Spinach and Feta Hamentaschen (Haman Spanikopita)

  

Haman spanikopita

Haman spanikopita for Purim

Hamentaschen, a popular treat for the holiday of Purim, translates to “Haman’s pockets.” Haman is the villain in the story of Purim and in addition to booing whenever his name is mentioned, on  Purim we eat sweet filled cookies that are in the triangular shape of Haman’s hat. This is a savory twist on the traditional Hamentaschen and can be served as an appetizer or as part of a Purim meal. It is made with pre-made pie crust, so it is a quick and easy dish to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of pre-made pie crust (2 crusts/box)
  • 2 oz. of soft fresh goat cheese
  • 2 oz. of Feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1/2 medium sized onion
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/4 lb. frozen broccoli
  • 1 bunch of dill (1/4 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. nigella seeds (optional)

chopped broccoli

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 450℉. Thaw the broccoli in a colander by running cold water of it. Then set it aside on a kitchen towel to dry a little. Then, thaw the spinach in a colander by running cold water over the spinach. Once thawed, put the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze the excess water out of the spinach or push the moisture out through a sieve.

mixed spanikopita ingreditents2.  Mash the goat cheese, cottage cheese and feta in a bowl with a fork until uniformly mixed. Add the salt, pepper and lemon zest. Scoop out 1/3 of the cheese mix to set aside. The other 2/3 will be mixed with the spinach, broccoli, dill and onion.

3.  Finely chop the broccoli and the dill. Slice and mince 1/2 the onion. If the spinach is whole leaf then chop the spinach as well. Stir the broccoli and spinach into the cheese mixture. Set the mixture aside and prepare your pastry.

4.  Roll the pie crusts out slightly so they are about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the sides to make approximately a 9-10-inch square. Do not worry if your measurements are off as long as you have a rectangle or square-like shape. You can keep the trim to roll out again later. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares or whatever looks even. You will have about 9 squares per pie dough.

make triangles of dough

add cheese to spanikopita

fill in your spanikopita5.  With a knife you can score diagonally across the square (or just eyeball it). Then cut a triangle window out of one side of the square with at least a 1/2-inch border. Carefully pull the uncut side of the square over onto the cut side and push along the middle crease. Then flip the dough over so you’ll have a triangle cutout on top of a triangle of dough.

6.  With a fork, press down along the edges of the triangle to crimp the dough. Fill each pastry cutout with a small spoonful of just the cheese mixture and then a larger spoonful of the spinach, broccoli and feta mixture piled high in the center. You can pinch the edges to fill out the corners of the triangle.

7. Brush the sides of each hamentaschen with egg and sprinkle with nigella seeds (optional). Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pie crust is a light golden brown.

Delicious spanikopita for Purim

Haman spanikopita

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hamentaschen

  

baked chocolate hamentaschen

Chocolate-chocolate hamentaschenHamentaschen or “Haman’s Pockets” are the traditional dessert of Ashkenazi Jews on the holiday of Purim. Originally containing poppy seed filling in medieval Germany, it later became popular to fill the Hamentashen with prune filling. This tradition was started in 1731 to honor a Jewish prune jam merchant named David Brandeis. David was acquitted after being charged erroneously with trying to poison the magistrate of Jungbunzlau in northeastern Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). To celebrate his acquittal the people in his community filled Hamantashen with his plum jam and called it Poivadl (plum/prune) Purim. Today Hamentaschen are filled with many different flavors of fruit jams, nuts and even chocolate.

It is difficult for people suffering from Celiac Disease and others whose bodies are sensitive to gluten to participate in many food customs when one’s diet is restricted in this way. Creating recipes that allow people on restricted diets to participate fully in the enjoyment of Jewish culinary traditions is a very important goal of mine. The following two recipes can be made dairy free as well as  gluten-free if you so choose and it is delicious either way. Choose either to make chocolate cookie dough or traditional sugar cookie dough, both with delicious chocolate filling. Enjoy!

Chocolate Filling

For your chocolate filling, you can either follow the instructions below, or use Nutella or Israeli chocolate spread Hashachar H’aole.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ stick of unsalted butter
  • 3 oz. chocolate chips + 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate OR 3.5 oz. bar of 78% cacao
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour

 

Directions:

1.  Place butter and chocolate in a 1 ½ quart glass mixing bowl and microwave on 80 percent power for 45 seconds; if butter is not completely melted then heat on high for 15 more seconds. Stir contents of bowl until smooth.

2.  Whisk the sugar, extracts and salt into the chocolate mixture. Combine well to dissolve some of the sugar.

3.  Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.

4.  Add the rice flour and whisk until a smooth, shiny mass is formed and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

5.  Place mixture in a sealed container and refrigerate until needed. Filling will become firm but not too firm to scoop into little mounds for filling Hamentaschen.

