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Do you have a cooking or baking question? Would you like to have Sheilah do a cooking demonstration for your group? Write her at .

For the past 36 years, under the banner of "Fearless, Fussless," Sheilah Kaufman has crisscrossed the country demystifying cooking and teaching "fearless, fussless, easy ways to elegant cooking" to all ages. Her recipes are simple, unique and user-friendly. Everything can be made ahead or frozen and takes about 20 minutes' preparation time. Sheilah is the author of 24 cookbooks, including Taste of Turkish Cuisine; Sephardic/Israeli Cuisine; Simply Irresistible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Cooking; and Vegetable Magic. You can learn more about Sheilah at

Beginnings and Endings
A strategy for fun holiday entertaining
By Sheilah Kaufman

Chanukah and the end of the secular year are wonderful times to get together with family and friends. Yet, most of us are especially busy at this season and don't have huge blocks of time to dedicate to lengthy food preparation. I want to share with you my no-fail strategy for an easy-to-do and fun party. I call it "Beginnings and Endings." It is perfect for open houses and buffets where you don't want to prepare a whole meal. It gives you a chance to concentrate on all the fun appetizers and desserts in your repertoire. If you don't have time to prepare everything, ask your guests to bring an appetizer or dessert that they especially like.

I have combed through new and recent cookbooks for recipes that seemed to fit the season. These dishes seemed to be just the type of comfort foods which I seem to crave at this time of year. Maybe the ancient need to store fat to get through the cold weather is kicking in. Whatever the reason, it is the time of year when I like to bake and stock the freezer. Most of the recipes that follow can be made ahead and/or frozen.

Liver Pate with Brandy and Green Peppercorns

This is chopped liver with a wonderful twist. The addition of brandy and green peppercorns transform it into a delicacy. Be careful to broil the livers just until they lose their raw pink color inside, so that they retain the lovely creaminess they are so prized for. This recipe is from Levana's Table: Kosher Cooking for Everyone (Stewart Tabori & Chang) by Levana Kirschenbaum, who for over 20 years has delighted New Yorkers with her kosher bakery, restaurant, catering business and cooking classes.

4 medium shallots
2 large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons soy milk powder
2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the broiler. Broil the chicken livers until they are no longer pink but are still soft, about 3 minutes per side, checking to be sure they don't overcook. Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Combine the onions, shallots, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add this mixture to the oil and sauté until well browned, about 10 minutes. Return to the food processor; add the brandy, soymilk, soy milk powder, peppercorns, allspice, thyme, livers, and salt to taste and process until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, seal tightly, and refrigerate for about 2 hours. The pate will firm up as it cools. Serve with bread or crackers. Makes about 3 cups. Serves 8.

© 2005 Levana Kirschenbaum

Baked Leeks

The origins of the Jewish population in Algeria can be traced to the 10th century BCE. During the Inquisition the nation's Jewish community received an influx of Jewish immigrants from Spain and other parts of Europe. After Algeria became a French colony in 1830, the community's cuisine was heavily influenced by French culture. In the late 1950s many Pied Noir, [the term used to refer to Jewish Algerians of European descent] fled Algeria and immigrated to France and French-speaking Canada. A Pied Noir CookbookFrench Sephardic Cuisine From Algeria, a new book by Chantal Clabrough (Hippocrene Books) provides a window into the little know Pied Noir cuisine, the history of the Pied Noir and the story of the author's family.

4 large leeks (calculate 1 leek per person), rinsed thoroughly
1 cup flour
1 cup 2% or whole milk
1 cup butter (2 sticks) melted, plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. Bring a pot of water (enough to cover leeks) to a boil. Trim and discard the roots and dark green parts of the leeks, and rinse again to remove any grit. Add the leeks to the boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. In a small bowl combine the flour, milk, melted butter, and cheese. Arrange the leeks side by side in a baking dish large enough to hold all the leeks, and pour the milk mixture over them. Bake until lightly golden, approximately 15 minutes. Serves 4.

© 2005 Chantal Clabrough

Cabbage Strudel

My friend Shelly Sackett, a great cook and owner of Kitchen Affairs in Evansville, Indiana, gave me this recipe. It can be made ahead and frozen.

2 pounds cabbage, shredded
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons canola oil
fresh ground pepper
8 sheets phyllo dough
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (approximately)
melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss the cabbage with salt and let stand 15 minutes. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add cabbage, scallions, and pepper and sauté 5 to 6 minutes.

