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Nov 2, 2006 08:25 PM

help: my mother gave me a specific menu to serve

i'm hosting my mom's birthday dinner (for 11) this year and asked her what type of cuisine she might want and she gave me a specific menu. trouble is, i don't routinely cook this type of food. i'm more of an ethnic-food-loving home chef. i am comfortable in the kitchen and love to be challenged, so i'm curious: what would you do with this menu to make it more modern? favorite recipes? cookbooks to consult? cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to pair with it? other ideas?

rare roast beef
potatoes – any kind
soft rolls
a whipped cream white or yellow cake


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  1. You could use a aged prime rib roast and crust it with cracked peppercorns and mustard and make a pan sauce similar to a steak au poive.

    A potato gratin with Gruyère and crimini mushrooms

    roasted veggie medley? This is too vague, and I would have to know what vegetables your mother likes.

    A assortment of rolls with baguette, sourdough and chibatta dough, and serve with a variety of compound butters. cloverleaf rolls?

    It is possible to make a yellow cake and fill the layers with different fruits and ice with dark and milk chocolate ganache/buttercream. garnish with truffles and chocolate curls.

    It is her birthday and you need to cook what she likes instead of what you like to prepare. IMVHO

    1. Is your mom likely to be unpleasantly surprised at a 'modern update' of her menu? Traditional doesn't have to be boring, and if it's not your usual bailiwick, it could present a fun challenge.

      One of my all-time favorite beef roasts was a rib roast that was encrusted with salt, pepper, garlic (and also studded w/ garlic, too), and a LOT of fresh rosemary.

      1. I recently made the standing rib roast from Nigella Lawson's cookbook Feast for my dad's birthday. It got rave reviews. I served it with a butternut squash soup with pancetta tuilles to start, roast potatoes, braised red cabbage, cauliflower gratin and some flopped yorkshire puddings.

        1. I would have to strongly agree with the last sentence of the Kelli2006. It's her birthday, so you should to cook to her sense in going all Martha on her if she isn't going to like it, and on top of it you'll feel resentful. (I've made this mistake with my non-foodie friends and family, and it's a nightmare for everyone. Everyone is happier if you remember to cook to your audience.) Since she gave you a specific menu in response to your offer, I'm guessing that she likes simple and clean flavors, no fuss, nothing too fancy.

          That being said, simple doesn't mean boring. Do a standing rib roast (which is prime rib) with really great meat. Or steak au poivre (unless it's too spicy for her) or a roast with a good spice rub. Baby new potatoes cooked in goose fat with fresh herbs. I personally like greens when I serve beef, so maybe a broccoli rabe with golden raisins and pinenuts? And a stuffed roasted tomato for color.

          The cake can be a really good genoise with a liqueur in the syrup, fresh fruit and the requested whipped cream topping.

          1. I love a good rib roast. Have your butcher remove it from the ribs and then tie the roast back on the bones. It will make carving very easy and you can save the bones for yourself and make for deviled beef ribs the next day or not, they are great for gnawing on. Something really good with a roast beef is frozen horseradish cream. Whip heavy cream to peaks and fold in horseradish to taste and freeze before serving. Oven roasted potatoes are great with the roast but even better is spoonbread. Maybe brussels sprouts in mustard sauce sort of like in the Bouchon book?