Purim is this coming weekend and we are in the thick of getting happy for the month of Adar around here (this is what happens when you have a child in the JCC preschool and yourself work for a synagogue). Crazy hair day today at the preschool (but really, it is almost always crazy hair day in a preschool by default, right?) and backwards day tomorrow. Purim carnival and costumes on Sunday. In between: getting ready for the holiday by preparing gifts of food for friends, giving charity, and baking up some nice treats.
Some people have the custom of making food for the holiday that is tricky or schticky (think sushi made from rice crispies, fruit cut to look like hamburgers, chili cheese dogs – but vegetarian and kosher). It is also a custom to serve hamentaschen, the three-cornered folded, filled cookies that remind us of the villain of the Purim story – Haman – and his hat. Here I suggest you combine the best of both worlds, savory, feta-filled three-cornered treats. Look like cookies, shaped to celebrate the holiday, not sweet, delicious, funny, whatever. They are easy to make, taste good, and are a nice change to all that prune and apricot filling.
I also include a traditional hamentaschen recipe, just for the traditionalists. My recipe makes small, crisp cookies. If you want the yeast dough, thick kind – look elsewhere.
for the dough:
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil (if you want lots of flavor use extra virgin olive. if you don’t want the flavor use sunflower or safflower oil)
- 1 Tbs kosher salt
- (1 Tbs dry dill) optional
- (2 tsp ground black pepper) optional
- 2-2 1/4 cups flour (use all-purpose, white whole wheat, or a combination of white and regular whole wheat)
- 1 tsp baking powder
Beat eggs and oil. Add in salt, dill, and pepper. Mix in baking powder and 2 cups of the flour until well-mixed. The dough should not be sticky, although it might be slightly oily to the touch. If it is sticky add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. Do not add too much flour, it will be hard to handle if it gets too dry. Wrap well and set aside to rest for at least half an hour before rolling and shaping. You can refrigerate the dough overnight, just allow to warm up at room temperature for at least half an hour before using.
for the filling:
- 1 small or 1/2 large white onion (not yellow, use white)
- 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 1-2 Tbs olive oil
- 2-3 Tbs chopped parsley, dill, oregano, spinach as desired
- 1 tsp red chili flakes, as desired
- ground black pepper, as desired, to taste
Mince the onion very finely. Mix with the feta, herbs/spinach, chili flakes, pepper. Add the oil a little at a time until you have a paste. You do not want it to be oily or goopy but it should hold together when pinched.
to make the ‘cookies’:
Roll half the dough on a very lightly floured surface. Since the dough is slightly oily it should not need a lot of flour to keep from sticking. Roll it to ~1/4″ thick. Using the rim of a glass (I like to make mine small so I use a jelly jar – you can make them as big or small as you like) to cut the dough into rounds. Remove all the edge/extra dough and set it aside, you can re-roll and use it. Into the center of each dough round put a dollop of the filling. You will probably need to experiment with amount but it is better to have less than more. To shape the cookies, pinch the circle on an arc so it looks like a circle with a point. Grab the other two ‘corners’ and pinch them to make the cookie into a triangle. Put the cookies on a baking sheet either covered with parchment paper or greased with oil. Bake cookies at 350 until lightly golden brown. Repeat with all the dough, including the edges.
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose, white whole wheat, or a combination of the two)
- 2 Tbs orange juice
- fillings of your choice (jam, poppy seed filling, prune, apricot, chocolate chips, fruit pastes)
Cream together butter, sugar, and baking powder. Add egg and mix well. Add in 1 cup of flour then orange juice then remaining flour and mix until dough mostly holds together. Wrap well and set aside for half an hour. Use dough 1/2 at a time, keeping the remainder wrapped. Follow instructions above for rolling, filling, folding, baking cookies. Enjoy.