Monday, December 22, 2008

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.
Jim Davis

I don't have an extensive Christmas list but there were a few people at Nick's work and others who were graciously hosting us in their homes throughout the next few weeks that I wanted to get a little something.

I always make my famous cakes from Aunt Agnes' recipe around Christmas: a thick batter made with flour, sugar, eggs and oil mixed with chopped apples, walnuts and cranberries. So yummy - like a coffee cake only better. My godmother slices it thin and toasts it with butter. People will actually start asking about it in September!

So, all of Nick's coworkers got one of the cakes (for us, it was much less expensive than gift certificates or another random gift):

I also took my first stab at making cheese straws. I used a recipe from Good Housekeeping and it turned out so well. Delicious and easy - recipe below if you're interested! I packed a few mason jars for hostess gifts and another for our landlords (who live next door):

Puff Pastry Cheese Straws (from Good Housekeeping, December 2008 issue)

1 tablespoon(s) paprika
1/2 teaspoon(s) ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
1 package(s) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed as label directs
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
8 ounce(s) aged Gouda or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, room temperature, finely shredded (2 cups)

Grease 2 large cookie sheets. In small bowl, combine paprika, ground red pepper, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Unfold 1 puff pastry sheet. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll pastry into 14-inch square. Lightly brush with some egg white. Sprinkle half of paprika mixture on pastry. Sprinkle half of Gouda on half of pastry. Fold pastry over to cover cheese, forming rectangle. With rolling pin, lightly roll over pastry to seal layers together. With knife, cut pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place two-thirds of strips, 1 inch apart, on 1 cookie sheet, twisting each to form spiral and pressing ends against cookie sheet to prevent strips from uncurling. Place remaining strips on second cookie sheet; set aside. (Do not crowd; strips puff while baking.)

Bake first sheet of strips 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. With spatula, transfer to rack to cool.

Meanwhile, repeat with remaining pastry, egg white, paprika mixture, and Gouda, placing one-third of strips on second cookie sheet; bake as above. When first cookie sheet is cool, wash and grease again; use to bake remaining two-thirds strips. (For even cooking, bake only 1 sheet of strips at a time.) Store in tightly sealed container up to 3 days.


Rachel H. said...

I'll have to give these a try...Thanks for posting!

LucyinStLou said...

Thanks for the recipe! I love cheese straws, but never make them.

Tattooed Dorothy said...

What a great idea for hosts of all of those parties...thanks for sharing!

Molly said...

I am impressed!

Anonymous said...

The presentation of your yummy goodies make them even more special!

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