I wouldn't have even known that Purim was upon us if my girlfriend hadn't told me that her friend brought hamentaschen to work for everyone on Tuesday. I promptly Googled the Jewish holiday only to discover that I had missed it. This year Purim stared at sunset on Saturday, March 19 and ended on Monday, March 21.
Still, I thought I should try my hand at making hamentaschen, the Purim speciality, a fruit filled cookie shaped liked the three-cornered hat of the Purim story's villan, Hamen.
I pulled out A Treasury of Recipes. It was published in Harve de Grace, Maryland, in 1970 by the Ladies Auxiliary of The Harford Jewish Center. Also know as Temple Adas Sholom, where my dad was Rabbi for more than 20 years. It's spiral bound and thanks the typist in the acknowledgments. Seemed like the ideal place from which to get a classic Jewish recipe.
My troubles started, I think, with the fact that I was dual-tasking. I had chicken baking in the oven, pasta simmering on the stove, and asparagus roasting in our little convection oven. It was in the middle of all that that I started baking.
Then things just got worse.
The dough seemed really dry when I mixed it up so I added a drip of water, which left the spot of dough where the water landed all gloppy. Then I started rolling it out on a board that was way too small, on a counter that was way too high. And instead of moving to floured wax paper on the breakfast room table, I just kept trucking.
The resulting dough was rolled out way too thick. And it took three tries before we (my daughter and my girlfriend were in on the mess too) decided on a drinking glass that was the right size to use for cutting out the circles. But did I reroll the ones that were too small? Nope. I just plopped them on the cookie sheet.
When I started filling them, I could tell I was putting in way too much and when we started pinching them closed they were suspiciously popping back open again and again. When we finally got the strawberry and blueberry ooze to a manageable halt and got the little buggers to stay closed, we popped them into the oven.
Twenty minutes later I realized the oven wasn't on. Apparently I turned it off when I took the chicken out. Sigh. So, I turned it back on and 10 minutes later the cookies were still raw. Ten minutes more and they were hard as rocks.
They were all exploding like gross little volcanoes, except for two -- the two that I used the extra large glass to cut and rolled out super thin. Regardless, they all tasted bland and floury and, in the words of my 11-year-old, "yucky."
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Much to my dismay -- and unbeknownst to me until way after the fact -- my girlfriend brought some to work to show her friend who had brought in the delicious hamentaschen that had started this whole debacle.
Then the truth came out. Little miss perfect cookies used cream cheese in her recipe. Cream cheese. Not on my watch. My mama didn't use it and I'm not gonna use it. Of course, I'm also not going to eat the disgusting cookies I made.
I think I better call my mom.