Needing Dough?

Heavenly home baked cookies; Holiday helpings; Brazilian heat.

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The Madrigal Dinners November 10-12, 17, and 18

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If heaven has an aroma, betcha it's a lot like freshly baked cookies. Yeah, yeah, we know: Who has the time to stir up a batch of sugar cookies nowadays? Well, for one, Donna Hann, chef-proprietor of the Culinary Artist Catering. The Artist has formed a sisterly partnership with Donna Chriszt (now ensconced in the kitchen of her new OZ bar and bistro in Tremont) and has begun operating largely out of Chriszt's space at 2391 West 11th Street. Among the magic coming out of Hann's mixing bowls are big batches of ready-to-bake cookie dough, along with -- ta-da! -- instructions on how to prepare them (in case you were asleep when Mom tried to teach you how to bake). Choices include a chewy triple-threat ginger cookie with crystallized ginger, ginger root, and ground ginger; an oatmeal chocolate-chip cookie with dried cherries; a crisp, refined lavender-rosemary-honey cookie; and a white chocolate/macadamia nut number. The dough will cost you $8 to $15 per pound, with each pound good for about a dozen cookies. To order, call 216-241-4842; a three-day notice is appreciated. By the way, Hann is still accepting bookings for holiday parties -- anything from lighthearted cocktail parties at home or in the office to elegant multicourse dinners.

Dish it out . . .The food pantry is full at the Lakewood Charitable Assistance Corporation, but staffers at the nonprofit organization need help packing and delivering food bags to local needy residents for the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving goodies for about 300 families have to be processed on Friday, November 17, and Saturday, November 18; then the whole process repeats itself on December 15 and 16 for Christmas. Even an hour's help with the sorting, packing, and delivery would be appreciated, says LCAC President David Rothhaas, who also wisely notes that this presents a primo opportunity for families and social groups to help the less fortunate within their own community. The labors of love will be performed at the Lakewood Masonic Temple, 15300 Detroit Avenue; friendly veteran volunteers and board members will be standing by to show first-timers the ropes. To make your own grand gesture, contact Rothhaas at 216-529-7022 or Larry Baldanza at 440-891-8939.

It's springtime in Brazil . . . a fact that may be of some comfort to Northeast Ohioans as we lurch, coughing and sneezing, toward the dark door of winter: When these short days and endless nights become too much to bear, catch a little ray of sunshine at Sergio's (1903 Ford Drive; 216-231-1234), Sergio Abramof's intimate Brazilian-influenced restaurant near University Circle. Starting this week, guitarist Michael Maderen, from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and vocalist Fernanda, a native of Rio de Janeiro, will serenade diners every Monday and Wednesday, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with spicy compositions from well-known Brazilian songwriters. To go with the hot licks, the menu offers a number of traditional South American dishes, including Shrimp Baiana, a sweet-and-spicy dish seasoned with coconut milk and malaguetta pepper; and Brazilian-style beef, served with black beans, rice, and farofa (a roasted and grated root prized for its crunchy texture). To drink, there's caipirinha, Brazil's national libation, made with cane-sugar liquor and crushed limes. Sounds like a good way to turn up the heat.

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