Brunch or Lunch? Mother’s Day Weekend Special

It’s going to be a rainy, make that very rainy, Mother’s Day in New England. Sounds like a good day to have a long and leisurely brunch or lunch. I’m getting together with my sister this weekend. We’ll share a few favorite dishes, special memories of Mom and maybe a tear or two.

Here are a few suggestions! Let them eat quiche! A Classic Quiche works for me but maybe you’d like some variation of a cheese and egg pie. You can cook up my Spinach Ricotta Pie, Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart) or Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart for a bit of a change.

Add a lovely salad. Something simple like a Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad or Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad sounds good. Or something a little fancy like one of my favorite asparagus salads – Asparagus Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette or Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado.

Instead of the ever-so-traditional quiche and salad – how about a lovely soup and flatbread? For soup, I’d like to recommend Asparagus Soup (obviously I’m in an asparagus kind of mood) or Soupe de Poisson Provençal! Now you can invite everyone to make their own flatbread or pizzas or take control with my Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego.

Now then, time for something sweet? Fresh fruit with a creamy pud sounds pretty good. Try my Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard or Fresh Strawberries with Lavender Infused White Chocolate Crème.

Stay dry and have a lovely weekend. Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Mothers’ Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2017

Lies &Truths Mothers Tell

All mothers lie. I’m not sure how it works but I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities. My first theory is that an anti-truth drug is mixed into their prenatal vitamins. The second is that new mothers receive an injection of anti-truth serum just after the baby is born.

I’m leaning towards the second. Ingesting anti-truth stuff during pregnancy could mean that all kids would come out lying. We know that’s not true or at least it’s only partially true. Kids only lie about important things, like if they break something or eat all the cookies and then blame their little brothers.

In honor of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I’d like to dispel a few of the lies mothers tell and share one important truth.

There is no hotdog-bun conspiracy. The bakers and butchers did not get together in an effort to make you buy too many hotdogs or dash out at the last minute for more buns. Yes, it is an inexplicable fact that hotdogs come in packages of ten and buns are bundled eight to a bag. Rather than a conspiracy, it’s more likely the opposite. The butchers and bakers never bothered to get together and talk.

Mothers doesn’t have eyes in the back of their heads. At least my mother didn’t. We know because my brother looked for them when he was about four years. It just seems that way. Rather than a second pair of eyes, mothers use all their senses to observe and know their children. How else do they know that the backseat is not just quiet, it’s much too quiet?

Although she was probably tempted a few times, your mother never would have sold you to the ragman. This one was a pretty much an empty threat at my house. You could tell by Mom’s delivery. It usually came when I did something that was more funny than naughty. Mom would rock me in her arms, laugh and ask, “What am I going to do with you? I’ll have to give to the ragman.” She never did. As far as I can figure, all the ragmen have moved on to new employment so today’s children needn’t worry.

One real, honest to goodness lie all mothers tell is, “I’ll think about it.” It might be the only lie they tell. I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now but it’s an effective way to, at least temporarily, avoid conflict. As in, “Can we go for ice cream?” Of course the answer is no. It’s 5:30. Dinner is in an hour. However, “Get in the car and I’ll think about it,” moves the meltdown from the supermarket checkout line to the privacy of the family minivan or SUV.

By the time she pulls into the driveway, your tears have subsided, replaced by that awful cranky face. That’s when she tells you, “Stop scowling, your face will freeze that way.” The truth is, no matter how ornery you get and how much you show it, your face won’t freeze that way. In the meantime, that cranky face is pretty off-putting. You have a beautiful smile and the world would love to see it more often.

My mother lost her long fight with Alzheimer’s disease last December. She won’t be telling me any more lies. A few days before she died, she told me one important truth. As I sat next to her bed, she greeted me with her big, beautiful smile, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I love you.”

Happy Mothers’ Day and bon appétit!

Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta
Although she didn’t really like to cook, my mother was a most appreciative recipe tester. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices baguette or ciabatta bread
6 ounces feta, crumbled
1-2 handfuls arugula
4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
About 1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

Prep the oil in advance: put the lemon zest and juice, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch pepper in a jar or bowl. Shake or whisk to combine. Add the oil and thyme and shake or whisk again. Let the oil sit at room temperature for an hour or more.

Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium high.

Lightly brush each side of the bread slices with the lemon-olive oil. Place the bread on the grill and, turning once, toast for 1-2 minutes.

