We all have favorite recipes from childhood or even from our early adult lives. We certainly do, and now's the time of year to bring them forth, like carefully wrapped presents that we share with our closest family members and friends. Put any in a pretty container, and voila, you’ve created a great holiday gift.
Lou's Cold Carrots
This is Barbara's boss's recipe that he borrowed from someone else but they've been given his moniker since she first tasted them at his home. Serve as a colorful addition, which you can make ahead:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup salad oil
1 red pepper
1 bunch green onion tops
1 small jar pimentos
Mix together 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1/3 cup salad oil. Bring in a pan to a low boil, then cool Pour into a container you can store in the refrigerator, and add 1/4 cup green onion tops chopped up, 1 medium red pepper that you've chopped finely, and 1 small can pimentos, drained and chopped. Marinate for at least a day, though I marinate for at least 3.
Because Barbara and her mother can't find her mom's rugelach recipe, which is the best-best ever, we've taken Ina Garten's from her Barefoot Contessa repertoire and switched out the apricot preserves for raspberry and pecans instead of walnuts. Barbara also usually adds more cinnamon and eliminates the raisins. The result is pretty close to her mom's, and so good that one friend dubs them her "crack.” They freeze well.
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 -pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup raspberry preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball into quarters, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, raisins, and pecans.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons raspberry preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the pastries, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush each with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
Gammy Estelle's Mini Pecan Pies
These are tiny pecan pies that Barbara's mom made for many holidays and dinner parties; they're the best!
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sifted flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon buffer
1 tablespoon vanilla
dash of salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Blend softened cream cheese and butter, stir in flour. Chill for 30 to 60 minutes in refrigerator. Shape into 1 oz balls. Form into little pie crusts in a mini muffin pan.
Beat the egg, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter softened. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla, dash of salt, 2/3 cup pecans chopped finely. Stir. Pour into mini crusts, top with a small whole or half pecan. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 25 minutes. Cool, and then remove from pans. Store in a tin until ready to serve.