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Special to the Mercury News


For decades, frozen peas have silently and honorably served this nation as a multipurpose vegetable. Aside from being a side dish and a dump-and-go soup or salad ingredient, lumpy bags of them make great ice packs for injured body parts. Small children who won't eat anything green often eat frozen peas. Gerbils adore them. Defrosted green peas even make great markers for a bingo game.


Although they aren't fresh, they act fresh. In this mad, mad world, when you need a vegetable and everything in the refrigerator is a moldy, slimy science experiment, peas are ready and waiting. Despite the habit of a friend who measures out water according to package directions when she cooks frozen green peas, you can really just defrost them and dig in.


This all brings us to the bond between frozen green peas and Thanksgiving. You must serve them on Turkey Day. It's the law.


Some of you may argue that it is a certain casserole of green beans in canned mushroom soup topped with canned onion rings that should be the vegetable emblem of Thanksgiving. No. That dish was foisted on gullible cooks by advertising executives who called it ``company-good'' in a 1961 soup ad.


Peas, on the other hand, seem to have been our own idea.


Technically, green peas are not a traditional Thanksgiving food, since the first feasters did not partake of them. Clarence Birdseye and Charles Seabrook didn't invent the way to freeze them until 1925 and it wasn't until March 1930 that they became available to consumers for an outrageous 35 cents a box in a Springfield, Mass., market.


But what a boon frozen green peas would have been to Pilgrim and Indian cooks as they ran around like turkeys with their heads cut off -- feathers flying, potatoes waiting to be mashed, corn ready for husking. All that, plus making sure everybody got drinks as they chatted about the weather (hardly a modern phenomenon). In addition to catering, take-out, electricity, canned chicken stock, blow dryers, deodorant and zippers, frozen green peas would have helped those early Americans immensely.


Despite their relatively recent appearance, for us frozen peas are nostalgic. They were discovered by homemakers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when many of us were growing up. They are a kind of ``Leave It to Beaver'' food that we loved to have around even if we had to sit at the table until bedtime until we cleaned our plates of them.


As adults, we don't toss them under the table. We eat them because we don't have to or because we like their taste. And on Thanksgiving, we eat them because we appreciate a great accessory when we see one.


On a Thanksgiving plate, much of the food is either brown or tan and fairly oblong or blobbish. Peas add texture, shape and color. They are perky, round and bright. This is even after you have used them on a sprained ankle!


The biggest reason we serve them, though, is one nobody admits. When you absolutely, positively must have a vegetable substance on the table -- even when you know nobody gives a hoot about the USDA's food pyramid and everyone is fixated on gravy and pumpkin cheesecake -- green peas are easy.


You can serve them heated or in a vinaigrette. Even a klutz can make them. They taste fine as is; you don't even need butter.


So do the right thing. Make frozen green peas on Thanksgiving. Heck, make peas and carrots. Cream them. Knock yourself out and put little pearl onions with them. Just make sure they are on the table. It's the right thing to do.



Makes 36 squares

These apricot-filled bars are especially moist.


1 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup unblanched almonds, toasted (see note)

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick; see note)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour (divided)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Powdered sugar (about 1 tablespoon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Place apricots in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into slivers; set aside.


In a food processor or blender, grind almonds into coarse crumbs.


In a mixer bowl, combine butter and granulated sugar; beat until fluffy. Blend in ground almonds and 1/2 cup of the flour. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of an ungreased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes; remove from oven.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and salt; mix thoroughly and set aside.


In a mixer bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar at high speed until thick. Gradually blend in flour mixture, then vanilla and almond extract. Stir in apricots. Spread over baked layer.


Return to oven; bake until well-browned, about 30 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes, then cut into 11/2-inch squares. Sift lightly with powdered sugar. Remove from pan when cool.


Note: To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and bake in 375-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until brown.


Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.



Serves 4-6

2 cups frozen green peas

1 cup sugar snap peas (frozen or fresh and blanched)

1 cup snow peas (frozen or fresh and blanched)

For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To finish:

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


A few hours before serving, combine peas in a serving bowl. Refrigerate.


Whisk together vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the oils.


Toast sesame seeds in a skillet until golden brown.


At serving time, toss peas in vinaigrette. Refrigerate until serving. Scatter sesame seeds over top and serve.




Flower Pot Chocolate Fudge Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk

1 egg, slightly beaten

In a medium mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add milk, butter, vanilla and stir. Add beaten egg and stir again. Do not over mix. Coat the interior of your Aunt Martha's Flower Pot Baker with oil or vegetable spray. Pour batter into flower pot baker and bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Aunt Laura's Famous Flower Pot Banana Bread Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 mashed banana

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon banana flavoring

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk

1 egg, slightly beaten

In a medium mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add milk, butter,

vanilla, banana and stir. Add beaten egg and stir again. Do not over mix.

Coat the interior of your Aunt Martha's Flower Pot Baker with oil or

vegetable spray. Pour batter into flower pot baker and bake for 40-50

minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out





Crushed cardamom seeds add deeper flavor to food than ground cardamom.

4 whole cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

4 large ripe bananas, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 tablespoons flaked sweetened coconut

2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

Slit open cardamom pods; remove seeds. Chop or grind seeds in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle; set aside.


Toss bananas, coconut and brown sugar together in medium bowl. Add cardamom; toss.



(With Variations) Makes 2 pounds


1 1-pint container 4 percent fat cottage cheese

1 1-pint container ricotta cheese

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick; see note)

4 large cloves garlic, minced

2 medium shallots, minced

1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley, tightly packed

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Salt (optional)


Blend cottage, ricotta and cream cheeses with butter. Mix in garlic, shallots, parsley, chives, pepper, cayenne and salt, if desired. Divide cheese mixture into 4 small bowls or ramekins to serve or give as gifts, or use one of the following variations.


Pepper variation: To Basic Herbed Cheese add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked white and black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with cold cuts and/or roast beef. Meat may be rolled around cheese.


Danish variation: To Basic Herbed Cheese add 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives. Serve on dark bread with cucumber slices, smoke salmon and fresh dill sprigs.


Italian variation: To Basic Herbed Cheese add 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic or onion chives, and 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with crudites, in stuffed broiled mushroom caps or on garlic baguette croutons with roasted red bell pepper strips.


French variation: To Basic Herbed Cheese add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (part lemon thyme preferable) and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives. Serve with crudites or stuffed under skin of chicken breasts.


Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results. Adapted from "The Herb Garden Cookbook" by Lucinda Hutson



Serves 8

4 medium butternut squash, quartered

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use

1 white onion, roughly chopped

4 ounces pancetta (optional) (bacon, cured in salt and air-dried)

3 cups sake (white wine works, but it's not as much fun)

3 cups vegetable stock

2 cups heavy cream


Toss squash and carrots together with 1 tablespoon oil and roast at 400 degrees until squash are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove skin from squash. Heat remaining oil in large saucepan or stockpot, and sauté onion and pancetta until brown. Add squash and carrots. Add sake to pan and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from pan bottom. Cook until most of liquid is gone. Add stock and cream and simmer uncovered about 1 hour. Carefully transfer to blender and puree. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Return soup to pot; heat until warm. Note: Soup can be made a day ahead and stored in refrigerator, covered.



Serves 8

1 pound yams

1 pound sweet potatoes

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut

2 tablespoons finely chopped roasted peanuts


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 3-quart pan, boil yams and sweet potatoes in water, covered, until tender when pierced, 20 to 30 minutes; drain and cool. Peel and slice crosswise, 1/4 inch thick.


Alternating yam and sweet potato, overlap slices slightly in a buttered 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Start from outer edge and work toward center.


In a small, heavy pan, heat sugar and water over medium heat. Shake pan frequently until sugar melts and turns light caramel color. Remove from heat; stir in butter, salt, lemon peel and lemon juice. Pour syrup over slices.


Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with coconut and peanuts.



by Julia Child

Makes about 11/2 cups


Note: Use real vanilla, not imitation. Do not double batches.


1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup water

3/4 cup whipping cream, heated

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bring the sugar and water to the boil in a small, heavy saucepan.


Remove from heat and swirl pan by its handle (never stir) until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear.


Put on a tight-fitting cover and boil over moderately high heat for several minutes. When bubbles are thick, remove cover and boil, swirling pan, until syrup turns a light caramel brown.


Let cool to about the same temperature as the heated cream. Pour in the cream; the caramel will lump. Simmer, stirring for a few minutes to melt caramel and blend it with the cream. Stir in the vanilla. Place in small jars to give as gifts.


Serve warm or cold. (If too thick, simmer with a little more cream. If too thin, boil it down, stirring.) Refrigerate. Best if used within 2 weeks.




1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup white chips

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel


cranberry topping (see below)


Heat oven to 375 degrees.


Mix together graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in medium bowl until combined. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and side of 9-inch pie plate.

Bake eight to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.


Heat cream in small saucepan over medium heat just to a boil. Remove from heat; add chocolate chips. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Spread onto bottom of crust. Cover; refrigerate 11/2 hours or until chocolate is slightly firm.


Place white chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high one minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at high an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.


Beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add melted white chips, orange juice and lemon peel, beating until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over chocolate layer. Refrigerate two hours or until firm.




1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water


Stir together cranberries, sugar and water in medium saucepan.


Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring often, about three to five minutes or until berries have popped. Remove from heat and cool. Cover; refrigerate until ready to use.


Spoon topping over each serving.



Makes 36 bars

Brown sugar gives these bars a butterscotch flavor.


1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick; see note)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

11/4 cups all-purpose flour (divided)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

11/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

11/2 cups flaked coconut

1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In a mixer bowl, combine butter and granulated sugar; beat until fluffy. Gradually stir in 1 cup of the flour to make a crumbly dough. Press firmly over bottom of greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake 10 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.


In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup flour and baking powder; stir to mix well. In mixer bowl, combine eggs and brown sugar; beat until well-mixed. Blend in vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well-combined. Stir in pecans and coconut. Spread mixture over pastry in pan.


Bake until well-browned and firm in center, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.


In a small, heavy pan over lowest heat, melt chocolate with oil, stirring. Drizzle chocolate over cookies. After chocolate sets, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch bars.


Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.






1/3 cup evaporated milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In a small saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, butter and chocolate. Stir constantly over low heat until the chocolate melts completely, then remove pan from the heat.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and pecans and stir until well-blended. Add the chocolate mixture and stir well, then scrape into the pie shell.


Bake the pie just until the filling is soft in the center when the pie is gently shaken, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool the pie completely on a wire rack.



2 large eggs

l/4 cups sugar

l cup nuts, coarsely chopped

l cup dates, chopped

l tsp. vanilla

l cup coconut

l/4 tsp. almond extract

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer. Add l cup sugar and beat well. Blend in next 5 ingredients and put in ungreased 2 quart casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and while still hot, beat mixture well with a wooden spoon. Cool until it can be handled, then form into small balls and roll in the l/4 cup remaining sugar. Makes about 5 dozen cookies in 40 minutes.



Serves about 10

1 orange, unpeeled and preferably organic, scrubbed

2 bags (12 ounces each) fresh cranberries

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger


Cut orange (with peel on) into 16 chunks and discard any seeds. Working in batches, combine orange chunks, cranberries, sugar and ginger in food processor. Pulse to chop finely, stopping once or twice to scrape down sides of bowl.


Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours. Bring to room temperature and stir well before serving.


Note: Relish can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.




Serves 8

1 12- to 14-pound turkey, cut according to directions above

Kitchen string (4 pieces, each 8 inches long)

For stuffing:

1 cup currants

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup corn bread (about 6-8 ounces), roughly chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

2 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil


Lay dark meat on a clean, flat surface. Place plastic wrap around dark meat and pound with a meat mallet until meat is 1/4-inch thick. Mix stuffing ingredients in a large bowl. Season meat with salt and pepper; spread stuffing in center of meat, leaving 2-inch border on all sides. Carefully roll meat fairly taut from one end to the other. Tie roll with kitchen string. Place roll on a rack inside a baking pan and place in a preheated oven at 450 degrees. Place the piece of turkey breast meat in another baking pan, skin side up, season with salt and pepper and roast in 450-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Cook roulade about 25 minutes. Remove breast meat and roulade from oven, and allow to rest about 10 minutes. Slice roulade and breast meat into 3/4-inch slices. Serve slices of both.








Serves 10

1 ( 3/4- to 1-pound) country bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (8 cups)

1 1/4 pounds portobello mushrooms, stems discarded, gills removed and caps

cut into 1-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided use

1 1/2 pounds escarole, coarsely chopped

2 ounces dried porcini

1 cup chicken stock or broth, heated in microwave

3 medium onions, thinly sliced

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided use

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided use

1 pound uncooked Italian sausage (turkey, chicken or pork), coarsely chopped

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup heavy cream

The night before, place cubed bread on cookie sheet to dry out.


