Thursday, December 29, 2005


"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first"- attributed to Ernestine Ulmer, who, as far as I can tell, never did anything else except utter this oft-repeated phrase; so it is likely she never really existed.

Nevertheless, as 2005 draws to a close, this post is the grand finale of Dr. Sanity's "DESSERT TRILOGY"--which began with WMD and Death-By-Chocolate Cake; and continued with Axis of Evil Fruitcake .

Inspired by this story in the news (OK, I'm a few days too late; but the court was 25 years late), for the New Year, I am going to share with you in time for the New Year my family's three most favorite desserts!

Since justice is finally being done at home and abroad, I shall henceforth refer to these three exquisite examples of equity, fairness and just plain goodness--as the "Just Desserts". Enjoy and Happy New Year!

The Boo's Bread Pudding

5-6 C day old Challah bread cubes
4 C scalded milk
1/2 C butter, melted and cooled
1 C sugar
1/2 t salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 C raisins

Lemon Sauce
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 T cornstarch
1 C hot water
3 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x11 inch casserole with nonstick spray. In a large bowl combine bread cubes, 1 C sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in raisins. In another bowl, blend milk, melted butter, and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix together without turning bread mixture into mush. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Place casserole dish into a larger baking pan. Pour hot water into baking pan about 1/2 up the side of the casserole dish, creating a water bath. Bake for 45- 50 minutes. Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 C sugar, cornstarch, hot water, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cook on medium heat until bubbling and thickened. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. Serve with bread pudding.

Norman's Ricotta Cheese Pie

use 9 in. round layer cake pan. Sift together in a bowl:
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
1 C shortening (cut in with pastry blender until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle gradually over mixture, 1 t at a time
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1-2 Tbs cold water

Mix lightly with fork after each addition. Add only enough water to hold dough together. Mix until egg is thoroughly combined and blended.

3 C ( 1 1/2 lbs) Ricotta cheese
1/4 C flour
2 T grated orange peel
2 T grated lemon peel
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t salt

Beat until foamy 4 eggs; add gradually 1 C sugar. Stir beaten eggs into Ricotta mix until blended and smooth. May add: 1 t cinnamon; 1/2 t cloves; 1/4 t nutmeg; or chopped walnuts. Pour into pastry. Bake at 350 degrees about 50-60 minutes (until pastry is golden brown). Cool on rack.

Pat's Apple Crunch Pie

Crumb Topping:
½ C plus 2 T flour
½ C packed light brown sugar
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 C) cold butter, cut in small pieces

7 medium to large tart apples (about 3 ¼ lb., such as Granny Smith, Pippins or Greenings)
1 T lemon juice
½ C granulated sugar
3 T flour
½ t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Have ready a 9 inch pie plate and a cookie sheet. Place oven rack in lowest position in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line pie plate with pie crust. Flute or crimp edge. Crumb topping: Mix flour, sugars and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture forms moist coarse crumbs that clump together easily. Filling: Peel, half and core apples. Cut in 1/8 inch thick slices by hand. Put into a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice to coat. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over apple slices; toss to coat. Layer apple slices in pie shell, mounding them higher in the center. Pat topping evenly over apples to form a top crust. Place pie on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes longer or until a skewer meets some resistance when center of pie is pierced (apples will continue to cook after pie is removed from oven) and topping is golden brown. If topping is browning too quickly, drape a piece of foil over pie. Cool pie completely on wire rack before serving.

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