What my blog is really about is connecting with family and friends around a wonderful meal. Is there a better time to do that than Mother’s Day?
How do you celebrate the day? Do you take Mom out to breakfast or brunch? Or, perhaps you make a special dinner for her at home, which is what my family does for me. This year I am especially honored because my family drove 300 miles to be with me just for 24 hours!
This is one my my favorite Mother’s Day desserts, actually it’s one of my favorite any day desserts. I love the warm, buttery, crisp shortcake and the ripe, lush strawberries and of course, it has to be topped with a bit of fresh, slightly sweetened whipped cream. I really like the addition of lemon to this recipe. I think that lemon compliments strawberries by adding a citrus note, see if you agree. Tempted to make this for your mother today? Hope so.
Sadly, my mother has been gone a very long time (I lost her when I was 18). I hope that you can take the time to honor your mother in whatever way you can today (even if it’s just a phone call).
Mother’s Day Poem
She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.
She’s the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks.
She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not well.
Your mother lives inside your laughter.
She’s crystallized in every tear drop.
She’s the place you came from, your first home.
She’s the map you follow with every step that you take.
She’s your first love and your first heart break.
Nothing on earth can separate you.
Not time, not space, not even death…
will ever separate you from your mother…
You carry her inside you heart!
Strawberry Shortcake with a Lemon Twist
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter (let chill in freezer 30 minutes and cut into small pieces)
3 eggs (1 egg is for egg wash)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons coarse sugar (I used turbinado)
1 qt. fresh strawberries (washed, hulled and cut in half)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
Place butter in the freezer for about 30 minutes along with the bowl that you will be using to prepare the whipped cream.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease baking sheet with butter or use parchment paper and line the sheet.
In a food processor using a pastry blade add flour, baking power, salt and sugar. Pulse 4 times.
Then add chilled butter cut into small pieces and process until mixture resembles corn meal.
Add 2 eggs, cream and lemon zest and process until mixture forms a ball.
Remove the ball from the food processor, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes or overnight.
Remove from refrigerator and place on floured board.
Roll out with a rolling pin until it is approximately 3/4 inch thick and cut out rounds with a pastry cutter or even a glass.
Beat the 3rd egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush on shortcake.
Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a cooling rack.
I prepare the berries right after I have put the shortcake mixture in the refrigerator to chill.
Place strawberries that have been washed, hulled and cut in half lengthwise in a bowl. Add lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar. In about 30 minutes they will macerate, becoming softer and giving up their juice.
When almost ready to serve pour heavy cream into a chilled bowl add sugar and vanilla then beat with a mixer or by hand with a whisk till it forms frothy peaks.
Assemble the shortcake:
Cut shortcake in half. Spoon strawberries over bottom half. Top with other half and add a dollop of whipped cream.
Garnish with mint if you like.
This week I’ll be giving away a copy of Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells to the first person to send their Sunday Supper story and recipe to me. I realize that some of you can’t read or access the contact form on the right hand side of my page if you are using certain computer platforms, but I don’t want to leave you out of the giveaway. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story and recipe!
Sometimes we like to share our Sunday supper with family AND friends and this is what we did on April 17th when we hosted a very special Sunday supper in honor of culinary legend, Patricia Wells.
After months of intricate planning and coordinating with Walter Wells, Patricia’s husband, we surprised Patricia with a dinner party welcoming her to Chicago. Friends of Patricia came to help us celebrate her latest book, Salad as a Meal. The menu was a selection of our favorite recipes from the book paired with Clos Chanteduc, a fabulous Cote Du Rhone from Patricia and Walter’s vineyard. Patricia later told us it was the first surprise party of her life!! We’re so happy it was such a success.
Every one that was involved was sworn to secrecy and it paid off! No one gave it away and as you can see by the pictures below, she was quite surprised.
She was given a big Chicago welcome by her close friends and colleagues.
This biggest surprise was that her husband, Walter flew in from Paris for the event!
What do you serve Patricia Wells? Her own recipes, of course! In case you missed this delicious recipe that Patricia shared when she was on the Today Show, here it is again. This has been one of our Sunday supper favorites since the day we tasted it on her terrace in Provence. You will find more fabulous recipes in Salad as a Meal and maybe you will be the lucky winner of her cookbook for the Giveaway! Wouldn’t it make the perfect Mother’s Day gift?
