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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Oct. 4, 2023

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Enjoy a Mother’s Day graze with shareable bites


It’s Mother’s Day on May 14, and if you’re lucky, you get to spend it with the mother figures you love, munching on something decadent and delicious.

In years past, I might have orchestrated a backyard picnic or fancy Champagne brunch for my mom, who I’m lucky to have still living just around the corner, in the house I grew up in. But now that she’s in her 90s, she doesn’t really sit down for big meals anymore.

Which is not to say the woman doesn’t eat, because man, can she ever! It’s just that she grazes her way through the day with little bites of this and nibbles of that as the mood strikes her, instead of pulling up a chair at the table.

So this year, in lieu of preparing a full-scale luncheon or supper for Mother’s Day, I’ll do this instead: fete her with a celebratory menu comprised of little bites of some of her favorite foods that are perfect for grab-and-go snacking.

All of the recipes are simple ones that can be made ahead, and a few also include shortcut ingredients that will reduce the amount of time spent cooking — for instance, a fruity chicken salad is made with shredded rotisserie chicken, and mini key lime pies can be garnished with canned whipped cream.

They’re simple for mom, too: The smaller portions fit her smaller appetite, everything is visually enticing (encouraging her to eat) and the food itself is easy to eat, without utensils. Just pick it up and enjoy!

While the aim here is to allow for some easy, daylong senior noshing, all would be perfectly at home on a buffet table at a more formal Mother’s Day celebration. Because all travel well, you also could take them on the road to a party.

The menu includes mini breakfast quiches to get the day off to a good and tasty note; traditional deviled eggs; mini chicken salad sandwiches made springlike with fresh strawberries and green grapes; and key lime tartlets for dessert.

Mini Breakfast Quiches

Makes 24 mini quiches. Adapted from marthastewart.com

These mini quiches come together quickly and can be modified with your favorite ingredients. I used Swiss cheese and bacon, but anything you’d throw in an omelet or full-size quiche works, too: Think chopped ham, colorful vegetables, or mushrooms and spinach.

If you’re sweating over the thought of homemade pastry dough, don’t! You can’t miss with this Martha Stewart recipe, which whirs together in seconds in a food processor and is super-easy to roll out.

For pastry:

21/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

For filling:

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

Pinch of nutmeg, optional

4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

5 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

2 tablespoons minced green onion or chives

Prepare crust: Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor, or whisk together by hand. Add butter and pulse (or quickly cut in with a pastry blender) until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining.

Drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture. Pulse or mix with a fork until mixture just begins to hold together. If dough is too dry, add a little more water a tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough in half, onto two pieces of plastic wrap. Gather into two balls, wrap loosely in plastic, and press each into a disk using a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, well wrapped, 1 hour or up to 1 day. (You will only need one disk; remaining disk can be frozen up to 3 months.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, heavy cream, eggs, yolk and nutmeg, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through a sieve into a medium bowl; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to slightly less than ¹/8-inch thick. Using a 23/4 -inch round cutter, cut out 24 rounds. (I used a biscuit cutter with fluted edges.) Fit rounds into a 24-cup nonstick mini muffin tin. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place in refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.

Divide half of the cheese evenly between the lined cups. Top with bacon and chives or scallions. Divide milk mixture evenly between cups. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately remove quiches from muffin tin and transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Classic Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 deviled eggs. Gretchen McKay

Is there anything more classic on Mother’s Day than deviled eggs?

For perfect hard-boiled eggs, cool the cooked eggs in the refrigerator before peeling — the shells will come off easier. To peel, gently tap the egg on a countertop until the shell is finely crackled all over and then roll between your hands to loosen the shell.

You can use a spoon to fill the cooked egg white halves, but if you’d rather step up the presentation, fill a small piping bag fitted with a star tip with the filling and squeeze a dollop into each half.

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Dash of apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Sweet paprika, for garnish

Chives for garnish, optional

Rinse eggs with warm water, and place in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water, place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and peel. Cool in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for 15 minutes.

Halve eggs lengthwise, and carefully scoop out yolks. Place yolks in a bowl, and mash with a fork. Stir in mustard, vinegar and mayonnaise. Then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use a spoon to add a portion of the deviled egg mixture back into the hole of each egg white. Dust the top of each filled egg with paprika. Arrange in a spoke design on a platter, and garnish with whole chives, if desired.

Fruity Chicken Salad Sliders

Makes 12 mini sandwiches. Adapted from tasteofhome.com

Chicken salad is a classic Mother’s Day dish. This version has a fruity twist, with seedless green grapes and strawberries adding sweetness and color. For more adventurous sliders, add 2 teaspoons of curry powder to the mayonnaise mixture. I used Hawaiian sweet rolls but mini croissants or buttermilk biscuits also make a great base.

3 cups chopped cooked rotisserie chicken

1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries or blueberries

1/2 cup halved seedless green grapes

1/4 cup honey roasted sliced almonds

5 large basil leaves

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Juice 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper

12 mini Hawaiian sweet rolls

Place chicken, strawberries, grapes and toasted almonds in a bowl and toss to combine.

Stack basil leaves together, then roll tightly. Slice the roll thinly from one end to the other, then separate the ribbons of basil.

In a second small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sliced basil and lemon juice, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir into chicken and fruit mixture. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to make the sandwiches.

To serve, evenly spoon about 1/4 cup chicken salad into each roll.

Bite-sized Key Lime Tartlets

Makes 24 tartlets. Gretchen McKay

This recipe is so easy, I once made more than 100 of the tartlets for a charity event. If you don’t feel like making whipped cream from scratch, feel free to use Reddi Whip as a shortcut. You can find Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice in most larger grocery stores.

For crust:

11/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 9 crackers)

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling:

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

6 tablespoons fresh or bottled key lime juice

For topping:

3/4 cup very cold heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 24-count mini muffin pan with butter or cooking spray, then set aside.

Make crust: Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar together with a rubber spatula in a medium bowl until combined. (The mixture will be coarse and sandy.) Spoon a heaping tablespoon of mixture into each liner, then press it firmly with your fingers, making sure the crust is tight and compact. Pre-bake the crusts for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.

While crust is baking, make filling: Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until smooth and well combined. Add key lime juice and whisk until well combined and slightly thickened. Pour filling into pre-baked crusts, then return to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, beat cream in a medium bowl with an electric or hand mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Spoon a dollop on top of each tartlet, then serve.