When my daughters were young they would spend hours in the kitchen preparing me Mother’s Day breakfast. My “job” was to indulge in bed while they cooked for me under the supervision of their father. I heard them argue over every step of the meal and then witness the pride they took in preparing a Mother’s Day breakfast for me.
As I listened to their little girls’ voices from the kitchen, I thought of the messy beauty of motherhood. When breakfast was ready, they went to my bedroom and balanced a tray of food with a tiny vase of spring flowers from the May garden and sang “Happy Mother’s Day” to “Happy Birthday”. I’ve always torn. Then they lay down in bed with me and “helped” me to have breakfast from the tray, all together in our pajamas.
These little girls are now grown women who live on the other side of the country. Every year when they call to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, I think back to this breakfast ritual. I also think of my own mother, who has been gone for more than 30 years, and how I hope she will watch over us and see how beautiful, strong and successful her granddaughters have become.
I am a firm believer in bringing children into the kitchen and helping them learn to cook. These three recipes can all be made with the help of young children. I’ve noticed the steps children can take to help. Obviously, anything to do with sharp knives, hot pans, and a hot oven needs serious monitoring.
Start the day with an asparagus, herb, and feta cheese frittata. This baked egg dish is light and simple and a wonderful way to celebrate. Mother’s Day Salad combines steamed green beans, crispy lettuce, oranges, fennel, olives, and nuts – a riot of color, texture, and bright flavors. The salad is hearty enough to serve as a light main course. The lemon tart, a great spring dessert with the first strawberries of the season, can be served for dessert or in the afternoon with a pot of tea and fresh fruit salad.
To all of the hard working moms who had an incredibly tough year of lockdown and home schooling, here is for you. Happy Mother’s Day.
Asparagus, feta and herb frittata
Asparagus, feta and herb frittata (Kathy Gunst)
A frittata is nearly impossible to screw up and easy enough for even the youngest child to help prepare. This baked egg dish uses spring asparagus, creamy feta and fresh herbs. Serve with crusty bread, toast or biscuits.
A frittata also has the advantage of being very adaptable – it can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
- 1 pound asparagus, ends cut
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 8 medium-sized eggs
- 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 cup of crumbled or diced feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Edible flowers, optionally garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Fry the asparagus: In an 8 to 10-inch ovenproof pan, toss the asparagus, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Depending on the thickness, place on the middle shelf for 8 to 10 minutes. You want the asparagus to be slightly tender but not cooked through. Test the end of the stem with a small sharp knife.
- In the meantime, have the children help whisk the eggs in a large bowl with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the herbs and cheese and whisk the mixture.
- Take the asparagus out of the oven and place on a plate. Put the butter and the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil in the hot pan. Add the whisk egg mixture and arrange the asparagus on top in a design (be careful, the pan and asparagus are hot!). Bake on the middle shelf for 10 to 12 minutes or until the eggs are slightly puffed and look almost golden brown and not wet. Remove and serve hot or at room temperature.
Mother’s day spring salad
Spring salad for Mother’s Day (Kathy Gunst)
This salad is easy to serve as a main course – healthy, colorful, and full of great textures. Serve with warm, crusty bread or rolls.
If the salad is the main course, it will serve 2 to 3; If it is a side dish, 4 to 6 people will be served.
- 1/2 pound green beans, ends cut
- 1 large or 2 small blood or umbilical oranges
- 1 large head of red or green leaf lettuce, washed, dried and leaves separated but left whole
- 1 cucumber, peeled (or washed and unpeeled) and very thinly sliced
- 1 large or two small fennel bulbs, pitted and very thinly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fennel fronds (the dill-like top of the fennel bulb; except for the extras for the vinaigrette)
- 1/3 cup pitted black (oil hardened) olives or pitted green olives
- 1/2 cup of almonds, marcona almonds, pistachios or your favorite nut
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- About 1/3 cup of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds from the fennel bulb, optional
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the beans. Put the beans in the saucepan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.
- Use a small sharp knife to remove the peel from the orange (s). In a small bowl, cut the orange into sections, peeling off the white membrane between each section, or cut into thin slices. Set the orange pieces aside and keep the juice for the vinaigrette in the bowl.
- Arranging the salad is an ideal job for the kids: arrange the salad in a large salad bowl or flat plate. Arrange the beans in small piles around the salad. Scatter the fennel slices in the middle and place the orange and cucumber slices around the fennel. Sprinkle the salad with olives and almonds. Scatter about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chopped fennel frond on top. The salad can be prepared several hours in advance, loosely covered and refrigerated.
- Prepare the vinaigrette: Mix in the mustard, salt and pepper in the bowl with the orange juice. Add the vinegar and mix until smooth. Add the olive oil and season to taste. When using, mix in the chopped fennel fronds. The vinaigrette can be made a day or two beforehand; cover and cool.
- Sprinkle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve.
Lemony Spring Tart (Kathy Gunst)
A really simple lemony spring cake to celebrate Mother’s Day. You can bake the cake a day in advance. Dust with strawberry slices and powdered sugar. You will need an 8 x 8 x 2 inch cake pan with a removable bottom.
For 4 to 6 people.
- 1 cup of flour
- ¼ cup of powdered sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
The lemon filling:
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of grated lemon peel
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
The side dishes:
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- Fresh strawberries, sliced or your favorite berry
- Make the crust: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set aside the cake tin with the removable bottom.
- The children can help with this step: Mix the confectioners’ flour and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Add the butter and mix well with your hands or a cookie cutter until the butter crumbles and is the size of peas. Use your hands to press the crust into the pie pan (it will appear dry and crumbly, which is fine) and build a 1/2 inch border on the sides. Bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes.
- Let the children help mix the batter: In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric mixer. Add sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Pour the mixture into the hot crust and bake for another 25 minutes. When the cake starts to brown, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. The cake is ready when there are no notches when lightly touched in the middle. Remove the cake and let it cool down. Just before serving, have the children sieve the icing sugar onto the cooled cake and surround it with the strawberry slices.
Other recipe ideas for Mother’s Day