One of my favorite memories of growing up in The Bronx is of the leisurely strolls down the Grand Concourse which often included a stop at Krum’s, a large soda parlor at 187th Street. At the front of the store there was a counter behind which were bins filled with assorted, and what I thought were exotic, nuts. Among others, there were Brazil nuts, Cashews (my personal favorite), white Pistachios, and red Pistachios which were what we always bought. The red dye would rub off on your fingers and that was part of the fun, plus we were innocent of the danger of red dye. In the center of the store there was a large display table that changed every season. Cellophane gift baskets that contained combinations of dried fruits, nuts and crackers towered over the smaller items. I always liked the Spring display the best, when chocolate Easter Bunnies dominated the table and all the confections were some shade of pastel and filled with marshmallows or soft creams. At the back of the shop was the Soda Fountain where you could have any kind of drink, ice cream or Sundae, to which my father would treat me on occasion, always on a Sunday.
Purim is just around the corner and though this holiday doesn’t resonate with me I can’t break with certain traditions. I try to hear the Megillah reading in the morning, at work, recited with decorum and not much fanfare. What else? I send my children gift baskets, Mishloach Manot. In spite of the fact that they are not all fans of Hamantashen, I always include them along with whatever other treats I either bake or buy. Hopefully these ” baskets” (that arrive in FedEx boxes instead of cellophane and ribbons) will create happy memories for them, like the ones that I carry, and who knows, some day they may even develop a taste for Hamantaschen. Chag Purim Sameach.
Here is one more tradition that I can’t change, it is my mother-in-law’s recipe for Hamantaschen and I use it every year. Some people find the dough too soft to work with, but I think it’s perfect just the way it is.
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 to eggs and then mix liquid into dry ingredients. Mix together till dough is soft and pliable. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
6 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. dried pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups raisins
3-4 Tb 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 a food processor for about one minute until it looks like 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 golden.