This week’s column is dedicated to Beau Wiriker from Boston, and Bryan Nadeau, from Bangor area, who are, along with their band members, planning a fundraiser in Belfast, Jan. 7, 2012, to benefit my nephew, Don Heald III, a Lincolnville band member. This is friendship in the highest form.

Apple-Pear Strudel

1 pound each apples and pears, peeled, cored and diced

1/3 cup each golden raisins and packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 package (17.3 ounce) puff pastry dough, thawed

1 egg lightly beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In skillet over medium-high heat, cook first six ingredients 8 minutes or until fruit is tender and juices thicken. Add lemon juice. Let cool. On flowered surface, roll out each pastry sheet to 10 by 13. Divide fruit mixture evenly between sheets, spreading length wise down center. fold dough over filling, tucking in ends and rolling to secure; transfer to greased baking sheet. Brush tops with egg. Bake 25 minutes or until golden.

Crispy Golden Veggie Gratin

8 cups broccoli and/or cauliflower

1 cup each, sliced onions and fennel

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, toasted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan of boiling salted water, cook broccoli and cauliflower 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. In skillet over medium heat, cook onions and fennel in butter 4 minutes. Add flour. Whisk in milk and reserved liquid. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese, lemon juice and vegetables. Spoon mixture into greased 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes.

Mocha Chocolate Cookies

12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chops, divided

2 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 teaspoons boiling water

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave for 30 seconds to one minute, until melted. Stir until smooth; cool to room temperature. In a small cup, dissolve instant coffee in boiling water; set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large bowl combine butter, sugars and coffee mixture; beat until creamy. Add egg and melted chocolate; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from baking sheets.

Our thought for the week: ” Please have a happy and healthy 2012.”