Lay phyllo sheets out, long side toward you. Butter one sheet, top with sprinkling of bread crumbs; lay a 2nd sheet over the first, butter, top with crumbs, repeat until you have used 4 sheets.

Spoon half the cabbage mixture down on the long side about 4 inches from one side. Roll up strudel and place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat with remaining sheets and filling to make a second strudel. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to stand 10 minutes. Cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch slices on an angle and serve hot.

Black Bean Hummus with Red Peppers

"In the sixties and early seventies, when Americans started traveling in the Middle East, they came back with the garlicky taste of hummus on their breath," writes Joan Nathan in her marvelous new cookbook, New American Cooking (Knopf). "It was delicious, exotic, and later, with the food processor, easy to prepare. She continues, "When I got married in 1974, I gave the caterer a recipe for this mixture of chickpeas and tahini that I had learned to love in Jerusalem, where I met my husband." Here is Nathan's recipe for an Americanized hummus, made with black beans. Of course, you can also use the traditional chick peas.

1 cup dried black beans
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup lemon juice, or to taste
2 to 3 cloves garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
2 red peppers, quartered, pith and seeds removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Dash of paprika or sumac
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Raw cut-up vegetables or warm pita bread

Drain and rinse the black beans and put them in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Then let the beans soak in the hot water for about an hour and a half, or simply leave overnight in water to soak. Drain the black beans and put them in a heavy pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil add 1 teaspoon of salt, then simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour, or until the black beans are soft. Add more water as needed. Drain the beans again, reserving about 1-1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and 1/4 cup of the cooked beans for garnish.

Process the beans with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, cumin, and at least 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. If the hummus is too thick, add more reserved cooking liquid or water until you have a paste-like consistency. Add the red peppers and pulse to chop, leaving flecks of pepper throughout the hummus. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Heat a small frying pan and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the pine nuts on the pan and stir-fry, browning on all sides, for about 5 minutes.

To serve, transfer the hummus to a large, flat plate, and make a slight depression in the center with the back of a spoon. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top and sprinkle the reserved black beans, toasted pine nuts, paprika or sumac, and parsley or cilantro over the surface. Serve with cut-up raw vegetables or warm pita bread cut into wedges. Yield: about 4 cups or 6 to 8 servings

Note: Sometimes leftover hummus tends to thicken; just add some water to make it the right consistency and adjust the seasonings.

© 2005 Joan Nathan

Chic Potato Skins

This is a simple twist on a classic appetizer that can be served as a pass around or plated at the table. This recipes is from food writer and cookbook author Eileen Goltz's book-in-progress.

4 baking potatoes, baked*
1 large egg, separated
1/3 cup black olives, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro, snipped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup salsa, heated

Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato pulp leaving a 1/4 inch wall. Cut each half in half lengthwise and place then on a baking sheet. Brush the scooped out potato skins with egg white. Bake 1518 minutes or until crisp. Meanwhile place the chop olives in a bowl and add the sliced green onions and set aside. In another bowl combine cream cheese, scooped out potato and cilantro, mix well. Remove hot skins from baking sheet. Pipe cream cheese/potato mixture into baked potato skins. Top with olives, green onions and cheese. At this point you can serve it or return it to the oven for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese. Microwave salsa for 1 minute 30 seconds or until hot. Spoon over the top of the potatoes or serve on the side as a dip. You can make this recipe non-dairy by using non-dairy sour cream and omitting the cheese. You can also substitute 1/2 pound sautéed mushrooms and 1 small onion diced (sautéed in a 2 tablespoons of olive oil) for the cheese. Serves 6

*Microwave potatoes on HIGH for 1216 minutes or until tender, turning a quarter turn halfway through cooking time.

© 2005 Eileen Goltz

Dried Mushrooms and Wild Rice Soup

The mushrooms provide an intense, earthy flavor. Serve with crusty bread. This luscious recipe is from Crowning EleganceA Kosher Culinary Experience from the Arie Crown Hebrew Day School in Skokie, Ill., and may be purchased through their website

2-1/2 oz. assorted dried mushrooms
3 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 medium ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
20 oz. fresh white mushrooms, sliced
6 cups fresh chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup cream sherry
1 cup wild rice, prepared according to package directions

Place dried mushrooms in a medium size bowl, and pour boiling water over them and set aside. In a large skillet over a medium high flame, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add celery and onion. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender and brown. Transfer vegetables to a 4-quart stock pot.