The next day, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss portobello mushrooms with garlic and 3 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart shallow glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast in middle of oven, stirring twice, until mushrooms are just tender, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.


While mushrooms are roasting, cook escarole in a large pot of boiling, salted water, uncovered, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze gently to remove excess water.


In small bowl, soak porcini in stock for 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms and chop. Strain stock through a fine sieve to remove sediment; reserve.


Cook onions in remaining 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside onions in bowl. In same skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through. Set aside.


Whisk together eggs, cream, stock and remaining salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add mushrooms, escarole, onions, sausage and bread; toss well. Spread in buttered baking dish and bake, covered with foil, in upper third of oven about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until edges of bread are crisp, about 10 minutes more.


Note: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Store covered in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before placing in oven to bake, 20-30 minutes covered, another 10 minutes uncovered.



Coffee and cardamom go together beautifully. Though cardamom is usually brewed with coffee for a seasoned hot drink, here is a recipe, adapted from one by chef Tony Mantuano of Chicago's Spiaggia, that turns the same idea into a creamy gelato.

6 egg yolks

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup brewed espresso

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons (divided)

11/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

2 tablespoons water

Combine yolks, cream, half-and-half, espresso, 1/2 cup sugar and cardamom in heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and mixture coats back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions.


Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and water in small saucepan over medium heat. Heat to boil; cook until syrup is clear, about 2 minutes. Add to ice cream machine during last 5 minutes of churning. Transfer to plastic container. Serve immediately or cover and freeze.




1 graham cracker crust

1 1/4 cups cold milk

2 pkg (4-serving size) chocolate flavor instant pudding & pie filling

1 tub frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed, divided


Beat milk, pudding, and 1/2 of the whipped topping in medium bowl with wire whisk for one minute. (Mixture will be thick) Spread in crust.


Spread remaining whipped topping over pudding layer in crust.


Refrigerate until ready to serve.








Cookie dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

Cream cheese frosting

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


In small mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.


In large mixer bowl, beat butter for one minute. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat well.


Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, mix until well-blended. Stir in walnuts and raisins.


Drop by teaspoonfuls two inches apart onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for two minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.


For frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Frost cooled cookies.



Serves 4

1 cup dried porcini mushrooms

1 1/4 cups hot water

12 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 pound waxy potatoes, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

Leaves from one bunch of basil

Salt and pepper

Olive oil for pan


Soak dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid that has been strained through cheesecloth or filter paper. Simmer re-hydrated mushrooms in strained soaking liquid until liquid has evaporated. Toss with fresh mushrooms, potatoes, garlic, basil, and salt and pepper.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an ovenproof dish that will hold potatoes and mushrooms in a layer no more than about 1 1/2 inches deep. Spread vegetable mixture evenly in dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender, turning ingredients over about halfway through cooking. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before serving.




Serves 8

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

1 clove garlic

1/2 bunch green onions

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

Honey to taste

2 green Pippin apples

8 fresh figs

1/2 cup toasted almonds


In blender, combine all ingredients except apples, figs and almonds. Season and try to balance flavors. Is it acid, sweet, salty? Get those flavors working together. Slice apples into matchsticks, quarter figs and toss lightly with vinaigrette. Garnish with toasted almonds.


Have your butcher cut the breast meat and dark meat off the turkey carcass. With the dark meat (legs and thighs), have the butcher remove the leg and thigh bones. In this preparation, the breast meat is cooked separately from the dark meat so that neither ends up overcooked. The dark meat is rolled around the stuffing to make a roulade.






2 large, firm pears

2 teaspoons light olive oil


1/4 cup brown rice syrup (or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, finely minced

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Fresh berries, for garnish


Preheat a ridged grill pan over a medium-high flame.


Peel the pears and slice them in half. Core the halves, then slice each half into several thick slices running from top to bottom.


Lightly brush each pear slice with oil, making sure to cover it entirely.


Sprinkle a bit of salt on each slice.


Gently press the slices onto the grill pan. Cook until tender and deeply marked, about three minutes. Use a spatula to turn the halves and cook on the other side for an additional three minutes.


Transfer pear slices to serving plates.


To make the glaze: Combine the rice syrup, mint leaves and lemon zest in a small saucepan.


Cook over a medium flame until the mixture foams.


Spoon the glaze over the pear slice and garnish with berries.




24 whole Oreo Double Stuff Cookies

24 Lollipop Sticks

1 pound Dipping Chocolate -- or Almond Bar

1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Extract

assorted Candy Sprinkles

Carefully remove one side from each cookie so the middle is exposed. Using

the end of a potato peeler, carve a trench wide and deep enough to snugly

insert a lollipop stick into each cookie. Firmly re-attach side to each cookie, being careful not to break or crush it. (It may be helpful to lightly brush frosting middle with water before re-attaching cookie side). Set cookies aside.

Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and set aside.

In a glass bowl or double boiler, melt dipping chocolate or almond bark. Once chocolate has become liquid, add peppermint extract and stir well. Now you are ready to coat your prepared cookies. Dip each cookie carefully, making certain they do not separate in the melted chocolate. Hold each dipped cookie over chocolate after dipping to let excess chocolate run back into bowl, then carefully lay onto wax paper lined baking sheets. Quickly sprinkle wet cookie with candy sprinkles, then let dry. Repeat process with each cookie sucker until all are complete.

(If you experience trouble dipping your cookie suckers, you can also paint sucker with chocolate mixture, using pastry brush, one side at a time.)

When cookie suckers have set and dried, wrap each with a small square of

plastic wrap, then tie securely with a short length of ribbon or yarn. Store in a cool dry place, but do not refrigerate.



Makes 36 cookies


These scrumptious candies are an elegant accompaniment to steaming espresso at a holiday gathering. They are best when made several days ahead and left to marinate.


21/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 cup powdered sugar plus additional for serving

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua), or as needed


In a large mixing bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, corn syrup, cocoa and 1 cup of sugar. Mix together thoroughly with a beater or in a food processor.


(You may use any plain chocolate cookies for this recipe. Chop them in a food processor, or crumble them by hand or with a rolling pin in a plastic bag.)


Blend in the pecans and the liqueur and mix together to form a stiff dough. Add coffee liqueur as needed to achieve desired consistency. Be careful not to add too much liqueur, as the balls will become sticky.


Separate small portions of the dough and shape into bite-size balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container for giving as gifts. Dust balls with powdered sugar before serving.


Variations: Substitute vanilla wafers for chocolate wafers, rum or bourbon for the coffee liqueur, or almonds or walnuts for the pecans.


Note: Chocolate wafer cookies are sometimes stocked in grocery stores not with cookies, but with ice cream toppings.




