Mother’s Day Brunch

 Bypass the crowded restaurants and treat Mom to a special meal made with love on her big day

By Zara Abbasi, Photography by Katie Childs

 
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If I could buy my mother everything in the world that she ever wanted, I still don’t think that would be enough to tell her how I feel about her. How do you thank your mother for the sleepless nights? For loving you unconditionally? For kissing you before bed every night? For making every birthday so special? For all the meals she made with her tired hands? For all the nights she stayed up praying for your health and well-being? For sleeping on the floor in the hospital after your car accident? For helping you relearn to walk when you felt so much pain and hopelessness? For all the painful “no’s” she said to protect you? For being right beside you on your wedding day? For being the first to hold your son when he was born? How do you thank that? There’s no way, other than to acknowledge what a spirit she has, and to do the same for her because you now know her love language. 

But, now that I am a mother, I like to think about the things that would make me feel loved and special, and combine that with what I’d like to do for others. Because food is one of my love languages, I love being fed thoughtfully. Mothers put love and concern into things whether they’re big or small, so to show them the same love and concern, I translate it into thoughtfulness. If they have a favorite restaurant, get reservations or get a meal catered from there and decorate the house or dining room for her; send her to the spa for some pampering while you get things in order; and/or get her a special gift or a memory book.

What I personally like to do is cook for my mother. She’s not a huge fan of going out to eat, so I like to make it special for her according to her favorites. I like to decorate the house with flowers, balloons, nice China and her favorite things. It’s about making her feel special and loved (although she’s so kind-hearted that she’d be happy without all the fuss, too. But mothers deserve a fuss).

The last piece I want to add here is of significant importance. I never want to forget about people among us suffering from a loss of a mother, lack of the knowledge of their mother, or those who try desperately but cannot become mothers. This is an especially difficult day for our friends who are suffering or feel out of place. Please do go out of your way to check on them on this day. Do something special for them, remind them that we are a village, that their loss is our loss, that they are loved dearly. If appropriate, invite them to celebrate a memory or hope with you. Many stay silent on this day because it’s too painful, and easier that way. I implore you to check on them. I have certain friends who have lost a parent or are in the process of losing a parent, and it is the most heartbreaking thing. This life is not a dress rehearsal; be the kindest you today.

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Eggs Benedict Strata

Just because you want to make an amazing and impressive meal for your mother, doesn’t mean you have to slave away and use up all your time cooking. I’m sure your mother wants to spend time with YOU, too. That’s why this dish is so unique and special. It’s a great way to greet your mother for brunch without working like a line-order cook. Assemble this the night before and you can just pop it in the oven when you wake up. Then you can make the hollandaise fresh before serving. While it’s cooking, you can set up a nice drink bar and fresh fruit to accompany it. Voila!

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6 English muffins
1 pound bacon sliced (can also use the traditional Canadian ham or cooked and crumbled turkey sausage)
10 large eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

For Hollandaise:
6 egg yolks
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
Pinch or two of salt
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce, optional

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1. Spray or butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. Split the English muffins in half and cube them. Then spread out in the bottom of the baking dish. Add in half of the sliced bacon, ham, or cooked and crumbled turkey sausage over the muffin cubes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, seasonings and salt and pepper. Pour over the ingredients in the baking dish, then top with the remaining meat and press down to ensure all the ingredients are submerged.

4. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

5. A couple of hours before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook for about an hour. Then remove foil and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes. 

6. Serve warm with Hollandaise and fresh chives, if desired.

7. For the Hollandaise: simmer water in a small sauce pan and place a bowl over the pan. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add in the yolks and lemon juice and whisk vigorously until mixture thickens. This may take a few minutes. When it gets thicker, slowly drizzle in the melted butter and keep whisking until it’s fully incorporated. Remove from heat, adjust seasonings if necessary and add cayenne or hot sauce if needed. (Faster version: add yolks and lemon juice to a blender and blend, make sure your melted butter is piping hot and stream that in slowly until thickened. This is the version I use because I have puny arms. Wah!)


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Breakfast Potatoes

Man, there must be a million versions of breakfast potatoes out there. That should give you a hint as to their essential quality at the breakfast or brunch table. When I see potatoes on the table, that’s when I’m like, “Oh! This breakfast just got real!” That’s my invitation to sit back, linger and enjoy a while. I don’t know why that’s my instinct. Maybe because I know how long it takes to peel potatoes? I don’t know (these don’t even require you to peel them!), but I know when I see potatoes on the table, I really feel welcomed. I would want my mother to feel like that, so that’s why I’ll be making these to accompany the strata above.

3 medium to large golden potatoes
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 small onion sliced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 to 4 sprigs thyme
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and dice the potatoes. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and add in the potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and Old Bay. Stir around to coat evenly.

2. Cook for a few minutes and add more oil if needed. Add in the onions, roasted peppers and continue cooking until the onions start to caramelize. Check seasonings again and adjust if necessary.

3. Add in the chopped parsley and stir. Then add in the maple syrup (add in a little extra because is there really any harm in that? No.) Heat on high to caramelize for a minute or two and then serve hot.


Crepe Bar

After all that egg and potato goodness, we’d all naturally gravitate toward something sweet. And oh, how I love a themed bar! I made a crepe bar once for a girlfriend’s baby shower and it was one of my favorite interactive things to do! You don’t feel so pressured to make a perfect dessert everyone will like, and this allows the creative juices to flow for other people to make their own fun versions. I like to make a bunch of crepes and cover them with a damp bakers cloth and then serve when ready. My favorite items to serve with the crepes are: lemon curd, fruit preserves, Nutella, fresh fruit, whipped cream, sautéed cinnamon apples, salted caramel and/or chocolate chips. The fillings are truly endless.

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1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter (plus more for pan)

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1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add in the melted butter and stir to incorporate completely.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with butter. Add in about a ¼ cup of the batter and swirl pan until the batter is thin and even. Sometimes I cheat and spread it out with the back of a spoon. 

3. Cook for about a minute or two until you see the batter drying out, flip and cook another 30-45 seconds. Place on a dish lined with damp paper towels (not wet, though).

4.  Keep repeating the process, stacking all on top of each other, until all the crepes are cooked. Cover with another damp baker’s cloth or paper towels and then cover the entire dish with plastic wrap until ready to use. Serve alongside your favorite fillings from the list above.