Purim celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from Haman and is truly a joyous holiday. Purim's heroine is Queen Esther, who was responsible for Haman's downfall, and in her honor the Book of Esther will be read in many homes on the evening of March 2.
This holiday is a special one for children. They dress up in costumes and take part in masquerades, sing, dance, play games and receive gifts. But grown-ups have their rewards too, because Purim is the only holiday where a generous intake of wine is encouraged.
To help you get into the proper merrymaking spirit, I have gathered some recipes featuring wine to include in Purim menus. You will only want to serve one or two of them at a time; a whole menu of wine-based foods would be too much of a good thing. Save some for a later date or another holiday.
Poultry, meat and fish are all enhanced by the addition of wine, as the French know so well. It cuts down on cooking time and ensures a tender and juicy result. And since most of the alcohol disappears in cooking and baking, foods cooked with wine are not only delicious but practically non-alcoholic as well.
The Turkey Terrine in White Wine Aspic is eye-appealing and can be prepared a day in advance. Turkey, potatoes, tomatoes and parsley are layered and bonded by a tart wine aspic made with white wine and gelatin plus some chicken stock. Sliced and served with tomato sauce on a bed of salad greens accented with Dijon mustard, the terrine is simple and elegant and looks as though it took hours to prepare. It can be assembled very quickly and then stored in the refrigerator to chill.
Quick holiday halibut goes from oven to table in only 20 minutes. The fish filets are baked with white wine and delicate seasonings. And the Purim tzimmes are a great choice for the busy cook. Lean beef brisket, vegetables and dried fruit are baked in red wine and provide a festive meal all in one pot.
An Attractive Offering
Purim desserts include wine and also nuts, which are used often in Purim recipes in honor of Queen Esther, who was a vegetarian. Frozen hazelnut souffles are molded in individual ramekins and look very attractive floating in a glamorous Champagne Sauce.
Other dessert possibilities are Brandied Pecan Truffles, which will dress up any simple sorbet. And rhubarb may be served alone or as a sauce for vanilla ice cream.
With Purim dinner, you'll want to add appropriate wines, designed to complement the menu selection.
BRANDIED PECAN TRUFFLES
3 tablespoons sugar
Grated zest 1 orange
6 ounces toasted pecans
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
3 tablespoons brandy or fruit liqueur
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
Place 1 tablespoon sugar, orange zest and pecans in food processor or blender and blend until finely ground.
Melt chocolate, butter and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over simmering water. Add brandy and beat well with wire whisk. Add chocolate mixture to pecan mixture in processor and blend well.
Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm. Shape into 1-inch balls, roll in cocoa and place on wax paper or in ruffled paper candy cups. Makes about 4 dozen.
FROZEN HAZELNUT SOUFFLES WITH CHAMPAGNE SAUCE
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fruit liqueur or vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup finely ground hazelnuts or filberts
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
Beat egg yolks with sugar and liqueur in mixing bowl until thick and lemon-colored. Beat cream until stiff peaks form in another bowl. Fold into egg yolk mixture along with ground nuts. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into souffle mixture.
Lightly grease 6 (6-ounce) ramekins. Fold 6 foil sheets in half lengthwise and wrap around each ramekin so foil extends 2 inches above top rim and tie with string. Spoon in hazelnut mixture to top of foil. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze 6 hours.
Remove string and foil. Serve in ramekins or unmold by dipping ramekin in hot water 2 to 3 seconds. Loosen by running sharp knife around inside. Invert onto chilled dessert plates. Garnish with whole hazelnuts and serve with Champagne Sauce. Makes 6 servings.
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Champagne
Combine yolks and sugar in saucepan over simmering water and beat with wire whisk until thick and lemon-colored. Add Champagne and continue beating until mixture holds firm peaks. Makes about 2 cups.
PURIM TZIMMES WITH RED WINE
2 tablespoons oil
4 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
6 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 whole heads garlic, separated and unpeeled
1 cup dried pitted prunes
1 cup dried apricots