Hamantaschen, Wild Garlic & More Classes

This weekend we celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, which in this household mainly consists of baking and sharing (and of course consuming multiple) Hamantaschen, a triangle shaped cookie traditionally filled with either prune, apricot or poppyseed. If you are not celebrating or making these cute little one day a year treats, feel free to skip my nostalgic story into the how’s and why’s of this baked tradition and head straight on to my wild garlic roundup.  Just don’t miss the next class dates open for booking and added at the bottom, including some new lunchtime classes (you asked and I delivered).  

Hamantaschen hold a sentimental place in my heart. They were the theme of the first official group cooking class in my kitchen almost a decade ago, the subject of a very memorable baking chapter of my childhood (my mother literally baked hundreds every year) and one of the few recipes that I returned to without adjusting, year-in-year-out, for basically my entire adult life. Until now. 

You see, last year I discovered my love of making tarts. Mainly thanks to my friend Laurel, via her fail safe Pâte Sablée recipe, I finally mastered pastry. She is the most talented baker I know and author of New European Baking (a finalist for the 2023 James Beard Award). It’s her pastry recipe that forms the base for the Chocolate Pecan Tart and for every single tart I’ve made since. So when I asked Laurel if she thought I could use my emergency spare rounds of dough stashed in the freezer for Hamantaschen she gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up.   And just like that I have officially deviated from my trusted Maida Heater recipe…….and I’m not sorry.  

Laurel’s dough is possibly the most forgiving and yet still delicate I have ever worked with, thanks to the inclusion of ground almonds. Rolled out and cut into 10cm (4 inch) circles, it also happens to make perfect Hamantaschen that do not open up in the oven, leak fillings or completely lose shape when baked (if you have been there, you know what I’m talking about).  So while I veered from my trusted dough, I thought it might be a good time to try a different filling. 

Cue Dorie Greenspan, another of my trusted baking gurus, whose apricot filling appealed as it included orange marmalade (I seem to currently have a glut of that too, a story for another day). So, I defrosted my dough, cooked a little filling, baked these cute little beauties for gifts (part of the Purim tradition), reserving some for the boys and me as we celebrate before I head off to NYC for a few days. More on that next time……… 

Wild Garlic is here!

This week every year, when the first wild garlic appears, my heart sings.  Personally, I find the beginning of March tough. The month starts and I immediately expect Spring and undoubtedly, every year as we roll into the 1st, I’m disappointed. There’s no sign of blossoms, certainly no sunshine, plenty of rain and still the need for winter coats. No spring in sight and I want to crawl into a hole.  But then the middle of the month rolls around, many birthdays in my family are celebrated and suddenly, as if my magic, wild garlic appears almost overnight. And I know we are all going to be ok.  It’s the sign I need that the seasons are changing and next up is asparagus. But while I regain a little patience and wait for longer days and sunshine, I can start cooking a new selection of old favourite recipes that celebrate the end of winter.  

I haven’t made it out for my annual forage yet but here’s what I will be making when I get my hands on some of those deep green, elegantly pungent leaves of pure spring joy.  Wild Garlic ButterWild Garlic PestoWild Garlic ChimichuriGarlic Fried Eggs, and I will be adding it to roast chicken, grilled fish, chopped into frittatas, basically you name it and it will be smothered with these leaves.

I’ve Added Some New Class Dates……

I recently asked if anyone would be interested in lunchtime cooking sessions and there was a resoundingly positive response to the idea. Which first of all made me wonder why I had never asked before, followed by an immediate plotting of dates in the diary for April, May and the beginning of June.  

All the new dates are now up and ready to book in the Classes section of the site (link right here). Let’s get cooking! 

As this is a new venture into daytime events, I’d love your feedback on the days and times so that I can try to be as inclusive as possible to everyone interested.  

If you missed my recent YouTube videos of the class I filmed, there are some more links up now, including my favourite chicken recipe and some thoughts on how I cook, my love of grains and share meals with others. 

Please do get in touch if you have any questions about the classes or any of the recipes and ideas I share here.  I am so grateful for this growing community and its humbling to watch you build your communities around your tables one dish and one meal at a time. Because, as the saying goes, we are all in this together…….