Short Order: Are we getting our just desserts?

I'd like to see a few superior chocolate cakes made with real chocolate and petits fours such as they serve at classy weddings.

Two days at the Dead Sea last week for the Fourth Sam Orbaum Memorial Scrabble Tournament offered the usual happy mix of camaraderie and healthy competition, and - for those who toil regularly in the kitchen - the relaxation and relief of eating food they didn't buy, scrub, peel, chop or cook. That's joy enough. But human nature being what it is, one must complain about something; and I do. "Dessert" is a seven-letter word, or bingo. But the desserts at our hotel didn't score too high, being for the most part a series of cakes filled with fake cream in different colors. Can't a five-star establishment do better, the demands of kashrut notwithstanding? I'd like to see a few superior chocolate cakes made with real chocolate, petits fours such as they serve at classy weddings and more fresh fruit, perhaps even a fruit salad. And why not some after-dinner mints? What I'd really like is chocolate mousse - but I understand the problem with raw eggs. However, ditch that artificial cream! ON OUR second evening, I loved a full-bodied and flavorsome soup. It reminded me of something a friend makes, so I asked her for the recipe. IDEAL SOUP FOR KUBBEH a little oil 1 onion 1 small turnip (lefet) 1 carrot 1 zucchini 1 stalk celery 3 big leaves Swiss chard (mangold) 1 cup pumpkin 1 860-gr. can crushed tomatoes 1 Tbsp. hawa'ej (Yemenite spice) salt and black pepper to taste chili powder or Tabasco to taste half a cup fresh coriander, chopped 1 flat tsp. sugar (optional) 1 cup canned chickpeas or cooked beans Chop the vegetables. Saute the onion until golden, then add everything else. Pour in seven cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. (Optional) Kubbehs may be added at the end after being cooked in water. Don't keep them in the soup overlong, otherwise they will absorb the liquid. AS I SAT down in a Jerusalem eatery for coffee and a chat with Suzy Goldstein, with whom I go way back to a shared childhood in Northwest London, she cried: "Have I got a recipe for you!" SHARON'S CHICKEN 2 sweet potatoes 1 whole chicken 1 onion, sliced 1 Golden Delicious apple, sliced 2 Tbsp. apricot jam Scrub the potatoes well and and cut them up into eighths, in their skins. Put them in a casserole dish. Add the onion. Place the chicken on top. Roast for 40 minutes, uncovered, in a 220 oven. Arrange the apple around the chicken and roast for 15 minutes more. Finally, spread the jam over the chicken and roast for a further 15 minutes. I'M NOT a great advocate of foods in cans, but canned tomatoes are good in so many dishes. Here's a quick and easy one with Indian overtones that I tasted at a neighbor's wonderful Shabbat lunch. CHICKEN WITH TOMATOES AND GARAM MASALA 1 chicken, skinned and portioned 1 onion, chopped a little oil 6 cloves garlic, crushed 3 cm. fresh ginger, or 1 heaped tsp. powdered 1 860-gr. can crushed tomatoes 1 heaped tsp. garam masala (a blend of Indian spices) Saute the onion until golden, Add everything else, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for about one hour, or until the chicken is cooked. Excellent with basmati rice. MY COLUMN on quinoa caused a bit of a stir (pun intended). Following a query from a reader whose granddaughter has celiac disease, I consulted Gila Goldberg, who today is a radiant version of her former self, which suffered from celiac for years without knowing it. She assured me that quinoa is gluten-free. Among the quinoa feedback I received came this creative alternative to muesli, from a friend who put it together out of a few different versions on the Internet. Store it in a covered bowl in the fridge for up to a week and eat as is, or with yogurt. QUEUSLI 2 cups apple juice 2 cups water 2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained small handful dried apricots small handful raisins 1 apple, chopped 2 tsp. vanilla essence 1 tsp. cinnamon sweetened pecans or other nuts to taste Bring the apple juice and water to a boil. Add the quinoa, dried fruit and apple. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and nuts. Leave on the heat for another minute or two, and taste. Sweeten if necessary. Then add the vanilla, cinnamon and nuts. Leave for another minute or two, then taste. [email protected]