There are a lot of Americans who wish Mother's Day would just go away. They wish Father's Day would do the same. Not that they don't love their mothers and fathers: They just don't like the commercialism it represents.
There are probably a lot of children out there (children in the sense of being somebody's offspring and having nothing to do with age) who would be happy to forgo the obligatory candy or flowers or whatever this coming Sunday, but are afraid mother will take offense if they do. What they don't know is there are just as many mothers out there who would happily trade in the flowers and/or candy for thoughtful treatment the other 364 days.
Until you find out where your mother stands, you'll continue to do something for her on Mother's Day. But an alternative to candy (too fattening), flowers (too expensive), a card (not enough) could be a homecooked dinner . . . one you cooked, not she.
If you are reading this, you doubtless have graduated already from serving mother breakfast in bed -- burnt English muffins swimming in butter, scrambled eggs that bounce and coffee that looks like tea. And maybe your mother comes to your house often for dinner, so the fact that you can cook comes as no real surprise to her.
On the other hand, for people who hold down full-time jobs Mother's Day dinner is an event. And it can be a chore which takes up more of the weekend than some people want to part with. But not if you've been following the 30-minute meals in this series.
Meals in 30 minutes do not have to be everyday food. Nor do they have to look as if they were thrown together. Nor do they have to be brought in from the caterer or carryout. On the other hand they can't be elaborate. Not only can't they require fancy sauces, they must depend on their good looks from the natural appearance of the ingredients rather than fancy decoration.
And since this is a Sunday dinner, would you be willing to give it 30 minutes . . . plus 10?
And would you be willing to spring for something more elegant than usual? Such as veal?
If you say no because veal cutlets are more than $6 a pound, there is now the most wonderful alternative on the market that is less than half the price. Turkey breast cutlets look like veal before they are cooked, but more importantly, once they are cooked, you are hard put to tell the difference.
Maybe it's not nice to fool mother, but this one time she won't mind."Veal" piccata with fresh tender asparagus, just because it's the height of the asparagus season, and for spectacular color, a zucchini and tomato sauce for some pasta. 30 MINUTE MEAL . . . PLUS 10 Veal Piccata "Sting" asparagus Pasta with Zucchini Sauce Whole Wheat Bread Sticks Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Strawberries and Orange Liqueur
Staples: flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemons, sweet butter, onion, garlic, bred crumbs or egg.
Shopping List: 1 pound elbow macaroni (whole wheat or regular pasta), 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, 2 cans (17 ounces each) Italian tomatoes, whoe wheat bread sticks, 1 1/4 pounds turkey beast cutlets, 1 bunch parsley, 2 pounds asparagus, 1 pint raspberry sorbet, 1 pint strawberries, orange liqueur VEAL PICCATA "STING" (4 servings)
Aptly named because there is no veal in this dish. Turkey breast cutlets are used instead. 8 to 10 turkey breast cutlets 1/2 cup flour Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup of olive oil 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 large lemon, cut in very thin slices Finely chopped parsley
Mix the flour with the salt and dust the cutlets lightly with the flour on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in two large skillets (for speed; otherwise use one skillet and repeat sauteing operation) Add the cutlets and cook quickly over medium high heat on both sides until golden. Transfer to warm platter. Heat lemon juice briefly in pan, scraping bottom of skillet to lift browned particles. Pour over cutlets and garnish with lemon slices. Sprinkle with parsley.
Note: These cutlets have a tendency to fall apart so handle carefully, but don't worry if they do; they still taste like veal. STEAMED ASPARAGUS (4 servings) 2 pounds fresh asparagus Hard-cooked egg or sauteed buttered bread crumbs, optional
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus at point where they break naturally. Allow to soak in water for a few minutes to remove grit. bring water in a steamer* to a boil. Add asparagus and steam for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on their thickness. When they are crisp-tender, remove from heat to stop cooking.
*If you do not have a steamer, you can tie the asparagus in a bundle with some cord and stand them upright in an inch of water in a double boiler. Cover and cook as directed.
Optional: Hard cook one egg, starting in cold water and turning off heat as soon as water boils, for 20 minutes, or melt 4 tablespoons butter and add 1/2 cup bread crumbs.Cook and stir until crumbs begin to brown.
Game Plan: Put egg on to cook if using it to garnish asparagus. Chop onion and put garlic through press. Heat butter and oil. Heat water in covered pot, starting with hot water, for pasta. Add zucchini, tomatoes and seasonings to sauce mixture. Bring water for asparagus to boil in steamer. Wash and trim asparagus. Mix flour with salt and pepper. Start cooking pasta. Flour cutlets. Heat oil for cutlets. Squeeze lemon juice. Start cooking cutlets. Cook asparagus. Brown butter and breadcrumbs if using them to garnish asparagus. Drain pasta. Drain asparagus. Keep cutlets warm and finish sauce. Dessert should not be put together until after dinner. ZUCCHINI SAUCE FOR PASTA (4 servings) 1/4 cup olive oil 4 tablespoons sweet butter 1 large onion 1 large clove garlic 1 1/2 pounds zucchini 2 cans (17 ounces each) Italian plum tomatoes Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Coarsely chop onions and press garlic through press. Heat oil and butter; saute onion and garlic in oil mixture for a couple of minutes, to soften onion. Meanwhile slice zucchini and open tomatoes. Add zucchini; squeeze tomatoes in your hand to remove seeds and break up. Add to pan with salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Zucchini should be tender but not lose its shape.
Meanwhile cook pasta: PASTA 1 pound elbow macaroni, whole wheat or rugular 6 quarts boiling water
Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 8 minutes for regular, 12 for whole wheat. Drain and serve with zucchini sauce.