The inspiration for flaky, cheesy leek and feta hamantaschen comes from the mother of a friend.
On almost any visit to her kitchen, there was a quiche just going into the oven or just coming out. She would mix three or four European cheeses, many of which I had never heard of as a student, together with caramelised onions and vegetables, farm fresh eggs and the flakiest pastry.
The result was a bit different each time, but there was always a perfect balance of saltiness from the cheese, sweetness from the onions and richness from the crust that was so much more than just dough.
For these savoury hamantaschen, I make a quick all-butter pie crust using salted butter and freshly ground black pepper.
There is no fancy equipment required, although you could also use a pastry cutter or food processor if you are accustomed to making pie crust.
The two most important things to remember when making pie crust is that all of the ingredients need to be very cold, and to work the dough minimally to ensure the crust is flaky.
Then I make the filling by caramelising leeks in olive oil and adding crumbled feta and cottage cheese. I use a mix of these two cheeses because the cottage cheese really mellows out the sharpness of the feta and creates a very creamy filling.
These leek and feta hamantaschen would be the perfect appetiser or side for any Purim party. I’ve even made them larger using a 4½-inch circle cutter.
For the pie crust dough:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ pound (2 sticks) very cold salted butter, cubed
- 4-5 tablespoons iced water
For the filling:
- 2 large leeks, washed well, and sliced thinly
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Two-thirds cup full fat cottage cheese
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, pepper and salt and whisk to combine. Add the cold cubed butter. Using clean fingers, crush the cubes of butter into the flour, coating each one with flour. You could also use a pastry cutter instead of fingers.
Add the ice water and stir gently to combine, until the dough just starts to come together, but you should still see pea-sized pieces of butter.
Dump half the dough on to a large piece of clingfilm, and use the plastic to push the dough together into a ball.
Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
To make the filling: Pour the olive oil into a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leaks and a pinch of salt.
Cook until golden brown and caramelised, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
Combine the feta, cottage cheese and black pepper in a small bowl; mix well. Add the cooled leeks and stir to combine.
To assemble: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and roll out on a well-floured board to an eighth-inch thickness. Cut out circles using a 3-inch cutter. Brush each circle with egg wash.
Spoon 1½ teaspoons of the leek and feta mixture into the centre of each circle.
Fold into a triangle, pinching the corners VERY well. Brush the tops and edges lightly with egg wash.
Place the hamantaschen back into the fridge for 10 minutes, then straight into the hot oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
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