1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup rice

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, or 11/2 cups cooked dry-packaged black beans,

rinsed and drained

2 cups water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, optional

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Sauté onion, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, thyme, crushed red pepper and bay leaf in olive oil until onion is tender, about five minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, 20 minutes.




Serves 12

2 cups orange juice

3/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

3 (1 1/2-pound) acorn squash, each cut into 8 wedges, seeded

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1 cup chopped green onions

2 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds


Combine orange juice, hoisin sauce, garlic and five-spice powder in heavy saucepan. Boil over medium heat until reduced to 1 1/3 cups, about 30 minutes. Pour into bowl, add ginger, cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash wedges on baking sheet. (Line it with foil for easy cleanup.) Brush squash wedges on all sides with sesame oil. Place wedges 1 cut side down, and bake 15 minutes. Turn wedges skin side down. Brush with some hoisin mixture. Bake until tender and well glazed, brushing occasionally with hoisin mixture, about 50 minutes.


Preheat broiler. Generously baste squash with hoisin mixture. Sprinkle with salt. Broil until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Baste with any remaining hoisin mixture. Sprinkle with onions and sesame seeds.



Makes 24 bars


Sandwiched between the cookie crust and crumbly topping is a lemony poppy seed filling.


3/4 cup poppy seeds

1/2 cup blanched almonds (divided)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup 1 percent milk

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (yellow part only)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup firm butter (1 stick), plus 2 tablespoons (divided; see note)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In blender or food processor, grind poppy seeds and 1/4 cup almonds until powdery. Transfer to a 11/2- to 2-quart saucepan. Add granulated sugar, nutmeg, milk, lemon peel, lemon juice and the 2 tablespoons butter. Place over medium heat; cook, stirring often, until mixture boils and thickens about, 10 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.


In a blender or food processor, grind remaining 1/4 cup almonds to a fine powder.


In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and baking powder; mix thoroughly. Add ground almonds and stir until blended. Cut in the remaining 1/2 cup butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolk with vanilla. Add egg-vanilla mixture to flour-almond mixture and stir until just combined. Divide pastry into 2 equal parts. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Press half of crust mixture evenly and firmly over bottom of an ungreased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Spread poppy seed mixture evenly over crust. Sprinkle remaining crust mixture over filling in coarse crumbs.


Bake until topping is well-browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for about 20 minutes, then cut into 1-by-3-inch bars. Sift with powdered sugar. Remove cookies from pan when completely cool.




Serves 6


2 pounds butternut squash

3 large russet potatoes

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

About 2 cups whipping cream

4 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated


Preheat oven to 375.


Generously butter 9-by-12 gratin dish or baking dish.


Peel squash and trim top and bottom. Cut off seed-filled bottom, halve it and remove and discard seeds. Slice neck of squash into -inch-thick rounds and slice base into -inch-thick half-circles.


Peel potatoes and cut into -inch- thick slices. (A French or Japanese mandoline works well.) In small bowl, combine thyme, marjoram and sage.


Beginning with half-circles of squash (reserve the more attractive rounds for top layers), layer about a third of the squash slices in gratin dish. Sprinkle with some of the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Layer half the potato slices over squash layer. Sprinkle with some herbs and half the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.


Spread another third of the squash slices on potatoes. Sprinkle with some herbs and season with salt and pepper. Spread remaining potatoes in another layer over squash and sprinkle with some herbs and remaining garlic. Top with remaining squash and herbs, and season with salt and pepper.


While firmly pressing down on the squash and potatoes with large spoon or spatula, slowly pour cream over top and down sides of dish.


Add enough to just barely cover vegetables when pressed down. Too much cream will make it soupy; too little will make it dry.


Cover dish with foil and bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes.


Remove foil and sprinkle with Gruyere. Continue to bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, cream is nearly absorbed and top of gratin is lightly browned.


Let gratin rest for about 10 minutes to absorb all the cream before serving.



Serves 8-10

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 4 large)

3 medium-size fresh fennel bulbs with fronds, trimmed, cored, thinly sliced,

fronds reserved

2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

1 cup whipping cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Melt butter in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.


Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1/2 cup. Discard remaining fronds. Arrange half of fennel slices in single layer in baking dish; sprinkle with 1/4 cup fennel fronds, salt and pepper. Top with half of sliced potatoes in single layer. Arrange half of leek mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add half of grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers with remaining fennel slices, fronds, potatoes, leek mixture and cheese. Sprinkle gratin again generously with salt and pepper.


Bring stock and cream to boil in medium saucepan. Pour over gratin. Bake uncovered until vegetables are very tender, liquid is almost absorbed and top is deep golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes.


Note: Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover with aluminum foil and warm in 375-degree oven about 20 minutes.




4 eggs

1 3/4 cups sugar

2/3 cup olive oil

1 3/4 cups cooked pumpkin

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg and cloves, all ground

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a jelly-roll pan 151/2 inches by 101/2 inches by 1 inch.


Beat together the eggs and sugar until light and foamy. Add the oil and pumpkin and mix well. Set aside.


Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Quickly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, being sure not to overbeat the mixture.


Fold in the raisins and nuts and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.


Remove from the oven and cool the cake before slicing it into 2-by-11/2-inch bars.



Serves 8

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups pumpkin puree

8 egg yolks

8 teaspoons light brown sugar


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter 8 (6-ounce) custard cups, or hollow out 8 mini pumpkins. Place in baking dish.


In saucepan over low heat, combine milk, cream, sugar and spices until just warm, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour into large mixing bowl. Whisk in pumpkin puree. Whisk in egg yolks.


Pour custard into cups or pumpkin shells. Add enough boiling water to baking dish to come halfway up sides of cups or pumpkins. Bake 45-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of custard comes out clean. Remove custards from water bath, cool for 45 minutes to room temperature, then refrigerate until custards are firm and chilled, at least 2 hours.


Note: Crème brûlée can be made a day ahead. Store in refrigerator, covered.


When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Sprinkle surface of each crème brûlée evenly with 1 teaspoon light brown sugar and broil until sugar melts and becomes dark brown.




2 cups cooked pumpkin puree

1 cup bulgur wheat kernels, soaked for 10 minutes in boiling water, then drained

(couscous could be substituted)

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup water

Vegetable oil, for frying


Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor and pulse until they form a chunky dough that sticks together when squeezed.


If the mixture is too soft, add additional flour.


Form the dough into spheres the size of golf balls, then flatten into patties.


