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You know how much I like lists, well I slightly prefer index cards. I’m also a little obsessed with continuity. So I have this recipe box, which is almost identical to my mother’s. We once had a long discussion about how to cross reference recipes by both ingredients and country of origin…but it got complicated.

Batman and I have different ideas about how the recipe box works (handwritten vs typed cards, untested recipes in the box, the style of annotations etc), it’s one of those things we can’t discuss in order to retain marital harmony (like the road layout at Tollcross) so it’s now officially my domain.

Here’s the hamentashen recipe and an alternative which I would suggest trying.

The hamentashen recipe is from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food which I recommend to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me. It’s a slightly flaky pastry which is quite nice, although a little difficult to work with.

Hamentashen:
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
2-3 drops of vanilla essence
150g butter
1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons of milk (if necessary)
Rub butter into flour, add salt, sugar and vanilla. Mix in egg. Work briefly, adding milk if necessary (it always is when I make it). Wrap in cling film and cool. This is a very crumbly dough, so I always add the milk to have a hope of getting it to stick together. When it comes out of the fridge it’s really brittle, so knead it a bit to get it going and flour your surfaces like it’s going out of fashion.
Cut into large rounds (the larger the better, the recipe recommends 3 inches), put a teaspoon of jam in the centre and pinch into a pyramid (I usually dampen the edges in a desperate attempt to keep them together, it rarely works. Pinching and then folding sometimes yields more success.)
Bake on a greased tray at 190 C for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tray. You will burn your mouth on the molten jam when you taste them.

Now it’s usually against my principles to give out family recipes, but there’s only so many biscuits I can make in my life, so I’m making an exception. Plus, I made the mistake of making my great grandmother’s sugar cookies once because no one told me that they look like bosoms (especially when you put jam on them).

What you must absolutely remember when making these, and also tell whoever you feed them to is that Aunt Lena (not my aunt, mind you, she was…hang on, got to go look this up, my maternal grandfather’s aunt) used to visit my grandparents and bring everyone monogrammed towels. She worked as a monogrammer for a department store, and that may or may not explain why my grandmother had initials on almost every textile item in the bathroom (except the padded toilet seat that went ‘pfft’ when you sat on it, because obviously you’d end up with someone’s initials imprinted backwards on your bum, which would just be silly). Anyway, back to the matter in hand…

Aunt Lena’s Butter Cookies
1/2 pound (8 oz) butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 – 3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients, add vanilla.
Divide dough into at least two pieces, forming into logs. Wrap in floured wax paper, twisting the ends. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds, press lightly with a fork in two directions. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, or make a thumbprint and add jam.
Bake on an ungreased tray at 180 C

I make no apologies for the cross continental nature of the recipes…it’s what’s in the box.

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