DIY Mother’s Day menu

The secret is in the prep

May 5, 2010

With a two-year-old who awakens before the cock crows, I don’t dream of a leisurely breakfast in bed this Mother’s Day. And while my four-year-old is handy with a whisk, I’m keeping her at safe distance from the gas range until grade school. As for my husband, Benjamin, he can manage a good latte with only one free hand, so if nothing else, there will be coffee.

But, if we’re going to eat well on Mother’s Day, I’m going to have to do it myself. The question is: Can I manage it without spending more than 10 minutes in the kitchen?

You don’t need to be in the throes of toddlerhood, tweendom, or an empty nest — or have any experience with parenthood — to crave a day out of the ordinary. A day when you breeze in and out of the kitchen like a guest and still get to eat exactly what you want without having to get dressed.

A do-it-yourself Mother’s Day brunch hinges on preparing everything the day before. An overnight-rise pastry and eggs — both that bake at the same temperature for the same amount of time — are the foundation of this menu. It’s built in with easy extras like salad mix, yogurt, a champagne cocktail, and dark chocolates.

Anyone can execute the menu with a few simple instructions while you sleep in, catch up on all the world news, or engage in uninterrupted floor play:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Prepare ahead so you aren’t faced with too much work on Mother’s Day morn.

This is a brunch that begins whenever you wake up and stretches out as long into the day as you like. It provides a leisurely progression from coffee drink to fine pastry to custardy eggs with potatoes and back again, which is my ideal. You can order the courses any way you please, because it’s all ready at any time. Or you can sit down and feast on it all at once.

What’s best about brunch is that it breaks down the boundaries between everyday meals. Breakfast is a forced choice between sweet and savory — the pancakes or the omelet. Brunch invites both. So you can start with something nicely sweetened, like these airy orange twists scented with orange-flower water, proceed to the baked eggs infused with white truffles, and double-back to another sweets course, if you so choose.

No food is out of bounds at brunch, which suits someone like me who likes the first meal of the day the least. It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy the eggs with my preferred side of spring leafy greens lightly tossed in a Champagne vinaigrette — even if I end up eating this course at 8:45 a.m.

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Rule-breaking brunch not only encourages drinking, it invites extravagance. So that bottle of authentic Champagne I’ve been saving for who knows when will be popped open that day. No mimosa fan me, I’ll tip a splash of framboise eau de vie into my glass and sip this heady cocktail in between nibbles of my favorite local hand-dipped dark chocolates. Then I’ll follow it all up with a drip-coffee chaser.

If I adhere to this plan, I’ll revel in a Mother’s Day when 1 p.m. greets me still in my bathrobe and slippers. If I can steal back to bed to finish my book . . . well, I’ll leave that up to the kids.

Lynne Sampson Curry is a writer based in Joseph, Oregon, who blogs at Rural Eating.

Related recipe: Three-Way Orange Twists; recipe: Truffled Baked Eggs with Potatoes; recipe: Champagne Vinaigrette

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