In a deep saucepan, pour enough oil so that it is at least 1 inch deep, and heat over a medium-high flame. To test the oil, touch the surface with a wooden chopstick. The oil should bubble or sizzle around it when ready.


One or two at a time, fry the patties until golden brown on both sides, about three to five minutes.


Drain on paper towels and keep warm until ready to serve.




1 Mrs. Smith's Hearty Pumpkin Pie, baked according to package directions and


4 cups heavy cream

9 large egg yolks

Zest of 1 orange

9 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Extra granulated sugar for topping


Bring cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together egg yolks, orange zest and sugar in mixing bowl. Pour the hot cream over the yolk mixture and whisk immediately. Add vanilla extract and continue to whisk without creating foam on top.


Scoop pumpkin pie -- crust and filling -- into bottom third of bake-proof dish or cup; ladle custard mixture on top. Bake in a water-bath for 30 to 35 minutes at 325 degrees.


Cool and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with granulated sugar and caramelize top by broiling just until sugar melts and turns brown.




Serves 12-16

1 1/2 cups finely crushed amaretti (see Note) or gingersnap cookies (about 7 oz 4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 (32-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

5 large eggs

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1 (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin (1 3/4 cups)

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan. Wrap outside bottom of pan tightly with aluminum foil.


In a small bowl, toss amaretti crumbs with melted butter. Press evenly into bottom and about 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake 10 minutes. Set aside on wire cake rack. Leave oven on.


Rub brown sugar through sieve to remove lumps; set aside. Rub ricotta cheese through sieve to lighten texture; set aside.


In large bowl, using electric mixer at high speed, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in cornstarch. Reduce speed to low. Add whole eggs one at a time. Beat in cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Add ricotta and beat just until smooth.


Pour 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture into medium bowl. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, egg yolk and spices. Beat on low until smooth.


Pour plain cheesecake batter into prepared pan. Top with large spoonfuls of pumpkin mixture. Using a table knife, swirl mixtures to get a marbled look.


Place foil-wrapped pan in a large roasting pan and put both oven. Add enough nearly boiling water to come 1/2 inch up sides of foil-wrapped pan. Bake until sharp knife inserted 1 inch from edge of cake comes out clean, about 1 3/4 hours. Center may seem slightly unset. Place cheesecake pan on wire rack; run a sharp knife around inside of pan to release cake from sides. Cool completely.


Remove foil from pan. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)


Remove sides of pan. Serve chilled, dipping a thin sharp knife into a tall glass of hot water before cutting each slice.


Note: Amaretti are crisp Italian almond cookies, often wrapped in pairs. They can be found in specialty food stores and some supermarkets.







Makes 1 1/3 cups

6 ounces dried tart or sweet cherries

1/2 cup Madeira wine

1/3 cup ( 2/3 stick) butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup (about half of a 3/4-pound can) vacuum-packed chestnuts, chopped

3/4 loaf day-old white or French bread, cut into chunks

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped

One 6-pound boneless, rolled turkey breast

Salt and ground black pepper

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

For gravy:

One 1.8-ounce package turkey gravy mix

1 cup water

1/4 cup Madeira wine


In a small bowl, combine cherries and 1/2 cup Madeira. Macerate 6 hours to overnight at room temperature.


In a skillet, melt 1/3 cup butter. Add onion and celery; cook until soft and translucent. Add the apple and chestnuts, cooking for a few minutes. Cool to room temperature.


Place bread in food processor and process to make 3 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs. Add parsley and sage and process to chop together. Place in large bowl. Add onion mixture and soaked cherries to the bread crumbs. Thoroughly mix.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut ties and lay out boneless turkey breast flat, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Pack stuffing on turkey in an even layer. Reroll and tie in four places with kitchen twine. Place in roasting pan and smear with 1/4 cup butter. Put turkey in oven, and immediately reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees. Let rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes before removing string and carving.


Prepare gravy by combining the mix, water and Madeira in a saucepan. Pour off juices from roasting pan into separate container. Discard fat that rises to top. Pour remaining juices into saucepan with gravy. Blend gravy with whisk and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When gravy boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook 2 minutes, until thickened. Serve immediately.



The savory flavors of Pine Nut-Rice Stuffing are a good foil for these delicate hens.


Pine Nut Rice Stuffing (recipe follows)

2 Rock Cornish game hens (1 to 11/2 pounds each)


4 slices uncooked bacon

Make stuffing; set aside.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pat game hens dry. Salt inside and out.


Truss birds: Fold wing tips back under upper part of wings and tie legs together with kitchen twine.


Lay 2 strips of bacon across breast of each bird. Set birds on rack in roasting pan; set pan on middle rack of oven. Roast for 30 minutes; discard bacon strips; baste birds with pan juices. Continue roasting until thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F and breast registers 170 degrees, about 15 minutes more. Baste again as birds are removed from oven.


Let birds stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pine Nut-Rice Stuffing

1 cup cooked white rice

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


In medium bowl, mix rice, onion and pine nuts. Moisten with chicken broth.


Spoon mixture into buttered baking dish; bake until center of stuffing registers 165 degrees F, about 30 minutes. Makes 11/2 cups.



Serves 4

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

Scant 1/2 cup light cream

Large pinch saffron threads

2 tablespoons boiling water

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for about 20 minutes or until tender.


Meanwhile, heat cream to simmering point in a small saucepan, then remove from heat. Place saffron in a small bowl with boiling water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.


When potatoes are cooked, drain well, return to pan and add cream, saffron water and olive oil. Mash together well with a potato masher or fork, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.



The chops should be at least an inch thick to accommodate the stuffing.


Sage Marinade (recipe follows)

Walnut-Cranberry Corn Bread Stuffing (see accompanying recipe)

6 pork chops, about 1 inch thick

4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

Make marinade and stuffing; set aside.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


Rub the marinade into the pork chops. Slash a horizontal pocket in pork chops, cutting through to the bone. Place about 3/4 cup stuffing in each pork chop cavity.


In a large skillet over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons oil; cook 2 or 3 chops at a time until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown second side for about 3 minutes. Remove and reserve. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and repeat with remaining chops.


Place pork chops in a small roasting pan and bake until center of meat registers 160 degrees F for medium or 170 degrees for well-done, and center of stuffing registers 165 degrees, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


Sage Marinade

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons dried sage

In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, garlic and sage. Makes about 1/4 cup


Makes 5 dozen

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla or rum extract

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped red and green candied cherries

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

3/4 cup flaked coconut


In a mixer bowl, cream together butter or margarine and sugar; blend in milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, candied cherries and nuts. Form into two rolls, each 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. Roll in coconut. Wrap and chill several hours or overnight. Slice 1/4 inch thick; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.



