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Family’s Choices: For Gala Mother’s Day Dinner Party

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In anticipation of Mother’s Day I polled the family on what they would enjoy at a celebration lunch.

Simon, a sophomore in high school, piped up at once asking for squid--"kind of Italian, you know, with olive oil and lemon juice.” Simon once made the pages of the New Yorker magazine as part of a juvenile team inspecting hamburger joints on the Champs Elysees in Paris, so his opinions are respected.

Luckily, his request was easy to fill with a salad of squid and shrimp cooked in a spicy court bouillon, then tossed while still warm with vinaigrette dressing. The pink shrimp and convoluted shapes of squid are decoration in themselves, but you can add a garnish of carved lemons, if desired.

Simon’s sister Emma, younger by two years, is more conservative. She asked for pasta with a new style addition of goat cheese and chives. It took a little experiment to achieve just the right balance of goat cheese and cream, melted to a piquant sauce with hot noodles, but the results are distinguished. An elegant and remarkably quick dish to open a menu.

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A Sunday Favorite

As for myself, I had no hesitation in choosing the very best American Roast Beef to be served with Yorkshire Pudding, my Sunday favorite when I was a child. The current trend toward lean meat is not for me--good beef should be marbled with fat, seared crisp on the outside and juicily tender within. The best cuts are rib or sirloin, left on the bone so the meat cooks evenly with a minimum of shrinkage.

For those of you who have not yet encountered a good Yorkshire Pudding, imagine a fluffy popover cooked in juices from the roasting pan. Keys to success are letting the batter stand before cooking, heating the fat before adding the batter, then baking in a very hot oven. Yorkshire puddings can be kept waiting, but they tend to dry out, so I like to cook them quickly after removing the meat, while making thickened gravy.

For dessert, fresh raspberries were my husband’s pick, but I protested against such plain fare. So we added creme brulee, a specialty of the Oxford College where he spent three years. Creme brulee consists of a rich egg custard topped with sugar that is broiled until it melts and caramelizes, setting to a crisp topping.

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MOTHER’S DAY LUNCH FOR 8

Squid and Shrimp Salad With Walnuts

Fettuccine With Goat Cheese and Chives

Roast Beef

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Yorkshire Pudding

Raspberry Creme Brulee

Suggested wines: white Italian Orvieto or domestic Zinfandel with fish, then a red Chianti Classico or a domestic Cabernet Sauvignon

Make squid and shrimp salad, then refrigerate. Bake creme brulee, then refrigerate. Chill white wine.

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About 2 hours before serving, heat broiler. Broil topping on creme brulee.

About two hours before serving, heat oven to 450 degrees and start roasting beef, then lower heat to 375 degrees. Make Yorkshire Pudding batter. Set the table.

About 20 minutes before serving, add walnuts and parsley to salad. Cook fettuccine, then keep in warm water. Remove beef and keep warm. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake Yorkshire Pudding. Make gravy.

After serving salad, drain noodles. Make goat cheese sauce.

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SQUID AND SHRIMP SALAD WITH WALNUTS

4 cups water

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 onion, sliced

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1 carrot, sliced

Bouquet garni

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Salt

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1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

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1 pound cleaned squid

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped Italian or regular parsley

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Juice of 1/2 lemon

Dash cayenne pepper

2 lemons, cut into wedges

To make court bouillon, combine water, vinegar, onion, carrot, bouquet garni, peppercorns and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, then strain.

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To make vinaigrette, whisk mustard, salt and pepper to taste with lemon juice in small bowl. Whisk in olive oil, a little at a time, so dressing emulsifies. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Wash squid, then cut into 3/8-inch slices. Add to court bouillon. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes until just tender. Do not overcook or squid will be tough. Remove squid with slotted spoon. Toss while still warm with half of vinaigrette.

Bring court bouillon back to boil. Add shrimp, then simmer just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then peel. While still warm, toss with remaining vinaigrette. Mix squid and shrimp. Salad can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.

Just before serving, stir walnuts and parsley into salad. Freshen with squeeze of lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Taste to adjust for seasonings. Serve chilled. Decorate with lemon wedges. Makes 8 servings as first course.

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Note: Mussels also can be added to this salad. Steam 1 pound mussels over high heat until opened, then remove from shell.