To serve: top the still-warm toasts with the feta, radishes, cucumber and arugula. If you like, drizzle with a little lemon-olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Store extra lemon-olive oil in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts
Two Years Ago – Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Three Years Ago – A Duo of Aiolis
Four Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushrooms & Mustard Sauce
Five Years Ago – Crunch Salad with Apples & Grapes
Six Years Ago – Grilled Mustard Pork Chops
Seven Years Ago – Rhubarb Crisp
Eight Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Steak

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What lies and truths did your mother tell you? What lies and truths do you tell your children? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Mothers’ Day Weekend Special

Happy_Mothers_Day_Mom_Susie_Brenda_Summer

Oops! Looking for a fun and festive menu for
Cinco de Mayo? It’s here! Enjoy!

Will you be cooking for Mom this weekend? Breakfast in bed? A cozy family brunch? A tasty dinner? If you need a little help with the menu, here are a few suggestions:

Mothers’ Day Brunch! How about a delicious Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart? If Mom’s got a sweet tooth, try my Puffy Apple Pancake. Fill out your brunch with some fresh fruit. The strawberries are looking pretty good so how about Strawberries with Yogurt Cream. A bread basket is always welcome – especially if it’s filled with Lavender Scones and/or Rhubarb Muffins.

And don’t forget the Mimosas!

Mimosas

Orange juice – preferably freshly squeezed and chilled
Champagne or Prosecco, chilled
Grand Marnier (optional)
Garnish: orange slice (optional)

Half fill champagne flutes with champagne or prosecco. Carefully top the glasses with orange juice and 1 tablespoons Grand Marnier. Give a gentle stir, garnish with an orange slice and serve.

Mothers’ Day Dinner! For a beautiful start to her special dinner, Mom will love my Artichoke Crostini. Add a few nuts and Spicy Olives.

Sit down to a healthy salad. Perhaps your mom would like my Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad or my spring favorite Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado. (Rain is in the forecast but don’t worry. You can grill the asparagus in advance between showers.)

Now, the main course. For cozy, perhaps your mom would like my Lamb Shanks with Mushrooms & Pearl Onions or Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs. Thinking a bit lighter, how about Moroccan Baked Cod ? Serve the lamb or chicken with Whole Grain Pilaf and the fish with Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts.

What about dessert? Does your mom have a favorite. Mine loves chocolate. Chocolate Panna Cotta, Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes, it’s all good. Or go wild with my Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake.

Happy Day Mom and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Mothers’ Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Mother’s Day & Puffy Apple Pancake

Mom_Susie_Brenda_SailboatMother’s Day is Sunday. It’s the day when little children clamber out of bed early. They burn English muffins, spill orange juice and deliver both to mom with a big hug. If he’s worth his salt, it’s a day for dads to clean up the OJ and then take everyone out for pancakes. Lucky for my mother, it’s been several years since any of her three burned an English muffin or spilled a glass of orange juice. Okay, maybe once or twice and it was white wine not orange juice. Not nearly as messy!

Mom is well into her eighth decade. Her brood has expanded over the years. Along with my sister, brother and me, she has seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Unfortunately, longevity has not been kind to her. Now in a nursing home in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Mom is bedbound and barely verbal. She’s worn out but not ready to give up. When I stopped in to see her today, she smiled, chuckled softly once or twice and then hummed a little tune. Today and every day, I am grateful for all that she has given me over the years.

My mother raised a noisy bunch. I’m pretty sure that she did it on purpose. Far from reserved, she never hesitates to show her love of life and us. Get us together and before too long, we’re talking all at once. There could be some shouting but don’t worry; the laughter will be even more enthusiastic and contagious.

Under all the noise and laughter are independent thinkers. Mom loves the dialogue and rigorous discussion that comes from carefully thought out opinions. Fortunately (or not for some of the bosses who have hired us), Mrs. Nye didn’t raise no yes-man or women.

I’m not sure why or how but Mom did not pass on her neatness gene. She is a neat neater and I envy her that (and her long legs). In the scheme of things, there are neat neaters, messy neaters, neat messers and messy messers. I may be the worst but, as far as I can figure, none of her children inherited her neatness. I’ll blame it on Dad, he’s a bit of a messer himself.

Thank goodness for Mom’s generous and kind spirit. Mom has always had an uncanny knack for making people feel good about themselves, even special. I think she must have something of a Spidey sense when it comes to who might need a little extra care and attention.

Mom is not exactly an environmentalist but she doesn’t like waste. She’s green in her own, New England sort of way. We learned early that we didn’t own the electric company and didn’t live in a barn. We closed the door, turned off lights and put on a sweater if we were cold.