Flavorful stuffing enhances poultry



What started out as a practical and thrifty stretcher for often lean game meats is now a cornerstone of the lavish Thanksgiving feast. If you doubt the appeal of stuffing, just try leaving it off the menu some year.


Although commercial stuffing mixes abound on the supermarket shelf, a from-scratch stuffing has a much more fresh and complex flavor with less salt, less fat and no added sugar or corn syrup -- ingredients that ready-made mixes use to boost flavor in the absence of fresh onions, celery and stock.


Why is stuffed poultry so good? It's an exchange that works both ways: The stuffing enhances the flavor of the bird and absorbs the poultry's flavorful juices as it roasts.


Day-old breads are an excellent base for stuffings. Choose white, whole-wheat, multi-grain, French or focaccia yeast breads, or a baking powder corn bread. While whole-grain breads vary in density, the best stuffings are made with lighter textured breads. French bread, rather than sourdough, and challah (egg bread) are favorites. Savory artisan breads already contain onions and herbs, so all you need to do is moisten the crumbs with an egg or broth, and you have a ready-made stuffing.


Stuffing lovers swallowed hard a few years ago, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture advised not cooking stuffing inside birds anymore. Instead, the USDA suggests baking stuffing separately to avoid undercooking and other potentially harmful practices. With a food that is steeped in so much tradition, this announcement ruffled feathers in the kitchen.


``People are not going to stop stuffing turkeys during the holidays,'' said Rick Rodgers, author of ``Thanksgiving 101'' (Broadway Books, $15) as well as a cookbook devoted to stuffings. ``Just be sure to test the stuffing right out of the oven with an instant-read thermometer. The stuffing should register 165 degrees to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, just remove it . . . into a casserole, and bake or microwave until the safe temperature is reached.''


Confused about the difference between stuffing and dressing? I was, too. A stuffing is placed inside the cavity of a bird or rolled inside a flattened piece of meat or poultry, while a dressing is baked separately from the roasted meat and served as a side dish. When adapting stuffing recipes to be cooked outside the bird, remember to add about a half cup more broth to compensate for the lack of the rich meat juices while roasting.




Pie crust:

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (3/4 stick)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces

21/2 to 31/2 tablespoons ice water


Sour cream pumpkin filling:

1 8-ounce container sour cream (1 cup)

2 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 16-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 cup whipping cream

Finely slivered candied ginger, for garnish

Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

To make pie crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt; pulse to blend. Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour and pulse about 10 times, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 21/2 tablespoons ice water and pulse just until the dough comes together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more water if necessary.


Turn the dough out, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round. Fit it into a 9-inch pie plate and trim the edges, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the excess dough under itself and flute the edge to form a high, decorative rim. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.


Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.


Line the pie shell with foil and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for 8 to 10 minutes longer, until the pastry is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.


Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.


To make filling: In a small bowl, stir the sour cream briefly to loosen it; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until blended. With a wooden spoon, stir in both sugars, the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt until combined. Stir in the pumpkin, sour cream and whipping cream just until blended. Pour the filling into the pie shell.


Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is slightly puffed around the edges and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (If the pastry starts to brown too much, cover the edges with strips of foil.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve chilled.


To serve, arrange a small mound of candied ginger in the center of the pie. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with whipped cream.



The cuisines of both the Middle East and India share a love of spices and seasoned rice dishes, called pilaf in the Middle East and biryani in India. This recipe was developed in the Chicago Tribune test kitchen.


2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed, cut into 11/2-inch cubes

Salt, freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

11/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup golden raisins



2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3 cups long-grain or basmati rice

Salt, freshly ground pepper

5 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see note)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed, dried

Parsley sprigs (optional)


To make lamb: Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add lamb in batches; brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove lamb; set aside.


Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in cardamom, cumin and coriander; cook 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, scraping bottom of pan to dislodge brown bits. Return lamb to pan. Add raisins. Cook, covered, over low heat until lamb is tender, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. If too soupy, remove cover, turn heat to high to reduce liquid, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


To make pilaf: Melt butter with oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Stir in cardamom, cumin and coriander; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in rice; cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Pour broth into skillet; heat to boil. Reduce heat; cook, covered, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes with kitchen towel between pan and lid to absorb condensation. Stir in pine nuts with fork, fluffing rice while mixing.


Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Cook spinach until wilted but still glossy and green, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Place lamb with some of its liquid in center of large serving platter. Place spinach around lamb. Place rice around spinach. Garnish with parsley sprigs.


Note: To toast pine nuts, place in small dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking almost constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.




1 graham cracker piecrust

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

4 oz frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

1 pt fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

1 cup strawberry glaze


Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Add sour cream and vanilla. Fold in whipped topping.


Spread thin layer of glaze over bottom of crust. Place strawberry slices on glaze and cover with remaining glaze. Gently spoon cream cheese mixture over glazed berries.


Cover with inverted dome and chill until set; at least four hours. Store in fridge.




Serves 2

For pecan cornbread stuffing:

5 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 small white boiling onions, chopped

4 mushrooms, sliced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon crumbled dried marjoram

Large pinch of crumbled sage or poultry seasoning

1 1/4 cups crumbled day-old corn bread

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 Rock Cornish game hens (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

Salt to taste

For orange glaze:

1 cup orange marmalade

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Scotch whiskey


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a skillet, melt butter. Add onions, mushrooms and celery and cook until soft. Add parsley, herbs, corn bread and nuts. Add chicken broth and toss to evenly moisten, adding more corn bread if mixture is too moist.


Prepare game hens by washing them thoroughly with water. Dry them with a paper towel. Sprinkle cavities with salt. Place side by side in roasting pan. Stuff each hen with half of stuffing. Place pan in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, combine marmalade and liqueur in small saucepan and mix with fork. Heat to melt marmalade. Pour half the glaze over hens and return them to the oven. Roast 1 hour (total roasting time will be 1 1/2 hours), glazing the hens once more during that time. Serve immediately.



Serves 8

2 medium yellow onions, minced

4 stalks celery, chopped

3 tart apples, cored and chopped

1 1/2 sticks ( 3/4 cup) butter or margarine

1 small loaf of white, whole wheat or French bread, cubed to make 8 cups

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons Bell's Poultry Seasoning, to taste, or crumbled dried sage,

marjoram and thyme

2/3 cup golden raisins or dried cherries

1/4 to 1/2 cup canned chicken broth

2 firm-ripe pears, cored and sliced into rounds


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, sauté onions, celery and apples in the butter until soft. Add the bread cubes, salt, seasoning to taste, and raisins or cherries. Stir to combine. Add chicken broth to moisten.


