Janet's Notebook
Season's Eatings: Celebrating Holiday Food Traditions


Jam-Filled Hertzog Cookies


It all started with a simple question: What dish do you most look forward to over the holidays? We asked our Facebook friends and boy did you answer! From cornbread dressing and pigs in a blanket, to molasses cookies and fudge, everyone has their own personal connections to the tastes of the season!

Home cook Mary Lou Gilliam's response really got us thinking about the power of family food traditions and how meaningful they can be.

"Years ago distant relatives owned a bakery and made an awesome butter cookie with a dark chocolate icing star on top. The star was topped with chopped nuts, candied cherry halves or sprinkles. They were awesome. The icing recipe could never be matched. I miss those great treats, but the memories are awesome!"

It's so true! No matter the years that have passed, there are certain recipes that each of us can remember as though we'd tasted it just moments ago. For Albuquerque's Jo Zimny it is her dad's tourtiere, a hearty meat pie.

"My father baked this simple and delicious pie every Christmas Eve," recalls Jo. "We used to serve gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberries on the side. This one is a winner... Thanks, Dad!"

Simple ingredients are at the heart of the lovely dish. Ground pork and ground beef combine with onion, garlic, cream and simple seasoning into a soul-warming hug of a pie.

It was Caroline Reznicek's grandmother, Nicky, who provided her favorite holiday food memory.

"As a child, we always made a four hour drive to spend the Christmas week at Grandmother Nicky's house," smiles Caroline. "She always had wonderful things baked for us kids, and the thing I looked forward to sinking my teeth into the most were her Sand Tart Cookies. They were so thin and delicious that I know I could have eaten the whole huge cookie tin all by myself."

Light yet flavorful, these addictive cookies boast just the slightest hint of lemony freshness. Top with blanched almonds for an added *crunch* of nutty flavor, and the result is memorable indeed.

"After Nicky passed away in 1976, I looked through some of the cookbooks that my mother had been given, but [found] no Sand Tart recipe. Years later I was reminiscing with a cousin and she happened to have that particular recipe!"

Like Caroline, cookie baker Elsa Dreyer has generously shared her family's favorite holiday recipes with us here at Just A Pinch. Known as Hertzog Cookies, her festive confection was borne of her rich South African heritage.

"These jam and coconut tartlets are known as Hertzog Koekies in South Africa, and are part of our traditional recipes," explains Elsa. "They were named after General J.B.M. Hertzog, prime minister of the South Africa Union in 1924. According to legend, this was one of his wife's recipes, and he loved it so much that she named the cookie after him. I grew up with Hertzog koekies. As is so often the case with traditional food recipes, there are many versions and here is the recipe that was used in my family for many, many years."

The recipe starts by creating a simple, cake-like cookie dough. Once cut into rounds, the dough is put into individual patty pans and a rich apricot jam is spooned on top. Finally, the jam layer is covered by a coconut-infused meringue! After 20 minutes in the oven, you will have a delicate Christmas cookie as rich in tradition as it is in flavor! (And a real cookie tray stand-out, if you ask us...)

My own childhood memories are filled with homemade cream cheese mints, lopsided gingerbread houses and the smell of slow baking ham. I treasure those memories and am grateful to you fine cooks for helping me create new ones with my own grandson. These days spent together are truly the best present of all. Here's to a bountiful season of friendship, food and family!



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10 Comments
kj752
Karen Baker - Dec 30, 2012
Janet & all The Kitchen Crew,
Thanks so much for all you do for "our" site & "our" club. All you hard work is so much appreciated. Hope each of you have a special and safe New Years. Hope it brings much love, good health and unexpected joys.....
From our home to all of yours',thanks....
Karen
kathleenusa
kathleen donahue - Dec 24, 2012
SORRY I FORGOT TO INFORN U THAT I FOUND A CHRITMAS TREE FORM FOR MY COOKIE RECEIP
kathleenusa
kathleen donahue - Dec 24, 2012
I KNOW UR GRANDSON WHO LIKE A LARGE CHRISTMAS COOKIE DECORATED AS U PLEASE..BUT U NEED A CHRISTMAS COOKIE FORM FIRST-
MIX COOKIE INGREDIENTS DOUGH FOR COOKIES
SPREAD DOUGH TO EDGES OF COOKIE FORM
BAKE FOR 8 MINUTES AT 375 UNTIL EDGES TURN BROWN A LITTLE
LET COOL AND THEN TURN TO RELEASE COOKIE CHRISTMAS TREE
INGREDIENCE RED ICING IN TUBE SPRINKLES OF GREEN FOR BRANCHES
SILVER SMALL BALLS FOR DECORATION USE UR IMAGINATION-WITH LOVE
MERRY CHRISTMAS
christinachef
christina-grace atis - Dec 23, 2012
GOOD JOB U DID A GOOD JOB YOU SHOWED YOUR PERSON ALLITY IN COOKING AND YOU EXCITIMENT IN COOKING

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

THANK YOU
teresaworoniecka
Teresa Woroniecka - Dec 22, 2012
My husband grandma took her recipe with her to grave, no one never asked for it, although everyone loves it,it looks like little cruasants filled with prunes, just sooo good, does any one recognize?
I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy new Year, thank you all for your delicious recipes, God bless you all.
quirkyalert
sande sawyers - Dec 18, 2012
my dishes I could not wait for was Kapusta (a Polish saurkraut dish) and a fruit salad called 7 cup salad... Simple; 1 cup of each ingredient. And then my mom would make this cake that was out of this world. This was the only time of the year she would make it, so it was special. It was called Nutritious Cake. It was a cake made with several spices and tomato juice. It was topped with a cream cheese frosting, tho not thick ... just skimmed across it. Along with all her pies and candies she would make, there were also home made pierogi's (little filled pockets of dough with potatoes, onions, cheese, bacon, saurkraut or whatever else you wanted) and punchkie (little round donuts). Most was Polish foods, and altho it was my dad that was Polish and not my mom, she was the best cook! She learned well from my dads side of the family!
MeganChup
Grandma Gretchen or Megan - Dec 18, 2012
My grandma made the most tasteless cut-out cookies, but we all asked for them because we knew they were baked with love!
CookieSue
Carolyn Buckner - Dec 18, 2012
I guess I should have mentioned the cookie: Sand Tarts
CookieSue
Carolyn Buckner - Dec 18, 2012
This cookie has been in my family's cookbook for 3 generations now. I use a 50/50 white sugar/brown sugar mixture to add depth of flavor, I do not use the lemon zest, and I sprinkle them with a cinnamon-sugar mixture prior to baking. It's the thinness of these cookies that makes them so wonderful! I also roll them into a log shape and cut thin slices when ready to bake. Happy baking!!!