Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mother's Day Brunch Menu

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Remember the time when your kids were still little but old enough to cook you breakfast in bed for Mother's Day? I sure do. The first thing you'd hear from the kitchen was, "It's my turn, it's my turn...Move! let ME do it...Daddy!!!" Finally, after what seemed like a week, the breakfast tray would appear,loaded up with heart shaped pancakes, a rose in a bud vase, and lots of "I love you, Mom"... "You're the best mommy in the whole wide world" cards. (Years later, the breakfast tray disappeared and you got cards with "Mom Rocks!!" or " 'Yo Dude, Happy Mother's Day!). Even though at the time I found the whole experience excruciating, what with having to sit in bed and hear my kitchen turned upside down, now I kind of miss it. It now falls on me to do the honors for my Mom and my aunts since my children live in another state and have families of their own. The way I get around it is to have a brunch where I can prepare a warm main dish the day before, together with easy to prepare or store bought side dishes. It is probably the only time of the year where I do as little as possible, so I can have some time to relax. With brunch, everybody is gone by 2:00p.m and the rest of the day is yours. Besides, brunch is also an inexpensive way to entertain or celebrate an event. In this case, you get extra brownie points from the Moms for hosting the day.

Tips

At this time of the year, it's beautiful to have things outside. If you have a yard, a porch, a deck or a balcony, set things out there. Easy to clean up afterwards too. Mimosas are easy and inexpensive drinks to have and appropriate at that time of the day. Those who don't want to get happy, can always have just the juice. Don't knock yourself out or your wallet getting a "good" Champagne. Go for something less expensive... nobody will be able to tell the difference, and they'll get the headache, not you. If you make them with freshly squeezed orange juice, you'll hit a homerun.

The fruit bowl can be anything you like, or better yet, what's good, available and on sale. Melons are great at this time of the year, both cantaloupe and honeydew; strawberries have good prices; grapes and blueberries add color. Those are my choices because they are easy to serve and look the part. Do the melon balls and clean the strawberries the night before, and early that morning, mix in the rest. Add a little Grand Marnier or orange juice, a couple of Tbs. of sugar and lots of mint. Serve in a pretty bowl and you have another dish.

Get some smoked salmon at Costco and serve with different bagels, cream cheese, red onions, capers and lemon. If you have kids at the party switch to a ham which will leave you plenty of leftovers and there's a recipe on the blog. You can make it the day before or you can go to Honey Baked Ham and buy one. Do bake some biscuits!

For your table centerpiece, get some African violets for $2.99 at your local markets, or splurge on some tulips, but get lots of them. That's it! Bring on the Moms!

Mother's Day Brunch Menu

Mimosas
Seasonal Fruit Bowl
Spinach and Pancetta Strata
Smoked Salmon, with Cream Cheese, Red Onions and Capers
Onion, Pumpernickel & Plain Bagels
OR
Baked Ham and Biscuits
Coffee & Chocolate Mints

Spinach and Pancetta Strata

Strata in Italian means layers. I made this for my granddaughter's christening brunch and everybody loved it. Take out of fridge about an hour before you cook or it will take forever in the oven.

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10-ounce) box chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed Italian bread, from a 1-pound loaf
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
3 cups whole milk
10 large eggs

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl. Add the onion to the pan drippings in the same skillet and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic. Saute over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, nutmeg, and the cooked pancetta.

Place half of the bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bread, then top with half of the spinach mixture. Repeat layering.

Whisk the milk, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over the strata. Chill the strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake strata uncovered until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.




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