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Count Down to Mother’s Day

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This is my first year in many years that I do not have to work on Mother’s Day. Woo-Hoo!

I have been excited for months. I kept cautiously checking the calendar at work and each time confirming with myself that “no one books an event on Mother’s Day.” True enough, nobody booked an event. I have the entire day all planned out.

I envision a trip to my favorite gardening store where I will glide down rows of potted herbs, flowers and my favorite rose bushes (I have a weakness for rose bushes). I will be wearing my brand new wedge sandals that are not even broken in yet; and yet somehow I will glide, of course I can barely walk wearing my wide base orthopedic kitchen shoes, but I can see myself gliding. I have on my new “tall drink of water” turquoise blue cotton dress, and I remember to wear my 70 spf sunscreen lest I turn lobster red. Of course, it is sunny and a perfect 70 degrees in my fantasy.

The day continues with my artful planting of herbs, baskets of brightly colored flowers and this year’s heirloom rose bush. Then I saunter off to my favorite salon for a well deserved mani/pedi and eventually wind up on the couch sipping mimosas and eating some homemade French pastries made by the team of my husband and youngest son Jonah who will wait on me hand and foot.

Here is the reality: I am making brunch at home, the weather does not look good on the extended forecast, I have a huge event the next day at work, any alcohol will totally wreck my system for days, my new shoes will cause blisters and cripple me for a week, etc….I do, however, have the day off and my mother is flying in for a few days. So here is the menu:

Tortilla Espanola (potato and onion Frittata-Spanish style)

Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon shmear with mini bagels

Fresh Fruit

Crepe Cake with vanilla bean pastry cream and raspberry preserves  

Julia Child’s Crepe Recipe

This is a perfect recipe and works every time. You may need to try out a couple of crepes until you get the feel of your pan and range. The crepes can be made one day ahead of assembling the cake and can be stored overnight, covered in the refrigerator or frozen for up to one month.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

2/3 cup cold milk

2/3 cup cold water

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for brushing on pan

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients until smooth in a blender or with a whisk. Refrigerate at least one hour.

2. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Brush with melted butter.

3. Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan and then tilt the pan in all directions to cover the bottom evenly. Cook about 1 minute, or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook briefly on the other side.

4. Cool on a plate as you finish making the rest. You can stack the crepes-they will not stick together.

This recipe makes about twenty 5-inch crepes or ten 8-inch crepes.

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

This is a basic recipe that you will turn to over and over again. The fragrant, sweet pastry cream can be used as a filling for cakes, éclairs, homemade doughnuts, shortcakes etc…It can also be thinned out and used as a topping for any dairy dessert. This is one those recipes that can be used as a base and adapted. You can: add melted white or dark chocolate, infuse jasmine or your favorite tea into the milk, and add ginger or lemongrass …you get the idea. Oh yeah-this recipe is DAIRY. Please do not try and make it pareve. It is perfect they way it is and will lose all of its integrity, not to mention flavor, if made pareve.

2 ¼ cups whole milk

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 vanilla bean split, lengthwise

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.
  2. Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and the seed and the pod to the pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink undisturbed to bottom. Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.
  3. Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture-this is called tempering. You want to do this slowly or you will have scrambled eggs.
  4. Return to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on surface, up to 3 days.)

Raspberry Filling

1 cup purchased or homemade raspberry preserves

1. Strain out the seeds using a mesh sieve.

2. Assemble the Cake

3. Place one crepe on a cake plate. Lightly brush the raspberry preserves over the crepe. Spread one tablespoon of pastry cream evenly over the crepe. Layer another crepe on top and continue with preserves and pastry cream until the final crepe has been added. Leave the top plain.

4. Chill the cake for 2 hours or overnight to firm up. Top with fresh whipped cream and berries.

Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon Shmear

The flavors of the salmon really pop when combined with horseradish and lemon. I like to garnish the shmear with wasabi peas for a fun twist on the horseradish theme. The shmear can be made 2 days ahead of serving and stored covered in the refrigerator. Be sure to use Wild Salmon. The flavor is incomparable. 

I like to pile the shmear onto a platter and arrange the garnishes around it. I serve the shmear with mini bagels. 

½ pound Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon (can be purchased at most grocery stores or fish markets), chopped finely

2 tablespoons purchased or homemade mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

Suggested garnishes: wasabi peas, sliced red onion, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, capers, fresh herbs, cream cheese,

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Tortilla Espanola

Spain’s famous egg, onion and potato omelet is my favorite “go-to” dish for brunch, summer Shabbat lunches and simple dinners. The trick to the dish is all in the timing. A perfect tortilla has a semi loose or almost custardy center with the outside layers set and firm. Delicious!

Serve the tortilla at room temperature or chilled.

Equipment: 12-inch Teflon sauté pan

1 cup olive oil

1 pound waxy potatoes (such as: new potatoes, Yukon Gold or white boiling potatoes) peeled and cut into medium dice

1 large Spanish onion, cut into medium dice

4 cloves garlic, minced

10 eggs, whisked

Salt and pepper

  1. Place a medium saucepan, with the olive oil, over medium high heat. Fry the potatoes in batches (be sure not to over crowd the pan) until the potatoes are translucent and can be easily pierced with a paring knife (about 5 minutes per batch). Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Fry the onions in the same manner. Add the garlic to the last batch of onions and fry the garlic just until it is softened but not browned (about 1 minute).
  3. Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl; add the cooled potatoes, onions and garlic. Stir together to combine. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium low heat. Lightly grease the bottom of the pan with some of the frying olive oil. Add the egg mixture and stir occasionally until the eggs are almost set and there a medium brown crust at the bottom of the pan (you can see the crust by gently inserting a silicone spatula between the “set” eggs and the side of the pan).

Here is the tricky part! Place a plate, wooden cutting board or jelly roll pan on top of the pan. Invert the tortilla on to the pan. Then, slide the tortilla back into the Teflon pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Allow the tortilla to cool in the pan before transferring to a serving plate; the tortilla will continue to cook in the pan. The tortilla can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Serve with tossed salad, fresh fruit

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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