Tonight I had the honor of preparing Mother's Day dinner for five women in my family spanning four generations, four of them mothers. The eldest was my own 77 year old mother and great-grandmother to the youngest lady present, Sydney, age 22 months. In between were my own beautiful and wonderful wife Merry Ann, my sister Sharon, and my niece Amanda, mother of Sydney.
I wanted to make this meal memorable while at the same time playing it safe. Therefore when choosing the menu I eliminated everything that I had not made before no matter how appetizing it looked. I settled on Coq au Vin from Julia Childs Mastering the Art of French Cooking with brown-braised onions and sauteed mushrooms. Even little Sydney liked it. In fact, both my niece and my sister wanted the recipe. Thank You Julia.
Dessert had to be special: Strawberry Souffle. Sweet and fluffy and loaded with fresh strawberries, it was the Oh My God course of the evening. Guys, if you want forgiveness for any transgression, make this.
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
4 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons powedered gelatin
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup superfine or ultrafine sugar
1 cup heavy cream
6 3-inch diameter by 1.5 inch deep ramekins
Attach collars made from parchment paper to the ramekins so that each collar stands 1.5 inches above the top of the ramekin. Slice six strawberries in half and place two halves in the bottom of each ramekin. Cut the remaining strawberries in quarters and run them through the blender to puree them.
Put the water in a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin, making sure the water absorbs all the gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes, then stand the bowl in a small pan half-filled with boiling water and simmer for 3-4 minutes, sirring occasionally until the gelatin dissolves to a clear liquid.
Put the egg yolks and sugar in a large heatproof bowl, then stand the bowl over a pan of simmering water so that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Beat using a hand-held mixer until the eggs are very thick and pale, and the beaters leave a trail when lifted above the mixer. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating until cool.
Gradually fold in the dissolved gelatin, adding it in a thin steady stream, then fold in the strawberry puree.
Softly whip the cream then fold it into the souffle mixture. Chill if the mixture is too liquid.
Wash the beaters and dry well. Then use the mixer again to beat the egg whites into stiff moist-looking peaks. Fold a large spoonful into the souffle mixture to loosen it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the ramekins so that it fills each ramekin above the rim. Chill until set (at least 4 hours).