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Raise a Toast to Mom


Red Velvet Cocktail at Morton's.

Are you planning a brunch for Mother’s Day? Try one of these eye-openers from Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., and Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St.

Red Velvet Cocktail

2 ounces Lindemans Raspberry Lambic
4 ounces Prosecco
5 ounces Chambord
Lemon peel
1 raspberry

In a mixing glass, stir in the lambic, Prosecco and Chambord with ice for 5 seconds. Strain into champagne flute.

Squeeze lemon peel over glass and discard peel. Garnish with fresh raspberry on a pick. Drink should have a foam cap.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Morton’s the Steakhouse

Elderflower Elixir and Super Fruit Sunrise from Fogo de Chão.

Elderflower Elixir

2 ounces Patrón Silver Tequila, or more to taste
1 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, or more to taste
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
Club soda

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in tequila, St. Germain and lime juice. Finish with club soda. Stir. Garnish with mint and raspberries, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Fogo de Chão.

Super Fruit Sunrise

1 ounce VeeV Açai liquor, or to taste
1 ounce Patrón Silver Tequila, or to taste
1 ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, or to taste
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Club soda

In an ice-filled Tom Collins glass, pour in VeeV, tequila, Pama and lime juice. Finish off with club soda. Garnish with lime and raspberries to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Fogo de Chão.

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Chefs’ Corner: Don Strange’s Brioche French Toast and Bananas Foster


Brioche French Toast and Bananas Foster

Looking for a brunch dish that goes way over the top? Try this recipe from Don Strange of Texas.

“The very thought of this dish is enough to make you hungry,” says Frances Strange in “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” (Shearer Publishing, ) written with Terry Thompson-Anderson. “Don had a flair for creating elaborate, extravagant brunch dishes. This is one he served at a lovely wedding brunch outside of Fredericksburg.”

It’s perfect for Mother’s Day or anytime you want to start the day off with something special.

Brioche French Toast with Bananas Foster

1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
4 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Butter
8 (5/8-inch-thick) slices day-old brioche
Bananas Foster (see below)
Sweetened whipped cream
Cinnamon or nutmeg for garnish
Mint springs to garnish

Bananas Foster

1/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup banana flavored liqueur
1/2 cup dark rum, divided use
4 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

For the French toast, combine the milk, cream, eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; whisk until eggs are well beaten and the batter is smooth. Melt some butter on a flat griddle over medium heat. Dip the brioche slices in the egg batter, coating both sides. Allow excess batter to drip off. Place the battered bread on the hot griddle without touching. (Cook in batches in necessary to avoid crowding.) Cook until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Keep hot in a warm oven while cooking the remaining slices.

For the Bananas Foster: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon with fork and set aside. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon sugar mixture and stir until sugar dissolves. Add banana liqueur and 1/4 cup of the rum. Cook, stirring, until syrupy and thickened (about 5 minutes). Add banana slices and lightly coat with the syrup. Add the remaining rum. Quickly swirl the pan, tilting it toward the flame, to ignite the rum. (If you are using an electric stove, light the rum with a long match.) Swirl the pan, basting bananas with the sauce, until flame subsides. Remove pan from heat, set aside and keep warm.

To serve, stack slices of the French toast on each serving plate. Place banana slices on each serving and drizzle some of the pan sauce over the top. Top with a generous dollop of the whipped cream. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, then add a mint sprig. Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Don Strange of Texas: His Life and Recipes” by Frances Strange with Terry Thompson-Anderson

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M Is for the Many Restaurant Options for Mother’s Day


On May 8, it’s all about Mom. Remember all she’s done for you and treat her right. Treat her to the dinner of her choice. The following restaurants range in style from prime steakhouses to extensive buffets to barbecue in the great outdoors.

Reservations are required unless otherwise noted. Tax and tip are not included.

Whether Mom wants a light lunch or an extensive buffet, San Antonio resaturants are ready to please.

Achiote River Cafe, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, 600 Market St., 201-224-1234 — Mother’s Day buffet is 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Begin with spring greens, a Tomato-Thai Basil Salad, Barley and Papaya Salad, Calamari and Shrimp Couscous Salad, and fruit cocktail in ginger syrup. Entrees include Shiner Bock-battered Atlantic Scrod Fillets, Miso-glazed Grilled Chicken, Coconut-Ginger Lamb Curry, prime rib, bone-in ham and an omelet station. Other dishes include a hot and sour tomatillo soup, roasted local harvest vegetables, steamed asparagus in black sesame soy, and garlic horseradish mashed potatoes. Seasonal pastries, mousse and cakes as well as Chef Daniel’s chocolate creation round out the meal. Cost: $30, adults, and $15 for children ages 3-12.

Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., 210-225-0722 — Brunch hours on Mother’s Day are 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. A buffet of appetizers, salads and artisan breads precede an entrée from a menu. Options include a Maine lobster omelet, an organic Eggs Benedict, curried spiced mini lamb meatloaf with spring vegetable ratatouille, brioche Texas toast,  seared Atlantic salmon, pork goulash, pan-roasted wild Alaskan halibut, and smokey garlic roasted prime rib ($3 supplemental). A dessert buffet closes out the meal. A kids’ menu, with choices such as chocolate waffle and chicken fingers with fries, is available. Cost: $49 for adults, $27.50 for kids.

BIN 555 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Artisans Alley, 555 W. Bitters Road, 210-496-0555 — A special four-course Mother’s Day brunch will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The menu features choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert and will include a cheese course served family-style. Drink specials, mimosas and sangria will be available. Cost: $29.95. Children’s menu: $11.

Boardwalk Bistro, 4011 Broadway, 210-824-0100 — Mother’s Day brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A three-course menu will be offered, varying in price from $20 to $32 a person depending upon the entrée selected. Appetizer choices include lobster-asparagus bisque, tomato-basil bisque, a mini-Belgian waffle and Waldorf salad. Entrée options: Eggs Benedict, three-egg omelet, smoked Black Forest Ham on pumpernickel French toast, crab cake, honey-glazed spiral baked ham, and Chateaubriand. Desserts: cheesecake, strawberry tiramisù, chocolate pecan caramel torte, brandied apricot croissant pudding and fresh berries in mascarpone sabayon.  An optional flight of wines accompanies the meal for $16. Flamenco guitar and percussion will also be featured. A child’s plate for $8.99 is available.

Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, 219 E. Houston St.,  210-472-2600 — On Mother’s Day, Bohanan’s open at 5 p.m. with its full menu. In addition, all Mothers will receive a yellow rose and gift box of truffles. www.bohanans.com

Coco Chocolate Lounge and Bistro, 18402 U.S. 281 N., 210-491-4480 — Brunch will be served 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bottomless Champagne or mimosas will be served alongside a buffet of starters featuring smoked salmon and bagels, tomato and mozzarella, shrimp cocktail, mushroom dip, goat cheese dip, hummus, and daily selection of green, Caesar, potato, red pepper, chicken, white truffle and fresh lemon penne salad as well as a selection of charcuteries and cold cuts and a platter of imported and domestic cheeses. A crêpes station will feature sweet and savory selections, including eggs and bacon; smoked salmon with chives and cream; ratatouille and egg; roasted red pepper with tomatoes , potatoes and egg, Nutella banana, chocolate, and roasted pear and crème Chantilly. Egg and entrée choices include  scrambled eggs with apple wood smoked bacon country breakfast sausage and sautéed potatoes; eggs Benedict with smoked Canadian bacon or smoked salmon; and tagliatelle with lardons, English peas, Asiago and chicken. A dessert buffet with a chocolate fountain and more closes out the meal. Cost: $35 for adults, $15 for children under age 12.

Crumpets, 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, 210-821-5600 — Chef Francois Maeder is giving Mom a weekend of celebrations. Special menus will be offered for lunch and dinner May 7 and brunch and dinner May 8. Dinner menus on both evenings will feature hors d’oeuvres, such as Marinated Gulf Shrimp, Scottish Smoked Salmon and Mousse Truffle Pâté. Entrées include Chicken Chasseur, Fresh Rainbow Trout, Shrimp Lyonnaise, New York Strip and the Trilogy, featuring Lobster Tail with Lemon-Garlic Butter, Rack of Lamb Provençal and Beef Tenderloin Rossini.  The May 7 special lunch menu will be served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and will feature a variety of salads, pasta dishes and entrées such as Rosemary Chicken, Fresh Rainbow Trout, Tenderloin of Beef and more. The Mother’s Day brunch, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes entrées such as Shrimp Salad on Avocado, Eggs Benedict, Veal Scaloppini, Shrimp Lyonnaise and more. The Trilogy will also be available. Children’s menu available.  www.crumpetsa.com