Grease a 10 1/2-inch tin tart pan with removable bottom that is 2 inches deep, or a ceramic casserole. Pat in the stuffing. Arrange the pear slices in an overlapping pattern on top. Bake in center of oven until heated through and crusty on top, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately, cut into wedges.



Bread basics: Make stuffing from a fresh loaf, defrosted bread from the freezer (keep bags of bread cubes made from day-old bread in the freezer for easy access) or prepackaged dry bread cubes. Day-old bread is best, unless the recipe calls for fresh crumbs, in which case just grind fresh bread in the food processor. If you don't have day-old bread, cut fresh bread into 3/4-inch cubes (it's your choice whether to remove the crusts) and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 300-degree oven until crisp but not browned, about 10-20 minutes. If you are using stale bread, soak it in chicken broth or milk to soften.


Blend your own: I love Bell's brand poultry seasoning in the yellow box with the turkey on it. But you can mix up the same herbs at home: Combine the following in a mini-food processor, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a medium or fine powder: 1 teaspoon each dried crumbled sage, dried thyme, dried marjoram and crushed rosemary; 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper; 1/2 teaspoon celery salt. Store in an airtight container.


How much? You need about 1/2 cup of prepared stuffing per pound of poultry to fill the bird. A 12-pound turkey will take 5 to 6 cups; Cornish hens, about 1 cup; a large roasting chicken or capon, 2 to 3 cups. For serving sizes, figure on 3/4 to 1 cup of cooked stuffing per person.


Raw facts: Never use raw meat -- especially pork products, giblets or oysters -- in stuffing. Loose pork sausage or any type of raw sausage must be cooked first. The internal temperature will never get high enough to cook any of ingredients once they are inside the bird, so also sauté vegetables like onions and celery before combining with bread.


Size matters: Cut onions, nuts and fruits about the same size as the bread cubes. Adding Swiss chard or parsley lightens the texture of a stuffing.


Timing: Stuff fully thawed poultry immediately before roasting. Stuffing should be room temperature before being put into the bird. To prevent spoilage, never stuff a bird the night before. If you make the stuffing ahead, refrigerate it.


Use a light touch: Spoon in stuffing loosely, rather than packing it in, so it retains a nice texture after roasting and has room to expand as it heats. Any leftover stuffing mix can be baked separately in a buttered casserole. Moisten it with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of homemade or canned broth, white wine or water as a substitute for the roasting juices and bake at 350 degrees until it reaches 165 degrees when tested with an instant-read thermometer.


Afterward: Remove remaining stuffing from the bird and refrigerate separately in a covered container.



Makes 2 cups


2 cups water

2 cups walnut halves

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Vegetable oil


Granulated sugar

In deep saucepan, bring water to a full boil. Add walnuts; boil 1 minute. Rinse and drain. Toss walnuts with sugar.


In deep saucepan, heat 1/2 inch oil to 350 degrees F. Using slotted spoon, add half the walnuts to the oil. Cook about 5 minutes or until walnuts are golden, stirring constantly. Transfer to large, foil-lined shallow pan.


Sprinkle hot walnuts with salt to taste and additional sugar, if desired.


Separate pieces; cool. Repeat with remaining walnuts. Package in airtight containers to give as gifts.


Serve as is, or toss into salads, or into stir-fries that have a sweet-sour sauce.



Serves 10-12

1 10- to 12-pound fresh or thawed frozen turkey

About 1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into quarters

1 small onion, peeled and cut into quarters

1 branch fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon of fresh (not chopped) rosemary leaves, divided use

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves

2 garlic cloves

1 cup white wine, apple juice or cider or pineapple juice

Soaked wood chunks


Remove giblets from turkey and reserve for another use. Rinse turkey with cold water and sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff apple, onion, rosemary branch, sage leaves and garlic into cavity of turkey. Let stand at room temperature while lighting fire in your smoker, according to manufacturer's directions, using one level pan full of coal.


When coals are ready, add 2 to 3 sticks, chunks or handfuls of apple, pecan, mesquite or other tree woods that have been soaked in water. Put water pan in place and fill with 5 quarts hot water. Add wine and rosemary leaves to water.


Put turkey on cooking grid over water pan. Cover and smoke-cook about 6 hours or until leg moves easily in socket. Check water pan after 3 to 4 hours and add more hot water as needed. Reserve and strain juices from water pan to thicken for gravy, if you wish.




2 teaspoons unsalted butter plus 1/2 cup, at room temperature (1 stick, no substitutes;


10 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed into crumbs

13/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup sour cream

Powdered sugar


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch tube pan with 2 teaspoons of the butter; dust with cookie crumbs. Set aside.


Combine flour and baking soda in small bowl; set aside.


Cream remaining 1 stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy in bowl of electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes total. Beat in cardamom and cinnamon. Add flour; beat until just combined. Add sour cream; beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter into pan.


Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack; cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Adapted from "The Great Scandinavian Baking Book"




1 1/4 cups onion, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 3/4 cups fennel heart, chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

3 1/2 cups sweet potato, cut into small chunks, not peeled

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3 or 4 cups vegetable stock or water

1 or 2 tablespoons cider vinegar Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large stock pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil over a medium flame until the edges of the onions begin to turn translucent, about five minutes.


Add the fennel and garlic and sauté for about an additional seven minutes.


Add the potato and cumin and stir well to combine. Sauté for an additional two or three minutes, then add water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are soft and easy pierced with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.


Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth.


Season to taste with cider vinegar, salt and pepper.


Additional water or stock can be added if a thinner consistency is desired.



Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced

5 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine

4-6 slices bacon

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon white pepper


Chopped parsley, to garnish


Heat butter or margarine in a skillet and cook onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf over low heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.


Transfer mixture to a saucepan. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, stock, water and white wine. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. Remove bay leaf.


Heat bacon in skillet over gentle heat until fat renders, then raise heat and fry over a moderate heat until very crisp. Using tongs, transfer bacon onto paper towels and drain.


In a blender or food processor, carefully blend soup mixture in batches until smooth and transfer to a clean saucepan. Add nutmeg, white pepper and salt to taste. Place pot over moderate heat, stirring until soup is hot.


Serve soup in warmed bowls. Cut each bacon slice into 2-3 pieces and divide among bowls.



