Mother’s Day Menu 1

A few years ago, I put together several of my favorite things for a wonderful Mother’s Day Menu. My guys were able to handle all but the sauce for the scallops.  To me, that’s proof positive that the menu is easy to execute.  Granded, my grandson is a whiz-kid in the kitchen, but my hubby – well let’s just say he needs a lot of detailed instruction and supervision. You would think after all these years of exposure to kitchen lingo he would get it, but he doesn’t. That’s okay, I know nothing about football despite the fact that I’ve spend many a Sunday cuddled up with my armchair quarterback. He even took me to a Superbowl game once. Loved all the tailgate parties! Just don’t understand the game.

Since Mother’s Day is nearly upon us, I wanted to share with you a few menu ideas.  This is for the seafood lover in your life.  It’s a yummy thee-course meal consisting of Pan Seared Scallops in a Lemon Sauce with Fire-Roasted Asparagus, a Cesar Salad,  and Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

In our house, the main entree is served first with a vegetable as a side, the salad is served as the second course and dessert is served last – often much later, when we’ve had a chance to digest and relax a bit. I know in the US, if a salad is served at all, it is typically at start the meal if served or along side the main course. Most restaurants start the meal with a choice – sour or salad. (A traditional Formal meal would consist of both – the soup at the start of the meal, the salad later in the procession. But that’s a subject for another day.) Why Americans start with the salad is beyond me. Somewhere in our culinary evolution, the salad moved to the front of the parade.  Yet more and more Americans are adapting the French-Italian custom of serving the salad after the main entree. A salad served at the end of the meal is both refreshing and a natural palate cleanser in preparation for the sweets to come. 

Lemon Sauce
1 lemon
1 ½ Cups dry white Wine
¼ cup Shallots, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled & Crushed
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Ground Turmeric

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (yellow part only) from lemon in long strips.

Squeeze 1 1/2 tablespoons juice from lemon. Combine wine, shallots, garlic, and lemon peel in heavy small saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes.

Add cream and turmeric and boil until mixture thickens and is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 13 minutes. Pour mixture through fine strainer; discard solids in strainer.

Return sauce to pan. Whisk in 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD TIP: Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

Pan-Seared Scallops
3 lbs Large Scallops
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Preheat oven to 400°F. Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add scallops to skillet and sear until browned and almost opaque in center, adding remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to skillet as needed, about 1 minute per side.
Transfer scallops to rimmed baking sheet.

DO AHEAD TIP: The scallops can be prepared to this point up to 20 minutes ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Bake scallops until just opaque in center and heated through, about 3 minutes. Divide sauce among plates. Arrange scallops atop sauce and serve.

Fire-Grilled Asparagus Spears
1 bunch asparagus (16), trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, quartered
Kosher salt

Prepare grill. Divide asparagus into 8 pairs. Align each pair in a flat row and thread 2 toothpicks crosswise through each pair. Brush asparagus with oil and season with kosher salt.

Grill asparagus on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until tender and lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Rub with lemon before serving.

Caesar Salad
The Dressing:
6 anchovy fillets packed in oi
1 small garlic clove
a pinch of kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, finely grated

The Salad
3 Heads Romaine Lettuce Hearts
1 Cup Garlic Croutons
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shaved

Chop together the anchovy fillet, garlic clove, and a pinch of kosher salt. Use the side of a knife blade to mash into a paste, then scrape into a medium bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, fresh lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. Adding drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in the olive oil, then vegetable oil; whisk until dressing is thick and glossy. Whisk in the finely grated Parmesan. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

DO AHEAD TIP:  Salad dressing can be made 1 day ahead.

Tear lettuce leaves into large pieces. Pour a small amount of Caesar Dressing on lettuce leaves, just enough to lightly coat leaves, toss to blend. Cover and chill.

Plate and garnish with croutons and SHAVED Parmesan cheese just before serving. (As tempting as it is to pile on grated Parmesan Cheese, use a vegetable peeler to shave long, wide curls of Parmesan Cheese to the individual plates of Caesar Salad. Both the presentation and the flavor are greatly improved by the “less is more” approach).

Note: If you aren’t crazy about raw egg yolks or anchovy fillets, you can still have a nice Caesar Salad.  Simply use a good-quality bottled dressing and pretend you don’t know what’s inside the bottle.

Chocolate Mousse
8 oz Chocolate, finely chopped (semi-sweet, bitter sweet or combination)
¼ Cup unsalted butter, cut into 3 equal pieces
3 tablespoons liqueur or spirits: Kahlua, brandy, cognac or dark rum
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
4 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
Garnish: (any or all, as desired)
Berries – Strawberries or raspberries
White Chocolate Shavings
Sweetened Whipped Cream

In the top of a double boiler, combine chocolate, butter, liqueur, water and espresso powder, if using. Set over barely simmering water to melt chocolate and butter. Once melted, whisk until mixture is glossy and smooth. Remove from heat.

Add egg yolks one at a time, whisking well after each addition until blended. Add vanilla, then continue stirring until mixture is again glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool, stirring frequently with rubber spatula, until lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, using electric mixer on medium speed, whip cream until medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted. Set aside.

Carefully clean beaters. In another clean bowl, combine egg whites and salt. Beat the whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until glossy, firm peaks form.

Spoon whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold cream in gently, stopping when large streaks of chocolate are still visible. Add beaten egg whites and continue folding until mousse is just blended.

Spoon into individual serving bowls. For an extra special presentation, spoon or pipe into Champagne Coupe Glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight before serving. Served chilled with a dollop of whipped cream, white chocolate shaving and/or berries if desired.

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