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Hamentaschen Drawing

Monday, February 8th, 2010
(Courtesy of

(Courtesy of

Purim is almost upon us, and the nice folks at have offered to send a tin of gourmet Hamentaschen to one of my blog readers or Twitter followers.
I highly recommend the holiday of Purim to those of you who are unfamiliar with it. It may well be the most joyous holiday in the Jewish calendar.
It celebrates one of the relatively few heroines in the Bible—Queen Esther of Persia. Here’s a brief rundown of her story:
A young Jewish girl in the fourth century B.C.E., Esther won a beauty pageant held by King Ahasuerus (a.k.a. Xerxes), who was looking for a new wife. He had executed the previous one in a fit of pique. He replaced her with Esther.
Esther’s cousin and former guardian, Mordecai, warned her not to reveal to the king that she was Jewish. Living in exile in Persia, the Jews were often subjected to anti-Semitism.
The king’s evil counselor, Haman, took offense when Mordecai refused to bow down to him and arranged to have all the Jews in the country killed. Esther went to the king and revealed her identity. This act took great courage, given the fate of her predecessor. Esther pulled it off, however.
In the end, the horrible Haman was hanged at the gallows he had erected for Mordecai. Esther and the Jewish people were given permission to defend themselves against their enemies. Jews in Persia held a HUGE party to celebrate their brave, beautiful queen and their enhanced status.
To commemorate Esther’s resourcefulness Jewish people party on Purim. It’s a time for dressing up in costumes and playing pranks. It’s also a time for giving to the needy and for exchanging gifts of food. And it’s a time for getting drunk—or at least for seeing the world from a new, youthful perspective. 
"Esther" by John Everett Millais (Courtesy of the Tate Online)

"Esther" by John Everett Millais (Courtesy of the Tate Online)

Hamentaschen are a sweet Purim treat. I’ve loved them all my life. They rank somewhere between a cookie and a small cake in bakeries. They are triangular (some say to mimic the shape of nasty Haman’s tricorn hat). And they’re enhanced with poppy seed or fruit filling.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Hamentaschen are occasionally filled with and/or covered with chocolate in our chocoholic culture!
I’ll be posting a traditional Hamentaschen recipe soon. Meanwhile, I encourage you to enter the drawing from Here’s what you have to do:
Leave a comment on this blog or post a tweet from now through this coming Friday, February 12. I’ll cut off entries at midnight EST.
The comment or tweet should contain two pieces of information.
First, it should tell me what YOUR favorite food holiday—religious or non-religious—is.
Second, it should provide a link to the web site. Find something on the site that intrigues you—a recipe, a product (they have tasty foods available year round, not just for Purim!), a piece of information about a Jewish holiday.
If you choose to tweet rather than post a comment here, please send a tweet to me (remember, my Twitter name is LaTinque) so I won’t miss your contribution!
Next Monday, February 15, I will randomly select a winner from the comments and tweets. will send that lucky person the tin of Hamentaschen. It should arrive in plenty of time to help you usher in Purim on February 28.
As they said of Levy’s rye bread, you don’t have to be Jewish to love Hamentaschen!
While you’re thinking about your comment and/or tweet, you might like to try this recipe from’s Chef Jamie Geller.
Jamie has provided several recipes that enable readers to consume alcohol during Purim without getting drunk. She calls them her “saucy” selections. This soup will enable you to celebrate this holiday without going overboard.
I look forward to reading your comments……
Jamie's Soup (Courtesy of

Jamie's Soup (Courtesy of

Kosher Italian Bean Soup
(Courtesy of and Jamie Geller)
1 medium onion, quartered
6 cups water
3 cups Imagine Organic No-Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
10 baby carrots
10 baby zucchini
1 frozen crushed garlic cube
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Place all ingredients in a 6-quart stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook it uncovered for 18 to 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve. Serves 8. 
Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

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Rosh Hashanah Honey Chicken

Friday, September 18th, 2009


The Jewish New Year arrives at sunset tonight. I have warm memories of going to Temple with my grandmother on Rosh Hashanah every September when I was little.
With a Jewish father and a Protestant mother, I was actually brought up Unitarian. By and large Unitarianism worked for me. It encouraged both humanism and skepticism.
Nevertheless, as a religion (rather than a school of thought) it had its frustrating moments. I remember asking once in Sunday school what I should believe, theologically speaking. I was presented with statistics about what percentage of Unitarians believed in God, Jesus, and so forth.
It was interesting information but not very helpful to a nine year old.
The Jewish New Year always satisfied the young Tinky. Going to Temple gave me all the religious ritual and certainty the Unitarians lacked. 
Even better, it was a social event as well as a religious one. My grandmother sat upstairs in the balcony with an entire community of women. They kept one ear focused on the service and the other on each others’ news.
Rosh Hashanah also appealed and appeals to me because it falls at a time of year that feels a lot newer than that of the Christian New Year.
We start school years in September. We start diets in September. (I usually do, anyway). Fall is a time of balance, of transition, of summing up and thinking ahead–in short, a perfect time to celebrate and calibrate the New Year.
Honey is a traditional addition to meals at Rosh Hashanah. It helps cooks wish everyone at the table a sweet year.
Last year at this time I made a tasty honey cake. This year I wanted to try something savory. A girl can have too much cake in her life.
I got a little help from the folks at, a web site that offers more than 15,000 different kosher products for home delivery. publicized itself and celebrated the New Year earlier this week by distributing apples, honey, and recipes at various New York City locations by means of a giant motorized shopping cart. I wasn’t able to go to New York so its publicist kindly sent me a few recipes. They were devised by Jamie Geller,’s “chief foodie officer.”
I made this chicken dish last night. It couldn’t have been easier to prepare–and the soy sauce kept the honey from over-sweetening the chicken.
If I made it at another time of year, I’d probably raise the proportion of soy sauce to honey to make the sweetness even more subtle. I’d also try substituting maple syrup for the honey since I love maple syrup.
God did NOT promise the Israelites a land of milk and maple, however, so for Rosh Hashanah I’ll stick with the honey.
I wish you all a sweet New Year! Here are links to a couple of my other recipes to sweeten it, by the way: a honey chicken with soy (oh, yum!) and a VERY simple harvest honey and corn dish.
Jamie Geller’s Honey Chicken
1 chicken (about 3-1/2 pounds), cut into eight pieces
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced (Jamie actually suggested 1 tablespoon garlic powder, but I didn’t have any in the house so I used fresh instead)
1 teaspoon black pepper (I just turned the pepper grinder several times)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Rinse the chicken pieces, pat them dry, and place them in the baking dish.
In a small bowl combine the honey, soy sauce, oil, garlic, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the chicken.
Bake the chicken in the preheated oven until it is golden brown (about an hour–maybe a little less for some of the smaller pieces), basting from time to time. Serves 4 generously.
Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

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