Note: Chocolate often retains it shape when melted, so don’t over heat or it will burn. One tablespoon rice flour is equivalent to two tablespoons flour if gluten is not a concern and you don’t have rice flour at home.

 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hamentaschen

Makes about 2 dozen hamentaschen

gluten-free hamentaschen ingredientsIngredients*:

  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 cups Gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 to regular flour)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, Crisco or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. xanthan powder
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • filling of your choice

 

chocolate doughFor chocolate cookie dough, do not use almond extract, but instead use 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract. Instead of 2 cups flour, use 1 3/4 cup Gluten-free flour and 1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa.

 

 

 

 

mixing dough for hamentaschenDirections:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.

3.  Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat until lighter in color and fluffy.

4.  Combine the 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan in a 1 quart bowl. Add to mixer bowl and mix on medium speed just until the dough starts to hold together.

 

 

 

kneaded dough5.  Very gently knead the dough on a surface lightly floured with additional flour about ten strokes or until the dough is smooth and holds together. Cover with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

6.  Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper that have been lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness.

Carefully remove one sheet of paper (you might have to scrape some of the dough off if it sticks) and then place dough side down on a board that is heavily covered with confectioner’s sugar. Carefully remove the paper on top and, if necessary dust with additional confectioner’s sugar and lightly roll to make the surface uniform in thickness. (NOTE: This is only necessary if dough was very sticky and pulled apart when removing paper.)

roll out your hamentaschen

cut your dough

7.  Cut the dough into 2 ½ inch circles using the mouth of a glass. Place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Using your thumbs and forefingers shape the hamentaschen. Imagine the circle is a clock; place your two thumbs at 6 o’clock and your forefingers at 2 and 10. Gently bring your fingers together and you will have formed a perfect hamantashen triangle! Pinch the dough together so that the filling is exposed only at the top of the cookie.

shape your hamentaschen

8.  Bake hamentaschen in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Can be stored in a plastic bag or airtight container when cool or freeze for later use. Share with friends! Happy Purim!

ready to bake hamentaschen

 

chocolate gluten free hamentaschen

Honey Zimsterne “Star” Cookies

  

Holiday zimsterne cookiesFood pathways show the influence on recipes from region to region and neighbor to neighbor. In Germany, a recipe for gingerbread men was adapted and adopted by Eastern European Jews to make Zimsterne, or “star” cookies to be served at the end of Shabbat after Havdalah services. Containing the spices found in the Bisomim box used during the close of Shabbat service, the symbolism was to take the sweetness of Shabbat with you into the coming week.

With the holiday season coming up and relatives visiting, this cookie is the perfect bridge between Jewish tradition and Christmas cookie baking. Everyone will enjoy the treat and you can share two celebrations with all family members at one time. Best of all, everyone can help make these soft spice cookies or, you can make them in advance. They keep very well in an airtight container and their flavor gets better, as all spice cookies do, with age.

Happy holidays!

 

 

 

Zimsterne Cookies

Makes 4 or more dozen depending on size of cookie

Ingredients:

ingredients4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup honey

5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

Confectioner’s sugar for rolling out dough

Decorative Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

1.   Cream the butter and the sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture gets lighter in color. Beat in the honey.

2.  Combine the baking soda and spices with 1 cup of the flour. Set aside.

3.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining 4 cups of flour, mixing well to form a thick dough. If your mixer is powerful, use it to add the reserved cup of flour and spices until well combined. If not, stir the remaining flour into the dough by hand. Make sure that the mixture is thoroughly combined.

4.  Pat dough into a flat round and place in a plastic storage bag or airtight container. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm and easy to handle.

Cutting cookies

star cookie cutter5.  Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly dust a pastry board with some confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out on the board to ¼ inch thickness.

6.  Cut the dough into star shapes using a cookie cutter, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the icing.

 

To make the icing:

How to make icing

1.  Place the cup of confectioner’s sugar in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in some more milk until the mixture resembles mayonnaise in consistency.

Iced zimsterne cookies2.  Using a pastry brush, brush the icing over the tops of the warm cookies and let sit at room temperature until the cookies are cool and the icing is dry and no longer sticky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze until later use.

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Children love to cut out cookies and transfer them to the cookie sheet. A trick to prevent the dough from dragging on the spatula and losing its shape is to rub a scrap of dough on the spatula and then dip the spatula in some of the confectioner’s sugar before you transfer the cookie onto the baking sheet.

 

  • Using a rolling pin is often challenging for young hands. However, rolling pin bands of varying thickness are sold that fit on the ends of the rolling pin to ensure the dough isn’t rolled unevenly.