Ranking among the "worst-ever gifts received from husbands", would have to be the weed eater that Ted gave me for Mother's Day one year. I don't mean to sound ungracious, but I don't happen to know ANY mothers who would have been thrilled with this particular gift. Then there was the time that he bought me some fancy lingerie for Mother's Day. I got such a surprise that I leapt out of bed to give him a hug and put my neck out. Badly. The entire day was spent with me in agony, looking like a frozen robot, waiting for the physio to open on Monday morning. After that Mother's Day was designated gift-free in our household.
After all, what do we mums really want on Mother's Day? For my money:
A) All the niggling sibling rivalries to be quelled so there's no yelling at each other (worth a try).
B) A moratorium on blowers or weed eaters or mowing. All outdoor machine noises are banned for the day.
C) To be fussed over and made to feel a bit special - like breakfast delivered on a tray with the paper or a nice magazine and no deadline to get out of bed.
In fact, do we have to get out of bed at all? I can think of many mothers who would happily spend all day in bed they are so damned exhausted from the everyday business of life. (Dads undoubtedly feel like this too, but they get Father's Day - and that's not until September.)
This is the one day of the year when we mums get to step back from all those mum/wife duties, and revel in the attentive ministering of our loved ones.
When our kids were little, they would always make a big fuss of cooking breakfast on Mother's Day and delivering it to me in bed. Boiled eggs with soldier finger toasts, sometimes even pancakes or french toast if Dad was supervising. There would be cute little messages on homemade cards and a fresh flower possibly nicked from the neighbour's garden on the tray, with a cup of very milky tea. The tea would have slopped everywhere and the egg could be almost raw but the joy and love on their cherubic faces was enough to make you want to leap out of bed and get back to the business of being a mother again. It's always the thought that counts.
Make the mums in your life happy this weekend with a little homemade cooking treat.
Croissant french toast
Give croissants even more ooh la la with this indulgent recipe perfect for a lazy Mother's Day brunch. The recipe is easily scaled up for a crowd. If you are making a big batch, put them on the tray as they are cooked and then transfer the entire tray to the oven for 5 minutes to fully heat through.
Ready in 25 mins
Cooking time: about 4 minutes per batch
4 croissants, split in half lengthways
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of ½ orange, finely grated
2-3 Tbsp butter, to cook
Sliced bananas and/or blueberries
Arrange croissant halves cut-side up in a shallow oven tray. In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest. Pour over the croissants and set aside for at least 10 minutes before cooking, turning in the mixture to fully coat. (You can put them in to soak the night before and leave in the fridge.)
Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 150C fan bake and line an oven tray with paper towels.
Once the liquid is fully absorbed into the croissants, they are ready to cook. Heat 1 Tbsp of the butter in a heavy pan over a medium heat, swirling it around to coat the base.
Cook soaked croissants several pieces at a time over a medium heat, turning as they brown to cook the other side (about 2 minutes each side).
Transfer to the prepared oven tray and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining croissants, adding more butter to the pan between batches.
Serve with crispy bacon, bananas and/or blueberries and maple syrup.
Mediterranean vegetable tarts
With their tangy, cheesy filling and fresh vibrant topping, these tasty tarts make a fabulous brunch offering. Top them with whatever fresh vegetables are in season - cherry tomatoes and basil or roasted root vegetables are also delicious. Assemble them a few hours in advance, ready to bake and serve.
Ready in 40 minutes
4 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
1 cup finely grated parmesan
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 Tbsp chopped basil leaves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
3 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
100g feta, sliced or crumbled
2 handfuls rocket leaves
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Preheat oven to 200C fan bake and cut baking paper to fit 2 oven trays. Place trays in oven to heat (baking tarts on pre-heated trays helps obtain crisp bases) and place baking paper on bench.
Brush one sheet of pastry with beaten egg, place a second sheet of pastry on top, then cut into 4 squares. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of pastry, reserving a little egg for glazing. You will have 8 double-thickness squares. Place 4 pastry squares on each sheet of baking paper. Use a ruler and a sharp knife to score the top sheet of each pastry square to form a 1cm border. Glaze border with a little egg.
