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updated: 12/4/2012 3:12 PM

From the food editor: Candy canes, cookies and award-winning salmon

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  • Courtesy of Aunt Chick's

      Courtesy of Aunt Chick's

 
 

Geneva is the place to be this weekend if you need a little help getting into the holiday spirit.

On Friday evening, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva hosts its 30th annual Cookie Walk. Last year some 80 society volunteers baked more than 7,700 treats and the numbers are expected to be even higher this year.

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If you don't have time to bake or just want to add a little variety to your holiday cookie platter, stop by the church, 102-112 S. Second St., between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. and for $14 you can purchase a box to fill with one to two dozen cookies of your choice. Reservations are not required, but lines do form early and favorite varieties sell out fast.

This Geneva holiday tradition raises money to support church programs and community organizations such as Lazarus House and the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

On Saturday, the focus switches from cookies to candy.

With two Guinness World Records already under his toque, internationally renowned pastry chef Alain Roby will go for a third when he attempts to make the World's Longest Candy Cane during downtown Geneva's holiday celebration.

At 7 p.m. Dec. 8, Roby, who already holds records for the World's Tallest Cooked Sugar Building and World's Tallest Chocolate Sculpture (part of which is on display at his Geneva shop, All Chocolate Kitchen), will begin stretching sugar from in front of the Geneva courthouse. His goal is to pull the shiny, warm sugar 45 feet to the intersection in front of his shop at 33 S. Third St.

Turn out to cheer for Roby then stop in for a decadent truffle (or two), a scoop of fresh-made gelato or a cup of cappuccino.

Breaking the mold: I'm kicking myself now. Clearing out my great aunt's house after she passed away several years back I came across a box of red plastic cookie molds. Well, some estate-sale enthusiasts got quite a treat because it turns out those Aunt Chick's molds had been out of circulation for more than three decades. (That'll teach me to check eBay.)

Since then, however, a woman has revived the brand, and Aunt Chick's vintage cookie forms can again be part of holiday baking traditions.

These cutters were invented and launched in 1948 by Aunt Chick, aka Nettie McBirney, a Tulsa homemaker, writer and kitchen innovator who was the Martha Stewart of her time. Aunt Chick's Cookie Cutters fell out of circulation for nearly 35 years until Carrie Greno Falzone, founder of Gramma's Cutters, found 18,000 of them in a Tulsa warehouse, purchased the original injection molds and began producing Aunt Chick's 3D Cookie Cutters.

The Merry Christmas Set costs $20 and contains four cutters: a stocking full of toys, jolly Santa, star and tree. The molds are made in the U.S. with FDA-approved plastic and come with recipes and decorating instructions. Order at grammascutters.com or call (888) 662-8373.

Salmon, slaw and Santa: You can try the winning recipe from the 2012 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge and help purchase toys for victims of domestic violence by dining at Chandler's Chophouse this month.

The chefs at the Schaumburg restaurant (on the grounds of the Schaumburg Golf Club, 401 N. Roselle Road), have put Salmon Saute with Spicy Sweet Potato and Brussels Slaw on the menu. The dish was created by Schaumburg physics teacher Michael Pennisi, one of four cooks to compete in the mystery basket cook-off. The dish earned Pennisi, of Carpentersville, the title Cook of the Year 2012.

"With some of the 'Chopped' episodes it looks like (the chefs) just throw something on the plate, but I felt my dish was pretty good," Pennisi said upon learning of the menu addition. "I'll have to find a night to go in and try it."

The salmon meal costs $25 for two people and will be available through the end of the month. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Hope for the Holidays, the Daily Herald's new seasonal campaign to purchase toys for children living at WINGS' domestic violence shelter. To make a reservation at Chandler's, call (847) 885-9009.

Exotic partners: Stumped by which wine to serve with your favorite Indian curry? Get the answer from Good Wine columnist Mary Ross Sunday at Urban Tandoor Indian Grill in Long Grove.

From noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 9, Ross, an advanced sommelier and certified wine educator, will lead a food and wine pairing exploration. $40 includes a buffet lunch of two appetizers, five entrees (including some vegetarian selections), two desserts and three wines. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Cancer Care Foundation.

Urban Tandoor Indian Grill is at 3972 Route 22. Reservations are required. Call the restaurant at (847) 438-6700.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram @PankeysPlate.

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