4 Slices turkey breast meat about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick (about 12 ounces)


2 - 3 tsp flour

1 tbsp Butter

1/4 cup Dry Madeira or Marsala

3/4 cup Chicken broth



1 tbsp Butter

1 Large shallot, minced

1 Clove garlic, minced

1/4 lb Mild pork sausage/grnd pork

1/4 tsp Crushed, dry sage

1/4 tsp Crushed, dry red pepper flks

1/4 tsp Crushed, dry thyme

2 Slices day-old bread

Salt, pepper to taste

Place turkey slices between 2 sheets wax paper and pound to 1/4 to 1/6-inch thickness. Working with 1 turkey slice at a time, mound 1/4 stuffing into center of each slice and roll up, or if not possible, bring ends of slice to center. Close turkey slices with wood picks.

Place flour on plate. Lightly dust turkey rolls with flour. Melt butter in large skillet. Add turkey rolls, open ends up and brown turkey on all sides, about 5 minutes (some stuffing may spill out).

Remove turkey from skillet. Add Madeira and cook over medium heat, scraping up browned pieces from skillet. Add chicken broth. Return turkey rolls to pan. Cover skillet and cook over low heat until turkey is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Serve turkey with gravy and any stuffing in skillet. Yield: 4 servings.

Stuffing: Heat butter in large skillet. Add shallot and garlic and saute over low heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, breaking up with fork, and cook until browned. Do not drain fat.

Add sage, red pepper flakes, and thyme. Crumble bread and add to mixture.

Cook over low heat 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt

and pepper.



Serves 4


3/4 cup leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half, cleaned and thinly sliced

3/4 pound russet potatoes (1 med, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced

1 pound waxy potatoes, such as new potatoes or fingerlings, scrubbed (or peeled if

desired) and thinly sliced

5 cups vegetable stock or water

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup low-fat milk (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or chervil


Combine leeks, potatoes and stock in pot, and bring to boil. Add salt (11/2 teaspoons to start), reduce heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes, until waxy potatoes are tender and russets are falling apart.


Using back of spoon or potato masher, mash some of the potatoes to thicken soup. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Stir in milk and heat through. Garnish each bowl with fresh tarragon or chervil.



This recipe makes enough for 6 pork chops (see accompanying recipe for Sage-Marinated Stuffed Pork Chops) or a 5-pound chicken. For a seafood variation, add 3 ounces chopped fresh oysters to the mixture before baking it. For a vegan version, substitute olive oil for the butter and water or vegetable stock for the broth.


4 tablespoons butter

1 small carrot, minced

1 small rib celery, minced

1 small onion, minced

21/4 cups (approximately) lightly crumbled corn bread

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup toasted walnuts (see note)

11/2 cups hot turkey broth or water

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter; add carrot, celery and onion; saute until softened, about 10 minutes.


In a large bowl, toss corn bread with cooked vegetables; add parsley, sage, salt and pepper. Add cranberries, walnuts and broth; mix well.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dressing in a 2-quart casserole; cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake until center of stuffing registers 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer, about 30 minutes.


Note: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them.




3 pounds boiling potatoes (roughly 5 large Yukon Gold), peeled and quartered

1 tablespoon wasabi powder (pungent green Japanese condiment)

1 tablespoon water

2/3 cup milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt


Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, combine the wasabi and water in a small bowl and let sit for 15 minutes to develop flavor.


Drain the potatoes in a colander.


Gently heat the milk for one to two minutes in the stock pot over a low flame. Add the potatoes and use an electric hand mixer to whip the potatoes until smooth.


Add more milk if potatoes are too thick.


Stir in the butter and salt. Stir in the wasabi just before serving.



For crust:

2 2/3 cups flour

Dash of salt

1 cup butter-flavored Crisco

Approximately 6 tablespoons cold water

For filling:

Dash of salt

2/3 cup flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

6-7 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced



For crust: Combine flour and salt. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut shortening into mixture until well-incorporated. Add water, a tablespoon at a time (while still cutting into the mixture) until dough cleanly separates from sides of bowl. Divide dough in half. Roll half of dough out on a pastry cloth, then transfer to bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Save other half for top crust.


For filling: Combine all filling ingredients -- except apples and butter -- and mix. Add apples, mix well. Place into pie shell and dot generously with pieces of butter.


Roll out remaining dough, transfer to top of pie, close and crimp edges. Slit crust to vent, and brush top with milk. Cover edge of crust with aluminum foil (do not remove until done baking). Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until juice bubbles over the top.



Makes 1 cup


This is very thick, coal black, as shiny as wet tar and not too sweet. It will turn chewy and even thicker when it is served over cold ice cream -- great! It may be served hot or warm, but at room temperature or chilled it will be too thick. It may be refrigerated for a week or two before serving.


1/2 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (see note)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (it must be Dutch-process to have

the right color and flavor)


Place the cream and butter in a heavy 1-quart saucepan over moderate heat. Stir until the butter is melted and the cream just comes to a low boil. Add the granulated and dark brown sugars, and stir for a few minutes until they are dissolved. (The surest test is to taste; cook and taste until you do not feel any undissolved crystals in your mouth.)


Reduce the heat. Add the salt and cocoa and stir briskly with a small wire whisk until smooth. (If the sauce is not smooth -- if there are any small lumps of undissolved cocoa -- press against them, and stir well, with a rubber spatula.) Remove from the heat.


Serve immediately or reheat slowly, stirring frequently, in the top of a double boiler over hot water, or in a heavy saucepan over the lowest heat.


This should be thick, but if it is reheated it may be too thick. If so, stir in a bit of hot water, adding very little at a time.




Note: If you plan to store the sauce in the refrigerator or give it as a gift, use a straight-sided glass jar or any covered container that flares out at the top so the sauce can be spooned out of the jar. However, it is best to place the jar in hot water until the block of sauce melts on the outside and can be poured out of the jar. Then place the sauce in the top of a small double boiler over hot water or in a small heavy saucepan over the lowest heat. With a wooden spatula cut the sauce into pieces as you stir until completely melted.


From "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts"




1 baked pastry shell


1 envelope Knox gelatin

1/4 cup cold water


Pumpkin mixture:


2 eggs yolks (reserve whites, see below)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups pumpkin, canned

1 1/2 teaspoons cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Egg white mixture:

2 egg whites (from above)

1/2 cup white sugar

Dash of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla.


Mix gelatin and cold water and set aside.


Stir pumpkin mixture with wire whisk. Cook in double boiler or iron skillet about half an hour. Add gelatin; stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.


Beat egg whites until stiff and add sugar, salt and vanilla. Fold into cold pumpkin mixture.


Pour mixture into baked pastry shell and garnish with walnut halves. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.



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