Chicken Salad with Green Beans, Tahini-Lemon-Yogurt Dressing and Cilantro
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
8 ounces green beans, trimmed at both ends and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) cubed cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups sliced celery (1/4-inch slices)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper
2 plump, moist garlic cloves, peeled, halved, and green germ removed
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
Fill the pasta pot with 3 quarts of water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat.
Add the salt and the beans and blanch until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. (Cooking time will vary according to the size and tenderness of the beans.) Immediately remove the colander from the water, letting the water drain from the beans. Plunge the beans into the ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible. (The beans will cool in 1 to 2 minutes. If you leave them longer, they will become soggy and begin to lose flavor.) Drain the beans and wrap them in a thick kitchen towel to dry. (Store the beans in the towel in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.)
In a large bowl, combine the beans, chicken, and celery. Toss to blend. Add just enough dressing to coat the ingredients lightly and evenly. Add the cilantro and toss again. Taste for seasoning. At serving time, season with pepper.
For Dressing, In the food processor or blender, mince the garlic. Add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt and puree to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately. (Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake to blend again before using).
I was awakened by the birds today. Their morning song rose to greet me as the soft sunshine came through my window bathing the day with its golden warmth. Ah…it’s Easter. Today the grass is a bit greener and the flowers are a bit brighter. No matter what your religion we can all celebrate this time of rebirth.
For some of us, it is a day to celebrate and end the long Lenten season. In past centuries it was mandatory that everyone fast from eggs during Lent. On Easter, eggs could again be enjoyed. We continue to honor this tradition with the Easter egg.
Easter morning Dana would dress in her finery and set out to fill her basket. She would then bring her basket of treasures to the house for us to admire. Nestled in it were all of the brightly colored eggs that we had so much fun coloring the day before.
After church, we always had our fill of the pastel beauties, but there were SO many left. What to do? Make deviled eggs!
I hope that you enjoy these with your family today….these never last long at our house on Easter Sunday, and I bet they won’t at yours!
Deviled Eggs with Tarragon and Celery
Yield: 12 Servings
Total Time: 10 minutes
6 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 rib of celery (taken from the tender "heart" of the celery) finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely minced (you may substitute dried tarragon)
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half. Scoop out the yolks and place yokes in a metal mesh stainer. Using the back of a spoon mash the egg yolks through the mesh stainer into a bowl. (My mother taught me this method which gives an even consistency) or you can just mash them with a fork if you choose.
Add mayonnaise, mustard, celery, tarragon, salt, and pepper and mix well.
Spoon or pipe (using a pastry bag) mixture into the egg white halves.
Where do I start this post? I have written it 4 different ways to date. I want this post to be one that I share with you that will really inspire you to get all of the family time you can with your loved ones, because life really can turn on a dime (cliche, but all too true).
On May 4, 2008 Jeff was sweaty, hot and tired, but he had done what he set out to do. He ran the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He felt good that after training so hard he had finished the race and he had raised so much money for this cause.
He did not know at the time that within weeks he would soon get devastating news, that he had been diagnosed with a very rare autoimmune disease, Amyloidsis, that would almost take his life. He would be helped in his recovery by the same Leukemia & Lymphoma Society he had just run the race for…..soon he was to be in a race for his life.
Jeff has an interesting background. He traveled the world with his parents and actually went to high school in Paris. Eventually he would move back to the states for college and re-connect with a pretty girl that he had known since junior high, Sabrina. They fell in love, got married and promptly moved to France so that Jeff could study at the highly acclaimed La Varenne culinary school. After graduating from this renowned institution, Jeff and Sabrina traveled the globe and Jeff cooked for many celebrities, including Margaret Thatcher.
Jeff and Sabrina finally settled down back in the States and had two beautiful, intelligent daughters, Spencer and Matisse. No one ever had to tell Jeff that his family was important. Even with that being said, his illness and recovery has given him a very special insight into just how fragile life is and how everyday is a special blessing to be enjoyed and to be thankful.
