Hint: Purim’s coming!
This month’s mystery food (see previous post) is a slow-cooked filling of poppy seeds and golden raisins, known as mohn if you speak German or Yiddish. I began with Gil Marks’ recipe from The World Of Jewish Desserts, but I adapted his recipe by cooking with whole golden raisins until the raisins got sticky soft, and the seeds turned chewy rather than grainy.
I also recommend Tina Wasserman’s mohn recipe, especially if you like walnuts, from her Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora.
You can use mohn filling in desserts, or in place of nut butters or sweet sandwich spreads, or as a spread for savory dishes. For example, if you’re making appetizers for a dinner party, you could use it with goat cheese, whipped cream cheese, or Greek yogurt as a topping for crackers or canapes. Or eat it straight out of the jar, as an alternative to grabbing a handful of almonds. Click here for an article that lists other poppy seed-compatible ingredients.
If you don’t have a grinder, you can soften poppy seeds by boiling and soaking them (for a few hours or overnight). I made poppy seed tea from the cooking water, which, incidentally, won’t get you high. It tasted bitter and sweet, sort of like coffee, but I doubt it will ever catch on and I don’t know that I would make it again. I am going to use the empty poppy seed jars for homemade salad dressing when I just need dressing for a party.
Back to the mohn: many ethnic dishes feature poppy seeds and poppy seed fillings, especially for holiday baking within traditional German, Jewish, and Eastern European cultures. If you have time to post a comment, and if your family traditions include poppy-seeded foods, I’d love to hear from you.
Even if you aren’t Jewish, I hope you will enjoy reading about Purim baking, and the Purim tradition of mishloach manot. With this ritual, you deliver gift plates or packages (often of hamantaschen and other sweets) to family, friends, and people who have helped you. In fact, I view mishloach manot deliveries as edible thank you notes (though after spending a week working on this, I don’t think I’d have the baking energy to do these “edible thank you notes” more than twice a year for Purim and Hannukah/Christmas).
In the next three posts, I’ll share Purim recipes, resources, and tips. For my quilting friends, I’ll also share the connection I’ve discovered (or finagled) between quilt patterns and assortments of sweets.
[Techie Note: I formatted this photo mosaic using Mosaic Maker, which was developed by Big Huge Labs and its Flickr Toys. Thank you, Big Huge Labs, for enabling me to hide my lack of photography prowess with your cool image-formatting applications! And no, I was not paid to praise these folks, I'm just a grateful fan.]