Sizzle some steaks for Mother's Day

The Front Burner

May 02, 2012|By Donna Ellis

Your family may be the stay-at-home-on-the-holidays type. If that's the case, you might think breakfast in bed is just the thing to honor Mom on her day. But this year, why not ask her opinion? It's entirely possible that the female parental unit in your house would prefer dinner on the deck over breakfast in bed. Even if she has to fix some of that dinner herself.

For that purpose, we provide inspiration by way of a "simple" summery menu for eight that may very well fit better into Mom's fantasy agenda for celebrating her wonderfulness than your own ideas.

Since we've planned to feed eight, you might have leftovers, which is always a good thing. But we provide enough sustenance so that if you don't feel up to the entire task, you might invite some friends, who could conceivably share the culinary duties.

In any event, we suggest champagne cocktails to accompany chilled corn and buttermilk soup with garlic croustades, followed by a grilled porterhouse steak (yes, Mom does enjoy beef now and then) and grilled veggies. Accompanied by a lovely, fruity red wine — pinot noir, for instance — or a slightly spicy malbec.

Easy, peasey so far, n'est ce pas? And dessert is just as simple: Mixed berry shortcakes with homemade or semi-store-bought biscuits.

Of course, if you're feeling particularly affectionate, you can always provide both breakfast in bed and dinner on the deck. Just make sure you wash the dishes.

Sparkling cocktails

One bottle (750 ml) of sparkling wine is enough for about 6 cocktails. The recipe amounts here are enough for 1 cocktail. You do the math.

If the kids are underage, fix Shirley Temple-type drinks with ginger ale, cranberry-raspberry juice, ice and a maraschino cherry (with stem) and/or an orange slice as garnish.

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier liqueur

Angostura bitters

Sparkling pink rose wine, well chilled

1 (11/2 by 1/4 -inch) strip orange peel

Drop sugar cub into a champagne flute. Add brandy, then a few drops of bitters to the glass. Fill with sparkling rose. Garnish with orange peel. Repeat as many times as Mom wants.

Cold corny soup

For the garlic croustades, heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut a loaf of French bread into 3/8-inch diagonal slices and place on a baking sheet. In a skillet, over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons each, olive oil and unsalted butter. Add 3 cloves garlic, minced, and a few dried hot red pepper flakes. Saute gently until garlic is softened, about 5 minutes. Brush some garlic mixture onto each bread slice in baking sheet. (If desired, sprinkle on some shredded Parmesan cheese.) Bake about 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Serve warm.

We're daydreaming a summery day, remember, so this soup will make an appropriate starter. An additional virtue is that it can be made ahead.

8 medium to large ears fresh corn, husked

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped cubanelle pepper (mild green chili pepper)

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 cups reduced fat/sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (reduced fat is acceptable)

6 tablespoons finely minced fresh Roma tomatoes, garnish

6 tablespoons finely chopped avocado, garnish

Cut kernels off cobs and place in a large bowl. Scrape cobs over bowl with a knife to remove any remaining corn and milky liquid. Break corn cobs in half and keep handy.

In a large, non-stick skillet, over medium-high, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add corn and any accumulated liquid in the bowl. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add corn cobs and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer until corn is very tender, about 30 minutes. Discard corn cobs.

When soup is cool enough to handle, puree in batches in a blender. Transfer to a large bowl. Add buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

To serve, season soup with pepper, and salt if you must. Divide soup among 6 shallow soup plates. Add some minced tomato and chopped avocado to each serving. Serve immediately with garlic croustades.

Here's the beef

We chose steak for our Mom's Day entree, first, because most of us ladies do like steak on occasion, and second, because Dad is usually the family grill meister, so this is right up the proverbial alley. He can even teach Mom how to grill it, so when Father's Day arrives, she can return the delicious favor.

P.S. We fix a "relish" made from olives and capers to go with this, but it's strictly optional.

1 1/4 cup green olives, coarsely chopped

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

1 cup marinated mushrooms, chopped

1 tablespoon capers, drained

About 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3 (2-inch thick) porterhouse steaks

Olive oil, for brushing

About 1 2/3 cups Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, optional

Flat-leaf parsley sprigs, garnish, optional

In a bowl, combine green and Kalamata olives, marinated mushrooms, capers and ground black pepper. Chill.

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