Jeff’s illness was critical and he underwent extensive treatment including a bone marrow transplant and was in the Mayo Clinic for months, hundreds of miles from his precious family. Thankfully, after so many months the treatment was successful and Jeff was able to return to his family and he has been free from Amyloidsis since that time.
When Jeff finally got to return home he arrived with a new sense of purpose and dedication to his family. He could not leave the house for quite awhile because his immunity was low and he was very susceptible to disease. It was almost Christmas….Jeff stayed home and baked for his family for weeks….what did he bake? He baked all of the cookie recipes that his mother had left so lovingly for his family in a handwritten cookbook that she presented to him in her own handwriting. Every day the family came home to freshly baked treats made by dad with love from their grandmother’s recipes.
Jeff wanted me to share his very special story with you so that you can see why it is so important to carve out the time to be with your family because we really never know when a chair at the table might soon be empty. You don’t need to say…..woulda, shoulda, coulda….just set the table and enjoy each other right now.
A very special thing has happened after I talked to Jeff about doing this story. He has been nominated for “Man of the Year” by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Wow……it really could not have happened to a nicer, more deserving guy.
I have volunteered to raise money for his cause, and you can too by making a donation, which in turn becomes a vote for him for “Man of the Year”. Please, if you can,….help to make this possible.
Here is the link to his story in his own words and how you can vote for him by contributing to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Oh yes, back to the recipe for this week. Jeff and his girls first baked this for Christmas dessert right after his recovery…..it now is one of their all time favorites….please don’t be afraid to make it….it’s not as complicated as it appears…..2 young girls made it right in front of my eyes (with just a bit of help from dad). Perhaps you might want to make these tasty treats next Sunday for Easter!
Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce
Yield: 2 Dozen
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 55 Minutes
Pate a Choux:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 stick plus one tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
6 large eggs - 1 egg is for the egg wash
1/2 to 3/4 cup of heavy cream
8 oz. Valrhone chocolate (or fine quality chocolate), finely chopped
1 - quart vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly butter and flour the cookie sheets.
In a saucepan, place water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil and stir making sure that the butter is completely melted. Reduce the heat to low and add 1 cup of flour and cook for 3 minutes mixing rapidly with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture into a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat for 2 minutes so the mixture can cool.
Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water) and gently press the peaks down so that they do not burn. Bake for approximately 30 minutes till golden brown. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
Add the 5 eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Important: turn off the mixer when adding each additional egg. Beat at fast speed for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes making sure the dough recovers its original texture before the next egg is added. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Squeeze out golf ball size amounts onto the cookie sheet.
Place the finely chopped chocolate into a bowl.
In medium saucepan add cream and let it come to a boil. Pour 1/2 cup of cream onto chocolate and stir with a wisk till combined. If the sauce is a bit too thick, add more cream a little at a time till you reach the consistency you desire (we used 3/4 cup of cream when we prepared this sauce). Sauce may be placed back in saucepan or double boiler to keep warm.
When ready to serve, cut the profiteroles in half, place a scoop of ice cream on the bottom half, cap with top half and spoon on the chocolate sauce.
Blueberries, oh how I love them, fresh picked or frozen. Personally, I buy organic blueberries because of possible pesticide residue, and they are reasonably priced if purchased frozen.
One cup of blueberries contain only about 84 calories. They are loaded with vitamins A, C and K and they also have significant amounts of potassium and water. Blueberries are also a good source of fiber which our bodies need to prevent constipation and maintain bowel integrity.
This little berry contains loads of antioxidants, more than most other fruits or vegetables. One of these antioxidants is anthocyanin. Studies suggest that anthocyanin may help prevent cardiovascular disease. What else can antioxidants do? They may protect us from free radical damage to cells and tissue.
Blueberries contain compounds that promote urinary tract health by preventing bacteria from adhering to the lining of your bladder and urethra.
Also, blueberries are high in anthocyanosides. Studies have found that anthocyanosides may slow down vision loss and may delay some age related eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
So, if you are looking for a fruit that’s delicious and beneficial for good health, you’ve just found it!
Disclaimer – Please note: the information presented is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease. Please consult your physician if you are having any medical problems.