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Great Gatherings: A Spring Lunch to Celebrate Mother’s Day
A festive Mother’s Day lunch (children welcome!)
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You’re never too young to experience a formal meal with proper arrangements and a fine table setting. So when Lulu Powers—who coined the term “entertainologist” to describe herself—designed a Mother’s Day lunch, she wanted to include children on the guest list. “Too often events are unnecessarily labeled ‘adults only,’ ” explains the Los Angeles-based hostess, who cooks, caters, and creates stylish tablescapes.
“With minor adjustments, a gathering can be suitable to everyone, so no exclusions have to be made,” Lulu says.
Lulu’s menu includes options for kid-friendly twists. Limeade is cooled with fruit frozen into novelty ice cubes. Pasta with vegetables can easily be doctored to everyone’s liking by adding grilled shrimp, and ice cream blended with crushed candy bars is a fun throwback even for the most sophisticated palate. Candy dishes filled with colorful sweets keep the mood of the luncheon high-spirited.
The decoration, too, evokes childhood pleasures with oversized bronze jacks as part of the centerpiece. Flatware with a soft gold-finish boosts the subtle patterns on mismatched but coordinating dinner plates and adds a soft, warm glow to the scheme. A natural--colored linen tablecloth embroidered with a hot-pink border is yet another allusion to spring. Green glasses with peonies and green-tinted water glasses all ground the shocking pink accents.
“Mother’s Day is a time for multiple generations,” says Lulu. “A lunch is the perfect occasion to introduce formality in an easy, toned-down way.”
Photography: Michael Garland
Lulu Powers created a fresh table setting to complement the Idarica Gazzoni “Pomegranate” wallpaper in this dining room designed by Lucas Studio Inc. “Bechamel” fabric on the “Deco” dining chairs is from Rogers & Goffigon. Both fabric and wallpaper are available through Harbinger. The linen Soumak rug is from Stark Carpet, and the vintage Murano glass lamp and “Equis” console table are through Downtown.
To add flavor and visual pizzazz to water, limeade, or lemonade, make ice cubes packed with fresh bounty. Lulu Powers used strawberries, mint, and cucumbers, but you can experiment with a variety of herbs and fruit to suit your own tastes.
Candy is handy in lidded crystal bowls. Display sweets in a variety of colors or, for a striking graphic presentation, use all one color in each dish. Lobmeyr through Table Art.
“Entertainologist” Lulu Powers, of Los Angeles.
Find fresh cucumber juice at juice bars or health food stores. A juicer is a smart investment for preparing healthful fresh juices at home; one of the best is the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice extractor (information follows recipe).
• 1 (12-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
• 3-1/4 cups fresh cucumber juice (from two large, peeled and chopped cucumbers)
• 3-1/4 cups club soda
• Cucumber slices
• Vodka (optional)
In pitcher combine limeade concentrate with fresh cucumber juice and club soda. Fill shaker with ice; add 1 cup limeade mixture. Shake; serve over ice in tall glass; garnish with cucumber slice.
For one adult cocktail, add 3/4 cup limeade mixture and 1 to 2 tablespoons vodka to shaker. Shake; serve in a martini glass. Makes 10 cocktails.
Farmer's Market Greens with Carrots and Radishes
Carrot curls add a charmingly old-fashioned touch to this fresh market salad. Search out locally made goat cheeses at the farmer’s market or cheese shop.
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
• 1 small shallot, minced
• 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 6 cups assorted baby greens
• 2 medium carrots, cut into curls*
• 1 cup sliced radishes
• Leafy tops from 1 bulb fennel (about 1/2 cup)
• 4 ounces goat cheese (chèvre), cut into small pieces
For dressing, in blender or food processor combine olive oil, vinegar, shallot, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover; blend or process until smooth. Set aside.
For salad, on large serving platter combine greens, carrot curls, radishes, fennel fronds, and cheese; toss. Add half the salad dressing; toss to combine. Pass remaining dressing. Makes 6 servings.
*For carrot curls, peel carrots. Using a vegetable peeler cut lengthwise strips from carrots. Roll up strips and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place curls in a bowl of ice water for 1 to 2 hours. Remove toothpicks and drain on paper towels before serving.
Pappardelle with Lemon-Leek Sauce
Lulu is a fan of Cipriani pasta. The pasta is silky and buttery and holds sauce well.
• 1 (8.8-ounce) package dried pappardelle pasta
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 10 basil leaves
• 2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced (white and light green portions) (1 cup)
• 1 tablespoon butter
• Salt and ground white pepper
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 2 shallots, finely chopped
• 1/3 cup dry white wine or Champagne
• 2 cups whipping cream
• 3/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
• 2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon zest
• 6 tablespoons lemon juice
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
• 1 medium zucchini
• 1 medium yellow summer squash
• 1 cup yellow and/or red cherry tomatoes, halved
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions; drain. Return to pot. Keep warm. Meanwhile, in small skillet heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Place six basil leaves in hot oil; cook 2 to 3 minutes each side or until crisp (leaves will brown a little). Carefully remove to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cut remaining basil leaves into thin ribbons; set aside.
For sauce, in large skillet sauté leeks with butter over medium heat until tender and lightly browned (about 3 minutes). Sprinkle lightly with salt and white pepper. Remove leeks from skillet; set aside.
Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and shallots to skillet. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Remove skillet from heat; add wine. Return to heat. Bring to boil. Add cream to skillet. Bring to boil; boil gently, uncovered, about 7 minutes or until sauce thickens and coats a spoon, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low. Add grated Parmesan. Stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon zest and juice. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Keep warm.
If desired, to grill shrimp, thread shrimp onto metal or soaked wooden skewers, leaving 1/4-inch between pieces. Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Place skewers on rack of charcoal or gas grill over medium heat. Cover; grill 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, or until shrimp are opaque. Remove from skewers; set aside. (Shrimp can be made ahead and chilled.)
With vegetable peeler, cut zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into thin ribbon slices (stop when you get to the seeds). Place on paper towels; pat dry. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
To serve, set aside 1/4 cup leek mixture. Add squash ribbons, cherry tomatoes, remaining leeks, shrimp (if using), and basil ribbons to pasta in pot. Toss with half the sauce. Transfer to dinner plates. Garnish with fried basil leaves and reserved leeks. Pass remaining sauce. Makes 6 servings.
Note: Sauce can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days. To reheat, place sauce in large skillet and heat over low heat.
Butterfinger Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce
This recipe is so simple—stir crushed candy bars into softened ice cream—but it’s a real crowd pleaser. Dress it up with homemade chocolate sauce and wafer-thin chocolate cookies.
• 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream
• 3 original-size Butterfinger candy bars, crushed (reserve one bar for garnish)
• 1 Cadbury caramel-milk chocolate candy bar
• 1/2 cup whipping cream
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Chocolate cookie wafers
• Fresh mint leaves
Let vanilla bean ice cream soften in refrigerator. Transfer ice cream to bowl. Mix in two crushed Butterfinger bars. Transfer ice cream mixture to freezer-safe container; freeze.
For sauce, heat caramel-milk chocolate bar and whipping cream together in double boiler, stirring until candy bar melts. Remove from heat. Stir in salt. Let cool; store in refrigerator. To warm sauce, microwave for 30 seconds.
To serve, spoon sauce into bottom of bowls. Top with ice cream mixture. Garnish each serving with remaining crushed Butterfinger bar, chocolate cookie wafer, and mint leaf. Makes 6 servings.