Mothers’ Day Brunch

Toward the end of last week there was a flurry of emails among my wife and her siblings about how to honor my mother-in-law on Mothers’ Day. (This is not a family famous for planning ahead!) The opening bid was dinner at a mediocre Greek diner (isn’t that redundant?). Aside from the dubious meal prospects that raised the question of availability. The Binghamton area has a very high mother-to-restaurant ratio so the most popular Mothers’ Day brunch and dinner venues are pretty much booked up by Easter. I countered with the offer of brunch at noon. Too early they said, how about dinner at two? I replied at our house Sunday dinner is at four. We agreed on brunch at two and I set about planning a menu for eight people. After a couple revisions to accommodate individual tastes and dietary restrictions, this is what I came up with:

The Menu

  • Sausage, asparagus, and goat cheese frittata
  • Bacon, broccoli, and cheddar frittata
  • Bacon rashers and sausage patties
  • Potato galettes
  • Green salad
  • Garlic bread
  • Orange and avocado slices
  • Mimosas
  • Blueberry and peach buckwheat clafoutis
  • Coffee

In practice, the galettes morphed into hash browns, the garlic bread became plain Italian bread, and the avocados turned out to be a bit too old to use. One brother-in-law “volunteered” to bring the salad, the other (of those attending) provided the champagne for the mimosas, and I set about preparing the rest of the meal.

The first thing I did was to cut up and blanch the broccoli and asparagus. I figured that since broccoli has a milder flavor than asparagus I could do them in that order in the same pot of boiling water. While the water was coming to a boil I made a dozen 2-ounce patties from two pounds of sausage saving the last half pound for the frittata. Sensing my growing anxiety my wife peeled and grated a couple pounds of baking potatoes and set them aside in a bowl of cold water to keep them from discoloring.

My range has a griddle so I heated it and preheated the oven to 200°F. First I cooked the sausage patties and put them on a half-sheet pan lined with paper towels in the warm oven. Next I cooked a dozen rashers of thick-cut bacon plus three for the frittata and similarly stowed them in the oven. Then I drained the potatoes, rolled them in a kitchen towel squeezing out as much water as possible, and spread them onto the bacon grease left on the griddle. When the potatoes were done I put them onto another sheet pan, covered them with a towel, and popped them into the oven with the rest of accompaniments.

Now at this point I should have swapped out the griddle on my range for the two equal sized burners so that I could have made both frittatas at the same time. But I didn’t, thinking that I could get them each partially done in turn then finish them together under the broiler. Did I mention that I had not yet made frittatas on my new range? I didn’t know that the broiler was very hot and that two 10-inch skillets do not fit comfortably under said broiler. And I realized too late that I should have cooked the sausage for the frittata ahead of time as I had done the bacon. Still, despite a few moments of mild panic everything worked out.

For each frittata I frothed with a hand blender four whole eggs with a half cup of liquid eggs and a quarter cup of heavy cream seasoned with a bit of salt. I poured the egg mixture over the meat and vegetables in a non-stick skillet and topped with about a half cup of cheese. When the eggs had set around the edges I put both frittatas under the broiler and turned it to high. In hindsight I should have cooked them a bit longer on the top of the stove and set them farther from broiler because they became a bit too brown before being done through. Finally I pulled the sausage, bacon, and potatoes from the oven and turned the heat up to 350°F to finish the frittatas. By the time everyone had been herded to the table they were ready to eat.

I admit that the gluten-free buckwheat clafoutis was an experiment. (Doesn’t everyone experiment on family?) A clafoutis, for those who are not familiar with it, is sort of a French upside-down cake. Traditionally it is made with cherries and a flour batter. I used frozen blueberries and frozen peach slices that I set out to thaw then spread on the bottom of a deep pie plate. For the batter I mixed together three-quarters of a cup of white buckwheat flour, one quarter cup of sugar, a scant tablespoon of xanthan gum, and a teaspoon of baking powder. I then separated three eggs combining the yolks with a bit of cream, a dash of vanilla, and about a half cup of water and beating the whites stiffly. I stirred the liquid into the dry ingredients adding more water a little at a time until I had a medium batter. Into that I stirred half of the egg whites then folded in the rest. I poured the batter over the fruit and pressed it down a bit into them. It took about 45 minutes to bake in the 350°F oven (test with a toothpick rather than rely on time). I served it with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream accompanied by a orange slices and coffee.



5 responses to “Mothers’ Day Brunch

  1. Karen May 20, 2012 at 15:21

    Sounds like you had a wonderful brunch. Have you planted to garden as yet? I hope you have good luck with your tomatoes this year.

    • Leo Cotnoir May 20, 2012 at 16:32

      Thank you! I have a few things in the garden–radishes, scallions, spinach, and peas. This is the week for putting in tomatoes, not so many this year. Most of my time, though, is dedicated to building new kitchen cabinets.

      • Karen May 20, 2012 at 17:18

        I know you will be so happy when your kitchen is complete. Good luck with the garden this year.

      • Leo Cotnoir May 20, 2012 at 23:58

        This is my fourth kitchen redo and the third complete job. But it is the first where I am building all of the cabinets. Should be fun!

  2. Karen May 21, 2012 at 05:09

    A man of many talents.

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