Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Cream is a delicious seasonal offering that can be served for brunch or dessert. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

These two recipes are lovely cooking projects for a chilly, late-fall day. Braising the short ribs for this hearty shepherd’s pie takes a few hours, but this main dish is also perfect for preparing in advance or taking it in steps. You can roast the ribs a day, shred the meat and place it in the baking dish(es). Simply top with the mashed potatoes just before baking. A green salad is all you need to serve alongside.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at iwrite33@comcast.net.

For dessert, this pumpkin and spice bread pudding is one of the coziest treats I know. Topped with the maple cream sauce, it’s perfect. It also makes a fabulous addition to brunch!

Short Rib Shepherd’s Pie

4 beef short ribs (each 2 1/4-2 1/2 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
3 1/2 cups dry red wine
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups beef stock, plus 1 or 2 cups more, if needed
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk, beaten

Season ribs with salt and pepper and refrigerate, covered, for at least six hours, up to overnight. Bring to room temperature and season again with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm olive oil until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, sear the ribs, turning as needed, until well-browned all over. Pour off all but two tablespoons of fat and turn down to medium heat. Remove ribs to a platter and set aside.

Add vegetables to the Dutch oven and sauté until beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add wine and herbs, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil until wine is reduced by half, 3-5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, then return the ribs to the pot. The ribs should be just covered with liquid; add more stock if needed.


Cover the pot tightly and transfer to the oven. Add stock as needed to maintain the liquid level and braise until a fork slides easily through the meat, about 2 1/2 hours.

Skim off any fat from the surface and let the ribs cool in the liquid until they are easy to handle. Remove ribs from the pot and pull meat from the bones. Using two forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot, discarding the bones and any excess fat.

While the ribs are cooling, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water in a saucepan until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then mash them in the pan or use a ricer.

In a separate small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave, heat milk and butter together until the butter melts and the mixture is steaming. Pour milk mixture into potatoes, add the egg yolk and fold to mix well. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Transfer the contents of the Dutch oven to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or divide among individual gratin dishes. Cover the top(s) evenly with mashed potatoes and dot with butter. Bake until potato topping is golden, 35-40 minutes. Yield: 6-8 servings

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 large croissants, cut in half lengthwise
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with softened butter.


Arrange croissant slices in the prepared baking dish and place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. While the croissants are crisping in the oven, whisk together pumpkin puree, milk, heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and spices until smooth.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the pumpkin mixture evenly over the croissants, pushing the croissants down into the puree mixture so they are covered.

Place the bread pudding in the oven and bake until set, about 40 minutes.

When the bread pudding comes out of the oven, spoon into individual dishes and pour warm sauce over the top. Yield: 8 servings

Maple Cream Sauce

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter

Heat maple syrup and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Stir in heavy cream and cook until sauce has thickened and reduced, about 20 minutes.

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