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Published: Tuesday, 5/7/2002

Delicious gifts can help make Mother's Day memorable

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Blackberry Raspberry Linzertorte features a sugar-dusted lattice top over a sweet filling. Blackberry Raspberry Linzertorte features a sugar-dusted lattice top over a sweet filling.
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From culinary chic to homestyle goodness, there's a food idea worthy of a Mother's Day gift on Sunday.

It's a sentimental and intergenerational celebration, whether you take mom out for dinner or invite her to your table. But because many families are scattered across the country, such celebrations may not be possible.

You might have to turn to other ways to convey delicious wishes. Fortunately, there's something to fit any pocketbook.

From your own kitchen, prepare a special dessert recipe. Don't be afraid to try something different such as tiramisu, puff pastry, or a linzertorte.

  • Make a classic tiramisu using ladyfingers or sponge cake dipped in a coffee or coffee liqueur, then layered with mascarpone cheese and grated chocolate. Sometimes called the Italian trifle, it's a timeless dessert made famous by the 1993 movie Sleepless in Seattle. Mascarpone cheese is a buttery-rich double cream to triple cream cheese made from cow's milk. It has the texture of a light clotted cream and blends with whipped cream in this dessert.

  • If you are a novice cook, a Mixed Berry Basket using frozen puff pastry shells is an impressive culinary creation. Preparation time is 15 minutes. Berries are stirred into heated jam to give them a coating and a glowing color. The baskets are topped with sweetened whipped cream.

    Mixed Berry Basket is an attractive dessert that uses frozen puff pastry shells and takes only 15 minutes to prepare. Mixed Berry Basket is an attractive dessert that uses frozen puff pastry shells and takes only 15 minutes to prepare.
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  • Linzertorte with a hazelnut crust is more complicated, but it is delicious. The rich tart that hails from Linz, Austria, is traditionally made with ground almonds and spread with raspberry jam before being topped with a lattice crust. Blackberry-Raspberry Linzertorte with hazelnut crust has a filling made with sweetened frozen raspberries and whole frozen marion blackberries. The pastry is soft enough to press half into a springform or a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. After the filling is added, the lattice top is applied with a pastry bag, which may seem intimidating to the inexperienced cook. However, inexpensive pastry bags are available in the supermarket with other baking supplies; follow the directions on the bag. An alternative method is to place the pastry for the lattice crust in the freezer until it firms up (about 30 minutes), roll it out with a rolling pin, and cut strips with the tip of a sharp knife. This method will work, but using a pastry bag adds an elegant finishing touch. Cool the linzertorte before trying to unmold. Dust with powdered sugar.

    Mail order

    If you are too far from mom to make these recipes, think about ordering a delicious surprise:

  • Give her dinner from one of the world's great chefs. You won't have to fly her to New York City or California. Simply order an appetizer or entree from Five Leaf, a company formed by four American chefs and two French chefs. They discovered that by flash-freezing, they could deliver some of their most beloved creations. Every dish is fully cooked. Mom just defrosts, heats, and serves according to directions. The chefs are Daniel Boulud of Daniel restaurant in New York City, Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, and Charlie Trotter of Chicago. From France, comes Reine Sammut of Auberge La Feniere in Provence and Antoine Westermann of Restaurant Buerehiesel in Strasbourg. Prices range from $9.99 to $17.99 for appetizers and $9.99 to $29.99 for entrees. Call 866-348-3532. Delivery is four to seven business days.

  • Order the Grand Trio of Spring - fresh morels, fresh fiddlehead ferns, and fresh ramps and leeks - from Earthy Delights in DeWitt, Mich. The seasonal delicacies are available through May. Prices are $29 per pound for fresh black morels; $36 per pound for blond morels; and $8.50 per pound for ramps, fiddleheads, and wild leeks. Fresh product is shipped only once a week.

    For delivery by the weekend, phone orders must be in by the end of the business day today, and online orders are due by 6 a.m. tomorrow. Dried items are shipped daily. For more information or to order, visit earthy.com or call 800-367-4709.

  • Surprise your mother with a gourmet gift she can snack on: a creamy mild cheese flavored with fresh basil from Mozzarella Company in Dallas. The 1.5-pound wheel of Basil Caciotta can be sliced for crackers, melted on chicken, or shredded on pasta or pizza. The gift package includes five cheese knives for $55 (includes shipping). You can order as late as tomorrow for delivery before the weekend. For more information, visit www.mozzco.com or call 800-798-2954.

    Wrap it up

    Some moms enjoy opening gifts. Shoppers still have time to select a cooking appliance or piece of equipment.

  • According to the International Housewares Association's Housewares MarketWatch newsletter, popular electric tools for the kitchen include citrus juicers, juice extractors, and waffle irons/sand-wich makers. Also growing in sales are stand mixers, food processors, and toaster ovens. George Foreman grills continue to fascinate home cooks.

  • Select a cookbook.

    For the time-pressed mom, Desserts 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $30) has more than 125 three-ingredient recipes.

    For the wine connoisseur, Dean & Deluca: The Food and Wine Cookbook by Jeff Morgan (Chronicle Books, $35) features recipes for 80 bold, tasty dishes that complement California varietals.

    For the erstwhile innkeeper, Recipe for a Country Inn by Donna Leahy (Morrow, $29.95) is a blueprint for how to run an inn plus the recipes served at the Inn at Twin Linden in Lancaster County, Pa.

    For the perfectionist, The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy (Broadway Books, $19.95) features recipes for 150 cakes for every taste and occasion.

    For the perfectionist in search of convenience, Cook Smart by Pam Anderson (Houghton Mifflin, $28) has "infallible renditions of favorite dishes" such as fried chicken, fajitas, and simple roast beef tenderloin.

    From the heart

    If your funds are short, remember that "To mom with love" is as easy as a culinary promise. For youngsters who are underage with little or no income, culinary gifts are as easy as a personal agreement to:

  • Give mom a gift certificate promising to do kitchen chores for one week. You do the dishes, clear the kitchen table, and clean the kitchen.

  • Bring her breakfast in bed this weekend. Better yet, let her sleep.



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