Make Mom say, ‘Mmm, that’s good’ on her day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother’s Day is a special day to eat out, but generally there is a long wait unless reservations can be made. I will probably cook my own Mother’s Day dinner so I want something simple but good. I will make a wonderful Caesar salad with real croutons and nice salty anchovies. My main course will be an olive tart, and for dessert some good strawberries and real whipped cream. Simple but good and easy on this mother.



Serves 6

The dressing: Chop together 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, 1 small garlic clove, and a pinch of kosher salt. Use the side of a knife blade to mash into a paste, then scrape into a medium bowl. Whisk in 2 large eggs yolks, 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and ¾ tsp. Dijon mustard. Adding drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in 2 Tbsp. olive oil, then ½ cup vegetable oil; whisk until dressing is thick and glossy. Whisk in 3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Can be made a day ahead.

The Croutons: Make your own. Tearing, not cutting the bread ensures nooks and crannies that catch the dressing and add texture. Toss 3 cups torn 1” pieces country bread with 3 Tbsp. olive oil on a baking sheet; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 375ᴼ, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10-15 minutes.

The lettuce: Use whole leaves from three romaine hearts to feed six people. They provide the ideal mix of crispness, surface area, and structure.

The cheese: Caesars crowned with a mound of grated Parmesan may look impressive, but all that clumpy cheese mutes the dressing. Instead, use a vegetable peeper to thinly shave a modest amount on top for little salty bursts.

The assembly: Skip the tongs. Use your hands to gently toss the lettuce, croutons and dressing, then top off with the shaved Parmesan.


From ‘The Food Network Magazine’ May 2013:


(This tart was so good and easy I have made it twice already.)

Serves 8

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 fat leeks (white and pale parts only) coarsely chopped and washed (2 cups)

½ medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

8 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 15-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

½ cup halved pitted kalamata olives

All-purpose flour, for rolling

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator


In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, five minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant, one minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted and tender, two minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed; let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the ricotta, 2 eggs, the thyme and ½ teaspoon salt. Fold the cooled vegetable mixture and the olives into the ricotta mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it’s 12 inches square. Using a 12-inch plate or just eyeballing it, cut the dough into a circle (knead the scraps into a ball and save for another use). Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon the tart filling into the center, leaving a 2-inch border of pastry. Lift the pastry edges and fold over the filling, creasing the dough as needed and leaving the filling exposed in the middle. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush a thin layer of the egg wash on the exposed pastry, taking care not to let the egg run down the sides to the pan.

Bake until the pastry if golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Happy Mother’s Day!