Add remaining oil to skillet and add fresh mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms to vegetables in stock pot. Drain dried mushrooms that have been rehydrated and coarsely chop. Add to vegetables in stock pot. Stir in chicken stock, soy, thyme, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir in sherry and simmer for 25 minutes. To serve, place a generous amount of wild rice in each bowl and ladle soup over rice. Serves 6.

© 2005 Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

Zvi's Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Don't you wish you could make some of the great sweets that come from your favorite bakery? Well look no further, Kathleen King made her reputation with her famous chocolate chip cookies and developed a thriving bakery business called Tate's in South Hampton, N.Y. Now in Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook she brings her touch for simple, utterly delicious cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, scones, and brownies to every home baker. Visit her website at

3-1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 105 degrees)
1-1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup sugar (You can add more if you like it sweeter.)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup salted butter
4 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
8 cups all-purpose flour (You may use 3/4 cup more when kneading.)

Swirl Filling

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

To make the bread: Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. If the bowl is cold, swirl hot water in it and empty it, so that the warm water doesn't cool down. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Heat the milk, sugar, salt, and butter until warm to the touch. Do not boil.

Add the eggs, 4 cups of the flour, and the milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix with an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, food processor, or stir by hand with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing until it forms a stiff dough. This process will take about 10 minutes of mixing.

Remove the dough from the bowl, dust the board with flour, and knead the dough until it springs back when you press it with your finger and it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl three times the size of the dough. Roll it around once to coat it all over with oil. Cover it with a towel and let it rise till doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Grease three 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Punch down the dough and preheat the over to 350 degrees.

To make the filling: Cream the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Set it aside.

To fill and bake the bread: Divide the dough into three equal portions, approximately 1-1/2 pounds each. Roll out each piece into 8x12-inch rectangle. Divide the filling evenly onto each rectangle and spread it over the entire surface, leaving a half-inch border. (I like to use my hands for this.) Sprinkle the filling with raisins and/or nuts if you like. (This is optional.) You can also double the filling if you like the filling gooey inside. Roll from the 8-inch side like a jellyroll. Pinch the edges and ends together. Tuck the ends under slightly and place the seam side down in the prepared pans. Cover the bread with a towel and let rise for another hour. Bake the bread for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Yield: three nine-inch loaves

Apple-Apricot Crostata

This is another recipe from Joan Nathan's new book. It came from Anne Luzzatto who learned it in the 1980s when she and her children summered in Venice at her in-laws' ancestral home. Her mother-in-law taught her this favorite family dessert, "a crostata made out of a butter crust called a friolla."

4 Granny Smith or other good cooking apples
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Preheat the oven to 425 F and grease a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Peel, core, and slice the apples into crescents about a fourth to an eighth of an inch thick.You should have about 24 pieces.

Put the sugar, butter, egg yolks, flour, and salt in a large bowl and rub everything together with your fingers or combine the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process in quick pulses until the dough forms a ball. Either way, do not overwork the dough.

Shape the ball of dough into a round and pat into the tart pan. Working with your fingers and a cake knife or wide spatula, spread the dough evenly around the pan and up the sides. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick up the sides and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan, then trim and flatten the edges with a knife. Starting on the outside and working towards the center, lay the apple slices in an overlapping, concentric circle.

Heat the apricot preserves in a saucepan over a low flame until it has liquefied. Using a pastry brush, paint the apples and the visible crust with the apricot glaze. Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350 F and continue cooking until the crust is deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Bring to room temperature, unmold, and put on a platter or serving dish. Yield: 1 tart serving 1012 people

© 2005 Joan Nathan

Poached Apricots with Lemon and Thyme

As Jeff Nathan points out, we have most of these ingredients in the pantry, so it is a simple matter to make this dessert when the mood strikes. The taste of thyme in a dessert may be surprising, but it is as delicious as it is aromatic. Be sure to use freshly grated nutmeg, and, if desired, serve this without the ice cream as a compote. This recipe is from his new book, Jeff Nathan's Family Suppers (Clarkson Potter).

2 lemons
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
one-inch cinnamon stick
1 lb. dried apricots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
few gratings of fresh nutmeg
vanilla ice cream for serving

Grate the lemon zest from 1 lemon. Juice this lemon and strain the juice. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the second lemon and cut the zest lengthwise into thin strips (julienne). Reserve the second lemon for another use.

Mix 2 cups water, the orange juice, honey, sugar, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Add the apricots and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Partially cover the pan with the lid, and simmer until the apricots are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the thyme and nutmeg. Cool until warm (or cool, cover, and refrigerate until chilled). Serve spooned over ice cream and topped with julienned lemon zest. Serves 6 to 8.

