Cooks Exchange

Try these cookies and treats for the holidays

Roll out the cookies, and there will be fun with the kids and grandkids to say nothing of the adults. It is time to spread a little cheer with sweet treats.

These goodies are for eating, but also for giving. Pretty packages of cookies make good gifts for teachers who do not have the time to do their own baking or for senior citizens who no longer enjoy cooking.

“I do not bake or decorate cakes anymore,” said my sister-in-law who is a talented, but retired cake decorator and baker, “It’s only me at the house now, and I don’t need those sweets tempting me.”

Two of her grandchildren are seniors in high school and the other one is in college, so no longer little hands in the cookie jar.

Some friends have grandchildren who are in elementary or preschool, and they love to help with the cookies. When they hit middle school, not so much, but still enjoy the sweets.

My granddaughter and I like to make molasses Rudolph cookies. I mix the dough and cut out the reindeer head shapes, and she puts on the antlers, nose and eyes. We use pretzel pieces for the antlers, a red gumdrop or red candy-coated chocolate piece for the nose and mini chocolate chips or brown candy-coated chocolate pieces for the eyes.

I use the molasses cookies because the dough is a light to medium brown color, so no food coloring is required to get dough the desired color.

Thumbprint cookies are another favorite because kids can put the jelly in the center and roll them in crushed candies or peanuts if desired. Peanut blossom cookies topped with a Hershey’s Kiss is another child favorite. This year, Hershey’s has created four variations of its famous peanut blossoms. I will share the basic recipe this week and three more next week. My granddaughter likes to eat the Kisses as we make them. Plain chocolate is her favorite candy.

If some of you readers are starting your baking, I thought I would share some simple recipes that young and old alike will enjoy. I will share the thumbprints in next week’s column. Please feel free to share your favorite cookie or bar recipes.

GREEK ORTHODOX PASTRIES AND MORE

Speaking of cookies and baked good, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Biloxi will have its annual Christmas Greek pastry sale from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the church on Beauvoir Road.

Honoring the “men in blue” and military, past and present, the sale is more like an international festival with not only pastries but also main dishes and sides.

The traditional pastries will include almond cookies, baklava, kourambiedes (wedding cookies), koulourakia (a buttery twist that goes well with coffee) and finekia (a blend of almond meal, nuts and cinnamon). Not to be missed are the spanakopita (spinach pies), tyropita (cheese pies), tsoureki (Greek sweet almond bread) and ouzo cake.

New this year and especially for Mickey and Minnie Mouse fans are pastes Mickey (chocolate draped cake with Mickey Mouse ears) and pastes Minnie (cake in chocolate with chocolate discs). There will be tiramisu, Greek cannoli, kataiffi (shredded filo with walnuts and honey), saragli, (swirled filo dough with walnuts and honey) and flogeres (filo dough rolled with honey, walnuts, drizzled with chocolate.

In addition, Holy Trinity will showcase the different cultures that bring their heritage to the Coast by expanding the pastry sale into an international Christmas festival, where patrons can enjoy the festivities, traditional foods, dances and music of 11 Eastern European countries: Greece, Russian, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Hungary, Belarus and Georgia.

Some of the Eastern European foods will be lekvar (plum roll), kolachy with plum filling, cognac cake and Russian rye bread from Russia/Ukraine. New this year is medovik, a honey cake that takes six hours to make. From the country of Georgia are shoty (bread) and kada (flaky butter pastry). Other new treats from Hungary include makos beigli (poppy seed roll) and Dios beigli (walnut roll).

Savory goodies will include Greek gyros, souvlaki, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Russian/Ukrainian valenki (pierogi stuffed with potato and cheese, beet salad, borsch, Romanian mixtite (sausage), sample (stuffed cabbage rolls with meat/rice), Moldovan same (stuffed cabbage roll with meat, nut and grapes), plod (rice pilaf with beef and spices from Uzbekistan/Kazakhstan, drank (potato pancakes) and compote (traditional sweet drink from Belarus, Germany sauerkraut and pork schnitzel and German potato salad, eggplant stew from Georgia and all-American hot dogs. Also available will be ice cream sundaes from Greece, Russian and Romania.

Throughout the day there will be a marketplace to shop for international items and, of course, plenty of dancing and music.

To place advance orders for the pastries, call George Yurchak at 228-831-5820 or email georgeyurchak@yahool.com or Holy Trinity’s web page, www.holytrinitybiloxi.org. Orders can be picked up at the church, 255 Beauvoir Road, Biloxi.

STRAWBERRY FIG PRESERVES

“Back during fig season, you printed a fig recipe for mock strawberry preserves from Carlene McClellan,” said Pearl Wallace. “I thought I saved it but can’t find it now. I froze my figs and now am ready to cook them, and I wanted to use her recipe. If you still have it, I would love to have it.”

I do have a copy and will share it with readers today.

LOW-SUGAR BOOK HELP

Last week, Maureen Broussard asked for help in locating a book geared to help ADHD children get off sugar. She couldn’t remember the name, but thought it was “Sugar Blues” or something similar.

Two readers Mary Bauer and the other Karen Pritchard said the book’s name is indeed “Sugar Blues.” It is written by William Duffy and is available at www.amazon.com for $7.20. There are old and new copies at the site.

“I read the book back in the ’70s,” said Bauer. “It was very informative.”

Phoebe Harper of Bradenton, Florida, thinks Broussard may also enjoy “Sugar Busters,” authored by Morrison, Andrews and Balart.

“It is available on Amazon,” Harper said. “I had a copy years ago, but have lost track of it now. It is a very good reference.”

Readers helping readers is so good.

MOLASSES RUDOLPH COOKIES

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar, plus some to roll the dough in

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon each soda and baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon each ginger and cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon each: cloves and allspice

Pretzel pieces for antlers

Chocolate chips or brown candy-coated chocolate pieces for eyes

Red candy-coated chocolate pieces for nose

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and molasses. Mix well. Mix dry ingredients together. Add about 1/4 of that at a time to the cream mix, mixing well after each addition. Chill 1 hour. Shape dough into a long triangle. Cut 1/2-inch triangular slices. Dip in extra sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Stick pretzels at the top of triangle for antlers. Add chocolate pieces for eyes and nose. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 9-11 minutes, depending on oven. Cool on rack.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS

48 Hershey’s Kisses brand milk chocolates

1 cup Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup additional granulated sugar for rolling.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately press chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

— From Hershey’s Kitchens

MOCK STRAWBERRY JAM

6 cups fresh figs, smashed

3 cups sugar

2 small packages or 1 large package strawberry gelatin

Cut stems off the figs and wash very well. Drain and crush to a pulp. Place all ingredients in large pot; cook over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 45 minutes, stirring often. Yields: 4 to 5 pints. Can in small jars. – Submitted by Carlene McClellan

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