Ba'Mitbach (In the kitchen) by Irene Saiger


The Purim of my childhood was not very memorable. I do not remember dressing up in costume, attending Purim carnivals or going to hear the reading of Megillat Esther. I do not remember my mother making hamantaschen or delivering Mishloach Manot. Purim was not part of the fabric of my childhood.

My first encounter with hamantaschen was watching my mother -in-law, Lillian Saiger, make them in her home in Toronto. It made quite an impression on me. I was 21 years old, a newlywed, still in college, and living in a foreign country. My in-laws were living in the same home that my husband's maternal grandparents had owned. The hub of that house was the kitchen, with windows that faced a backyard filled with lilac trees. It was a house with history and part of that history included baking hamantaschen. Lil made enough hamantaschen to ship to her children, some of whom were already living outside of Toronto. She made her own filling, a combination of dried fruits that she stewed and pureed and then gently placed in the center of these circles of dough that she had rolled out and cut. She pinched three corners together and baked the cookies until they were golden. They were soft, warm and delicious. I remember that the hamataschen were kept in a tin, placed in a cupboard next to the breakfast room table. We would have them with coffee every day, until they were all gone. I don't have any idea if they actually lasted till Purim.

We eventually moved to Los Angeles and had three children of our own. Each Purim, we dressed the kids in costumes, delivered mishloah manot and took them to hear Megillat Esther. Each year I would make hamantaschen and place them in a tin to have with coffee. They may not be exactly the same as my mother-in-law's as I don't think she actually used a recipe but they are close. Thank you Lil!

P.S. Keep them in a tin.

Basic Oil Dough
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. baking powder
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Combine eggs and oil and mix well. Slowly add orange juice and then mix into dry ingredients. Put mixture onto floured board and handle until soft and pliable.

6 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. dried pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups raisins
3-4 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup water or orange juice

In a small heavy bottomed pot combine all ingredients over low heat and cook until fruit is soft, about 20 minutes. Add water if needed.
Process mixture in Cuisinart for about 30 seconds until mixture looks like a dark jam.

Roll dough out on floured board till about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out small circles and place a teaspoon of filling in the center. Pinch sides together to form a triangle. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown.


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