Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Cook for her (for a change)

Celebrating a special day for Moms is so much a part of our national culture; it is a little surprising to remember that it has only been an official observation since 1914. Originally, the commemoration on the second Sunday in May had a particularly patriotic focus, “as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those Mothers whose sons had died in war.”

The spirit of the occasion has mostly evolved into an occasion to simply celebrate motherhood and family.  (Not that there is anything simple about motherhood and family).  One of the unique customs that I can recall from my ever more distant childhood was that the guys of our family always wore carnation boutonnieres to church on Mother’s Day.  Even though I was quite young, my dad carefully explained the tradition of the colors of the flowers; red if one’s mother is living, white if deceased. 

The other “big deal’ was a wonderful meal prepared by my mom or grandmother.  Although it was not noted at the time, the idea that Mom has to cook a labor intensive meal on her special day now seems a little incongruous.  Hence the theme for this post, you do the cooking for her this time.

The menu that we have selected is creative and colorful, yet still easy enough for most dads to accomplish, maybe even with some help from younger family members.  Recipes can be found on the Avanti Savoia website and many of the ingredients are available through Avanti Savoia, as well.

Bruschetta (pronounced brus’ketta) is a simple yet savory appetizer that has been enjoyed in Italy for centuries.  The basic recipe calls for slices of good bread to be lightly grilled or toasted under the broiler, rubbed with garlic and then generously drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Change this up a little bit by adding a dollop of Lowcountry Tomato Sauce, a few capers, a pinch of Don Vito’s Gold Italian Herb Blend and grated Parmesan cheese – really easy and delicious!

Cold, creamy, pink and sweet; this is the perfect springtime soup for Mom.  Ripe strawberries team up with yogurt, blush wine and just a touch of orange, vanilla and sugar for a dreamy soup that could almost be a dessert.  White grape and strawberry juice is a good substitution for the wine if you wish to exclude the alcohol.

Hmm…Grilled Lamb Chops in the merry month of May should appeal to any mom that appreciates the succulent flavor of lamb.  Ask your butcher to “French” the chops for you if it sounds like too much trouble.  It just means to scrape the meat and tissue away from the top of the bone.  The process doesn’t alter the flavor; but the presentation just looks a little neater. The Bruschetta and the lamb can be cooked on the same standard grill outside or on a grill pan inside.

The lamb chops are seasoned with a traditional mix of olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, mustard and herbs before grilling.  They are then served on a fragrant bed of vegetables, herbs and olives that can be made well ahead of the grilling.  Offered on a plate highlighted by the beautiful Golden Rice Pilaf will have mom believing that you are a gourmet chef! 

Just in case Mom is a vegetarian or does not particularly enjoy lamb, the menu can easily be altered to suit her taste, as well.  Drop the lamb chops, substitute vegetable stock for the beef stock in the Aromatic Vegetables and just serve the Golden Rice Pilaf with the vegetables.  Sprinkle it with some toasted almonds if you like and Mom the vegetarian should be perfectly happy.

Yes, of course you can easily buy a good commercial pound cake.  However, our Lemon Lime Pound Cake is an heirloom recipe provided by our stellar cook of a grandmother, Clara Lowery. It seems absolutely perfect to share with other Mothers and Grandmothers on Mother’s Day.  My brother, Catering Chef David Lowery of Austin, Texas swears by this recipe and has served it at many events.  He reports that his clients especially enjoy the cake as the basis for petite fours and even as a wedding cake.  Our idea is a little less ambitious, just an easy pound cake baked in a Bundt, tube or loaf pan.  For chocolate lovers, it’s tasty to dress it up with a little splash of Leaning Oaks Chocolate Sauce.

Many restaurants offer nice Mother’s day events, but they will be crowded for sure.   Instead, just imagine how touched your mom or wife would be by something really special.  Don’t put it off, show her your love! We know that your cooking efforts will be sincerely appreciated by the mothers in your life and we hope that our menu suggestions and recipes will be a real help for you.


Bee said...

The entire menu sounds great, but I want to try the pound cake first!
(I only wish that I could persuade my family to cook for me.)

Thanks for the reminder about Mother's Day. The Brits celebrate Mothering Sunday (as they call it) in March, and it's easy to forget about the American version until it's too late.

Carol said...

Love the menu, thank you! You wouldn't believe how long I have waited for a Mother's Day meal that I haven't made myself (or a dinner out).

My son is 12 and I've been teaching him to cook for several years. He is very close to being able to cook an entire dinner. I will keep the faith.