Sure, a Mother’s Day meal out is lovely, but why not treat Mom to a special brunch made with your own two hands? And if you’re not a foodie, don’t sweat it — even you can pull this one off.
With the warm weather and flowers abloom, spring is the season to rediscover the beauty of entertaining… and to treat those moms we love to a special meal. A lovely table set in a sun-dappled garden or patio is a perfect spot for a Mother’s Day brunch.
In my mind, “brunch entertaining” and “easy entertaining” should be synonymous. What you’ll find here is a simple but decadent brunch how-to designed to make the maximum impression with the least amount of kitchen time.
Before you start, take some time to get organized, thinking it through and jotting down the things you’ll need to do. Make sure to note the tasks you can take care of the day before (I’ve pointed out a few below). Remember, there’s no reason to be overly ambitious in our plans — a few thoughtfully chosen dishes that are successfully cooked and beautifully presented can make a lasting impression.
First, setting a formal table isn’t necessary. Brunch dishes lend themselves to pretty informal presentation, and family-style service is a good, logical choice. So bring the food out on platters or in bowls and let guests help themselves!
Do you have tricky family dynamics to consider? Cut out some of the discomfort and set yourself up for success. I always like to reserve a few things to do until my guests arrive. Set aside a few last minute tasks that you can ask people to help you do. Consider setting up a separate station where guests can help themselves to juice and coffee while you put the finishing touches on the meal.
The menu I’ve come up with is complete with a drink, an egg dish, salad, and bread — all simple and sure to please. So, put on your aprons and get in the kitchen!
First, the drink. A favorite morning spirit is the Morning Glory Fizz. It has strength—whiskey and absinthe—and brightness from lemon juice. Because it includes an egg white for lightness and creaminess, it has that unmistakable, ethereal morning feeling. And the fresher the eggs, the fluffier the foam.
Morning Glory Fizz
- 1 1/2 ounces Scotch whisky (preferably a blend like Dewar’s, not a single malt)
- 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1/4 ounce absinthe
- 1 egg white
Place all of the ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill the glass with ice and shake for a healthy 20 to 30 seconds to get a good foam from the egg. Strain everything into a highball glass and fill with 2 ounces of chilled seltzer.
As for our egg dish, let’s not be messing with omelets or scrambling away on the stove. Frittatas are actually far easier to make than omelets because they don’t require that pesky step of flipping the thing. (Warning: One time while making a frittata, I forgot that my never-gets-hot-saucer-handle had just been BROILING IN THE OVEN and I grabbed it without a hot pad. Talk about a hostess faux-pas.)
Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Frittata
- 8 eggs
- 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup sliced red bell pepper
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Position your oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat the broiler. Whisk the eggs, oregano, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and scallions and cook, stirring constantly, until the scallions are just wilted (30 seconds to 1 minute).
Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook (lifting the edges of the frittata to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath) until the bottom is light golden (around 2 to 3 minutes). Dot the top of the frittata with cheese and transfer the pan to the oven to broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until it’s puffy and lightly golden on top. Let it rest for about 3 minutes before serving. Frittata can be served hot or cold, so if you’re looking to save time, prepare it the day before. Just be sure to let it cool before refrigerating (and serve it within a day).
Herb salad with a light dressing is the perfect way to green-up this menu and keep it singing of spring through and through. I’m a believer in something green at every meal, and when I tried this dressing I was 100 percent sold. If you want to really leave an impression, toss it ahead of time and serve in a martini glass.
Mixed Herb Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
- 4 cups mixed Mesclun greens
- 2 cups coarsely chopped Bibb lettuce
- 1 cup very thinly sliced green cabbage
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai basil, large leaves coarsely torn
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- 4 small scallions (white and green parts), sliced into 1-inch lengths
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red bell pepper
For the dressing:
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1/8 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh red or green chile or both (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the salad, combine the Mesclun, lettuce, cabbage, basil, mint, cilantro, scallions, tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper in a large bowl.
For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey, garlic, and chile, if you’re using it. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Just before serving, toss the salad mixture with just enough of the dressing to coat the salad lightly — you may not need all of the dressing.
If you’re planning on getting things done ahead of time, you can combine, cover, and refrigerate the salad ingredients up to 6 hours before serving. The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance.
For our carbs, I’ve selected an amazing scone. Scones are traditionally served with coffee or tea, so you may want to consider offering options at your drink station. Scones also freeze beautifully; just pop them in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through. The trick I’ve found to scone making is in the mixing – it’s crucial. Although you can use an electric mixer, I prefer to mix the dough by hand using either a pastry blender, two knives, or just my fingertips. This prevents over mixing and helps you produce an excellent scone.
Cranberry Walnut Scones with Honey Orange Cream
For the scones:
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter, cut in to small pieces
- 1 cup fresh cranberries or 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 to 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
For the honey orange cream:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Preheat the oven to 400.
Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the cranberries, walnuts and orange zest. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture is moistened and forms a dough.
Shape the dough in to a ball and place on a floured work surface. Pat the dough until it’s 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut in to rounds using a 2 1/2-inch cutter. Arrange the dough rounds 1 1/2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.
Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl. Brush over the tops of the dough rounds. Combine 1/2 tablespoon sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in a bowl. Sprinkle over the dough rounds. Place the baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven and bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until the tops are light brown.
For the cream, combine the cream cheese, honey, and zest in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Spread over the warm scones. You may prepare the cream up to two days in advance and just store it (covered) in the fridge.
Well, there you have it, a complete Mother’s Day Brunch menu, start to finish. Now pick up the phone and invite your mother over for a real treat. Your menu is planned, what excuse do you have?
Oh fine, still scared of tackling a meal on your own? Check out which restaurants around town will hook you and your mom up this Mother’s Day.