Mix any leftover egg with the mascarpone or cream cheese, parmesan, lemon zest, basil, salt and pepper. Divide evenly between the pastry squares, spreading out within the border and taking care not to go over the edges or the pastry rim won't rise properly.
Slide baking paper and pastries on to preheated trays and bake until puffed and golden (about 20 minutes). The bases can be made in advance to this stage and frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Reheat for 5 minutes in a 180C oven before adding the topping.
To make the topping, divide red peppers and olives between the warm pastry bases, top with feta and rocket, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pistachio marzipan-stuffed dates
These homemade stuffed sweetmeats make a lovely gift. They are delicious served with coffee.
Ready in 20 mins
20 medjool dates
A little icing sugar, if needed
Runny honey, to drizzle (optional)
Pomegranate seeds (optional)
¾ cup shelled pistachios
1 Tbsp caster sugar
2 Tbsp runny honey
1½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp rose water (optional)
To make the marzipan, place pistachios and caster sugar in a food processor and pulse to a coarse breadcrumb texture. Add honey, lemon juice and rose water, if using, and whizz to combine – don't whizz too long or it will turn greasy and become nut butter!
Turn on to a clean surface and pat a few times to mould into a ball.
Use a sharp knife to slice open the dates on one side, without cutting right through. Remove stones.
Divide marzipan into 20 pieces and mould each into a little roll a bit shorter than the length of the date. If the mixture is too sticky to handle, use a little icing sugar to dust your hands and the work surface.
Insert marzipan into dates and press gently to encase. Stored in an airtight container they will keep for several weeks. Drizzle with runny honey and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving, if desired.
Match with these ...
by Yvonne Lorkin
Match these with ...
(Croissant french toast)
Kumeū River Cremant NV ($50)
It makes sense for chardonnay specialists Kumeū River to offer a super-stylish, chardonnay-dominant sparkling wine, and this magnificent, Mum-impresser absolutely puts the "oh" in french toast. Boasting aromas of peach, bran muffin, rising dough, and spiced shortbread, it's a classy companion with croissants of any persuasion. On the palate, the delicate bubbles accentuate its soft, creamy, lemony layers, almond meal notes, and its long, deliciously dry yet creamy finish. Even if you don't have a mum to share bubbles and breakfast with tomorrow, no matter. It's the weekend, you've got a wine glass in the cupboard and you're alive and living in New Zealand — what's not to celebrate?
(Mediterranean vegetable tarts)
Bostock Airini Hawke's Bay Rosé 2021 ($48)
Terrific with these tarts is this world-class, syrah-based rosé crafted by Hawke's Bay organic pioneers, Bostock Wines. It pays homage to the memory of local Maori princess, the late Airini Karauria Tamiwhakakiteaoterangi Donnelly, a Ngati Kahungunu tribal leader, lawyer, landowner and Native Land Court advocate who became heiress to vast acres of land including Ngatarawa Farm, which is where these grapes now grow. Bursting with apple, raspberry and pink peppercorn aromas, it washes across the tongue and tonsils with a wave of crunchy-crisp, juicy watermelon and redcurrant characters. Cleansing and richly structured, it's an absolute palate saturation of style and substance right from its glass-stoppered top to its last pink sapphire-hued drop.
East Imperial Coffee Tonic
I know Annabel has suggested that these magic morsels are magnificent with coffee, but if you want to serve Mum something a teensy bit stronger, then I recommend pouring her a glug of good New Zealand vodka over ice, then top it up with a splishy-splash of East Imperial Coffee Tonic, a nitro cold-brew mixed with grapefruit tonic. It's an unusual flavour mix, but it works incredibly well because it's so cleansing and refreshing, and the vodka injects a whoomph of warmth while the coffee flavour fangs with the sweetness of these stuffed dates. Yum!