© 2005 Jeff Nathan

Chocolate Walnut Souffle Cake

Chocolate, especially dark bittersweet chocolate, is for me the ultimate comfort food. Because I am a chocolate addict and fancier, I had to have Lisa Yockelson's newest book Chocolate Chocolate (John Wiley and Sons). With over 200 recipes, her book illustrates why chocolate is such an elemental flavor: magnetic, compelling, and sensuous in its depth and character.

The book's unique "baking diary" format arranges chapters by theme including "Deep, Dark, and Bittersweet," "Brownie Style," "Back to Basics Chocolate Cakes," and "Chocolate Memories." The recipes are interspersed with evocative essays that lend a personal and literary quality to the book. Temptation beckons from every page with classic recipes like Supremely Fudgy Brownies, Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Big and Bountiful Chocolate Cupcakes, shamelessly decadent Mudslides, and elegant Essence of Vanilla Chocolate Soufflé Cake. Even if you don't want to bake anything, you will certainly enjoy just reading this deeply personal, almost encyclopedic book.

2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon bleached cake flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
large pinch of salt
13 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
5 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup ground walnuts
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
walnut halves, lightly toasted and cooled completelyoptional

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan (2-3/4 inches deep). Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. Whisk the melted chocolate and melted butter is a medium size mixing bowl until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar-cocoa powder mixture for 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla. Thoroughly stir in the melted chocolate-butter mixture, then the ground walnuts.

Whip the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until beginning to mound, add the cream of tartar, and continue whipping until firm (not stiff) peaks are formed. Stir 3 large spoonfuls of the whipped whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites, combining the two mixtures lightly but thoroughly.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Gently smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until gently set throughout (the center should be stable). Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack. The cake will fall somewhat on cooling. Open the hinge on the side of the pan and remove the outer ring, allowing the cake to stand on the circular metal base. Cut the cake into thick slices, scatter over a few walnuts (if using), and serve. Store in an airtight cake keeper. Serves 8.

This recipe is reprinted by permission from Chocolate Chocolate, by Lisa Yockelson. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright © 2005 by Lisa Yockelson. All rights reserved.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Pies

I love this recipe from Gale Gand's Short & Sweet (Clarkson Potter). These little pies are like chocolate-dipped macaroons in reverse: lots of chocolate and a little coconut. The "dough" for the coconut macaroons is so easy to make, easy to work with, and holds its shape well after baking. I used raspberries instead of nuts to top mine.

Heaping 3/4 cup sugar
Scant 1/2 cup egg whites (about 3 large eggs)
3/4 lb. (scant 2 1/2 cups) sweetened flaked coconut
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
a few toasted almonds, chopped
pint of fresh raspberries (my addition)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the sugar, egg whites, and coconut together. Put a spoonful into each of 24 nonstick mini-muffin cups or individual tart molds. Press the "dough" into the molds to make little cups with sides and a well for holding the chocolate filling. Bake until golden brown about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans, then gently remove.

To prepare the filling, place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan just until boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute.Then gently whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth and glossy.

With a small spoon, fill the tarts with the warm chocolate mixture. Sprinkle a few pieces of nuts in the center of each tart while they are still warm. (I used a fresh raspberry on top instead). Then serve. (They need to be served the same day they are made). Makes 24.

Note: The coconut shells can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept at room temperature in an airtight container. The ganache can be refrigerated for up to 5 days; re-warm in the microwave or in a bowl set over simmering water until it is pourable.

© 2005 Gale Gand

Fruit Studded Yeast Kuchen

On recent trips to Atlanta all my friends raved about Southern Sweets Bakery where you can get not only lovely lunches but fabulous sweets. I finally got someone to take me and it certainly lived up to its reputation! Since I wanted to taste everything, but could not take anything home I stuffed myself with three different desserts. Nancy Cole, the lovely owner, who also happens to be Jewish, offered me a favorite family recipe to share with you.

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup lukewarm buttermilk (full fat)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg (in a small bowl whisk, then use HALF, discard the rest)
2 1/4 cup sifted flour

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Fruit (Choose one of these options):
2 cups fresh peaches sliced with 1/ 2 cup blueberries
4 plums, sliced
2 large pears, peeled, sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen sweet cherries
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
6 oz. prepared pie filling, like cherry

Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water; stir to dissolve. Stir in 1/2 tablespoon sugar, shortening, buttermilk, salt, baking soda and 1/2 egg. Mix well. In mixer or by hand, gradually add flour, beating until smooth after each addition. Let rise in warm place, covered, for 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Press each into 2 greased 9-inch round or square baking pans, forming a rim around the edge. Let rise 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. Arrange fruit or pie filling in each pan and set aside.

