Monday, March 13, 2006

Poppy Filling for Homentashn

Monet Poppy Field at Giverny Boston MFA

Poppy, or mon, or mun, according to most Yiddish culinary lexicographers, is the filling from which it seems likely that “homentashn” take their name, in which case they were originally “montashn” or “poppy pockets.” The name presumably got Purimized later on.
After I have ground the poppy seeds with the lemon and orange zest, but before I have mixed them with the other ingredients, I set aside ¼ cup of the seeds to mix with the dough, so you know what’s inside. Jennie Grosinger’s yeast dough recipe is ideal for this filling. It is a very rich khale (challah) or brioche-type dough.

Poppy Filling for Homentashn
1 pound poppy seeds (about 2 cups)
zest from one lemon, organic and unwaxed, if possible
zest from one orange, organic and unwaxed, if possible
1 cup milk, possibly a bit more if the mixture is too dry
1 cup bamboo honey or other dark honey
one cup raisins, plumped overnight in some water (or dark rum). By all means, leave these out if you loathe raisins. What on earth is it about raisins that provokes such powerful sentiments? They're just raisins.
Grind up the poppy seeds with the lemon zest in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Put them in a saucepan with the other ingredients and cook, stirring, for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool before assembling the pastries. If you don’t have a grinder you can ask if the place where you buy the seeds can grind them for you (some health food stores will do this), or you can soak all the ingredients together overnight before cooking. Some folks think this way is even better.
איז מײַן נשמה דען אַ ראָזשינקע?
I just remembered the Yiddish expression "iz mayn neshome den a rozshinke?" or "Is my soul a raisin?" which someone might say if he or she had been treated with hurtful unkindness or disrespect. I've always thought this expression was devastatingly eloquent, because the injured party is not claiming that one should have been treated better because of some imagined importance, but because one's soul is not, after all, a raisin.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i searched for recipes for mon and this popped up. i made this with silwan for a yummy twist.


9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family never, ever cooked with raisins. I don't know if it is a Litvak thing. We never made a sweet kugel and I still don't like it. A good milchadik kugel does not have to be sweet and never contained raisin.

6:35 PM  

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