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Walker provides Mother’s Day menu options

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | May 11, 2017

(May 12, 2017) Entertaining is a learning process and confidence comes with experience.

There is a certain risk when planning a menu, but that is part of the lure and heightens the rewards of accomplishment. Preparation is mandatory if success is to flourish. The food, setting, season and occasion must be considered if the celebration is to be a memorable affair.

Simplicity is a good thing if it is fashioned by specific intention. Mother’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays and planning is in full swing. One is faced with countless choices and particulars can be challenging. Following are some suggestions that may reduce the level of stress and help with the progression of finalization.

With this thought in mind, let us start from the moment your guests arrive. A chef must not only be concerned with taste but also should be aware of color and texture. Greeting your company with a glass of punch is always a charming touch. What better way to start off your Mother’s Day merriment than with a glass of rose blossom punch? This particular recipe is light, refreshing and looks stunning served from a clear punch bowl. The following recipe is taken from the Crabtree & Evelyn Cookbook.

Rose Blossom Punch

Ingredients

4 pink unsprayed roses with 4-inch stems, rinsed

8 cups white wine, chilled

½ cup Kirsh

1 to 2 tablespoons rosewater

1. The day before you plan to serve the punch, prepare the rose-filled ice cube for the center of the punch bowl. (If you serve small ice cubes as oppose to one large ice cube, the smaller ones will melt and dilute your punch). To do so, thoroughly rinse out a half-gallon cardboard milk or juice carton with water. Cut off the top and trim the sides to about 7 inches. Place 3 roses in the carton. Fill to within 1-inch of top with boiled and cooled water. Freeze overnight, or until solidly frozen.

2. To make the punch, combine wine, Kirsch and rosewater in a wide glass punch bowl. Remove cardboard from the ice cube and carefully place it in the center of the punch bowl. Using the last remaining rose, float small rose petals and leaves on top of the punch to complete your stunning presentation.

For centuries, cooks have known the virtue of judicious seasoning; balancing the trinity of sweetness, savoriness and spiciness peaks one’s particular palate. Brunches are synonymous with Mother’s Day and a platter of cheese and crackers is always popular and is as basic as it gets.

The addition of an ingredient can change the whole dynamics of a dish. For example, spreading jam over brie raises the level of creativity. However, adding a touch of balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper to the strawberry jam yields a much more sophisticated and appealing appetizer.

Creating an obsession for details is crucial; the smaller the detail the more proficiency is apparent. Adding seafood to one’s menu can be pricy; but frozen shrimp is considerably less expensive and perfectly acceptable in certain dishes. The following cheesy shrimp dip is so easy to make and will not compromise your budget.

Shrimp Dip

Ingredients

¼ cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper, seeded

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup scallions, finely sliced

1 pound thawed frozen shrimp, deveined and coarsely chopped

1 cup sour cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise

few dashes of favorite hot sauce (optional)

kosher salt to taste

fresh, coarsely ground pepper

favorite crackers

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, garlic and scallions and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove skillet from stove and stir in sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce and salt to taste. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bubbly. Add a dusting of fresh ground pepper. Serve with crackers.

The attractive seashore does just that; it attracts friends and family during the sunny months of summer and special holidays. A salad Nicoise is a light, festive salad very fitting for Mother’s Day.

Salad Nicoise, pronounced ni’ SWAZ, is a salad that originated in the French city of Nice. It is traditionally made of fresh tuna, ruby red cherry tomatoes, perfectly-cooked hard boiled eggs, crisp green and yellow French string beans and dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Rich salamis and pickled cornichons, capers and red onions can be added for extra depth of flavor.

Arrange each ingredient on the table in separate bowls and plates. The function is two-fold. A salad tossed with all of its ingredients including the vinaigrette eventually becomes soggy. Secondly, ingredients can be omitted according to personal preference.

Boston, Bibb and red leaf lettuce are the best for this type of salad. After the lettuce has been washed and dried, cluster it and place it in a bowl with the base of the leaves in iced water. The bowl and lettuce serves as a gorgeous table decoration and keeps the lettuce crisp.

If one prefers serving a main course that has more substance, consider presenting a ham glazed in orange marmalade with a hint of fresh ginger. The orange marmalade is a refreshing twist and keeps the ham moist. You can also mix some of the cooking liquid, orange marmalade, and Grand Marnier for a delightful sauce. The citrus notes of oranges harmonizes wonderfully with the warm tropical breezes of May.

Desserts are the finale to celebratory events; simple and composed dishes equate satisfaction to the fullest degree. Lemon zabaglione with fresh berries is light and compliments any Mother’s Day menu.

Zabaglione, pronounced zah-bahl-YOH-nay, is a famous, frothy Italian dessert that is usually made with fresh berries. The addition of lemon makes it ideal in warm weather.

When making zabaglione, make sure to cook the egg mixture in a glass bowl over water that is barely simmering. Glass conducts heat more evenly and gently than metal. If the heat is too high, the eggs will scramble.

Lemon Zabaglione with Fresh Berries

Ingredients

3 cups fresh berries

pinch of table salt

few pinches of allspice

Zabaglione

4 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons dry marsala

1. Toss berries, sugar, salt and allspice in a medium nonreactive bowl. Set berries aside to release juices while preparing zabaglione.

2. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and marsala in medium glass bowl until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (water should not touch the bottom of the bowl) and gently cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is frothy.

3. Divide berry mixture evenly among 4 champagne flutes. Pour lemon zabaglione over fruit and serve immediately.

Mother’s Day comes once a year. Entertaining is a gratifying experience, but it’s secondary to enjoying time with loved ones. Remember what this day is truly about. Happy Mother’s Day!

Secret Ingredient - Entertaining. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” — Virginia Woolf

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