Renee Behnke, Seattle-based owner of the Sur La Table cookware stores, promotes family dining through flexibility. Routinely, her large table is surrounded by children, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends, who enjoy the way she mixes the old with the new in meals that are "pleasing for all kids," as Behnke puts it.
Ironically, nostalgia appeals to the children; fresh touches please the grown-ups. For this meal, Behnke roasts two plump chickens, one with and one without goat cheese tucked under its crisp breast skin; reincarnates a macaroni casserole from her own childhood (plain noodles with butter for finicky eaters); and offers mild, crunchy iceberg lettuce wedges with style, to moisten with old-fashioned cooked French dressing or the finest of today's olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Big, crisp cream puffs stuffed with ice cream are dessert (plain ice cream for the very timid). Options, graciously offered, are Behnke's key to conviviality.