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Hwy., 210-822-3358 — Mother’s Day hours are 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. with a special menu from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Two breakfast specials are Earl’s Famous Thins topped with strawberries and served with bacon or house-made pork sausage and Bananas Foster & Walnut French Toast with bacon and maple syrup. For lunch and dinner, specials include a new field greens salad with citrus, jícama and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette; a 6-ounce filet mignon with a Torre di Pietra Port sauce; Beef Lasagna; and Rainbow Trout Amandine. Fried chicken, roast turkey and a select menu of favorites will also be available. Dessert specials include red velvet cake and Earl’s Boston Crème Pie. Children’s menu available.

814 A Texas Bistro, 713 High St., Comfort, 830-995-4990 — Mother’s Day brunch is 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The menu includes grilled petite filet mignon with sweet potato mash and bistro steak butter ($22),  Sautéed Norwegian Salmon with Sweet Pea Risotto and Tomato-Shallot Vinaigrette ($19),  Shrimp & Grits ($18), and Apricot-Herb Glazed Duck Breast ($18). All entrées include choice of salad or soup and a complimentary mimosa for Mom. www.814ATexasBistro.com

El Jarro de Arturo Mexican Restaurant, 13421 San Pedro Ave., 210-494-5084 — The Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet is from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.    Chef-prepared omelets, chilaquiles, spiral ham, potatoes, waffles with Bananas Foster, fajitas, Tex-Mex tacos, enchiladas, pork cascabel, Mexican sides, salads, fresh fruits and desserts will be featured. Cost:  $18.95, adults; $9.95, children under age 10. Regular menu available from 3 to 9 p.m. www.eljarro.com

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, 255 E. Basse Road, 210-824-WINE (9463) — The Mother’s Day brunch is 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The special meal begins with a choice of fruit salad or wedge salad. Entrée choices include mushroom, cheddar and filet mignon frittata; berry-stuffed French toast; smoked salmon and toasted bagel; asparagus, Swiss cheese and lump crab frittata; and filet Benedict. Dessert choices include walnut turtle pie, New York-style cheesecake and  crème brûlée. Cost: $32.95, adults; $15.95, children ages 12 and younger. Moms receive a $25 gift card for a future visit.

Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St., 210-227-1700 — The Brazilian steakhouse will be open for special hours on Mother’s Day. Lunch is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at a cost of $32.50 a person while dinner is 3:30-9 p.m. at a cost of $42.50 a person. Children ages 5 and under are free, and children 6-10 are half-price. Valet parking will be available.

Frederick’s Restaurant, 7701 Broadway, 210-828-9050 — The restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with a special menu. A few of the dishes include New York strip with grilled shrimp, pan-seared salmon, shrimp with Pernod saffron sauce, Korabuta pork chop veal T-bone and more. www.frederickssa.com/

Frederick’s Bistro, 14439 N.W. Military Hwy., 210-888-1500 — The restaurant will be open 11 a.m.-3 pm. for lunch and 5-9 p.m. for dinner. Appetizer specials include, but are not limited to, Baked Oysters Casino ($9), spring rolls in a lettuce cup ($8), crab cake ($9), and beef carpaccio ($8). Some of the main course options include lobster and lump crab meat asparagus salad ($29), Parmesan-crusted rainbow trout ($17), grilled lamb chops ($19), filet mignon with crab and béarnaise ($27), and Eggs Norfolk with smoked salmon and crab ($18). www.fredericksbistro.com/

The Hilton Palacio del Rio, 200 S. Alamo, 210-224-3357 — There will be three seatings for the brunch: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. The soup and salad bar will feature  Cream of Butternut Squash Soup, Cucumber-wrapped Mesclun Mix Salad and Romaine and Pesto-Goat Cheese Bundles. A bread display will be set up alongside omelet and carving stations. Entrées include Chocolate Pecan Waffles, Grilled Salmon, Teriyaki Glazed Chicken, Herb-crusted Pork Chops,  Confetti Jasmine Rice, Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Grilled Carrot Sticks and Shallot Smashed Potatoes. A dessert bar rounds out the meal. Complimentary valet parking and a special chocolate gifts for mothers included. Cost:  $29.95 for adults, $24.95 for seniors,  $15.95 for children ages 6-10 and free for children 5 and younger. www.palaciodelrio.hilton.com

Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, 210-767-7999 — The Mother’s Day Brunch, which runs 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., features high tea dishes, pasta and paella, local and artisan cheeses, salads, sides and more. Egg and breakfast dishes include smoked salmon benedict, brisket hash with poached egg and hollandaise, rosemary brown sugar bacon, country sausage links, cheese blintz with orange marmalade, personal omelets, and pancakes with syrups and roasted fruit. Surf and turf dishes: fresh shucked oysters, oak-smoked mussels and salmon, iced shrimp and roasted chile cocktail, whole fried snapper with chimichurri, grilled flank steak, whole roasted barbecued spiced chicken. From the bakery: pain au chocolat, almond-filled croissants, Palmier, tarts, petite carrot cakes, decadent chocolate truffles, crème brûlée, vanilla bean panna cotta and an ice cream sundae bar. Children’s table offered. Cost: $46.95, adults; $37.95, seniors; $22.50, children ages 5-12.

The Lion and Rose, various locations — Mother’s Day brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eggs Benedict, a breakfast burger, Irish Hash and Eggs, Wimbledon French Toast and more will be offered. Some of the drink specials:  Mimosa, $3.49; Bloody Mary, $3; Irish Bulldog, $5; Pimm’s Royal, $4.99; and Pimm’s Punch, $4.99. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, 1746 Lockhill Selma, 210-349-8466 — The restaurant is celebrating its 10th year of honoring mothers with a brunch served served 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. A five-course menu, with plenty of the restaurant’s signature dishes, will include choice of appetizer and entrée, followed by cheese course and choice of dessert. The Lodge will feature a Farmers Market-inspired Mimosa. Cost: $37.95. Children’s menu: $11.

Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road, 210-561-9700 — Mother’s Day brings a three-course meal from noon to 5 p.m. Start with your choice of Insalata di Mare (cold seafood salad), Arancini di Riso (Italian rice balls), Polenta con Carciofi (polenta cakes with artichoke hearts),  Cozze Fradiavolo (sautéed mussels)  and Carpaccio Cipriani (thin-cut beef tenderloin) among others. Entrée options include Salmone al Caperi (salmon with pasta and a lemon caper sauce), Linguine con Frutta di Mare (linguine with seafood), Pesce Fresca (pan-seared Chilean sea bass),  Carciofi (sautéed chicken breast with artichoke hearts), veal piccata, Agnello Scottadito (parsley- and garlic-brined New Zealand lamb chops), Osso Buco, and Bistecca di Manzo (grilled center-cut New York strip steak). Dessert options:  Tiramisù, cannoli, and fresh berries with cream. Cost: $27.95.

Max’s Wine Dive, 340 East Basse Road., Suite 101, 210-444-9547 — Service hours are 10 a.m.–10 p.m.. All items are available all day, through brunch, lunch and dinner. The menu includes Almond, Strawberry, and Spinach Salad ($9), Orange and Fig Glazed Ham, Roasted Asparagus, Glazed Carrot Purée ($15), and Warm Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Fondue ($8).

Mike’s in the Village, 2355 Bulverde Road, Bulverde, 830-438-2747 — Mother’s Day brunch will be 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be an omelet station while entrées on the buffet will include carved-to-order Creole-seasoned Rib-eye, Herbed-roasted Turkey Breast, Miso-glazed Salmon with Lemon Butter, Southwestern Eggs Benedict plus sides and desserts.  Cost: $39.50 for adults, $15.50 for children ages 5-12, and free for children 4 and younger.

Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., 210-228-0700 — A special Mother’s Day menu is available 3-9 p.m. It includes a choice of Morton’s Salad with Morton’s blue cheese dressing, chopped egg and anchovies or Caesar Salad;  a choice of Single-cut Filet Mignon, Filet Oskar with Asparagus and Jumbo Lump Crab, Broiled Salmon Fillet with Beurre Blanc, Colossal Shrimp Alexander or Chicken Christopher; and choice of vegetable or potato; and a choice of Crème Brûlée or Double Chocolate Mousse. Cost: $59. Regular menu also available.

Paesanos, 555 E. Basse Road, 210-828-5191 — Service will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the regular menu.

Paesanos 1604, 3622 Paesanos Parkway, 210-492-1604 — Service will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the regular menu and a Mother’s Day special: a complimentary Bellini, a small Caesar salad, a five-piece order of Shrimp Paesano and cheesecake and seasonal berries in a Grand Marnier sauce. Cost: $31.95.

