Nutella-Filled Hamantaschen

Nutella-Filled Hamantaschen

While Purim is not a major Jewish holiday on the order of Rosh Hashanah or Passover, it is one I love to celebrate. The Purim story, found in a book called the Megillah or Book of Esther, features everything you could want in a political potboiler – an evil guy, a plot to kill innocent people, a beautiful and intelligent heroine, suspense, and a happy ending. Why bother watching House of Cards when you could hear this tale instead?

The Megillah is typically read on Purim with great merriment; often those reading dress up in costumes and the congregants get noisemakers to use when Haman, the evil protagonist, is mentioned. And then there are hamantaschen! No Jewish holiday is complete without food – in this case a thick cookie shaped like the three-corned hat that Haman supposedly wore and filled, traditionally, with sweetened prunes, apricots, or poppy seeds.

Of course, some of us who love the traditional story and merriment, prefer more creative hamantaschen. Last year my hamantaschen featured a filling reminiscent of charoset, with a dash of chocolate. This year, chocolate is at center stage; I went for the jar of Nutella, sitting in my pantry just begging to be part of the fun. The result is a sweet, not-too-thick dough (pâte sucrée to Francophiles) surrounding a Nutella brownie-cookie center.

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Blood Oranges Change Up A Favorite Dessert

Blood Oranges Change Up A Favorite Dessert

Have you noticed that blood oranges are in season? Their sweet but tangy, not-quite-like-regular-orange taste is an alluring change from that of "regular" oranges.

I've experimented before, substituting blood oranges in vinaigrette dressing, and using them instead of navel oranges in salad with fennel. This time, I adapted one of my favorite quick fruit desserts - oranges in simple syrup  - with blood oranges. The result is both exotic and delicious. I began with the same basic recipe - oranges soaked in simple syrup with very finely sliced candied peel. 

If you're in a hurry, skip the peel and just make a simple syrup, which takes less than 10 minutes. The recipe is no-bake, so all it takes if you don't make the candied peel is the time it takes you to peel and cut oranges and make the simple syrup. Then it sits on the counter while you eat dinner, waiting patiently for its turn at center stage at dessert time.

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KISS Beef Stew

KISS Beef Stew

There are as many ways to make beef stew as there are cooks who make it. You could go crazy from all the variations. I call this version KISS Beef Stew because it reminds me of a saying I learned in one of my first jobs - “keep it simple stupid (KISS.)”

It’s a perfect one-pot dinner for a cold winter night. With salad and a loaf of good bread (plus a glass of red wine or cideryou’re set

If you don’t have some of the ingredients for the stew, just improvise. Other than the beef and “hard” vegetables of some type, nothing is sacred in this recipe. Like making chicken soup, once you get the basics of this stew down, you can't go wrong. 

KISS Beef Stew

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