totally dried out block of cookie dough. Rock hard. Solid. I left it out to thaw, but it didn't. Sadness in the house. And now I'm tired. So: addendum to my recipe. Refrigerate for half an hour, not overnight!!!

But, let's talk Purim Party!

While my last post had to do with making attempting to make delicious hamantaschen, today's has to do with the holiday itself. In addition to sending gifts of food, Jews are obligated to have a seudah, a feast with symbolic foods. Foods typically eaten are filled foods (for holding secrets) such as kreplach, a dumpling much like a wonton. Some Jews eat chickpeas and other beans because tradition suggests that Esther kept vegetarian in the king's palace in order to avoid breaking the kosher dietary laws.

But the fun thing about this feast (for adults) is the drinking.

This is what we in the ritual biz call a "tension release" holiday. Alcohol is liberally consumed, making the festival unusual in Jewish custom. It is in fact a tradition to get so wasted that one doesn't know the difference between "Blessed be Mordechai" (the good guy) and "Cursed be Haman" (the bad guy).

A classic reversal holiday such as Mardi Gras, there is a carnival-like atmosphere to Purim. In late 19th and early 20th century America, German Jewish women used the holiday for fundraising balls, throwing lavish masquerade parties. Eclipsed in the mid-twentieth century by the growing importance of Chanukah, Purim is enjoying a resurgence among American Jews of all movements. Among the Orthodox, this holiday functions much like Halloween (which they do not celebrate). The children (and adults) dress in costume and consume candy and other sweets by the handful.

But, for those of you who know the Culinary Converter, you know that what I'm really interested in here are the cocktails. Help me brainstorm:

My instinct would be to go in the direction of pomegranate in order to suggest the Persian influence on the holiday, but my favorite cocktail that I've found online is the Ethel. It's a hamantaschen-inspired cocktail designed by Chicago-based Charles Joly, the chief mixologist at the Drawing Room:

1 1/2 oz North Shore Aquavit

¾ Galliano l’authentico

Spoon orange marmalade

¾ lemon juice

¼ oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice, shake, and strain into chilled cocktail coupe. Use a vegetable peeler to cut a strip of orange peel, mist cocktail with oil, and place decoratively.

Read more about this here:

I'm totally making this after work, mainly because I have all the ingredients. I'll let you know!

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