For Mother's Day, invite the mothers in your life to festive lunch
By Kaui Philpotts
Special days have a way of sneaking up in our busy lives.
Young or old, married or single, we all have mothers, or hanai moms, in our lives who deserve some attention on Sunday, Mother's Day.
Here's an idea for how to celebrate: Holding a Mother's Day lunch for your mother or for a group of them.
Because most mothers will be spending the day with their own children, you might consider having the event on Saturday and inviting all the moms and sorta-moms in your life.
Have the lunch at your house or pick it all up and take it to hers.
Pick a theme or mood: Vietnamese, for instance. We've picked out a menu to illustrate how this theme could be carried out. It's from "Street Cafe Vietnam" by Annabel Jackson (Conran Octopus Press, London).
The menu: Kir Cocktail, Vietnamese style; summer rolls with peanut dipping sauce; Sauteed Clams with Toasted Sesame Rice Crackers; Vietnamese Chicken Curry; steamed white rice; green papaya salad; coconut cake. (Buy takeout for the latter recipes, or use your own recipe.)
You can take this theme as far as you like, making it very ethnic, or simply using it to give a new twist to an American-style spring luncheon.
Two or three days ahead: Shop for groceries, and/or order such things as summer rolls, baguettes and dessert (coconut cake) from a favorite Vietnamese restaurant and bakery such as Ba-Le or DeeLite Bakery.
Check your linen closet for spring-like napkins, placemats and tablecloths in lemon yellow, bright pink or electric blue. Mix them all together or with white.
Figure out which dishes you'll use for serving and put little stickie notes on them and leave them out.
Shop for small gifts for the mothers you've invited. Scented massage lotion (lemongrass scent) if she likes getting massages. Her own little gold box of gourmet chocolates from the Honolulu Chocolate Company. The latest pictures of her grandchildren framed. A pretty new address book.
One day ahead: Set the table.
Buy and arrange fresh flowers or plants. You could re-pot colorful African violets in old teacups (with their saucers). Find odd, mismatched ones at a second-hand shop or just use small, inexpensive terracotta pots and group them for impact. Mix white or green orchids with roses or tulips in water glasses for a more exotic look.
Pick out CDs with songs Mom will love. Look for collections from her era.
Make as much of the food (such as the curry and salad prep) as you can ahead of time. Arrange to pick up what you can today if you've ordered out (or first thing on the morning of the luncheon).
First thing on the day: Get up and eat something. We all have a tendency, when entertaining, to plunge into the work and end the day exhausted and starving. Do your kitchen prep chopping or slicing, putting the rice in the rice cooker and so on.
Make sure the white wine or champagne is chilled and the kir makings are out on the counter or a separate table. You can serve sparkling water, iced tea or sparking cider for those who don't drink. Or offer fresh-squeezed orange juice with ginger ale, lots of ice and a dash of bitters.
One hour before: Get dressed and put on some music. If you ordered a cake, decorate it with fresh spring flowers and place it on a cake plate (it could double as your centerpiece).
Immediately before: Saute the clams and set out the pupu crackers. Push the button on the rice cooker. After people arrive and are diving into the drinks and pupu, reheat the curry, toss the salad.
Summer rolls can be served as pupu, or added to the luncheon buffet.
When you are ready to serve, place it all out on a side table or altar table and have fun.
Kir Cocktail, Vietnamese Style
- 5 teaspoons creme de cassis
- 5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 bottle dry white wine, well chilled
- 5 pieces fresh lime peel
- Pour 1 teaspoon cassis into the bottom of a chilled champagne flute. Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and top with white wine. Place a sliver of lime peel on the top and serve. Serves 5.
- Sauteed Clams with Toasted Sesame Rice Crackers
- 1 packet small sesame rice crackers
- Oil for frying
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 ounces fresh, shelled clams
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons Thai basil, finely chopped
- Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoons white sesame seeds
Grill or lightly bake the crackers until they are crisp and beginning to brown. Cool and store in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag. In a frying pan, heat the oil and saute the garlic for about 1 minute.
Add the clams and saute for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the sugar, half the Thai basil, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for another minute. Sprinkle the clams with the remaining herbs and the sesame seeds. Serve the crackers with the warm clams. Serves 2 to 4.
Vietnamese Chicken Curry
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
- Oil for frying
- 8 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 stalks fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 or 2 fresh red chilies, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 pint coconut milk
- 1 pint chicken stock
- Fresh Thai basil leaves, optional
In a saucepan, heat the oil and fry the potatoes until lightly browned. Drain and set aside. Heat a little oil in the pan and saute the shallots and lemongrass, garlic and chilies until soft.
Add the curry powder and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir until it is opaque. Add the potatoes, salt, coconut milk and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Garnish with Thai basil leaves.