LIVING

Mother's Day 2013: Make Mom The Object Of Your Affection With A Specially Prepared Brunch

05/09/2013 04:57 EDT | Updated 07/09/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - A mother works hard making meals for loved ones throughout the year, so it's nice to be able to turn the tables and pamper her with a special homemade brunch.

"I don't know a mother who wouldn't appreciate a child, a husband or whoever putting on a brunch for them," says chef Bryan Jurek.

"Don't stress and use it as an opportunity to just really have fun. It's all about spending time together as a family."

Keep the menu simple so you're not in the kitchen the entire time, says Jurek, who as corporate executive chef of Prime Pubs creates menus for the chain that includes Fionn MacCool's and D'Arcy McGee's.

"French toast is always a massive hit," Jurek says.

The dish really looks pretty with a sprinkling of icing sugar and can be served family style on a tray in the centre of the table with fresh fruit for garnish and maple syrup on the side, plus silver tongs for a touch of elegance.

A citrus-based drink is a great palate cleanser and pairs well with heavier dishes you may be serving. A green salad and fruit could round out the meal.

Aim for an assortment of oven-based and stovetop items "because that way you can always throw something in the oven, have it cooking, so you can get other things done at the same time," Jurek suggests.

To get ahead of the game, organize your kitchen as if you're setting up a restaurant.

Do as much prep the day before as possible, and place items in labelled containers. Remove wrapping from packages so they're ready to go. Sausages and bacon can be baked in a pan the day before, then reheated for two to three minutes.

Don't forget to place anything you're planning to use that is frozen in the refrigerator the night before to thaw.

Cookbook author and blogger Lovella Schellenberg, a mother of two grown sons, prefers to stay home on Mother's Day.

"We used to go out and battle the crowds at restaurants but now find it's much more relaxing to stay home," she said in an interview from Abbotsford, B.C.

Schellenberg, who started the blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook in 2006, is a co-author of the recently published "Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations" (Herald Press). There are multiple mothers in the family with Schellenberg, her husband's mom and two daughters-in-law.

She says everyone usually converges on her house and they throw burgers on the grill or host a brunch since they live on an egg farm.

"Keep it simple, plan ahead, have some fresh salads," Schellenberg suggests. "It doesn't have to be a lot of work. Go buy some rotisserie chickens the day before and utilize them. Chop them up and make some salads with them.

"There's lots of things you can do so that you don't have to go out to eat that is essentially so much more relaxing to stay at home."

Presentation and atmosphere are also paramount when you're preparing a brunch for your mother, says Jurek.

"As much as the food is an important part, you've got to focus on the presentation and the atmosphere you're creating at the same time. Don't forget a really nice table setup, nice fresh flowers, nice hot plates, cold plates. Make it as much of an event as possible. It will bring out the food that much more," he advises.

Set the table ahead, the night before if possible. Put a coaster or piece of paper towel over cups and glasses to prevent any dust settling in them.

A lovely touch is to display photos of the guest of honour with various family members.

Some mothers who love cooking might like to take part in the preparation. A custom apron could make an appropriate gift.

"My mother-in-law, when we do brunch for her, she really likes to actually be involved in the kitchen and use it as kind of an interactive experience," says Jurek, 30.

Or if Mom prefers to relax in another room while the meal is being prepared, give the kids some jobs as they are able, such as carrying in coffee or orange juice, polishing silver or stirring eggs.

"And if the whole thing goes belly up, just take your mother out. Let someone else do the hard work," Jurek says with a laugh.

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