Sunday, May 17, 2009

kick back and indulge - shoes optional

we've done mother's day
every which way in the past:
we've spent many a celebration at
at a nice restaurant,
enjoying dinner with both my
mom and grandmother.
we've toasted to all moms
at an italian restaurant
in boston,
on the evening before
blair's graduation
from grad school
and we've gone
to hotels for their
buffets, filled with large
chilled shrimp,
crab legs
and omelets to order.

but, as most often is the case,
the best celebrations have
been at home,
with our shoes kicked off,
wearing whatever,
eating food that we've prepared
and having the luxury
of talking and laughing
as loudly as we wish.

that's how we spent sunday:
waking up early and tossing
on jeans,
drinking coffee on the way
down and then perching ourselves
at the island in my mom's
kitchen, telling stories,
talking and discussing
the dishes we were about to
eat in a way that would make
one think we were feeding 20,
not six.
as my mom and i debated the benefits
of baking both her dishes
at the same time,
i made a salad,
feeding erin a nibble of each
item - a square of beet,
a crumble of feta, a broken
toasted walnut, watching her
face for reaction - and my mom
fielded two calls from
blair regarding the bagels.

my grandmother came -
she exchanged large hanging
potted plants with my mom
and before we ate,
both sisters tried on dresses
belonging to the other one,
for rehearsal dinners and
college formals that they
had coming up this week,
sampling different shoes
and different pieces
of jewelry from my mom, me
and each other, turning yet another
get together into a fashion show.

and in the background,
the house began to smell
warm, like bubbling cheese
and sweet caramelizing cinnamon,
until the timer went off,
everyone changed back into
the clothing they came in
and we sat around my mom's
large square table, somehow
just the right size for us and
all of the food.
the savory:
a recipe that my mom makes
about once a year - because really
there are few ways to rationalize
baking the casserole more often
that that. her best friend,
judy, gave us the recipe,
originally obtained from judy's
husband, alan's side of the family.
my mom has made it for
new year's day mornings
special occasion breakfasts,
and last year, i made it for
a monster brunch that we hosted.
white bread (the only time we ever
actually have white bread),
sharp cheddar cheese
and spices
sit together overnight and then
puff until golden and bubbling
in the oven.
it is rich, eggy,
gorgeously cheesy
and with a crowd,
there will be none leftover.
while i'm sometimes hesitant
to endorse a dish,
thinking, i know i love
it, but that doesn't mean
you will,
i think with this one i have
to say, you won't regret it.

the sweet:
a new dish this year,
that i must say, my mom was
very excited about.

it was a recipe from paula deen -
who hysterically,
my mother, who is probably
the healthiest cook i know,
is in love with (so much
so that i have very seriously
been tasked with getting paula
to attend an important upcoming
birthday of my mom's. i was given a four
year head start for this mission
and about
8 months in, i started to panic
that my mom was very serious
and paula, not so much up
for coming. when i mercifully
ended up at a press
event with paula, promoting
her sons' cookbook,
i accosted the poor woman -
along with her husband, michael
and sons, jamie and bobby, to boot -
with a birthday card
and begged for signatures,
birthday messages
and good wishes.
they really are as nice
as they seem and paula,
who had kicked off her uncomfortable
high heels in the middle
of what was formerly
david burke and donatella,
grabbed my pen,
told me i was a good daughter,
asked me to hold her glass
and obliged.
i held onto the card for four
months and then realized that
if i waited three years until
the aforementioned important birthday -
still, in present day, over one year away -
i would lose the card.
so i presented it 36 months early
and it is now framed in her kitchen.).

wow. did you get all that?
anyway, i believe that it is
her adoration for paula
that makes her try recipes
that by any other food network
celeb (yes, sandra lee, i'm looking
at you), would probably
be ignored.
the mother's day experiment
was the ultimate coffee cake,
frozen, thawed ready-to-rise rolls
are layered in a bundt pan
with cinnamon, pecans and a
whole mess of other ingredients.
once covered with a tea towel,
it's left to rise overnight - my mom
to rushing to look at it
in the morning and feeling
extreme excitement when she saw
that it had risen high. see,
this is where i get it from.

once baked, it is like the most
wonderful cinnamon bun
you have ever had,
minus all of the work.
even better, no fussy cutting
or slicing, you can just pull
apart the rounds with your
hands or a fork.
because my mom followed the recipe
pretty closely, except
for adding raisins and sprinkling
some pecans on the bottom of the
pan before adding the rolls,
i'm just going to give you
the link
if you have any questions,
just ask.
she's on standby.

judy's cheddar egg bake
because i'm a big fan of make-aheads, i strongly advise preparing this the night before and storing the dish in the fridge. take the casserole out about an hour before you plan to bake and then let it come up to room temperature.

10 slices white bread, crusts removed
unsalted butter
2 cups milk
8 large eggs, beaten
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce

butter bread. cube bread slices. in mixing bowl, combine bread cubes, milk, beaten eggs, cheddar cheese, dry mustard and hot sauce.

transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 buttered casserole dish. cover and place in the fridge. let sit at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

heat oven to 350˚f. bake 45 minutes or until casserole is puffed, the top is golden brown and the mixture is baked through. it's great with a few drops of hot sauce on top.


Blair said...

Being a part of the mother's day brunch (and the important bagel source),I can say first hand that each dish was absolutely delicious!

P Cass said...

I LOVED your new post (shoes optional) and the story about your mom and Paula Deen...FANTASTIC! I really enjoyed it!

brooke said...

blair - they were good bagels, even better with the lox cream cheese. and...thank you.

tricia - thanks so much!

The Bean said...

You never told me you met Paula Deen. Now who never tells the other one important things!!! (It's you, in case you weren't sure.)

brooke said...

i didn't know i hadn't told you - but if that is true, you are right and i'm sorry. i don't mean to keep secrets. but yes, she was lovely and funny. and so was her family, which was really nice to see.

ybf721 said...

I loved our celebration and spending time with everyone. The food was wonderful and your pictures make my mouth water. (By the way my shoes were off:)......thanks for all the love this Mother's Day and always.