I started a tradition years ago of having my mom and mother-in-law for lunch on Mother’s Day. It’s fun to do a really special menu just for them. I try to pick something that caters to their taste, but realize there are men and others here who need to eat as well. Hahaha. Namely, my sister-in-law is allergic to seafood, so if you have noticed every single Mother’s Day menu revolves around salmon or shrimp or something similar. Sigh. I guess they seem light and delicate and also special. Oh, and they go with the brunch theme that is continually pushed for some odd reason. Listen, it is almost impossible to get people from 3 or 4 different houses all here before noon. Plus, it’s Sunday and my mother-in-law’s husband is a preacher who is working! But with all the dietary and scheduling concerns, I love to do something special for them without over-working or over-stressing myself. Keeping it light and pretty and using the best fresh ingredients shows in your presentation and makes for a tasty way to say Happy Mother’s Day.
Sunday lunch is a great time to entertain because I can do so much prep on Saturday to make it less stressful on Sunday. I’d like to make special dishes, but with a crowd it is too difficult to make Cordon Bleu or filet mignon or individual lava cakes. I have to think of elegance, from appetizer to dessert, that can be done on a big scale. It’s like any big dinner party in that project management is key.
So anyway, this year I have selected a non-seafood menu, of course, and thought I would share with you in case you are getting tripped up by the silly menus hogging all the space online these days. Here’s the menu and commentary so you can pick and choose and revise at will:
- Most of my family are tea-totalers, but a fancy, fizzy drink is always appreciated. I put out pretty glass flutes, chilled champagne, sparkling apple cider, orange juice, lemon wedges and frozen whole raspberries. I usually pour the first but then let everybody mix to their taste. Even the kiddos get a sparkly drink and it’s a great way to mix before dinner is served.
- This is a pretty elegant casserole I think, but so easy to put together and set on a buffet for self serving. I absolutely do not use canned soup, but instead follow this original Chicken Divan recipe closely. I usually roast some chicken parts in the oven the day before and then pull it off the bones when I assemble; roasted tastes way better than poached to me and is even simpler to do anyhow. I think rotisserie chicken is overly flavored for this dish, but it will work if you’re in a pinch and carefully adjust your added seasonings. I think mushrooms are a nice add if you like. The slivered almonds are great and you could amp up the crunch on top with some Panko without feeling too much like you abandoned the original. Please do not use cheddar cheese either; use Parmesan, or even better is Pecorino Romano because it has more bite and stands up to the broccoli and sauce. The sherry is a wonderful flavor in this sauce; don’t omit it but don’t go buy a bottle just for this recipe if you never drink sherry – a good sub is vermouth or brandy, or you can add a bit of sugar to apple cider vinegar. This serves 6 and is quite easy to double or triple for a crowd.
- Just a simple bowl of plain white rice is sublime to me. I am a fan of basmati and hardly use anything else these days. You could amp up the flavor by cooking in chicken broth if you are so inclined. Or stab a sprig of fresh parsley or thyme in the serving bowl for color. But the sauce from the chicken acts as a sort of gravy for your rice in a nice way. I don’t like recipes that put the rice in the pan because it hogs all the moisture and ruins the intent of the saucy French chicken.
- It’s very hard for me to make a large dinner without including deviled eggs. We just love them. This is my favorite recipe because the video is so entertaining. Just go and watch it for the fun of it and then leave off the red pepper rings if you are afraid of them. I completely vouch for the whole recipe and the peppers are easy to make the day before and taste surprisingly delicious.
- This meal calls for a light crispy salad already dressed for easy serving. I love this Celery and Parmesan Salad from Ina Garten which continues your parmesan/romano theme. Since there are no dainty greens to wilt, you can mix this up on Saturday and then assemble quickly right before dinner.
- I think Martha Stewart reigns supreme at beautiful desserts that the home cook can master. This looks so beautiful and professional that you must try it sometime, if not this weekend. I also like that it is not too sweet or rich after a big meal. Everybody can dollop on as much whipped cream as they need so that’s another plus. Obviously, use fresh cream and beat it up your extra topping whip just before dinner to keep it stable until dessert. Make the sponge cake the day before and leave rolled up until the next day. Then fill and decorate no more than 3 hours before serving. The raspberry can be easily revised to strawberry or any flavor jam you have on hand. It will be pretty and taste wonderful either way. Get out your sifter and powdered sugar and make it angelic!
I hope you have fun with this menu whether it’s for Mother’s Day or anytime you want to create a special meal.