Everyone has someone who teaches and nurtures and loves and leaves a trail of good examples. It might be your mom … probably is your mom … but whoever it is, remember her tomorrow.
A card and perhaps a present are great ideas, but if you’re close enough, why not cook her a nice dinner?
Special-occasion mushroom soup two ways
For a great lunch dish alongside a salad, maybe with a crispy toast floating on top, puree about 3/4 of this soup in a blender then return it to the pot and reheat for a creamy treat without the fat and calories from heavy dairy.
As a first course, serve this steaming hot and brothy with herbed croutons.
This makes eight portions, but keeps getting better in the fridge over a couple of days, and it freezes well.
2 packages (1 oz. total) dried wild mushrooms (porcini, shiitake or any variety you like)
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. each olive oil and unsalted butter
1-1/2 lbs. mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced (mixtures are best but pick what looks freshest)
1 large white or yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 tsp. salt (to taste)
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
Place dried mushrooms in a small deep bowl and cover with boiling water. Put a small glass or something on top of the mushrooms to keep them submerged and allow to soak for about 30 minutes.
Fish out the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and mince them; set aside. Reserve the soaking water but discard the sandy bit left in the bottom of the bowl.
Heat olive oil and butter together in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add mushrooms and fry over medium heat until they are completely wilted and golden brown and any liquid they released has evaporated.
Add onion and cook until soft—reduce the heat if the onion starts to brown because you don’t want that. Add garlic and fry just until fragrant, a minute or so. Add white wine, thyme, rosemary, broth, reserved mushroom soaking broth and minced reconstituted mushrooms. Cover and simmer 45 minutes.
If you want creamy soup, now is the time to take out the 3/4 and puree it. Add Worcestershire sauce and taste before adding any more salt. Stir in pepper and parsley and serve.
Sticky garlic wings
If you go all out on soup, a simple main is in order. I don’t know about your mom, but mine loves picking bones, and chicken wings are among her favourite things.
These are tangy and sweet and go perfectly with salad, rice or a pasta side. Allow at least 1/2 lb. wings per person.
4 lbs. chicken wings, tips removed and separated at the joint
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup tamari (soy sauce can be substituted but it’s not quite as good)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small Thai bird chili peppers, minced (or as many as you like—they’re hot)
1 largish thumb-sized piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated (a good 1-1/2 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Sprinkle wings with salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined and greased baking sheet and bake at 425 F for about 45 minutes, until cooked through; turn them over half way through.
While the wings are cooking, put honey, tamari, vinegar, garlic, Thai chilies and fresh ginger root in a small, heavy pot and simmer together about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and swirl in the butter.
Put in a large bowl and add cooked wings. Toss to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle on the onions and serve.
Coconut sour cream loaf
This is one of my go-to base recipes and I use it to invent other cakes and loaves — which makes the following admission all the more embarrassing.
A couple of eagle-eyed readers spotted a rookie mistake in the Cinnamon Crunch Yogurt Bread, which ran in a March column called “Loafing around.”
One reader spotted the weird dry and sugar quantities and instead of making the cake she wrote me an undeservedly nice letter.
If you followed the recipe as it was written my apologies — although you ended up with one heckuva tasty pancake-style loaf. If you are an experienced baker then you chalked it up to an error.
This recipe provides the correct base proportions of sugars and flour. All the other ingredients in the previous recipe were correct … go figure.
The baking time was on the short side, as well. I often make this in a cake pan instead of a loaf pan and that’s the only explanation I can offer. The recipe below is correct and delicious. I include it today not only as an apology for my earlier goof but also because coconut is my mom’s very favourite flavour.
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup each white and firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/3 cup fine unsweetened coconut
Cream butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together sour cream, coconut extract and almond extract. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add 1/2 the wet and incorporate, then repeat, ending with the last 1/3 of dry. Stir in coconut.
Spoon into a greased and floured 9x5-inch loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake at 325 F for one hour and 15 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a tester in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in pan 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. I serve this with fresh fruit and lightly sweetened whipped cream, but it’s also fantastic for afternoon coffee. A glaze of icing sugar and milk or a full-on butter coconut icing would work beautifully, especially if you’d like to make this ahead of time.
And if you have any leftovers, make French toast … cause, holy smokes, it’s good.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to
her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86,
St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.