“Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven,” a Madison Avenue ad copywriter once famously wrote. Of course, that truism especially applies to Mother’s Day, which also happens to be the busiest day of the year in the restaurant business.
So this year why not skip the crowded eatery and make Mom a restaurant-quality brunch at home? The fact is simple ingredients combined in the right way can create a five-star brunch, plus that “you made it yourself” charm goes straight to the heart and is the perfect gift in and of itself. So this month we tapped into the creative genius of two local chefs who provided several recipe ideas that don’t require a culinary-school degree or years of kitchen experience. And for festive, liquid refreshments to complement the food, former store manager Jason Swanson of The Cellars Wine & Spirits provides a couple new drink recipes.
To round things out for the brunch table, consider handcrafted nameplates and a centerpiece by floral designer Keith Flaby of Bachman’s. Any bouquet can be hand-picked, but Flaby provides suggestions to create a fragrant, spring-like setting, and Laurie Stoetzel of Anchor Paper Express ties it all together—literally—with beautiful ribbon-adorned cards and crafts for the table.
Dads: Whether this is a labor of love for a new mom or something your wives help with for the sage matriarch of your extended family, this is one Mother’s Day that won’t soon be forgotten.
Cornflake-crusted Banana-stuffed French Toast
Courtesy of Mo Moore, director of culinary and purchasing at Axel’s Bonfire Restaurant Co.
Yield: Serves 2
1 cup cornflake crumbs
1 Tbsp. toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup egg whites (or egg substitute)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 slices cinnamon–raisin bread
1/4 cup mashed banana
Strawberries and blueberries (optional)
Heat griddle over medium-high heat. Combine cornflake crumbs and almonds in a bowl.
Combine egg whites, vanilla extract and cinnamon in another bowl. Dip 1 slice of bread in egg batter, then coat on both sides with cornflake crust; repeat with remaining bread slices.
Spread mashed banana on one side of two pieces of crusted bread; top with remaining two bread slices to make two sandwiches.
Cook sandwiches on griddle until golden brown, 2 minutes per side. Cut in half, and serve with fresh berries, if desired.
Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Quiche
Courtesy of Mark Stankey, executive chef at Woody’s Grille
Yield: Serves 6–8
1 9- or 10-inch unsweetened pie shell (purchase pre-made or make your own)
5 each large eggs
3 cups half-and-half
1 pinch nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 each yellow onion, ¼-inch diced
1 qt. mushrooms, sliced
1 qt. packed fresh spinach, lightly chopped, or 1 small box frozen chopped spinach
½ lb. Swiss cheese, grated
1 lb. diced ham (optional)
Pre-heat conventional oven to 350 degrees (300 degrees if convection).
In a large bowl combine eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well with a whisk.
Place a frying pan over medium heat, and add the oil and the butter. When melted add the onions, and saute 1–2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook until about half-done.
Add the garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are well-cooked (about 4–5 minutes). It is OK to brown them slightly with onions, but do not burn them (brown is caramelized sweetness, and burnt is bitter, at which point it is better to discard and start over).
Add the spinach, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until the moisture evaporates. Remove from heat immediately to cool.
When the mixture has cooled (about 15 minutes), place it in the bottom of the pie crust that is still in the tin or pan. Add the cheese and a little of the egg mixture; swirl these around in the pie crust gently with a spoon, but be careful not to damage the crust or it will leak and not cook properly.
Add the remaining egg mixture a little at a time until the mixture reaches about ½-inch from the top of the rim (you might not need all of the egg mixture depending upon the size of the shell). Place this on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum so that if it does leak or spill it will not be hard to clean up.
Place in the oven, and set your timer for 20 minutes. The quiche will not be done after that time. Rotate the pan 180 degrees in the oven to get the quiche to brown evenly, then set the timer for an additional 20 minutes.
The quiche is done when you gently shake the pan and it does not jiggle. When the quiche is done, remove it from the oven, and let it stand for about 10 minutes so that it can settle. This will help it to hold together while cutting.
Courtesy of Mo Moore, Axel’s Bonfire
Yield: Makes 4 servings
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large fresh Poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced into strips
1/2 cup chopped chives
Freshly ground black pepper
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup crumbled low-fat or fat-free feta cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Heat oil in a medium nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add Poblano, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms and Poblano are lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Add scallions, season with salt and pepper, and remove pan from heat.
Whisk eggs, cilantro and cumin in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat skillet over medium heat. Pour eggs evenly over mushroom mixture, and use a heatproof spatula to evenly disperse ingredients.
Sprinkle feta over top. Cook until bottom is set, about 2 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven, and cook until eggs are just set, about 9 minutes. Remove from oven, and let sit 2 minutes. Run heatproof spatula around edge of pan to release frittata. Slide frittata onto a warmed plate, and cut into wedges to serve.
Hash Brown Brunch Casserole
Courtesy of Mo Moore, Axel’s Bonfire
Yield: Serves 12
1 2-lb. package frozen hash brown potatoes, unthawed
1 can cream of celery soup, undiluted
3 cups (packed) grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 oz.)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup finely chopped onion
6-oz. can French-fried onions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine first five ingredients in large bowl. Transfer to a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish; bake until top is slightly golden, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with onions. Bake until golden brown, another 5 minutes.
