Monday, February 14, 2011

Purim Theme Ideas - Oriental Purim (Homemade Fortune Cookies)

Two years ago, we had an oriental theme Purim.  That is the only year that I did not sew my own costume.  My sister-in-law spent the year working for a shliach in Shanghai, China, and sent my children these lovely costumes, which they were excited to wear. I did go down to Chinatown to find a dress for myself, and so I know similar costumes are readily available and inexpensive, if you just take an afternoon to travel to your local Chinatown and bargain a little.

For Meshloach Manos, I bought red Chinese takeout containers from uline.  Inside I put homemade fortune cookies with a Purim message, homemade sesame candies, and rice crispy treats.  I bought Chinese wine covers and used them to cover a bottle of iced tea.   I also made edible cookie cards (they are written in actual Chinese transliteration, 'Happy Purim') and Finished it up with a set of chop sticks.

The boys gave out the regular Purim nosh, but in a Chinese takeout container.
One of the mitzvah of Purim, is to have a feast.  And so, the  I prepared the meal in the theme as well.  I covered the table with a red table cloth and laid a black runner, and set the table with gold plates the ceremonial colors in China.  I placed by each plate a set of chop sticks, in case anyone was skilled enough to use them to eat.
For the first course, I served Teriyaki Salmon from the Kosher By Design cookbook along with Chinese cabbage salad.  (I must have served other salads, but over the past 2 years, I cannot remember exactly what was on the menu)
Next, I served won ton soup, which is basically a clear chicken soup with kreplach filling in wonton wrappers (This also covered the minhag to eat kreplach on Purim)
For my main course, I served  Chicken Negemaki with Red Pepper Chutney from the Kosher By Design cookbook, rice and roasted vegetables.  I also served shnitzel to make sure the children didn't go hungry.
My dessert was an assortment of homemade pastries and a fruit platter.  I also served mini Chinese good luck cupcakes and fortune cookies with hot tea.  To write the Chinese symbols on the cupcakes I made use of google.  These are the symbols for harmony, wealth, lucky, hope and happiness.  I used a cookie cutter to cut out white fondant in circles and write the words with red frosting.
Fortune Cookies
Fortune cookies are actually fairly easy to make.  They are a thin cookie, which once firm, you must fold them before they harden.  Therefore, you should start with making only 2 at a time, and only increase the amount as you see you can do the process quick enough that they don't harden.
This recipe should make apx 12 cookies.
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (which I added, since I felt it made it more authentic tasting)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Before you begin, write your fortune a small piece of paper, about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.  You can write fun messages, or simply, 'Happy Purim from the ______ family' (fill in the blank with your family name)
Preheat oven to 400.  Grease cookie sheet. Mix the egg white until it's foamy (not stiff). Add extract and mix. Combine flour, salt, and sugar and blend into the egg white mixture. Mix until should only take a short time. The dough will be thin. If it is too thick, try adding water a teaspoon at a time (you don't want it to get too thin).
Place teaspoonfuls of the batter at least 4 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Use the back of a spoon to get the batter into round shapes about 3 inches in diameter. Be careful to make batter as round and even as possible. Do not make too many, because the cookie have to be really hot to form them and once they cool it is too late. Start with 2 or 3 to a sheet and see how many you can do.
Bake for 5 minutes or until cookie is golden color 1/2 inch wide around the outer edge of the circle. The center will remain pale. While one sheet is baking, prepare the other.
Remove from oven and quickly move cookie with a wide spatula and place upside down. Quickly put the fortune on the cookie, close to the middle and fold the cookie in half. Place the folded edge across the rim of a cup and pull the pointed edges down, one on the inside of the cup and one on the outside. Place folded cookies into the cups of a cupcake pan to hold their shape until firm.

A freilechen Adar,

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