3 Recipes That You Can Easily Whip Up to Impress Mom on Mother’s Day 2021
By Kait Spong
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Everyone knows that moms appreciate handmade Mother’s Day gifts. Not only are they more thoughtful, but the effort that goes into them is also apparent and heartwarming. Since you’re a college student now, macaroni art isn’t exactly going to fly anymore, but perhaps, you can think of a more elegant and mature way to show Mom that you’re thankful for all that she does, from the time she comforted you during that really rough break-up to all the experimental theatre performances she attended, even though she didn’t always understand what was going on.
What we are trying to say here is that she’s been your number one cheerleader through every stage of your life, and it’s her day to be treated like a queen! One way you can spoil Mom is by indulging her in a homemade meal, which, like that special macaroni art of yore, will be created by those two very hands she still finds so special. Not to mention, you’ll save time, money, and the headache that comes with trying to find a brunch or dinner reservation on an occasion typically strenuous for restaurants, especially with coronavirus precautions in play. If you’re having trouble picking the perfect meal or dessert to show Mama just how much you care, these 3 recipe ideas just might be your lifeline.
Dan Dan Pappardelle
The flavors of the well-loved Chinese dish, Dandan Noodles, which typically contain chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced pork, and scallions, meets Italian pasta in this off-the-charts fusion of a recipe, Dan Dan Pappardelle. The wide ribbons of the pappardelle are perfect for soaking up every last drop of the hearty, five-spice-scented pork ragù and all of its creamy, spicy flavors. It might make Mom wonder why you don’t cook for her more often, but it will certainly be a tongue-tingling treat to remember for Mother’s Days in the future. Whether your mom is an Asian food “stan” or a pasta lover, it will be a surefire favorite!
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste or tahini
- 1 tablespoon black (Chinkiang) vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons homemade or store-bought chile crisp, divided
- 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon, soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 ounces ground pork
- ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound pappardelle
- Kosher salt
- Crushed unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts and sliced scallions, for serving
- Toast Sichuan peppercorns in a small skillet over medium-high heat, tossing often, until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill or mortar and pestle and let cool, then finely grind.
- Stir ground Sichuan peppercorns, sesame paste, vinegar, sugar, 2 tablespoons of chile crisp, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce in a small bowl to combine. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add pork, five-spice powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of soy sauce to the pan, breaking meat up into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, breaking up meat into smaller pieces, until cooked through, another 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add Sichuan peppercorn mixture. Then, set aside.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute short of al dente. Using tongs, transfer pasta to the skillet with the sauce and pour in ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook, tossing gently, until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta, about 1 minute. Drizzle in the remaining 1 tablespoon of chile crisp.
- Divide pasta among plates and top with peanuts and scallions.
Greens Eggs and Ham
Unlike the characters in the Dr. Seuss classic, Mom will probably love this version of Greens Eggs and Ham, in a house or with a mouse. She’d probably even eat them in a box or with a fox, now that we’re thinking about it. Either way, this weekend brunchtime recipe is perfect for spring and a great alternative to our prior dinner recipe, if you decide to meet with Mom earlier in the day. Plus, everything will fit into that standard 13×9” pan you have – you know, the only one that you own. If you want to cut out some of your work ahead of time, just blanch the greens a day ahead and store them in an airtight container to chill.
- 8-ounce country-style bread, torn into 1½” pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 pounds greens (baby or mature spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and/or mustard greens)
- 12-ounce thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1½”-thick pieces
- 12 scallions, thinly sliced
- 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 red Fresno chiles or jalapeños, thinly sliced, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup dill, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, plus, more for serving
- 6 large eggs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Toss bread and oil in a 13×9″ baking dish and season with salt. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 18–22 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Remove tough ribs and stems from greens; discard. Add leaves to the pot by the handful, pushing down with a spoon to submerge before adding more. Cook until all greens are just wilted, 1–2 minutes. Drain in a colander, then rinse under cold running water until cool, about 30 seconds. Squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands. Transfer greens to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
- Set pot over medium heat and cook bacon, stirring often, until golden brown and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Add scallions, garlic, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until scallions and garlic are softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add greens and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to coat. Remove from heat and mix in cream, dill, and 2 ounces of Parmesan.
- Spoon greens mixture evenly over croutons, allowing some croutons to peek through. Drizzle any sauce left in the pot over. Using a spoon, create 6 deep divots in the greens mixture and crack an egg into each one. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
- Bake casserole, rotating baking dish halfway through, until egg whites are barely set and yolks still jiggle and are slightly runny, 25–30 minutes. Let cool 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with more Parmesan to serve.
Vanilla Crème Brûlée
Five simple ingredients – cream, vanilla, salt, eggs, and sugar – make one rich, elegant dessert that Mom most likely salivates over in her dreams – well, in addition to Brad Pitt, anyway. This recipe for Vanilla Crème Brûlée is impressive yet understated. Better yet, you’ll most likely have all the ingredients already on-hand in your off-campus apartment’s refrigerator or pantry. It’s helpful to have a small propane torch, which you can purchase easily at Bed Bath & Beyond or a similar store, but you can also achieve the crackly sugar top with your oven’s broiler, as this recipe below clearly demonstrates.
- 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar, more for topping
- Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean, and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. If using vanilla extract, add it now.
- In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour the sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish. Fill the dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for at least several hours or up to a couple of days.
- When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler two to three inches from the heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.
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