Fresh Fruit Parfait
Courtesy of Mark Stankey, Woody’s Grille
Yield: Serves 4
½ cup honey
1 lime, juice of
½ pint raspberries
½ pint blueberries
½ pint strawberries
1 small cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks just a bit larger than the berries
1 banana bread, cut into 12 ¼- to ½-inch slices
1 qt. yogurt (consider vanilla-flavored or plain)
Combine the honey and the lime juice. Mix well.
Place the berries and cantaloupe in a bowl, and pour the honey lime mixture over the top. Stir gently to combine. Divide the fruit mixture into 4 portions.
In a large wine or parfait glass (or festive, clear container of your choice), put 1/3 of a portion of the fruit mixture into the bottom of the glass. Repeat this in each glass. Add a slice of banana bread over the top of the fruit mixture in each glass. Add 2 Tbsp. yogurt over the top of the banana bread in each glass. Repeat fruit, bread and yogurt layers in each glass two more times.
Add a slice or two of strawberry on top for garnish
You might wish to mix the berries an hour ahead of time and assemble at the last minute. This will help to maintain the texture of the banana bread.
If you are not a yogurt fan, you could substitute whipped cream, ice cream or even a pudding mixture. But you should use a flavor that is neutral, such as vanilla, with the ice cream or pudding mixture, as not to confuse the flavors of the fruit.
Feel free to do variations. Stankey likes to make his own banana bread, whipped cream and ice cream, and has added a drop or few of Grand Marnier to the berries, for adults. Experimentation is encouraged!
The drink menu is based off a new line of all-natural cocktail mixers from Powell & Mahoney, says The Cellars’ Jason Swanson. The Peach Bellini mix, made with organic cane sugar and concentrated peach puree, has a light, spring-like flavor perfect for the holiday. Simply mix 1 part P&M Peach Bellini with 2 parts Prosecco (Swanson recommends San Martino) in a champagne flute. Garnish with a slice of peach or a few raspberries. This recipe could also be made non-alcoholic by substituting club soda for the Prosecco.
“P&M also has a Pomegranate mix, and that, too, would be delicious with Prosecco, club soda or ginger ale,” Swanson says. For a brunch with extended family that’s sure to last multiple courses (and hours), consider a pomegranate martini to cap the meal. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker combine 2 parts P&M Pomegranate mix, 1.5 parts citrus vodka and a splash of Cointreau. Shake, strain into martini glass, and garnish with a twist of lemon.
Flowers and Cards
For the perfect Mother’s Day brunch centerpiece, Bachman’s floral designer Keith Flaby has crafted a full and lush arrangement in an oval asymmetrical shape. The design and flower selection emphasize the fragrance of spring and early summer garden flowers in shades of pink, lavender and cream. “Fragrance is one key component in floral arrangements, because smell is the most powerful of our senses, taking us back in time,” Flaby says. The centerpiece uses a mix of peonies, hydrangea, spray roses, mini calla lilies, campanula, hyacinth and bells of Ireland.
To make the occasion even more memorable, hand-craft a personalized greeting card—with help from the pros at Anchor Paper Express. “There’s nothing a mother loves more then to receive a handmade card from their child, no matter the age,” sales associate Laurie Stoetzel says. And what mother doesn’t like a picture of their child or child’s family? Take the photo-idea one step further and add a favorite photo of kids with Mom from their younger years, with a few words to explain why the photo is significant. “List favorite traditions that your mother started for your family that meant a lot to you and make her so special,” Stoetzel suggests.
Following the theme of food, “you could write up a recipe card on cardstock that incorporates your mother’s strengths—a recipe for the Perfect Mom,” Stoetzel adds. “Try to incorporate any hidden talents you might have to be the focal piece of your card—needlepoint, watercolor or a drawing, for example. The best way to personalize your Mother’s Day card is to put yourself into it.”
Place Cards: A How-to
10-inch-square (or 12-inch-square) medium-weight two-sided cardstock paper, quartered
Colored, patterned scrapbooking paper in three coordinating colors
Double-stick tape or glue stick
Three mini candy bars in various flavors and sizes
OPTIONAL: Coordinating ribbon to tie
OPTIONAL: Cellophane or cellophane party bags
- Take one of the quartered (so 5-inch-square or 6-inch-square) pieces of cardstock, and fold corner-to-corner, creating a triangle.
- With the long edge/fold of the paper facing you, fold the top corner about half-way back toward long-edge fold, then fold back up.
- Take each of the long-edge corners, and fold them up to this new folded line, creating a hexagon shape. Fold the top corner back over the two long-edge corners to hold in place. This should form a pocket.
- Repeat to desired number of guests.
- On a small wedge or circle of paper, print or stamp the name of one of your guests. Repeat, as needed. Adhere this nametag to the front of the hexagon-shaped pocket.
- Wrap each miniature candy bar in a different colored paper, hiding the packaging. Insert up to three candies in each pocket.
- Place in cellophane wrap and tie with ribbon, if desired, or leave free-standing.