Berry Tart
Berry Tart. (Annabel Cohen)

Mom will be thrilled with these recipes for breakfast or brunch!

Mother’s Day is nearly here. This year, the date set aside expressly to pay tribute to mothers everywhere is this Sunday, May 9. 

Most moms don’t ask for much. They just want a little acknowledgment and perhaps a day off from everyday responsibilities — like preparing or organizing meals. If you’re the only mom in your family, you may want someone else to do the cooking if it’s usually your duty. If you’re honoring a mom, you may be looking for ways to pamper her without fighting the crowds at restaurants or clubs, especially while social distancing is still a very good idea.

You probably know what you or someone else likes. My own mother claims to want or need “nothing,” and would rather just spend a special meal with her family. So, in my family, there will be cooking. 

Breakfast or brunch is the easiest meal to prepare and a delightful way to begin the day. And preparing foods ahead of time or with a blender or food processor is a fail-safe way to make breakfast food fancy, fast and delicious. Of course, few things are better than fresh bagels and lox. But for other ideas try some of the recipes below and add a big bowl of fresh-cut fruit or just fresh berries. Trust me, mom will be thrilled.

Quick Spinach and Swiss Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 deep dish pie crust (comes frozen in the supermarket) or your own homemade crust
  • 2 packages (10-ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained well
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1½ cups grated Gruyere of other Swiss cheese

Filling:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp. dried dill)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Adjust the oven racks so that one is in the center of the oven and one is just below it. 

Place pie crust in a deep-dish pie plate (you may also purchase the crust already in its own pan). Sprinkle the spinach, scallions and cheese over the crust. Combine all the filling ingredients in the pitcher of a blender or bowl of a food processor and blend or process until smooth. Pour this mixture in the crust and place the quiche on the top rack of the oven with a baking sheet on the rack just below (to catch potential spills). Bake for 1 hour, or until the filling is set and puffy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes or more before serving warm or at room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 6-8 servings. 

Overnight Challah Banana Pecan French Toast

I always make more of this than I need because leftovers are heavenly. As much a dessert (bread pudding) as a breakfast dish, it’s super luxurious and delicious. Change up the recipe by substituting fruit or berries (not strawberries), nuts or by adding or substituting chocolate chips for the nuts. 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (half stick) butter, melted
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar 
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 12 cups 1-inch challah bread cubes
  • 4 sliced bananas (about 2 cups)
  • 1-cup chopped or halved pecans 
  • Garnish: Powdered sugar

Directions

Spray a 9 x 13-inch or equivalent attractive baking dish with nonstick-cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Drizzle butter. Sprinkle brown sugar over and drizzle the maple syrup over. Set aside.

Combine milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk well. Add the bread cubes and toss with liquid (I use my hands). Add the bananas and pecans and toss again Pour this mixture into the baking dish. 

Wrap plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1-24 hours.

When ready, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the French toast from the refrigerator and when the oven reaches temperature, unwrap and place in the center of the oven. 

Bake 45-minutes to 1 hour until very puffy and golden. You can either serve as is in the baking dish or wait 10 minutes for the French toast to cool a bit and turn the entire baking dish over onto a serving dish (it will be caramelized). 

Serve with a large spoon or cut into servings. Makes 12 or more servings. 

Marinated Mini Fresh Mozzarella Balls with Mixed Greens

Ingredients

Mozzarella:

  • ½ pound fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese balls, halved (about ¾-inch in diameter)
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 2 heads small butter lettuce, core removed and leaves separated and torn (or about 3- 5-ounces mixed baby greens)

Directions

Combine all mozzarella ingredients in a medium bowl and toss well to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 or more hours (up to a day ahead), turning the balls once or twice. Serve the Mozzarella over the greens, drizzled with additional balsamic vinegar if desired. Makes 6 servings. 

Individual Berry Tarts with Whipped Cream

The easiest, prettiest dessert I’ve ever made.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet (½ package) frozen puff pastry sheets thawed
  • 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese 
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) frozen
  • Whipped cream (the kind in the can is fine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Cut one sheet of the puff pastry into 6 squares. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Use a fork to poke lots of holes in pastry square. Set aside.

Melt the cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl (uncovered) for 40 seconds. Add the powdered sugar and lemon juice and stir until smooth. Stir together cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spread mixture all over the puff pastry squares (not to the edges).

Arrange the berries on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Serve immediately or at room temperature with whipped cream. Makes 6 servings.