Without our mothers, none of us would be here, of course. And were it not for mine, an adventure-seeking, health-conscious hippie who showed her love through food, I probably wouldn’t have chosen cooking as my career. So when Mother’s Day comes around, I’ll be serving up plenty of good food and gratitude.
My mother loves all things ethnic and hot. She eats Korean food for breakfast and douses everything with chili sauce. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, who is a generation older than my mother, has a taste for the mild and familiar. To her, salads are “too healthy,” and even the slightest pinch of pepper is “too spicy, Dear.”
Luckily, a meal with mothers is never just about the food. It’s about how the week has been treating them, about catching up on the kids’ lives, and about the comforting reassurance that we are all still here. To me, these meals are a gift, a rare moment where just being together is enough.
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy Mother’s Day, too. How to keep it festive and fuss-free? Brunch is the answer, and easy, make-ahead dishes are the name of the game.
This delicious recipe comes from Michele Gan of Serves you Right Catering, who will be dropping by the Farmgirl Kitchen next week (on her way to cater George Clooney’s upcoming nuptials). Similar to a frittata, a Strata is an eggy, custard-based dish that can be layered with just about any kind of bread (or potatoes), vegetables and cheese. It is light yet filling, a meal-in-one that you can make the day before and serve right out of the casserole dish, either warm or at room temperature.
For the bread, I use an organic rye loaf from my favorite bakery (I cut off the crusts for my mother-in-law, but leave them on if you like more texture). The rest of the layers are up to you – sautéed kale or chard, leftover roasted vegetables, pesto, and ratatouille all seem like good variations.
Yes, this dish is packed with gluten, butter and full-fat dairy, but hey, our mothers have earned the right to indulge, don’t you think? With a colorful spring salad and something sweet for dessert, you’ll be all set for Mother’s Day. Just don’t forget the hot sauce.
3 tablespoons organic unsalted butter (Kerrygold is my gold standard), plus additional for greasing baking dish
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion (from about 1 large onion)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed of all excess liquid, and chopped
8 cups cubed whole-grain country bread (crusts on or off), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 -16 ounces, depending on the density of your loaf)
2 cups (6 ounces) grated Gruyère or your favorite cheese, divided
½ cup (2 ounces) finely grated parmesan, divided
2 ¾ cups whole organic milk
9 large organic eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1. Butter a 9” x 12” glass or ceramic baking dish.
2. In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the butter and sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add half the salt and pepper and the nutmeg; continue cooking for one minute. Stir in the spinach. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Spread half the bread cubes in the buttered baking dish. Top with half the spinach mixture and half of each cheese. Repeat with the remaining bread, spinach and cheese.
4. Whisk the milk, eggs, mustard and remaining salt and pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over the strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for eat least 8 hours or overnight.
5. When ready to bake, let the strata stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350° F. Uncover and bake in middle of the oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Announcing the winner of my Spring Cooking Contest! Congratulations go to Sherri Williams of Crestview, Florida, for her winning recipe, Foil-Steamed Spicy Ginger-Soy Cod with Bok Choy and Scallion-Ginger Sauce. I loved her use of spring ingredients, her clever foil-steaming technique, and her detailed instructions. Sherri won this stylish Farmgirl apron from the Farmgirl Shop!
Thank you so much to all of you who entered your wonderful recipes in my contest. There was even a cooking video submitted by a budding 9-year-old cook. I applaud your creativity and encourage you to keep up all the good cooking!
If you haven’t seen this video yet, take the time to watch it to the end, and share it with all the mothers in your life. Have a very happy Mother’s Day!