The Shabbat Table – Cooking for Friends

Tiramisu (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! If you’re planning on cooking for friends over the upcoming winter break, you’ll love these scrumptious sweets I’ve chosen from David Wood’s new cookbook, Cooking for Friends (Whitecap).

Cooking For Friends by David Wood (Whitecap)

David Wood is a market vendor, farmer, cheesemaker, and foodie extraordinaire. He was born in Scotland, educated in England, and was well-known for the three specialty food stores he founded in Toronto from 1984-90. He later relocated to British Columbia where he started his Salt Spring Island Cheese Company.

David was a revolutionary icon in Toronto’s food scene in the 1980’s, known for his prestigious mid-town Toronto food shop where he and his talented staff created prepared top-quality homestyle meals for busy families. His first book, The David Wood Food Book, is a treasured collectible cookbook on my book shelves, and I loved to visit his shop and see what he was cooking up.

Cooking for Friends is not a kosher cookbook but many of David Wood’s recipes are easily adaptable for the kosher kitchen. Recipes include: Halibut with Asparagus and Lemon Risotto, Rotisserie Chicken with Roasted Vegetables, Lamb Shanks with Figs, Red Wine, and Quince, Barbecued Ratatouille, and a large frying pan-size Potato Pancake that is served in wedges, like a cake. His Perfect Roast Potatoes are crisp, slightly crunchy, salty, and tender on the inside—a perfect accompaniment to his Prime Rib of Beef which is roasted for a long time at a low temperature, resulting in a roast that is evenly cooked from one end to the other.

Apple Pie Muffins (below) are the kind of baked goods that beckon to us from the display cases of every coffee shop in the country. They are popular not just with customers, but with café owners too, as they are easy to make and the ingredients are readily available and inexpensive—all good reasons to make them yourself at home.

Decadent desserts include Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie, Death by Chocolate, Crème Brulee, Poached Pears with Caramel Ginger Sauce, Tiramisu (below), and Pavlova (below). David Wood shows us how fresh, every day ingredients can be elevated with proper care and attention to detail.

Cooking food for friends provides us with the pleasure of sharing interesting tastes and textures, as well as the opportunity to show our friends how grateful we are for their friendship. It encourages us to tap into our creative abilities, allowing us to participate in magically transforming ordinary ingredients into a delicious experience. Enjoy!



“The first tiramisu I ever saw was when we hired Daphna Rabinovitch as our pastry chef at the Yonge Street (at the time, the only) shop. She had just returned from Italy, where she had been shown how to make it, entirely in sign language, by an older Italian lady. It was not long before it had become a staple at the shop and of our catering menus. Nowadays, tiramisu is pretty much everywhere, and deservedly so. It looks best in a straight-sided glass bowl, but the taste is the same, regardless of the dish.”

Serves 10


5 large egg yolks (reserve the whites)

5 Tbsp (75 g) granulated sugar, divided

18 oz (500 g) Mascarpone

5 Tbsp (75 ml) dark rum

5 egg whites

2 Tbsp (30 g) granulated sugar

30 Italian ladyfinger biscuits (approx.)

1 to 1 1⁄2 cups (250 to 360 ml) strong black coffee

3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder


In a stand mixer (or by hand) whisk the egg yolks and 5 Tbsp (75 g) sugar together until pale yellow and quite thick. Stir in the mascarpone and the rum and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks, adding 2 Tbsp (30 g) sugar halfway through. Stir a third of the whites into the mascarpone mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest; set aside.

Place about a third of the ladyfingers in a shallow dish. Brush them with coffee, enough to colour and soften but not soak them, then arrange them in a single layer on the bottom of the serving dish. Spread a third of the mascarpone on top. Scoop about half of the cocoa powder into a fine sieve and sift it over the mascarpone until covered in chocolate. Repeat the process with 2 more layers of coffee-infused ladyfingers, mascarpone, and chocolate, finishing with chocolate.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.




Muffins are among the simplest of baked goods. All it takes is two bowls, one for the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, sour cream, etc.), the other for the dry (flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. Whisk up the ingredients in each bowl, add the dry to the wet, add some fruit, scoop into a muffin tin, and bake.

 This was our all-time most popular muffin, and it is easy to taste why. The streusel topping makes a more interesting muffin with little extra work.

Makes about 15 muffins


2 cups (480 ml) brown sugar, divided

2 1⁄2 cups + 6 Tbsp (690 ml) all-purpose flour, divided

1/4 cup (60 ml) melted butter

1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon

1 large egg

2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract

1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk (or milk mixed with 2 Tbsp [30 ml] plain yogurt, to make 1 cup [250 ml] total)

1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda

1⁄2 tsp (2 ml) salt

2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1⁄2-inch (13 mm) chunks (about 2 cups [480 ml] total)


Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

Prepare the streusel topping by mixing together 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar, 6 Tbsp (90 ml) flour, the melted butter, and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the egg, vegetable oil, vanilla, the remaining 1 1⁄2 cups (360 ml) brown sugar, and the buttermilk. Set aside.

In a second bowl, mix together the remaining 2 1⁄2 cups (600 ml) flour with the baking soda and salt. Pour these dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently mix; fold in the diced apple.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, divide the streusel topping between them, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the tops spring back when pressed.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly before turning out.



“This is a great dessert for a party—it looks fantastic, is completely delicious, and despite the mountain of cream, it is light and fresh. It is as popular as chocolate, and makes a great birthday cake, too.

 On the underside of the world, Australia and New Zealand have a fierce debate over which country deserves the credit for this dessert. The Aussies believe a chef in Perth, inspired by Anna Pavlova’s performance in Swan Lake, recreated the dying swan’s cloud of white feathers out of meringue, white sugar, and cream. Maybe not, say the Kiwis, backed up by the OED, which recently awarded them the credit. It turns out neither of them is right—‘pavlova’ is the prosaic evolution (in England, or perhaps America) of an old German torte; sometimes fiction is much more interesting than the truth.

 The cream of tartar, vinegar, and cornstarch in the egg whites makes a softer and chewier meringue than the crunchy French one.”

 Serves 6 to 8


4 egg whites

1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt

1/4 tsp (1 ml) cream of tartar

1 cup minus 1 Tbsp (235 ml) granulated sugar

1 Tbsp (15 ml) cornstarch

1 tsp (5 ml) white wine vinegar 1⁄2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract

3 cups (720 ml) fresh fruit (a mix of berries and tropical fruit—kiwi, pineapple, star fruit, mango, passion fruit), in chunks

1 1⁄2 cups (360 ml) whipping cream


Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C).

Line a large flat baking sheet, at least 12 inches (30 cm) squared, with parchment paper. Use a cake pan, bowl, or plate as a guide to draw a circle approx. 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter.

In a stand mixer (or by hand) beat together the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to medium peaks. Continue whisking until thick and glossy, adding the granulated sugar 2 Tbsp (30 ml) at a time. Stir in the cornstarch, white wine vinegar, and vanilla extract.

Scoop the meringue onto the parchment paper inside the pencilled circle, mounding it up in the centre.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1⁄2 to 2 hours, until very lightly browned, crisp on the outside, and still soft in the centre. Check after an hour, and if it is already starting to brown, turn the temperature down to 225°F (110°C).

When done, remove from the oven and cool completely. It may collapse in the centre as it cools, which is normal.

Cut the fruit in bite-size pieces and set aside.

When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks. Spread half the fruit over the meringue, cover with the cream, and finish with the remaining fruit.