Chef's Corner: Cook (and clean) for mom on her special day

Recently we were delighted to receive news that my niece and nephew are expecting a baby this fall. Becoming a mother for the first time is one of life’s most miraculous gifts. Being a new parent will seem like a monumental undertaking and will surely be overwhelming for a while. But soon, like the rest of us, they will get the hang of just being mom and dad. Days will turn to months, and months to years, and what was once terrifying eventually becomes second nature. Motherhood automatically transforms women into the recipients of the bounty of gifts and services received thanks to the annual observance of Mother’s Day. To reward us for pregnancy and childbirth, toddler to teenager and beyond, we are allowed one whole day every year when we should be pampered and appreciated solely for being a mom. (I think it should last much longer. Maybe an entire fortnight … like Wimbledon!)

At my house, I do most all of the cooking. Left to their own devices, my family would survive indefinitely on pizza and take-out Chinese before they would actually place a pan on the stove with the intent to cook something. I am still trying to persuade my 13-year-old son to find his way around the kitchen. I would be thrilled if I could inspire in him the minimal skill to create the standard fare for breakfast and dinner … and one spectacular meal he can use to impress his future wife!

While it is said cooking is the way to a man’s heart, I believe cooking is the way to anyone’s heart – and an exceptional way to pamper your Mom this Mother’s Day!

Any mom would love to begin the day with breakfast in bed. On Mother’s Day, Dad and the kids should step up and do something outside the box (the frozen waffle box that is) and make a homemade, heartfelt breakfast or brunch to begin Mom’s day. Consider adding to the breakfast tray a small box of her preferred specialty chocolates, her favorite flowers or a gift certificate to a pampering salon. Let her linger in bed with a good book. This day is all about her, and she should not have to lift a finger unless her favorite manicurist is polishing her fingernails.

Minimal skill and a bit of planning are all you need to make this impressive breakfast for Mom. This savory French toast is dipped in creamy custard with freshly grated Parmesan cheese then topped with sweet tomatoes and fragrant basil. Crowned with two poached eggs, roasted asparagus and a spoonful of creamy hollandaise sauce, Mom will think she is a guest at a five-star hotel! And, similar to room service at a five-star hotel, someone else will be doing the dishes!

Savory French Toast with Tomato and Fresh Basil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for buttering the pan)
8 slices French-style bread cut in 1-inch thick slices
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes (or diced fresh tomatoes)
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves cut into thin strips for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 350o. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and half and half. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, Parmesan cheese and salt. Add this to the egg and milk mixture and whisk to blend. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Dip four slices of the bread into the batter and place in the bottom of the pan. Drain the tomatoes and add them to the remaining milk and egg mixture along with 1⁄4 cup of the fresh basil. Place the four remaining slices of bread atop the bread in the pan and pour remaining custard over all. Bake the French toast until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. While the French toast is baking, make the hollandaise.

Blender Hollandaise
11⁄4 cups (21⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a blender with hot water; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Remove pan from heat. Drain blender and dry well. Put egg yolks and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in blender. Cover and blend to combine. Working quickly and with blender running on medium/high speed, remove lid insert and slowly pour hot butter into blender in a thin stream of droplets, discarding the milk solids in bot- tom of the saucepan. Blend until creamy sauce forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper; add more lemon juice if desired. Set aside in a warm place.

While French toast is cooling, turn oven up to 400 degrees. Place trimmed asparagus on baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Place in oven and roast for 10-15 minutes until crisp tender. Meanwhile, poach your eggs.

Microwave Poached Eggs
Heat a teakettle of water on the stove (you can also use your Instahot water dispenser if you have one.) Find a small ice cream bowl or cereal bowl with a tapering bottom. Fill bowl with boiling water to warm it. Dump out water and add another 2 inches of boiling water and a pinch of salt to the bowl. Crack two eggs into bowl. Microwave on high for 40-50 seconds. (Microwave times may vary … you might want to try this first to get Mom’s eggs just right. Start at 35 seconds and microwave at 10-second intervals to get desired doneness.) Use a slotted spoon to lift eggs from bowl and serve immediately.

To Plate
Place French toast on warmed plate. Top with roasted asparagus and poached eggs. Drizzle hollandaise over all and garnish with fresh basil.

Lisa Glickman is a private chef and teacher who lives in Bend. She has made TV appearances on COTV in Central Oregon and appeared on the Cooking Channel’s “The Perfect Three.” She can be reached at lisa@lisaglickman.com.

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