My mother is an unabashed optimist for herself and for others. Like the little engine that could, Mom believes in hard work and positive outcomes. Whether it is an exam, a special dinner or what to do with the rest of your life, Mom knows that everything will work out just fine in the end.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom and bon appétit!

Puffy Apple Pancake
Forget standing at the stove flipping flapjacks; make one big pancake for everyone to share on Mother’s Day. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

1-2 tablespoons butter for the pan
1-2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
4-5 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Maple syrup or confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie plate. Arrange the apple slices in the bottom of the pan.

Combine the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle about half the sugar mixture evenly over the apples. Place the dish in the oven and bake the apples for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the remaining sugar mix in a blender with the eggs, flour, salt and vanilla and process to combine. Warm the milk in the microwave on high for 15-20 seconds. With the motor running, slowly add the milk to the flour and eggs and process for about 1 minute on medium speed.

Puffy_Apple_Pancake_05Slide the rack from the oven to reach the pie plate, without removing the pan, carefully pour the batter over the apples. Carefully slide the rack and pan back into the oven and continue baking until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Cut the pancake into wedges and serve immediately with a drizzle of maple syrup or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

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One Year Ago – Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
Two Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Three Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Four Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Five Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Six Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Seven Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Celebrate Mom’s Day Weekend Special

Mom_SusieIt’s Mother’s Day this weekend. How will you make her day special? A girls’ day out at the spa? A fabulous hike on her favorite path? Shop ‘til you drop at the mall? A long lazy lunch, brunch or dinner? Some of the above? All of the above? Or something else entirely?

Here are a few delicious ideas the weekend, starting with brunch or lunch. For a new and different take on the classic pancake, try my Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa. If your mom loves caviar and/or smoked salmon, then you will want to try my Savory Blinis or Latkes with a dab of sour cream, a sliver of smoked salmon and a bit of caviar.Mom_Brenda_Susie

Then again, maybe brunch with mom demands Quiche or some variation of a cheese and egg pie. Perhaps you’ll cook up my Spinach Ricotta Pie, Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart) or Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart.

For something sweet and creamy, give my Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt, Panna Cotta with Strawberries or Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup.

And for dessert, I love Lemon Scones. Serve them plain or add your favorite jam and clotted cream. Perhaps you’ll let them eat cake, Blueberry Crumb Cake. It is delicious. Maybe you’ll try my Apple Muffins. After all, a muffin is just a cupcake without frosting.mom_susie_70s - 02

Maybe you are more the dinner type. How about a spicy, south of the border feast. Start with tasty Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa or Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa.

When you are ready to sit at the table, toss up a Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons. After all, legend has it that this go-to salad was invented Tijuana in the early 1920’s.

mom_susie_CA_01Grilled Rib Eye or Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri. maybe you prefer your Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter. Be sure to round out your cookout with some Grilled Balsamic Vegetables.

If you are not ready to break out the grill and want something cozy, try my Pork Mole and Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Spinach.

Top off your dinner with something sweet. Maybe you’ll try my New Hampshire Mud Pie or Caramel Sundaes with Sweet & Salty Pecans. It’s too early for local berries but strawberries are on special in my local supermarket. Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream might be a good idea. But if your mom is a chocoholic, then you must try by Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes.

Happy day to you and your mom! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

It’s a Mother’s Day Weekend Special

mom_susie_70s - 02Sunday is Mother’s Day! Time to pick out a card and a big, beautiful bouquet for your favorite mummy. Shopping done, now it’s time to figure out your Mother’s Day menu. Will you be lunching it, brunching it or doing dinner?

Whether you start at 11:00 or 2:00, here is a great Mother’s Day brunch menu to try out on your family and friends:

A festive cocktail is in order! Raspberry Sparkler
1 pound frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons or to taste sugar or honey
Framboise Champagne or Prosecco, chilled
Garnish: frozen raspberries

Raspberry-Framboise Syrup
Makes 2-3 cups Raspberry-Framboise Syrup, enough for 8-12 cocktails

Put the raspberries, orange juice and sugar in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Strain the juice through a sieve and discard the seeds and pulp. Combine the raspberry-orange juice with the Framboise using a 1 or 2 part juice to 1 part Framboise ratio, cover and store in the refrigerator or freezer until very cold.

To make the Raspberry Sparklers:
Put 3-4 tablespoons of juice mixture and a few frozen raspberries in each champagne flute. Slowly add champagne or Prosecco and serve.