To make the custard: Combine 2 eggs and 2/3 cup sugar; beat well. Stir in sour cream and vanilla, blend until smooth. Spoon scant 1/2 cup sour cream mixture over fruit. Sprinkle with combined 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans on racks. Makes 2 kuchens.

© 2005 Nancy Cole

Frozen Halvah Pecan Terrine with Maple Rum Sauce and Pecan Lace Cookies

Another favorite from Levana's Table by Levana Kirschenbaum.

1/2 cup soy milk powder (available at health food stores)
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup boiling water
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and patted thoroughly dry
1 tablespoon maple extract (available at health food stores)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pound vanilla halvah
1 cup shelled pecans, toasted for 15 minutes in a preheated 300 F oven and chopped coarsely.
1 pound vanilla halvah, coarsely crumbled

Mix the soy milk powder and corn starch with 1/2 cup cold water, and set aside. Put water to boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, keeping the water at a simmer, and place a stainless steel or Pyrex bowl over the saucepan. Add the sugar, eggs, soy milk mixture and boiling water, and whisk constantly until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly. Meanwhile, process the tofu, maple extract, vanilla and halvah for a full 3 minutes. Add the egg mixture and process a few more seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the crumbled halvah and pecans. Pour the mixture into a springform 1-1/2 quart rectangle mold, and place in the freezer (It will take 6-8 hours to freeze.) Take out of the freezer for a few minutes before serving, unmold, slice thin, and serve with maple rum sauce (recipe follows). Stand a lace cookie in the center of the terrine slice (recipe follows).

Maple Rum Sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup soy milk powder, mixed with 1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup rum

Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes. Let the sauce cool before storing in a glass jar. Makes about 1 cup.

Lace Cookies
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 stick unsalted margarine (4 tablespoons)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (toast on a cookie sheet 10 minutes in a preheated 325 F oven)
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons quick oats
Pinch salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Heat the corn syrup, margarine and sugar over low heat until just melted. Turn off the heat and add the pecans, flour, oats, salt and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Drop by 1/2 teaspoon, 2 inches apart, on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for 8 minutes. If they are not perfectly crisp one minute after they come out of the oven, put them back in for 1 to 2 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

© 2005 Levana Kirschenbaum

Roasted Pear Bread Pudding

From The All American Dessert Book (Hougton Mifflin) by Nancy Baggett

I can't think of a more satisfying autumn fruit dessert than this one. The pear slices meld with the flavors of fresh ginger and lemon zest in a custard base. The secret to this dish is in roasting the pears first, so don't be tempted to skip this step. The roasting concentrates the pear juices, heightening their gentle flavor and making the pears meltingly tender.

5 large Bosc or Bartlett pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup packed light brown sugar (divided)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
34 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1012 slices (1/3 inch thick) Italian or French bread, crust removed (scant half of a 1-pound loaf)
5 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2-1/3 cups milk
1-1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely minced fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon very finely grated lemon zest (yellow part of skin)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, combined with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for garnish
Butterscotch sauce or bourbon sauce, warmed, for serving (optional)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and a 10-by-15-inch or larger rimmed baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. Spread the pears on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and the lemon juice, gently turning to coat. Roast the pears, gently stirring and spooning their juice over them once or twice, until tender when tested with a fork, 8 to 12 minutes. Set aside. Turn off the oven.

Generously butter one side of each bread slice. Lay the slices buttered sides up in the baking dish, arranging them so that the bottom is completely covered. If necessary, cut or tear the slices so they fit snugly. Drizzle the juice from the pears evenly over the bread. Arrange the pear slices attractively on top.

In a large bowl using a fork, beat together the eggs, yolks, and remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar until well blended. Add the cream and stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Stir in the milk, gingerroot, lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract (if using). Pour the custard over the bread and pears. Lay a large sheet of baking parchment or wax paper over the top and press down to keep the bread submerged. Let stand for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate for several hours.

Peel off the paper. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Carefully set the dish in a slightly larger roasting pan (or broiler pan). Place on the oven rack. Add 3/4 inch hot water to the pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pudding appears set except in the center, which should still be slightly jiggly when tapped. (A refrigerated pudding may take a little longer.) Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve with warm sauce, if desired. The pudding will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 8 servings.

© 2005 Nancy Baggett