Paesanos Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., 210-227-2782 — Service will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the regular menu.

Pike’s Place Restaurant, 167 Panther Ridge, Pipe Creek, 830-535-4442 — Mother’s Day brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A few of the items from the menu are bacon and fontina risotto with a poached egg, eggs Benedict or crab cake Benedict, buttermilk fried chicken, ham and Swiss eggs en croute, vegetarian quiche, steak and eggs, brioche French toast, buttermilk pancakes and mesquite-smoked prime rib. Prices range from $9 to $20. Endless mimosas are priced at $12.

Q on the Riverwalk, Downtown Hyatt, 123 Losoya St., 210-222-1234, ext. 4241 — Service is from 11 a.m.  to 3 p.m.  On the salad bar: fresh spring greens, taboulleh, grilled asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, cold smoked and pressed foie gras, venison brats on cornbread croutons and chipotle aioli, salmon tartar with avocado cream, fresh fruit parfait. Antipasti: assorted domestic and international cheeses, fruit and compote garnishes, variety of charcuterie and patés smoked trout and ale mousse, country pork paté with truffles and pistachio croccantinis with fennel and lavosh, melba toast. Breakfast favorites: made-to-order omelets and eggs, applewood bacon, grilled breakfast sausage, buttermilk waffles with spiced peach compote and maple butter. Entrees: beef sirloin with creamed horseradish, fresh grilled gulf mahi mahi with avocado and smoked mango salsa, green Thai curry with jasmine pilaf, apple chili bbq pork loin with Ranger Creek ale demi, saffron and English pea risotto. Assorted sweet, savory breads. Dessert table. Complimentary champagne and mimosas. Cost: $40, adults; $34, seniors; $19, children ages 5-12. Complimentary self-parking available at the Central Parking garage located across from the hotel.

Roaring Fork, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W., 210-479-9700 — Brunch is served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with dinner available after 4 p.m. In addition to its regular brunch menu, Roaring Fork will offer Pecan-crusted Pork Loin with Molasses Apple Glaze, Oven-baked Snapper over Watercress and Arugula Salad. Dessert options include Key Lime Pie with a Cointreau Raspberry Sauce. www.roaringfork.com

Texas de Brazil, 313 E. Houston St., 210-229-1600 — The doors open at 11 a.m. Mother’s Day with the full array of meats and the salad bar with more than 50 items plus dessert. Also special for Mother’s Day are Brazilian mimosas, a frozen cocktail made with house Champagne, blended with a choice of fruit purée and a touch of orange juice. Mango, papaya, wild berry, strawberry, pomegranate, passion fruit, and guava flavors are among the purées available.

Tost BistroBar, 14425 Blanco Road, 210-408-2670 — A three-course brunch will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will begin with the following: appetizer choice of Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese, Mint and Watercress; Shrimp Bisque with Crème Fraîche; or Crab Cake with a Jicama Slaw. Entrée choices: Pan-seared Petit Filet with Goat Cheese Mash Potato, Grilled Asparagus and Bleu Cheese Béarnaise; Seared Sea Bass with a Crab Citrus Butter Sauce and Curried Cauliflower Purée; or Truffled Lobster Risotto with Roasted Sweet Corn. Dessert choices:  S’mores Chocolate Tart or Homemade Sorbet. Cost: $27.

Tre Trattoria, Fairmount Hotel, 401 S. Alamo St. 210-223-0401, and 4003 Broadway 210-805-0333 — A five-course Mother’s Day brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Signature mimosas and Chef’s Bloody Marys will also be available. Cost: $34.95 a person. Children’s menu: $11.

TriniCakes Cupcakery, 999 E. Basse Road, Suite 178, 210-229-2107 — The Mother’s Day box includes a dozen specialty cupcakes – three lemon, three strawberry, three milk chocolate, and three orange cupcakes – adorned with flower decorations handpicked with her in mind. Cost: $36 a dozen.

Two Bros. BBQ Market, 12565 West Ave., 210-496-0222 — All Moms with a complimentary glass of sangria with dine-in orders over $18. Kids can play in the large yard covered by a canopy of oak trees. No reservations.

Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.,210-493-1600 — Brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a menu that ranges from Chef Steve’s Sashimi Tasting, Maine lobster bisque and broiled oysters to Lemon Sole in Parmesan Crust, Jumbo Georges Bank Scallops, and prime New York Strip. The full menu and dinner will be available after 5 p.m. www.wildfishseafoodgrille.com

Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, Suite 25100, 210-690-3334 — Mother’s Day brunch will be served from 10 a.m.  to 3 p.m. Z’Tejas favorites, such as the Chicken and Potato Hash and the Breakfast Quesadilla, will be offered. The weekend fun bar, featuring make-your-own Bloody Marys and mimosas cost $3.50. Until 3 p.m., the Z’Tejas staff will be taking and printing complimentary keepsake family photos, and all moms will receive a free dessert. Reservations are recommended but not required. sanantonio.ztejas.com

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Griffin to Go: Don’t Forget to Thank Mom


Annaliese Griffin

A few years back, I came across an Internet contest called A Mother’s Day Revenge. People were supposed to send in details of the worst food their mother ever made for them. The winner would receive some small recompense by being treated to a four-course meal from a sympathetic catering company.

I knew I had it in the bag.

Mom’s big mistake was a tuna fish casserole made with canned tuna, rice, walnuts, green beans, peas, celery and lima beans all held together with lime gelatin.

The story of this horror has become legendary with friends because of the odd combination of flavors. But what people don’t realize is that it takes something truly disturbing, even traumatic, like that to make you appreciate all the great flavors that world has to offer. And many of those have come from my mother.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I have come to say a few choice words about my mom and, hopefully, to inspire all of you home cooks out there. You never know when a dish of yours will capture the fancy of any other writers out there.

It’s easy to remember the bad. It’s something else to be grateful for the thousands of other homemade meals that greeted me every evening as I was growing up.

There were countless hams, usually made with pineapple slices and brown sugar on the outside, that stretched into who knows how many more sandwiches for lunch. There were stews and soups, roasts and fried chicken, broiled steaks and, on one occasion, bear, which had been given to us by a hunter friend.

There were also three or four vegetables every day, almost all from the back-yard garden in the summer. Potatoes were something we didn’t grow but ate plenty of, especially mashed. There were also homemade egg noodles that dried out on the backs of breakfast room chairs before they were cut up and dropped into boiling water. Breads were always made by hand. And since Mom is a baker, there was always a dessert to wipe away the taste of anything I might not have enjoyed. (Click here for her Raspberry-Vanilla Cake recipe, which is a real treat.)

It was all made at home and served to us most every single day, whether Mom was in a mood to cook or not. Dining out was reserved for special occasions, when the budget allowed. We didn’t order take-out or pop a frozen pizza in the oven (one frozen pizza back in the 1970s was enough to convince you to eat something, anything, else).

That may seem odd for someone who grew up to write about restaurants, but it really was the foundation of eating everything made from scratch that helped form a standard by which to judge others.

It has also helped in these economically unstable times, because I find myself preparing my own meals much more often. I want my food to taste as good as the best meals my mom made. They don’t always measure up. I’ve had to toss a sauce with too much salt or doctor a recipe that just didn’t taste as good as it sounded on paper, but I know from Mom’s example that a handmade vinaigrette can be better than any bottled salad dressing. It’s simple and dependable. It’s also a perfect side to a pork chop with a little salt on it or a steak with succulent marrow at the center of that rib-eye.

Mom would have rounded out the meal with a warm vegetable or two plus a starch, probably rice, potatoes or those delectable egg noodles. But my diabetes has changed a few aspects of my diet, including the elimination of starches, so I’d likely finish off the plate with some squash or beans, not from my back yard but often from a farmers market because I know from her the value of fresh foods to work with.

Memories of the tuna-lime mold will always be with me, and I have used that, too. It’s the standard by which to compare odd-sounding recipes, two of which I discovered while visiting my folks recently.

Both, surprisingly, were for deviled egg variations. Again, my standard for deviled eggs comes from Mom, who made hers with touch of diced bread-and-butter pickles.

Thankfully, she never made either variation I discovered, one of which called for peanut butter mixed in with the egg yolks. If that doesn’t gag you, then this one will: The other recipe incorporated carrots and raisins. I showed them to Mom, and she turned up her nose at both.

So, thanks, Mom, for all the meals you made over the years. And thanks, too, for never making me deviled eggs with carrots, raisins, peanut butter or lime gelatin.

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