The best recipes of 2003 are worth repeating

December 31, 2003

Lemon and White-Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

Betty Rosbottom's column on Sundays always can be counted on to provide wonderfully simple and elegant ideas for entertaining. This easy, do-ahead recipe offers a lusciously sweet finish to any meal.

Serves 6

3 large, thick-skinned lemons

4 egg yolks

6 tablespoons sugar

2 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons whipping cream

2 cups (1 pint) raspberries or blueberries or a combination of both, optional

fresh mint sprigs for garnish

To make the lemon mousse, zest enough lemons to yield 1 tablespoon. Juice the same lemons to yield 1/3 cup. Place egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Whisk constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon and is very thick, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a nonreactive medium bowl and cool to room temperature. To make the white-chocolate mousse, place chocolate and 2 1/2 tablespoons cream in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until smooth and creamy. Remove to a medium bowl and set aside to cool 10 minutes.

Whip remaining cream with an electric mixer on high speed until firm. Gently fold half of the cream into the lemon mixture, then gently fold remaining whipped cream into the white-chocolate mixture.

Using half of the lemon-mousse mixture, mound equal amounts in each of 6 parfait or sundae glasses or 6 large, wide-rimmed wineglasses. Smooth the mousse in each glass with the back of a teaspoon. If adding berries, use a third of them and sprinkle over the lemon mousse in each glass.

Using half of the white-chocolate mousse, mound equal amounts in each of the glasses and smooth with the back of a teaspoon.

Continue in this way, adding one more layer of lemon mousse to each glass, sprinkling with a third of the berries, if desired, and topping with a layer of white-chocolate mousse. (The mousse parfaits can be prepared a day ahead; cover the top of each with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

At serving time, garnish each with a mint sprig and some of the remaining berries, if desired.

Chicken Alouette

When we asked some of our local celebrities for their favorite can't-miss holiday dishes, Maryland's first lady, Kendel Ehrlich, provided us with this lovely entree. "I love making this dish for guests because it's easy to make, it tastes great and presents beautifully on a nicely set table." We couldn't agree more.

Serves 6

1 package Pepperidge Farm puff-pastry sheets, thawed

one 4-ounce package of Garlic and Spice Alouette cheese

salt and pepper

6 skinned and boneless chicken breast halves

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon water

Unfold pastry sheets. Roll both sheets out and add about 2 inches of length and width to the sheets, making sure they are not too thin. Cut one sheet into four 7-inch-by-6-inch rectangles; cut the second sheet into two 7-inch-by-6-inch rectangles and one 12-inch-by-6-inch rectangle. Set the 12-inch-by-6-inch rectangle aside.

Spread the cheese on the small rectangles, leaving a 1/2 -inch cheese-free border. Salt and pepper the chicken and place it on the cheese. Slightly moisten the pastry edges with water and press lengthwise to close into 6 packets. Place on lightly greased pastry sheet.

Using cookie cutters, cut remaining puff pastry into shapes, such as leaves, snowflakes and flowers. Decorate chicken packets. Combine egg and 1 tablespoon water and brush all over pastry. Bake at 400 degrees on lower rack for 25 minutes or until golden-brown.

Cajun Ribeye With Blue-Cheese Butter

Eric Littlejohn, chef-partner at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Baltimore, offered guidance on the proper grilling techniques in one of our Chef's Corner columns. In this recipe for Cajun ribeye steaks, the richly marbled steaks have a spicy Cajun rub tempered with a rich blue-cheese butter.

Makes 6 servings

1 cup paprika

1/2 cup salt

1/4 cup onion powder

1/4 cup garlic powder

1/4 cup cayenne pepper

1/8 cup white pepper

1/8 cup black pepper

1/8 cup thyme

1/8 cup oregano

six 16-ounce USDA prime or Certified Angus Beef grade ribeye steaks

1 quart Pomace olive oil

blue-cheese butter (recipe follows)

Mix together the seasonings and rub 1 tablespoon on each side of each steak. Put steaks in a small pan and cover with Pomace olive oil. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Before grilling, take the steaks out of the oil, and let the oil drip off for 10 minutes. The steaks are now ready to be grilled.

This recipe for the Cajun rub is good for approximately 20 steaks. The seasoning can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Once the ribeyes are finished, put 1 teaspoon of the blue-cheese butter on the steaks and serve.

Blue-Cheese Butter

1 pound lightly salted butter (divided use)

1/2 pound Danish blue cheese

Place 1/2 pound of butter in a saute pan with all of the blue cheese. Heat on medium heat until all of the cheese is melted.

Let the butter-and-cheese mixture cool for a few minutes. Using a hand mixer, whip in the rest of the butter until creamy.

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