Build a Beautiful Brunch
For all their personal style, their flare for design, their color sense and eye for detail, certain moms are remarkably easy to find gifts for: just bring them the best.
That means precious time with you, their treasured family and friends, over delicious food and drink, gorgeous decor and music, good conversation and a sense of occasion. “Fancy” is optional; creativity, attention to quality, and respect for tradition, however, are always appreciated, especially in the kitchen.
If you are a caterer, pulling together a memorable Mother’s Day brunch will be a cinch. If not, try to think like one anyway: visually, but with a detailed plan for execution. Begin by gathering primary inspiration from the beauty abounding in nature and the personality of the “mom de la maison.”
Then check out the websites of Peter Callahan and Martha Stewart. You want his eye, her checklists. Menu-wise, pay attention to Mario Battali’s catering partner, Mary Giuliani, when she shares some truly useful catering “no-brainers” in Rachel Ray’s magazine. All three home-entertainment powerhouses seem to point in one direction, and that is behind-the-scenes simplicity. Keeping your “back of house” tidy and uncomplicated gives you the latitude to really dress up the center of attraction.
Thus, set a table for all ages and appetites using her favorite dinnerware. Then imagine seeing it from above, and build a true tablescape with the elements of fabric, flowers and greenery, and lights.
Now create showcase space for Mom’s fabulous serveware–the dishes, platters, and pitchers that she considers part of her family traditions, and perhaps a gift item or two–using risers, stands, and displays from KaTom’s professional selection. (Who says commercial equipment has to cost more than household goods?)
Whether you drape them with your tablecloth for height or place them on top, you’ll want several of American Metalcraft’s endlessly useful white porcelain 8-inch round serving stands shown top, left. They come in a 4-inch size, too, both at an exceptional price. The set of six American Metalcraft “sproingy” wrought-iron risers at top, right, creates multiple display possibilities with charm and durability. Consider placing two items in each–like a warming votive below a bowl of dip, for example. American Metalcraft’s three-cone holder at bottom, left, elevates your fries to frites for serving with moules–yet at 12 inches high, keeps its contents sturdy on a kids’ table. Tablecraft’s four-tiered powder-coated metal stand at bottom, right, frees buffet space galore.
Whatever your edibles and bevvies, KaTom offers an unparalleled selection of beautiful kitchen-to-dining-room cookware, including perfect bakers for the unique brioche confection in the recipe below. Serve Bostock, by the way, and your Mother’s Day French toast will erase every other from guests’ memory–not just for its odd name.
Libbey Glass calls its 16-piece Mini Flare set “Just Desserts,” but we see cocktails, too–even apps. Coated in inimitable copper, Mauviel’s tart dish (bottom, left) will last a lifetime. Serve appetizers or dessert bites in American Metal’s well-balanced spoons, handy for hanging up yet also great for amuses-bouche. Dish them from these adorable, eternally azure ramekins. Also a sheer pleasure to handle by Emile Henry, this ceramic cruet, which is great for oil but also for vinegar, in case you want a little balsamic with your strawberries.
For the Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water
1/4 cup orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp orange liqueur, like Cointreau, or elderflower liqueur, like St. Germain
For the Almond Cream
1 3/4 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp brandy
A loaf of leftover brioche (ha!)
3/4 cup orange marmalade, apricot or berry jam, or some other heavenly jam
Make the syrup. Combine all the syrup ingredients except the liqueur in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly till the sugar has dissolved.
Take off the heat, add the liqueur, and let cool to room temperature.
Make the almond cream. Combine 1 cup of the almonds with sugar and salt in a food processor and grind fine. Add eggs and butter and process to form a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the brandy. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
Slice day-old brioche (ha!) into 6 half-inch slices.
Toast it on a baking sheet.
Soak it right there on the baking sheet in the syrup that you brush heavily onto both sides.
Spread it with jam, almond cream, and slivered almonds.
Bake it till it’s deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from Chad Robertson’s recipe in Tartine Bread.