Cooks Exchange

Make Mother’s Day special with these treats

A mimosa made with orange juice, left, a mimosa made with blood orange juice, center, and a mimosa made with tangerine juice.
A mimosa made with orange juice, left, a mimosa made with blood orange juice, center, and a mimosa made with tangerine juice. TNS

Mother’s Day is a few days away, and it means more to mothers than perhaps folks realize.

I will never forget my first Mother’s Day. My late husband and daughter made it so special with gifts and lunch after church.

It wasn’t the gifts or the lunch, while those were much appreciated; it was the fact we had a child, a beautiful 4-year-old daughter.

My mom and mother-in-law had a granddaughter to spoil, something they, too, had longed for.

We had wanted children, couldn’t conceive and even adoptions failed. Finally, God gave us Elyssa in November 1995. She was a 3-year-old who needed loving, and we were there with arms open wide.

Difficult days

The previous Mother’s Days were hard, simply reminders of not having our own children.

Mom would try to ease the pain by giving me a card or my mother-in-law a pin that her church gave out, so my heart goes out to those women who may be where I was 22 years ago.

Don’t let the pain rob you of enjoying every minute of Mother’s Day. You may not be a natural or adopted mom, but someone looks up to you. Perhaps it is a co-worker or a child at church. At the time, I taught a 3-year-old Sunday school class.

I remember a schoolteacher who had no natural children, but was a mother to so many. Though she’s long dead, I can mention her name to friends and they immediately share stories about her. What a mother she was.

Treats for moms

Today let’s treat moms, grandmothers, moms-to-be and those praying-to-be with honor, respect and, yes, fun and festivities.

For me, the ideal Mother’s Day treat is an elegant brunch, complete with mimosas, at a special restaurant. You see, I like to be pampered.

We have several Coast restaurants that do a spot-on champagne brunch, but if that isn’t in the budget, here are some at-home ideas to make Mom feel as special as she is.

Our church does a special Mother’s Day luncheon after services. The men must do some of the cooking. Elyssa’s a mom, too, so we flip a coin to see who will cook our part. Lilly’s a great helper in the kitchen, but she isn’t old enough to pull off a complete dish by herself.

OK, husbands, significant others and kids, start those stoves. These are not too difficult.

Mimosa

A mimosa is a standard offering at brunch, but to me it makes a brunch sparkle. I like champagne, especially good champagne, but with a mimosa it is important not to let the champagne overpower the beverage. Use an extra-dry champagne.

Another good starter is just as famous in this area, perhaps even more so. Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans does a milk punch that tastes so smooth, but packs a kick or two.

I also will share one of my favorite brunch dishes from Brennan’s, taken from the cookbook “Breakfast at Brennan’s and Dinner, Too.”

Poached eggs

Poached eggs and brunch are perfect together. Don’t know how to poach an egg? Not to worry. Chefs at Brennan’s tell you how.

Simply bring 1 1/2 quarts of water and 2 cups of vinegar to a boil in a large saucepan. Crack eggs one at a time and drop them gently into the boiling water, being careful not to break the yolks. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, moving the eggs several times with a spoon to cook evenly. When firm, remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place in a pan filled with cold water until serving.

How about a sweet potato and apple casserole instead of the usual cheese grits as a side?

MIMOSA

2 ounces champagne or other sparkling wine, chilled

1/2 ounce Triple Sec

2 ounces orange juice

Garnish: Orange slice

Pour champagne into a champagne flute or wine glass. Pour the Triple Sec and orange juice into the glass. Garnish as desired. Yield: 1 serving.

To make a batch of mimosas (12 servings): Slowly pour one bottle (750 ml) chilled champagne into a pitcher. Stir in 3 cups orange juice and 3/4 cup Triple Sec.

Taste of Home magazine

BRENNAN’S BRANDY MILK PUNCH

1 cup ice cubes

1 1/2 ounces Napoleon brandy or bourbon

2 tablespoons simply syrup

1/2 cup half-and-half

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients except the nutmeg in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, then pour into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

From ‘Breakfast at Brennan’s and Dinner, Too’

EGGS SARDOU

8 artichokes

3 cups creamed spinach (recipe follows)

8 poached eggs

2 cups hollandaise sauce (recipe follows)

Remove the stems from the artichokes and cut off the tops, removing all the leaves. Steam or blanch the artichoke bottoms until tender, then scoop out the furry choke.

Mound creamed spinach on four plates and top with 2 warm artichoke bottoms. Set a poached egg in each artichoke bottom, spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs and serve. Serves 4.

From ‘Breakfast at Brennan’s and Dinner, Too’

CREAMED SPINACH

1 1/2 sticks butter

10 ounces fresh spinach leaves, washed, stemmed and chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups scalded milk

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of white pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large sauté pan; add the spinach and cook over medium heat a few minutes until wilted.

In large saucepan, melt the remaining 3/4 cup butter. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until tender. Using a whisk, blend the flour into the mixture, then gradually pour in the milk. Stir until smooth, then add the spinach. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. When the mixture is thick and warmed through, remove from the heat and serve.

From ‘Breakfast at Brennan’s and Dinner, Too’

HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

1 pound butter

4 egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons water

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; skim and discard the milk solids from the top of the butter. Hold the clarified butter over very low heat while preparing the egg yolks.

Place the egg yolks, vinegar, cayenne and salt in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk briefly. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven large enough to accommodate the bowl with about 1 inch of water. Heat the water to just below the boiling point. Set the bowl in the pan over the water; do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the egg yolk mixture until slightly thickened, then drizzle the clarified butter into the yolks, whisking constantly. If the bottom of the bowl becomes hotter than warm to the touch, remove the bowl from the pan of water for a few seconds and let cool. When all the butter is incorporated and the sauce is thick, beat in the water.

Serve the hollandaise immediately or keep in a warm place at room temperature until use.

From ‘Breakfast at Brennan’s and Dinner, Too’

SWEET POTATO AND APPLE CASSEROLE

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (Cook sweet potatoes unpeeled in boiling salted water 10 minutes. Drain and peel.)

2 cups tart cooking apples, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar

Arrange alternate slices of potatoes and apples, put three or four tabs of butter on top, add sugar and salt in the casserole. Top with orange slices and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until apples are tender.

From ‘Huntingdon Garden Club Tasting Tea’

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