When my daughters were young they would spend hours in the kitchen preparing Mother’s Day breakfast for me. My “job” was to luxuriate in bed while they cooked for me under the supervision of their father. I would hear them squabble over each 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 girl voices filter in from the kitchen, I would settle into thoughts of the messy beauty of motherhood. When breakfast was ready they would walk into my bedroom balancing a tray of food, with a tiny vase of spring flowers picked from the May garden, singing “Happy Mother’s Day” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” I always teared up. Then they would tuck themselves into bed with me and “help” me eat breakfast from the tray, all together in our pajamas.
Those little girls are now adult women living on the other side of the country. Every year when they call to wish me Happy Mother’s Day, I think back on this breakfast ritual. I also think of my own mother, who has been gone for more than 30 years, and how I hope she is watching over us and witnessing what beautiful, strong, successful women her granddaughters have become.
I am a huge believer in bringing children into the kitchen and helping them learn to cook. These three recipes can all be made with the assistance of even young children. I have noted which steps are appropriate for kids to help with. Obviously, anything involving sharp knives, hot skillets and a hot oven needs serious supervision.
Start the day with an Asparagus, Herb and Feta Cheese Frittata. This baked egg dish is bright and simple and a wonderful way to celebrate. The Mother’s Day Salad combines steamed green beans, crisp lettuce, oranges, fennel, olives and nuts — a riot of color, texture and bright flavors. The salad is hearty enough to be served as a light main course. The Lemon Tart, a great spring dessert topped with the season’s first strawberries, can be served for dessert or mid-afternoon with a pot of tea and fresh fruit salad.
To all the hard-working mothers who have been through an incredibly tough year of lockdown and at-home schooling, here’s to you. Happy Mother’s Day.
Asparagus, Feta And Herb Frittata
A frittata is almost impossible to mess up and easy enough for even the youngest child to help out in the preparation. 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 highly adaptable — it can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
- 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 medium eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 cup crumbled or cubed feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Edible flowers, optional garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Roast the asparagus: In an 8 to 10-inch ovenproof skillet, toss the asparagus, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on the middle shelf for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. You want the asparagus to be slightly tender, but not cooked through; test the stem end with a small sharp knife.
- Meanwhile, let the kids 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 together.
- Remove the asparagus from the oven and place on a plate. Add the butter and remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the hot skillet. Add the whisked egg mixture and then arrange the asparagus on top in a design (Careful, the skillet and the asparagus are hot!). Bake on the middle shelf for 10 to 12 minutes or until the eggs are slightly puffed, almost golden brown and not wet looking. Remove and serve hot or room temperature.
Mother’s Day Spring Salad
This salad can be easily served as a main course — healthy, colorful and chock 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’s a side dish, it will serve 4 to 6.
- 1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed
- 1 large or 2 small blood or navel oranges
- 1 large head 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 fennel bulb, or two small ones, cored, and very thinly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds (the dill-like top of the fennel bulb; save the extras for the vinaigrette)
- 1/3 cup pitted black (oil-cured) olives or pitted green olives
- 1/2 cup almonds, Marcona almonds, pistachios, or your favorite nut
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- About 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds from the fennel bulb, optional
- Bring a small pot of water to boil and add the beans. Add the beans to the pot, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.
- Using a small sharp knife, remove the peel from the orange(s). Working over a small bowl, cut the orange into sections, removing the white membrane between each section or cut into thin slices. Set aside the orange sections and keep any juice in the bowl for the vinaigrette.
- Arranging the salad is an ideal job for the kids: Arrange the lettuce in a large salad bowl or shallow platter. Arrange the beans in small piles around the lettuce. Sprinkle the fennel slices in the middle and arrange the oranges and the cucumber slices around the fennel. Sprinkle the salad with olives and almonds. Sprinkle about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chopped fennel frond on top. The salad can be made several hours ahead of time, loosely covered and refrigerated.
- Make the vinaigrette: In the bowl with the orange juice, mix in the mustard, salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and mix until smooth. Add the olive oil and season to taste. Mix in the chopped fennel fronds if using. The vinaigrette can be made a day or two ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.
- Sprinkle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve.
A truly simple lemony spring tart to celebrate Mother’s Day. You can bake the tart a day ahead of time. Serve topped with strawberry slices and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. You’ll need an 8 x 8 x 2 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
The lemon filling:
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Fresh strawberries, cut into slices or your favorite berry
- Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set aside the tart pan with a removable bottom.
- The kids can help with this step: In a medium bowl, mix the flour and the confectioners’ sugar. Add the butter and, using your hands or a pastry cutter, mix well until the butter breaks down and is the size of peas. Press the crust into the tart pan (it will appear dry and crumbly which is fine) with your hands, building up a 1/2-inch edge up the sides. Bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes.
- Let the kids help mix the batter: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric mixer. Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into the hot crust and bake for another 25 minutes. If the tart starts to brown, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. The tart is done when no indentations appear when lightly touched in the center. Remove the tart and cool. Just before serving, let the kids sift confectioners’ sugar on top of the cooled tart and surround with the strawberry slices.
Other Recipe Ideas For Mother’s Day
This segment aired on May 6, 2021.