HERE IS what one 17-year-old said he wants for his high-school graduation dinner: Macadamia nuts, filet mignon in a soft, double-twist roll, ripe mango.
"And what would you like to drink?"
"Oh, I don't know." Pause. "Water?" he said.
"The sky's the limit," I said somewhat desperately.
"Don't you want a salad? A cold soup? Dessert?"
"If you like," he said politely.
Since he's my son, I was disappointed. But of course I should have known. The summer he turned two he lived on corn and milk. We left him alone, trusting that his tastes would expand with an expanding horizon. They did. From age four on he ate everything. It was delightful to take him to a party, and I used to watch with smugness how he wolfed down whatever was put in front of him, while other children picked and nibbled, pushing aside the veggies.
I'm sorry to say that he continues to devour food, largely indifferent to what he eats. But if we failed to raise a gourmet, other people seem to have done considerably better.
"I love veal," said Whit, 18 and a senior, "and sausage meat! Could you mix them somehow? And make it sort of creamy, with mushrooms?"
Recipes for veal and ham abound, but I was unable to find a combination of veal and sausage meat, in a cream sauce yet! Sausage meat is greasy and pungent, veal rather bland. I wondered for quite a while how to achieve a happy marriage between these two mismatched ingredients, then remembered a veal cutlet from Normandy, garnished with ham and applies. Since sausage meat is often served with apples anyhow, the Cote de Veau Vallee d'Auge seemed worth experimenting with. The combination turned out to be quite nice. The only difficulty was in cooking the sausage meat long enough to get rid of most of the grease, but not so long that it looked and tasted like shoe leather. So here goes: COTE DE VEAU VALLEE D'AUGE FOR WHIT GRANGER (4 to 5 servings) 5 sausage patties 1 tart apple (granny smith) 5 veal cutlets Salt, pepper 1 stick butter 1 pound mushrooms, larger ones sliced in half, others whole 1/2 cup calvados 1 pint heavy cream
I picked hot sausage meat sold without plastic casing in the local grocery store. Supposedly it's unaltered, without additives; in any case, I like it.
Make five sausage patties and cook them very slowly without browning. Drain on paper towel and discard grease.
Peel and core apple and cut into medium-thin slices.
Pound veal cutlets with your fist a few times (remove all fat and filmy skin), season with salt and pepper and cook slowly in 2/3 of the butter. Remove to a hot serving dish and keep warm.
Turn mushrooms in the butter so they're evenly coated, and saute lightly. Don't overcook. Add apple wedges. Pour calvados into the pan and boil down the liquid to half its original amount. Stir and gradually add cream. Heavy cream and butter may separate: if the butter floats up around the edges, add cold milk, a spoonful at a time.
Quickly heat sausage meat in the sauce. Remove cutlets to serving plate and garnish each with a sausage patty. Turn off heat and stir remaining butter into the sauce. Spoon on top and around cutlets and serve.
Whit wanted to start his dream dinner with brie and crackers, go on to deep-fried shrimp, next eat a salad of iceberg lettuce and cheddar cheese, then have his veal with rice and french fries, followed by artichokes with butter and finally Breyer's ice cream "with lemon bars my Mom makes." He added that they're really easy to make.
I talked to a dozen high-school seniors. Their tastes ranged from the textbook sophistication of oysters and dry champagne (with the emphasis on the word dry) to crabs -- "as many as I can eat."
In my statistically invalid sample, there was little difference between the dreams of young men and women; if anything, young men seemed more interested in talking about their favorites. From all the wishes and dishes, I've put together the dinner I will serve, come the great day in June: Spinach salad Chicken supreme Brie Crepes flambees with fresh strawberries SPINACH SALAD (6 servings) 2 pounds fresh spinach 1 cup walnuts 1 cup finely cut lean ham Dressing 3 parts oil 2 parts fresh lemon juice 2 parts fresh orange juice Salt, pepper
Toss spinach with walnuts and ham. Combine dressing ingredients and toss with salad just before serving. CHICKEN SUPREME (6 servings) 8 chicken breasts Salt, pepper Marinade: 1/2 cup port (preferably white) 1 cup dry white wine 1 tablespoon lemon juice To cool: 2/3 stick butter 1 pound mushrooms 1 cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
This is one of the simplest and best chicken recipes, very easy to make in spite of its touch of haute cuisine.
Debone chicken, remove skin and as much visible yellow fat as possible. (If you're a miser you'll freeze skin, bones and fat in a plastic bag to use in a soup.)
Season chicken with salt and pepper and marinate in port, white wine and lemon juice (no more than a tablespoon, or the sauce may crudle) for a few hours or, at most, overnight.
Remove meat from the marinade, drain well and cook slowly in butter until just tender. Don't overcook. Remove and keep warm.
Slice larger mushrooms in half, leave small ones whole. Turn them in the hot butter until evenly coated and cook slowly for a few minutes. Don't overcook. Add marinade and boil down until half the amount of liquid at a time, and simmer, stirring, until sauce is well blended. Season to taste and heat chicken in the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
We'll have rice with the chicken, nothing else, and then we'll have brie with small slices of dark German pumpernickel. Like Whit, I love a fine, ripe brie, though I prefer it at the end of a meal. And then, depending on time, the weather and my mood, we'll either have crepes flambees with fresh strawberries, but lots of them, slightly sugared and sprinkled with an organge liqueur.
My high school graduate -- bless him -- will eat it all.