There's a clearly defined pecking order in the kitchen each year when Donna Shor, Warren Weaver and Marianne Means give their annual all-day open house.
Since Shor is the one who conceived of the party 12 years ago and has practically all the good recipes, she is the honcho. Since Weaver likes to cook, and does most of it in the Weaver-Means household, he comes second. Means does the "donkey work," cutting chopping and slicing under Shor's explicit directions.
The first year she and Weaver joined forces with Shor, offering her their more spacious house in place of Shor's small apartment, all Means was allowed to do was remove the boney tips from the chicken wings. This year she graduated and got to make the lip-tauer cheese spread. (Actually Shor decided to serve chicken thighs instead of wings so tip removal was unncessary.)
This year, too, Weaver, who has been faithfully following Shor's recipes, has struck out on his own, and according to Shor "snubbed" her pate, replacing it with his version. Made with chicken livers, apples and Calavados, it was a success in its own right. As is all the food at the party, which Weaver thinks is the reason it is always such a hugh success.
Every year the guest lists get longer - Shor says "it's getting out of hand." One unattached man came three times one year, on each occasion bringing a different woman. "Each time," Shor says, "we greeted him as if we hadn't seen him before. He claims he meets all of his new women for the following year here."
There were at least 200 at this year's 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. George Washington's Birthday Open House. The party, which started out as a Twelfth Night celebration, was changed to New Year's Day when Shor moved from a large house to a small apartment and wanted to spread out her guests' arrivals over a longer period of time so she caould accommodate more. In 1974 she joined forces with Weaver and Means. Circumstances prevented them from having the party last year, and this year, as their invitation noted: "The same wonderful folks who bring you The New Year's Day Party are a little late this year." Next year they hope to return to Jan. 1.
In order to feed 200 people, and not with cocktail party tidbits, the trio begins preparations about a week in advance. The liptauer cheese, for instance, tastes best if it has had a chance to ripen. The sweets can be prepared ahead and frozen. Several nights during the week before the party, the three cooks get together in the Means-Weaver kitchen. There is usually one at the food processor, one at the blender and one at the sink.
This year, in addition to the pate and cheese, they made Vietnamese chicken, barbecued ribs, barbecued pork roast, curried rice salad tabbouleh (Middle Eastern salad of bulgar), cassoulet, shrimp toast, Persian cookies and brownes with rum. The breadth of Shor's interest in cooking is well represented by the menu.
She lived in Paris for many years where she wrote about both food and wine. She has traveled to many countries and has helped raise money for Vietnamese children who were sent to this country for plastic surgery as the result of war injuries. That's when she learned Vietnamese cooking.
The mix of foods is equaled by the guest mix: Means and Weavers' reporter friends - she writes for the Hearst newspapers, he for The New York Times - her friends from Georgetown where she is going to law school; Shor's friends from her volunteer and charity causes and their mutual political acquaintances.
What people wear is equally eclectic. On George Washington's birthday some came in from the tennis court in warm-up suits, others in slacks and sport shirts; some came in black tie because they were going on to the White House.
According to Shor, "A small coterie of people who have been coming to the party since it began, think they should get 12-year pins. They've become insufferable," she said with a laugh.
No one misses the party if they can. One group came 10 minutes before the party was to begin. They were on their way to the 3 o'clock shuttle to New York and didn't want to go until they had a chance to step by. SAVORY RIBLETS 2 pounds country style spareribs, cut into 1 1/2-inch strips and then cut between ribs 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon paprika Sauce (see recipe)
Combine the chili powder, salt, pepper, brown sugar and paprika. Rub most of this mixture on the meat and let stand in refrigerator overnight. Using tongs, dip riblets in sauce, coating well; arrange on rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. After 15 minutes brush with sauce.
SAUCE 1/2 cup tarragon vinegar 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 cup catsup 1 clove garlic, mashed Juice of one lemon 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel 1/4 teaspoon thyme 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
To dry ingredients remaining after ribs are coated, add the above ingredients and use to baste ribs during cooking. VIETNAMESE MARINATED CHICKEN 1 3/4 pound chicken thighs, cut in half length-wise (1 piece has bone; one doesn't) 1 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup fish sauce, optional* 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 medium onion, minced 1 tablespoon sugar (about) Salt and black pepper to taste
Mixed together all ingredients but chicken thighs. Add thighs and marinate in sauce for 24 hours. Drain, reserving marinade. Bake thighs for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees, basting often with marinade.(FOOTNOTE)
* Available at Oriental food stores. (END FOOT) PATE A LA NORMANDE (5 to 6 cups) 1 pound butter 1 cup finely chopped onions 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots 2 cooking apples, cored, peeled and roughly chopped 2 pounds chicken livers, drained and picked clean 1/2 cup Calvados or applejack 6 tablespoons heavy cream 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon oregano 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley for decoration
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy skillet and cook 1/2 cup of onions and 2 tablespoons of shallots over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft and lightly colored. Add half the chopped apple and cook 4 minutes more. Put mixture in food processor (with metal blade in place) or blender.
Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same skillet. Cut 1 pound livers each in half and cook over moderate heat for about 4 minutes, stirring. Meanwhile warm Calvados in small saucepan. When livers are brown outside but still pink inside, take pan off heat; light brandy carefully and pour it, flaming a little at a time into skillet. Shift skillet gently from side to side until the flame has burned out.
Add livers and all accumulate liquid to apple-onion mixture. Add 3 tablespoons cream and process or blend until smooth. Work this mixture through a fairly fine sieve over a mixing bowl and let cool.
Cream remaining 10 tablespoons butter. When liver mixture is completely cool, beat in creamed butter, a little at a time. Add lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well.
Repeat with remaining ingredients, except parsley. If desired, decorate the bottom of 6-cup mold or loaf pan with bits of sliced ripe olive, sliced hard-cooked egg, pimiento, etc. Add pate, smooth surface, cover well and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours. (If storing longer, a thin coating of clarified butter will provide additional protection.) Turn out pate onto a serving dish, design side up, and garnish with parsley. LIPTAUER CHEESE (2 1/2 cups) 1/2 pound small curd cottage cheese 4 anchovy fillets 1 teaspoon dry mustard 2 tablespoons caraway seeds 2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika 1/2 teaspoon white pepper Salt to taste 3 tablespoons capers 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature 1/4 pound butter, room temperature 2 tablespoons gin (optional, but this helps ripen the mixture and it absorbs the juniper berry flavor of the gin) 4 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Blend cottage cheese in blender or food processor until smooth with anchovies, mustard, caraway, paprika, pepper and salt. Add capers and blend a few seconds more. Turn into mixing bowl and blend with cream cheese, butter and gin. Just before serving add chopped chives.
Without chives mixture will keep several weeks. Best if allowed to ripen for 3 to 7 days. ST. REMY CURRIED RICE SALAD (Serves 6 to 8) 4 cups cooked rice 2 teaspoons curry powder 1/2 cup mayonnaise mixed with 2 tablespoons wine or tarragon vinegar 1/2 cup sour cream 1/3 cup blanched almonds, whole or sliced 2/3 cup black olives 1/2 cup pimiento stuffed olives, sliced Salt to taste
Stir curry powder into mayonnaise. Add mayonnaise mixture to hot rice. Let cool.
Add remaining ingredients and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop. If more moisture is needed, add mayonnaise or sour cream to taste. Excellent with pork.