FETTUCCINE WITH GOAT CHEESE AND CHIVES

1 1/2 pounds fresh or dried white or green fettuccine noodles

3 tablespoons butter

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1 1/2 cups whipping cream

3/4 pound soft goat cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup chopped chives

Salt

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Freshly ground white pepper

Bring large kettle salted water to boil. Add noodles. Simmer until tender, but still firm to tooth, 1 to 2 minutes for fresh noodles, 7 to 10 minutes for dried noodles. Drain. Rinse with hot water to wash away starch. Noodles can be kept hot, covered with warm water, up to 30 minutes.

To finish, drain noodles thoroughly. Melt butter in kettle. Add noodles and toss until coated. Add cream and toss until well mixed. Add cheese and toss over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until very hot and cheese has melted. Remove from heat.

Add chives and toss to mix. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Pile on individual plates for serving. Makes 8 servings as appetizer.

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Note: Goat cheese mixture is also good with spiral or shell pasta, which absorbs plenty of sauce.

ROAST BEEF

1 (5- to 6-pound) rib or sirloin roast of beef

Salt, pepper

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2 to 3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups veal or beef stock

Sprinkle fat and cut surfaces of meat generously with salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in roasting pan. Add meat, fat side up. Baste well with oil. Roast at 450 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Continue roasting. Allow 15 minutes per pound for rare meat or 18 minutes per pound for medium. Baste meat often during cooking with accumulated fat in bottom of pan.

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When meat is cooked, remove it and keep warm. Large roast should be left to stand at least 15 minutes so juices are re-absorbed before carving.

To make gravy, boil pan juices on top of stove until evaporated to brown glaze, if necessary. Juices that are thoroughly browned add flavor to gravy. Pour all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned. Add stock. Bring to boil. Stir to dissolve pan juices. Strain gravy into saucepan. Bring just to boil. Taste to adjust for seasonings.

Place meat on carving platter or board, then carve. Serve gravy separately. Makes 8 servings.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING

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1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup milk

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1/2 cup beef fat drippings from roasting beef

Place flour in bowl with salt. Make well in center. Add eggs with half of milk. Stir, gradually drawing in flour to make smooth mixture. Stir in remaining milk. Cover and leave at room temperature until roast is cooked. Batter will thicken slightly as starch in flour expands.

Increase oven heat from roasting beef to 425 degrees. Spoon 2 teaspoons beef fat from roasting pan into each of 12 large muffin cups. Heat in oven until very hot, about 5 minutes.

Pour pudding batter to depth of 3/4 inch in each muffin cup. Bake in upper half of oven about 20 minutes until puffed and brown. Serve puddings hot with meat and gravy. Makes 12 puddings.

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Note: These Yorkshire puddings have a convenient hollow in center, so gravy can be poured inside to moisten them.

RASPBERRY CREME BRULEE

3/4 pound raspberries

1 tablespoon brandy, optional

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3 cups whipping cream

1 vanilla bean, split, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

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Pick over raspberries, washing only if sandy. Sprinkle raspberries with brandy. Spread raspberries evenly among 8 (3/4-cup) ramekins.

Scald cream with vanilla bean. Cover and leave to infuse 10 minutes. Remove bean. (It can be used again.) Beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in bowl until slightly thickened. Stir in cream. If using liquid vanilla, stir in with cream. Strain custard. Pour evenly among ramekins.

Place ramekins in larger pan. Fill with enough cold water to come halfway up outside of ramekins. Bake ramekins at 400 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until thin skin forms on top of custard. Custard underneath should remain liquid. Chill ramekins in freezer 15 minutes. Custard should be cold, but not frozen. Creams can be kept up to 24 hours in refrigerator.

To finish, heat broiler. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar to form thin layer on top. Broil as close as possible to heat until sugar melts and caramelizes. Do not overcook custard or it will bubble through sugar. Let creams cool to room temperature. Caramel will form crisp layer on custard. Chill. Serve within 2 to 3 hours. Makes 8 servings.

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Note: Other fruit such as grapes, strawberries, oranges or peaches can be substituted for raspberries. Grapes should be halved. Strawberries and oranges should be sliced. Peaches must be peeled and sliced.


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