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

May 07, 1987|ANNE WILLAN | Willan, a cooking teacher and author, is founder and president of La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris. She lives in Washington. and

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.

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.


Squid and Shrimp Salad With Walnuts

Fettuccine With Goat Cheese and Chives

Roast Beef

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.

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.


4 cups water

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 onion, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

Bouquet garni

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

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

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.

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.

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


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

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

3/4 pound soft goat cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup chopped chives


Freshly ground white pepper

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