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:
- 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
- Blueberry and peach buckwheat clafoutis
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.