As a result, I think of Mother's Day as one of those holidays, like Valentine's Day, that is big for restaurants, but not actually so great for diners. Wait staff is busy, kitchens are usually dealing with a special menu and restaurants are full of people who only go out for special occasions, so their expectations are probably higher than regular restaurant-goers' (and higher expectations can definitely lead to bigger disappointment). All that adds up to a good day to stay home, especially if meal planning and cooking is something you actually enjoy (I do).
All of this is a long way of saying that my parents and sister + boyfriend came over for brunch on Sunday and it was really, really nice. The menu:
My mom made the chocolate mousse and Cooper smoked all the seafood (he also smoked some oysters, which we ended up throwing out after learning the hard way NOT to smoke oysters in their liquor). Everything else was on my list, though, and I'm happy to say it all turned out, even the cheese souffle, which really could've gone either way, especially since I hadn't made it before.
The bellinis were a last minute addition - the strawberries at the grocery store just looked really good and my mom had been talking up the bellinis she served on Easter (we weren't there). I didn't do anything to the strawberries except puree them then strain the puree, but really, what else do you need?
I've made both the honey-roasted onion tart and the gruyere, asparagus and mushroom tarts a few times now and they never fail to deliver. They're not difficult (they use puff pastry, so that's easy) and parts of both can be made ahead of time, which is perfect for brunch. The fruit, cheese and proscuitto salad was also perfect for brunch, especially this time of year. I do like a nice savory and sweet salad (I took inspiration from this recipe, subbing strawberries for the peaches)
|The gruyere, mushroom and asparagus tart has a lot going on, but the asparagus makes it look like springtime.|
I'm not sure what inspired me to make the cheese souffle, but I'm glad I took the risk. It looked really lovely when it came out of the oven and tasted perfect - light and airy and just a little cheesy.
|Five minutes later it was an inch shorter, but the souffle still tasted perfect.|
I've made souffles before, but never for anybody other than Cooper and me, so I was feeling some pressure as I beat the egg whites and folded them in. Too stiff? Not stiff enough? I wasn't really sure, but apparently I guessed correctly. And now I feel much, much more confident in souffle-land.
Beautiful weather and genuinely successful cooking and seeing my family (plus Cooper's later in the day) - altogether it was a really lovely, relaxing and excellent Mother's Day.