Sunday, May 9, 2010

feasts for mama!

Today I made my mother…

1. *Pancakes!*


I mean, duh. A Sunday without pancakes is like… Mad Men without Don Draper. I actually did a mix of thawed premade frozen pancakes (our freezer was out of control- that’s the regular pancake you see up top) and sweet potato pancakes from the Bruce’s mix (that’s the bottom two that are vaguely orange!)

Also, coffee, with soy milk I thoughtfully tempered in the microwave so it wouldn’t curdle.

Allow me to call your attention to:


The maple syrup holder! I mean, well, okay, obviously, it’s a cow, so is likely meant for milk or cream or you know… something that comes from a cow. But we don’t have a maple-tree-shaped-pouring-thing. And it’s so cute! And it was my mom’s mom’s, and thus nicely in keeping with today’s theme!

There was also some unphotogenic ham, lest mama miss out on her protein.

So that was brunch.

Onto dinner… dinner was AMAZING.

I made up three recipes, and was THREE FOR THREE. These are Win.ners!

2. *Arugula salad with melty cheese*


So I went to the farmer’s market on Thursday (first of the season, whoo!). Along with the blissful beets we had last night, and a few other things, I saw some ARUGULA! My mom, like me, like Barack Obama, is an arugula enthusiast. I knew I’d incorporate that into the mother’s day meal.

Soooooo in France, we ate a lot of salad with melty cheese. So great. For my mom’s book club earlier this week she (surprise, surprise) got enough food for 50, despite the fact there were… 6? Leftovers included Camembert!

I made some slices, put ‘em under a broiler, et voila


I scraped those off, threw on a nice light lemony herby vinaigrette, et voila. Perfect salad!


3. *Fish Stew*


So so so so so great. I looked at other recipes for inspiration, and incorporated some of my favorite techniques, and COULD NOT BELIEVE how delicious this was. Make it!

Fiery Fish Stew


2 giant cloves garlic (or 3 regular size), minced
1/2 large onion
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup water

Cook on medium low, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until water is absorbed and onions are tender and awesome, like so:


Best technique ever. It’s impossible to burn them!

Then crank up your heat to medium high. Add:

1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes (feel free to reduce this if you’re less fond of the spice- the fennel still gives awesome flavor)

Stir around to get them hot, then deglaze the pan with:

1/4 cup white wine

Then add

2 tbsp. tomato paste

And stir around until the paste is toasted


2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
lotsa fresh ground black pepper

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.


At which point add your seafood! I used

1 10-ounce cod fillet, chopped into cubes
1 lb. mussels (I used thawed frozen precooked mussels on the half shell)

Return to a simmer, and cook, covered, until seafood is cooked (if yours is thawed all the way, unlike mine, this should theoretically be four minutes… *cough* For me it was more like eight.)

Finish with a sprinkling of parsley:


Please make this. Luscious broth, luscious herbiness, luscious fish.

I was happy, too, because my mom pointed out that cod was one of her mother’s favorite things to cook. And rightfully so- it has the oomph in terms of both flavor and texture to stand up to the hearty tomato broth. The mussels were also just fabulous (pretend I’m saying that in Ina Garten’s voice- love love love how she says “just fabulous”)

Obligatory for sopping up sauce:


Rosemary bread, lovingly sliced and arranged by the sis.

Finally, the piece de resistance:

4. *Bread Pudding*

Bread pudding is definitely one of my favorite desserts. The pain perdu I had at Mon Ami Gabi that time is probably one of my favorite things I have ever eaten ever. I had been cautious to make it on my own, because bad bread pudding is as terrible as wonderful bread pudding is wonderful. And I thought it had to be a total heart attack to taste good.

But wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, I have created something spectacular! Moreover, this dessert was some quality food recycling.

We had lots and lots and lots of bread for Easter- two loaves of Greek Easter bread, 1 loaf of Russian Easter bread. This is cubes from like 1/3 of the Russian bread. Still gotta lotta bread.


I decided to make a big one for us for the next few days and a few little ones that we can thaw for gifts and/or lonely nights when we really need some carbs!

So recipe time!

Blissful Bread Pudding

The bread: 16 oz. cubed bread (I used raisin-nut Easter bread, slightly stale)


The custard:

3 c. milk (I used 2 c. regular 1%, 1 c. soy)
3 T brandy
1 1/2 T vanilla extract
heaping 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 T orange zest

Immediately after dumping the custard on top:


I let them soak up the goodness overnight.


Then heated up my oven to 350. I baked it, covered, for 20 minutes, then uncovered it and baked it another 20. Then I actually just turned off the oven and let it sit there for like… an hour. While we ate dinner and took a walk. It came out lookin’ fly!


Check out that slightly crisped top!


Mmm and that wonderful layered custardy bliss on the inside:


I served it up in parfait glasses, cause I’m elegant like that.


YOU GUYS MAKE THIS IT IS THE BEST BAKED GOOD I HAVE EVER MADE. Cannot even deal with how good it is.

  • Flavor: perfect balance of sweetness. Zing from the orange zest and the brandy. Slight dark caramelization of sugar on the tops and sides.
  • Texture: Interspersion of silky custard and chewy bread. Exciting nibbles of almonds and raisins from the bread exploding on your tongue.
  • Smell: like everything good about your childhood.
  • Richness: Perfect creaminess from the milk and richness from the eggs, but after you eat it you feel good… rather than comatose! Freshness and variety from the bits of fruit and nuts.

Annnnnnnd view from another angle… I swear to God it’s glowing. It has an aura. It is quite literally a shining beacon of goodness.


So a very successful Mother’s Day! And the fish stew and bread pudding are now on file in Favorite Recipes :D


Molly said...

pancakes and bread pudding sounds like excellent Sunday parts

glad you had a great mother's day celebrating

Sarah@TheSmartKitchen said...

I have been looking for a good fish stew recipe! I might have to try yours...:)

Although, I am like you in that I tend to just combine 1,000 recipes into my own!

Anonymous said...

I love all things cows. We used to have a whole set of cow dishes, little milk jug and sugar holder included. Mom totally got rid of everything except the bowls :(

Your mom is quite a lucky duck :)

Heather (Where's the Beach) said...

I seriously love that plate by the way. sounds like you had a great day!

Gabriela said...

So mom is having a lunch for her friends as we speak, and I just filled that exact same cow thing with cream!! Looks like you made an absolutely amazing spread....Camenbert is my favorite cheese, and it's been far too long since I had any!! Plus bread pudding...yum, you really went all out! Hope you're having a great start to your week!

All Things Yummy said...

Yay for pancakes. yay for Don Draper too, he's a hottie.