And then on to a festive feast! Real Mom’s Eat Quiche so make this traditional Quiche Lorraine the centerpiece of your Mother’s Day brunch. She’ll be delighted if you add some Cheddar-Sage Biscuits and/or my Rhubarb Muffins. Don’t forget to add some fresh fruit. If you can find some melons, my Mojito Melons are tasty. Otherwise, try my Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt.

If your sweet tooth is not quite satisfied with the fruit and muffins, finish brunch with a fabulous chocolate treat. Death by Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Mousse or Triple Chocolate Parfait are all great choices!

Have a wonderful time with Mom and bon appétit!

How will you be celebrate Mother’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here! © Susan W. Nye, 2014

Best Mummy & Real Mothers Eat Quiche

Mom_SusieWhen we were little, life was filled with absolutes and superlatives. Either our mother was the best mummy in the world or the worst. No, make that the meanest mummy in the world. That’s when she insisted that we go to bed at our regular time, even if it was summer and the streetlights weren’t even on yet. But mostly she was the best. And for those of you who care to argue, don’t bother. My mummy is still the best in the world. Yours can only run a distant second. So there.

If you need to ask why my mother wins the Best Mummy Contest, it’s obvious you’ve never met her. If you are interested, I’m happy to share what makes her great.

She’s never climbed Everest although she may have made the summit of Kearsarge once, maybe twice. She’s never championed groundbreaking legislation but she did write a scathing (for her) letter to the editor several years back. The targets of her ire were the big box stores and businesses that left their lights on all night. There are no scientific breakthroughs to her credit. She is not the genius behind a life-changing cure or even a mini miracle like Spanx. That said, she served a mean orange Popsicle when I had a bout of tonsillitis. Her ministrations were so successful that I was able to avoid a tonsillectomy.

So no, my mummy will not go down in history as IMPORTANT. However, she will go down in the personal histories of everyone who knows her as important. Quite simply, my mother is the nicest person I know. Sometimes intuitively, sometimes with a bit of effort, she makes everyone around her feel good. Feel good about themselves and feel good about life. She’ll make you smile and help you laugh.

That’s it, not terribly grand just terribly important.

My mother is now well into her eighties and suffers from Alzheimer’s. Several years ago, a friend (another Susan) whose mother had Alzheimer’s told me that she learned something from her mother every day. Feeling more than a little overwhelmed and frightened by my own mother’s declining condition, I was humbled by my friend’s comment. This other Susan was obviously a much better daughter and person than I would ever be.

Mom had another idea. Although she didn’t witness our conversation, she has always been more than certain that I am just as good a daughter as any other Susan, Jane or Joan.

Alzheimer’s has stolen many things from Mom but it can’t take her smile. It lights up the room as soon as she sees me. Then she’ll tell me a story. If words fail (and they often do), she covers it up with her easy laugh or a song. Although her words are increasingly few, Mom isn’t shy with superlatives. Forget good, in my mother’s eyes I am very good. In fact, more often than not, she assures me that I am very, very good.

Like that other Susan, I continue to learn from my mother. Every day she teaches optimism and joy. With that optimism, with that joy and that smile, she shows me how to be a nicer person.

And that’s what makes my mother important.

Happy Mother’s Day to all and, most particularly, to the Best Mummy in the world. Bon appétit.

Real Mothers Eat Quiche
At one point, quiche was all the rage. Now it’s a bit (okay more than a bit) passé. But everyone loves it and quiche is a great dish for Mother’s Day brunch or lunch. Give it a try and enjoy!
Serves 6-8quiche_04

6 ounces bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pinch nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half & half
Savory Flakey Pastry (recipe follows)

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towels and reserve. Drain most of the bacon fat from the skillet, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and arrange the rack in the middle of the oven.

Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface. Line a deep, 9-inch pie pan with the pastry and crimp the edges, leaving about 1/4-inch for shrinkage. Cover and store the pie shell in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl, add the flour, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add the onion and bacon and toss again. Put the cheese mixture in the pie shell.

Put the eggs and mustard in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the milk. Gently pour the custard over the cheese mixture, leaving at least a 1/4-inch margin at the top.

Carefully place the quiche in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking for 25-35 minutes or until the custard is set and the quiche is golden brown on top. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Savory Flakey Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, cold, cut into small pieces
2-4 tablespoons ice water

Blend the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle with ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor and flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

If you have a big crowd for Mother’s Day, make a few quiches. Mix it up with different combinations. Try mushrooms and sausage with Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano or spinach with mozzarella and feta.

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One Year Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Two Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Three Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Four Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Five Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Why do you think your mother is the best mummy in the world? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014