Mothers Day

woman-cooking.jpg I had a completely fabulous mother.  She was a pretty good cook, except that she was always so busy with her politics, and with being consigliere to her large family, and with talking  to my dad while he was on his second job shift, that she almost never cooked dinner without a phone lodged between her shoulder and her ear.  This resulted in many culinary tragedies, and seasoning mistakes.  Here are two examples.

One day she was making her amazing chicken soup, loaded with carrots, and turnips, and leeks, and dill, not to mention the largest soup chicken she could find.  When it came time to add salt, she grabbed what she thought was the large red box of kosher salt, but it was the similar-sized box of Tide.

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bakedeggsWhat better way to celebrate moms and wives than by making them breakfast. This recipe for baked eggs has been my go-to breakfast recipe since I saw Ina Garten prepare it on her show, The Barefoot Contessa.

It's perfect to serve for any meal, but it's especially nice for a Mother's Day breakfast. Serve it with bacon or sausage and some toast.

It's simple, fast, and very flavorful while also being elegant. The combination of toppings that I like to use include garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese, but any fresh herb can be added. Chives, oregano, thyme, and rosemary would all work well or use what's at hand.

I'm sure that whoever you make this recipe for will be very happy that you did.

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smoked-salmon-brunch-taco-barWe have all experienced great meals, ones that we talk and think about again and again. And then there are the meals and flavors that are so epic, they imprint on our brains forever. This, my friends, was one of those meals. It was just spectacular.

Does anyone remember Wolfgang Puck's celebrated Smoked Salmon Pizza with Caviar? It was one of his signature dishes from the 80's at Spago in Beverly Hills. In fact, it was one of the dishes that really put him on the map. I have to admit, that recipe sort of inspired me here. If Puck can do smoked salmon pizza, I can do tacos.

And living in the Pacific Northwest, fresh, wild salmon is part of the culture. And smoking it yourself is part of the fun. Now, don't worry, you can easily use purchased smoked salmon in this recipe. However, if you have the capability to smoke your own, I'm going to show you how. It is so worth the small amount of effort it takes.

Here is your set up, perfect for Mother's Day, the biggest brunch day of the year. It's a lovely spread for when guests arrive. Not to mention it's to die for with a little Pinot Noir or sparkling wine. What you see here is the flaked smoked salmon, we'll get to making that in a moment. Whipped cream cheese is mixed with Sargento Pepper Jack Cheese. The pepper jack gave the tacos a hint of heat and little more smokiness. The shredded cheese also added texture to the creamy cheese, an important factor in this dish.

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romanoffsMy mother was born and raised in Houston, which is the most “Southern” of Texas cities. Even her accent had the added rich drawl of her boarding school in Atlanta. That is why, when I think of my mother, I feel Southern. We had southern cooks and when we were not eating at the local Mexican café in Toluca Lake (California – not Mexico) memory dictates that we dined on chicken fried whatever! Chicken, of course, but also pork chops, steaks, fish, and shrimp – virtually everything (except our greens) would be chicken-fried.

To compliment our chicken-fried whatevers, mother would prepare a variety of whipped jello desserts with mini marshmallows, including Banana Cream Pie and the ever-popular Prune Whip.

It is a blessing that my father insisted on taking us to the “finer” restaurants in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, like the Brown Derby Perino’s or Mike Romanoff’s, otherwise I guess I would be chicken-frying whatever to this day!

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food-safety-tips-5.jpgWhat makes a better Mother's Day than a picnic?

I contemplated this while driving down Sunset Blvd tonight, the big ol' moon silhouetted behind the palm trees, on one of those nights in LA when you feel true glee at being alive in the smoggiest city in the United States (it's true, it was listed today).

Think about this:
A roast chicken, some hummus (lovingly made, in our case, by the Maharishi, a true Lebanese purist when it comes to the blending of garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and olive oil), some Arabic bread, some bright, sweet, red tomatoes, a punnet of sweet strawberries, a little Sancerre, a pretty tablecloth, the children (let's pretend for a moment that they're not too old and reluctant), a couple of dogs for good measure.

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