Cynthia Stone
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After so many years of writing Mother's Day columns, I thought it was time to take a break. As last week wore on the guilt grew, and by Thursday I was lost. I begged for a deadline dispensation, which was kindly granted.
So, let's get rid of the guilt together with some choices that you and your mother - or whomever you choose to feast with tomorrow - will surely enjoy.

Gingered Beef with Peanut Sauce

Stir-fries are always great for family dinners - definitely one of my mom's top picks. Do the chopping in advance and enjoy the cooking together.
This healthy choice is guiltless from every perspective. Serves 4 to 6.
1 lb. lean round steak
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)
2 thumb-sized chunks fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 each carrot and celery stalk, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 tsp. hot chili sauce or red chili flakes
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Dry steak thoroughly with paper towels and cut into thin strips about 2 inches long. Toss with salt, pepper and cornstarch. Stir fry in about half the oil until brown. Stir in ginger and cook another minute or two; set aside and keep warm. Add remaining oil to pan and add carrot, celery and onion; fry until starting to colour slightly. Add red pepper, broccoli and garlic and cook another minute. Add water, cover and steam 3 minutes or until vegetables are starting to soften slightly. Stir together soy sauce, peanut butter, chili sauce, and sugar and stir into vegetable mixture along with beef. Cook, stirring, until steaming hot; add cilantro and serve over plain rice.

Thin-Crust Mushroom, Garlic and Goat Cheese Pizza
I don't know about your mom, but my mom is crazy about pizza. When I was a kid learning my way around the kitchen, she let me try just about any topping you can name. Back then, you couldn't buy pizza crust, so I made my own - sometimes out of a box - but touton dough is a perfectly acceptable shortcut. Even die-hard meat lovers will appreciate this guiltless pie.
The crust is big enough for a baking sheet or two rounds.

Crispy Light Crust:
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. plain yogurt (low-fat is fine)
2/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp. baking powder
about 3 cups flour (divided)
3 bulbs garlic
4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
4 to 6 oz. crumbled goat cheese (or feta if you prefer)
Stir sugar into 1/4 cup warm water until dissolved. Stir in yeast and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes, until frothy. Add salt, yogurt and 2/3 cup warm water. Whisk baking powder into 2 cups of the flour and add to yeast-yogurt mixture. Work in the flour either with a mixer or by hand, adding enough of the remaining cup to yield a soft, pliable dough. Knead 8 to 10 minutes, until shiny and no longer sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise 1 hour. Punch down gently and give it at least 10 minutes to rest. While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings. Cut the tops off the garlic bulbs and coat lightly with olive or vegetable oil, wrap in foil and roast at 325 F for 1 hour. Fry mushrooms with salt in hot oil and fry until their moisture releases and evaporates and mushrooms are golden brown. Squeeze roasted garlic into pan and mix well; add pepper and set aside to cool. Spread pizza dough thinly on a cookie sheet or 2 round pans. Top evenly with cooled mushroom mixture. Cut tomatoes in half cross-wise and squeeze out most of the liquid. Slice as thinly as you can and place on top of mushrooms. Add green pepper and spread cheese evenly over all. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Peach Mango Crisp
If you picked one of today's recipes as your main course, why not end a great mom meal with this light and tasty fruit crisp? We rarely get ripe, juicy peaches, so as often as not they need to be cooked to bring out their best flavour. If they aren't particularly sweet, sprinkle a spoonful of sugar or sugar substitute on top before adding the topping. This is delicious with ice cream, whipped cream or lightly sweetened fat-free yogurt.
6 large peaches
1 mango
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup rolled oats
Peel peaches and mango, remove pits and slice thickly. Place in a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir in butter then add oats to make a crumbly mixture.
Spread evenly over peaches and mango and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until topping is crisp.
Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all the other moms out there.

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.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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