CAESAR'S NUMBER came up on the Ides of March. For most of us, the seizures come a month later, when the IRS puts the big bite on us.
This year, bite back. Pad your figure with a Paid-Our-Dues Party, and throw "phys'cal" restraint to the winds.
Get right to it: Put a sign on the front door advertising "The Audit-orium," and have plenty of three-martini trays ready in the front room.
Label one table the "They're Eating Me Alive" raw bar, and stock it with clams and oysters on the half-shell. (Hosts who anticipate a tax refund, or who feel smug in the conviction that they've put a few over on the feds, may want to flex a few mussels. Those who have been hit up for penalties or interest may be more inclined to feel crabby.)
Add the "Bloodsuckers" butcher block, a tray of octopus sashimi and seviche'd squid. Complete that form with the red herrings -- fillets and roe pairs in tomato sauce.
For a hot tip, lay out skewers of "Lamb to the Slaughter" kebabs with "Working for Peanuts" satay sauce. Or "IRA Rollovers" -- meaty turnovers with the added interest of shot-full-of-holes Swiss cheese.
The actual menu can be varied to match your fiscal future. Happy hosts can dish out lots of bread; most will be left with only half a loaf at a time. Similarly, consider your salad: Are you feeling lucky with the greens, or should you go heavily into the red?
Have you filed for an extension? Broil "Skirt-the-Issue Steak." Feel like a skinned rabbit? Try jugged hare. Tired of the whole issue? Fry baloney.
A whole roast pig might be fun, especially if you were thoroughly grilled. Serve it with an Infernal Revenue Sauce spiced with pay-the-peppers.
Consider a steaming tureen of "Made a Hash of It, You Turkey!" to be ladled over the "Down to the Nitty Grits." You might also contemplate mincemeat pie, or a pure'e of chicken hearts.
Go bananas. Mix your dates with pistachios and sour grapes. Invent a fat-cat souffle' of tiger's milk with a big cheese. How about NoMores -- marshmallows and bits of $100,000 bars smashed between Gramm crackers?Another fitting idea: jugged hare, a wine-drenched rabbit in a casserole, so called because of the alcoholic ingredients and because the rabbit used to be stewed in a juglike dish. There's also the fact that "jugged" used to mean "snuggled tightly together." In this case, though, it's more appropriate to remember that "jugged" is slang for "imprisoned," so this tipsy rabbit stew has a cautionary tail.
Just remember: death and taxes come for everyone, and there's no use losing your appetite over it. As Caesar said, "Eat, too, Brute." JUGGED HARE
Take two 5- or 6-pound rabbits, cut up. Theoretically, this should serve 6 to 8; but consider how much other food you are serving. Rabbit pieces are fairly chicken-sized, and most people will want seconds.
Rub the cut-up rabbits with a little coarse salt and marinate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. For the marinade, combine 1/2 cup light stock or water, 3/4 cup marsala wine (the drinking variety, not the fake cooking stuff), 3 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons black or white peppercorns, 2 crumbled bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 2 cloves and a tiny dash of sugar.
Shake the pieces partly dry, dredge in flour and lightly brown in butter. Transfer pieces to a heavy enameled casserole. Add three chopped cloves of garlic to the saute' pan and let soften. Stir in 2 cups stock or water, 1/2 pint sour cream, 1/2 cup of the strained marinade and salt and pepper if you desire. When the mixture boils, pour over the rabbits and simmer for 45 minutes or so until the meat is tender. Keep the pieces covered, adding marinade, wine or even water if too much liquid evaporates.
When tender, add 2 cups saute'ed sliced (or button) mushrooms, a cup saute'ed sliced or pearl onions, 3 to 4 tablespoons sour cream, 1/2 cup good madeira wine and 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. If the liquid has not thickened to your liking, you can stir in a little cornstarch solution.
To present, top with a final dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with paprika: serve over rice.