Quick look: This 324-page Christmas-themed cookbook offers more than the local author’s favorite holiday recipes. Hood, who writes and cooks on a farm in Greenacres, includes tips for caring for poinsettias, a guide to Christmas symbols and traditions, and even nine original Christmas poems.
What’s inside: Recipes start on page 50, with 16 appetizers and dips, like Cranberry Veggie Balls, Meatballs in Apple Butter, Artichoke Green Chile Dip and Green Olive Spread. There’s a section near the front of the book for non-alcoholic beverages like Eggless Eggnog and Cranberry-Raspberry Punch. Recipes for drinks featuring wine and spirits – Christmas Glogg, Hot Apple Rum Cider, Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Mulled Wine, Wassail – are tucked in the back and come with a cautionary note: “These recipes are intended for people who may consume small amounts of alcohol in a responsible and safe manner.”
Many of the other recipes feature cranberries. There’s Cranberry Date Bread, Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bread, Cranberry Orange Loaf, Cranberry Orange Salad, Cranberry Orange Relish, Cranberry Fudge, Cranberry Jelly, Cranberry Chutney, Cranberry Balls, Cranberry Apricot Sauce, Apple Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Mead Applesauce, Cranberry Blueberry Pie and more.
There are also tips for drying cranberries, a glossary of cooking terms and recipes for other Hood family holiday favorites – from Broccoli Onion Salad, Bacon Cheese Puffs, Hot Dried Beef Spread and Beef Stew to Huckleberry Fritters, Dark Fruitcake and a dessert simply called Blobs, fashioned from Special K cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch chips, corn syrup, sugar and butter.
A table of contents and index make it easy to find recipes, which are peppered with “Did You Know?” Christmas-themed tidbits. For example, “Did you know there are about 500,000 acres in production for growing Christmas trees in the United States?”
Perhaps the most special recipes in the cookbook are for two traditional sweet Slavic breads that Hood learned from her late mother, who learned from her mother, an immigrant from Slovenia. The poppy seed- and walnut-filled rolls are described in today’s main story, and the recipes are listed below.
What’s Not: There are no photographs.
For more information or to place an order, visit whisperingpinepressbookstore .com or karenjeanmatskohood.com.
Poppy Seed Roll
Hood’s mother and aunts made this traditional Slavic treat for Easter and Christmas. Sweet poppy seed filling is rolled inside tender yeast dough and baked until golden brown.
4 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 cups water, warm (100 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour (more if needed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup butter, melted (to spread on dough while stretching)
1 egg yolk
2 pounds poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup honey
2 cups milk, hot
For the dough: Mix yeast with water and sugar in a small bowl. Allow to stand until yeast forms a creamy layer. Whisk flour with salt in a bowl; use a pastry cutter to cut 1 cup butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour yeast mixture and egg yolk into flour mixture and stir to make a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and slightly springy, about 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Cut dough into equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle, coating with the melted butter. Spread half of the filling over each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the 1-inch border back over the filling on all sides and press down. Pick up shorter side of a dough rectangle and roll it like a jellyroll; repeat with second rectangle. Pinch ends together or tuck ends under to prevent filling from leaking out. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until done. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack.
For the filling: Grind poppy seeds in old-fashioned poppy seed grinder or place poppy seeds into a food processor and process until seeds are ground, about 1 minute. Mix poppy seeds with the rest of the ingredients; stir to combine. Cover poppy seed filling and refrigerate while making bread (filling will set up and thicken as it chills).
Yield: 2 loaves
This is the recipe for Slovenian walnut rolls that Hood’s mother regularly used. Each time she would make the sweet bread, it would turn out a little differently, but Hood said, “It was always delicious.”
The milk makes the dough softer than the poppy seed roll recipe, which uses water, Hood said. She prefers the softer dough and often uses it for both the poppy seed and walnut rolls.
2 1/2 pounds walnuts, ground
2 cups graham crackers, ground
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup butter
1 cup cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk, scalded
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water, warm
1 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
4 eggs, beaten
10 cups flour, sifted, divided (Sprinkle additional flour to prevent dough from sticking to board or rolling pin)
1/4 cup butter, melted and divided
For the filling: In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Set aside.
For the dough: In medium bowl, combine milk, sugar, salt and ½ cup butter; mix well. Cool to lukewarm. In large bowl, add water; sprinkle or crumble yeast on top. Stir until dissolved. Stir in milk mixture. Stir in eggs and 6 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour; beat until smooth. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl; brush top with half of the melted butter. Cover; let rise 1 hour in warm place, free from drafts, until double in bulk. Punch down, and turn out on lightly floured surface. Use a pastry brush to brush other half of melted butter onto rolled and stretched dough. Spread filling on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the 1-inch border back over the filling on all sides and press down. Pick up shorter side of a dough rectangle and roll it like a jellyroll. Pinch ends together or tuck ends under to prevent filling from leaking out. Gently pull dough to make a 25-inch roll. Form into a snail shape on a large greased baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until done. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack.
Note: For faster sweet dough, use 3 packages or cakes of yeast and it will rise in 45 minutes.