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Children bearing gifts of food central to carnival-like holiday

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BAYSIDE, Wis., Feb. 9 (JTA) — Purim, a favorite holiday for many, is characterized by parties, carnivals, costumes, singing, dancing and as with all holidays, special foods. Celebrated just one month before Passover, it is a good opportunity to use up flour and leavening agents in the preparation of some of these special dishes. And at this time of feasting and happiness, there is the wonderful tradition of “shalach manot.” Possibly using a child as the messenger, we send two gifts of delicious treats to our friends: one of flour and one of fruits or nuts. The hamantaschen pastries will freeze well, if stored in air- tight containers. When thawed, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

Kreplach

Dough:
2 cups flour
dash of salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
Place flour and salt in a large bowl, forming a well in the center. Add eggs and water, mixing with a fork until the flour is absorbed by the eggs and dough is formed. Turn out on a floured board and knead until smooth. Cover with a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Filling:
2 cups ground cooked beef, chicken or turkey
1 medium onion, grated
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all filling ingredients. Divide dough into 3 parts. On a lightly floured board, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 2-inch squares. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on edge of square and fold over to form a triangle, pinching edges together to seal tightly. Boil kreplach in a large stock pot of boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon and place in hot chicken soup.
Makes about 60 kreplach.
Hamantashen

Dough recipe #1:
1/2 pound margarine, at room temperature
1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups flour
In a large mixing bowl, beat margarine and cream cheese until smooth. Add flour and stir until dough is formed. Shape into flat ball, divide in half and wrap each half in waxed paper. Chill for 2 to 3 hours. On floured surface, with lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8- inch thickness and cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch circles. Place a teaspoon of filling (see below) in each center. Bring 3 edges to the center, pinching edges together tightly to form closed triangle over filling. Place on non-stick sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack. Continue baking until all are done. Makes about 36 pastries.
Dough recipe #2:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat sugar and oil until well- blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time until frothy, and add orange juice. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt and stir until dough is soft and workable. Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead into a ball. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces. While rolling and cutting 1 piece, keep the others covered with a towel so that they do not dry out. Flatten each piece of dough and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or a 7-ounce tuna can, cut into circles. Place a teaspoon of filling (see below) in center of each round. Bring 3 edges to center, pinching together to form closed triangle over the filling. Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet and bake in a 375- degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Repeat until all are done. Makes about 60 pastries.
Prune filling:
12 ounces pitted, ready-to-eat prunes
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a small saucepot, combine all ingredients. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes, or until it is a thick puree. Cool, then chill for at least 1 hour.
Poppy-seed filling:
1 cup milk
1 cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Bring milk, poppy seeds and butter to a boil. Reduce heat. Add remaining ingredients simmering and stirring until milk is absorbed. Cool.
Quick fillings:
Apricot preserves, thick jams, canned fillings

Chocolate Peanut Bonbons

1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped, pitted dates
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Shape mixture into 1- inch balls. Melt chocolate over double boiler or in a microwave. Spear candy with a tooth pick or cocktail fork. Dip top half of each ball in melted chocolate. Place on prepared cookie sheet with chocolate side up. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Makes about 35 bonbons.
Poppy Seed Crunch

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg whites
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups ground poppy seeds
In a food processor, process all ingredients, except egg whites, brown sugar and poppy seeds, until moist crumbs appear. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks appear. Beat in brown sugar until peaks are stiff. Fold in poppy seeds. In a 7-inch x 11-inch x 2-inch greased pan, pat in pastry. Spread meringue over pastry. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until surface is firm to touch and lightly browned. Cool on rack and cut into 1 1/2-inch triangles. Makes about 30 cookies.
__________ Naomi Arbit, a syndicated food writer, is the co-author of seven cookbooks, a former cooking instructor and a member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals. She lives in Bayside, Wis.
__________

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