Mother’s Day Menu

Chef and teacher Paul Finkelstein shares his family’s tradition of an easy Mother’s Day feast’plus the opportunity to fire up the grill!

Mother's Day Menu

Source: Best Health Magazine, May 2009; photography by Edward Pond

I’ve found that Mother’s Day is a great chance to teach kids how important it is to show their appreciation for the women in their lives, whether it’s mom or grandma. And getting the kids involved in the celebration is a great bonding experience for any dad.

We have a Mother’s Day tradition at our house. My daughters Ella, 10, and Lucy, 7, and my son Quinn, 5, love to cook, so we prepare a special meal together. Once we’ve planned the menu, the kids and I head to the farmers’ market to source the main ingredients. There, they also take turns choosing fresh-cut flowers to assemble a ‘we love you’ present for their mom. Then we head home to prepare the feast, create placemats by making a collage of the arts and crafts they’ve brought home from school during the year, and try hard to leave the kitchen in the same shape it was when we started!

For this buffet menu, I have come up with recipes that are easy to make’even for those who don’t know their way around the kitchen, but who are handy with the grill. The kids can play the role of sous-chefs, washing the produce, setting the table and putting out spring flowers.

Since a Caesar salad appeals to most people, I’ve included my twist on it’a grilled version that, to me, has more flavour and texture than the standard. For the mushroom and herb pasta, the fresh herbs are key to the taste of this dish, so make sure when shopping that they look fresh and are aromatic. And once you’ve mastered my easy rhubarb and berry crisp, try experimenting with your own favourite fruit combinations.

I hope you enjoy this Mother’s Day menu; please let me know what you think.

Grilled Romaine with Aioli and Crispy Pancetta

This is an excellent dish either as a lead-in or as a great main course for four topped with grilled chicken, pork or fish. While the idea of grilling lettuce on the barbecue may seem crazy, it’s actually really delicious; the edges that get slightly charred add a smoky element. To ensure the lettuce doesn’t overcook, keep the grill no hotter than medium. And I like using pancetta (Italian bacon), which is leaner than regular bacon, but turkey bacon is good, too.

Mushroom and Fresh Herb Pasta

The mushrooms are the stars of this simple dish. You’ll need a total of six cups (1.5 L) of sliced mushrooms, and you can use any combination of the many varieties, shapes and sizes. Many large grocery stores and farmers’ markets sell shiitake, porto-bello, oyster, button and crimini. Then there are the more exotic mushrooms, such as chanterelles and matsutake, which may be harder to find but are full of flavour. Add a smoky element to the pasta by grilling the mushrooms on the barbecue.

For the pasta, you can use either fresh or dried. I have become very fond of Felicetti Dried 100% Organic Tagliatelle, which I found in my local health food store. Whatever type you use, be sure to salt the water before cooking the pasta. This will add to the overall flavour of the dish.

Rhubarb and Berry Crisp

While berries aren’t in season at this time of year, there are plenty of frozen varieties such as straw-berries, blueberries or raspberries to give this crisp a fresh taste. And use local honey whenever you can’you can’t beat the natural taste and texture

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