A Great Mother’s Day Buffet

I grew up in a family that loves to eat. We love everything from burgers, fries and pizza to much more sophisticated gourmet meals. Both sides of my family have owned very successful restaurants. My great grandmother, whose heritage was French / Italian, owned one of the busiest Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, back in the days when women seldom worked outside of the home.

On my father’s side, my family has owned restaurants for generations including the world famous Mousetrap Restaurant & Bar in Coco Beach, Florida, where the astronauts liked to eat a delicious prime rib and Yorkshire pudding while my dad mixed them his famous over sized martinis.

I had a successful restaurant that I opened and sold not long ago and I am in the process of decking out my gourmet food truck. The menu will contain a fusion of California-Caribbean cuisine featuring organic meats, fresh seafood and a variety of salsas made from fresh local fruits and vegetables.

The following Mothers Day brunch recipes are inspired by the California-Caribbean theme. In my family we always like to write up a menu for a special occasion family feast. We e-mail it to our guest so they can start drooling! This is my Mother’s Day brunch.

The Menu

Caribbean Crab Cakes Benedict

Served With Island Hollandaise Sauce and Avocado Aioli

Baked Blueberry Filled French Toast

Served With Warm Drizzled Maple Syrup

Roasted Russet Potatoes

Key Lime Trifle / Fresh Fruit

Champagne and Beverage Bar

Caribbean Crab Cakes Benedict

Ingredients

1 pound fresh lump crab meat, drained
4 saltine crackers
2 slices French bread
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (preferably Key lime)
1 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper (Use the rest for garnish)
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
3 toasted English muffins
6 large eggs, poached
Cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste

For frying the crab cakes you will need about ¼ cup peanut oil and about ¼ stick of unsalted butter. You want the buttery flavor and the butter will not burn when combined with peanut oil.

Preparation

Process crackers and bread in a food processor until finely ground. In a large bowl combine crab meat, mayonnaise, red bell pepper, processed crumbs, egg whites, lime juice and spices. Chill for about an hour.

Divide crab mixture into 6 patties. Cook crab cakes, in hot oil and melted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. It takes about 4 minutes on each side or until a light golden.

Island Hollandaise Sauce

(Prepare hollandaise last)

4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Key lime juice
2 sticks of melted, unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Preparation

Combine lime juice and egg yolks in the top of a double boiler. Place over simmering, but not boiling water. Whisk until yolks start to thicken. Add melted butter slowly, a trickle at a time and whisk until fully incorporated, smooth and thickened. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Avocado Aioli

I ripe Hass avocado, if not available use what you find but it should be medium sized.
1-cup mayonnaise
4 medium cloves of finely chopped garlic
2 medium Key limes or one regular lime
zest from the two limes
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Preparation

Cut the avocado in half. Place the garlic, mayonnaise, ½ avocado and the other ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Chop up the remaining half of the avocado and stir into the aioli so that a bit of texture remains.

Assembly of Caribbean Crab Cakes Benedict

I prefer to arrange the six toasted halves of the English muffins in a chafing dish. Spread about a tablespoon of the avocado aioli on each muffin half. Next, place a crab cake on each muffin and then top the crab cake with a poached egg. Top generously with the Island Hollandaise Sauce. Garnish with strips of the remaining red pepper. This dish should be the last one prepared so that it is hot when added to the buffet table.

Roasted Russet Potatoes

Ingredients

6 medium russet baking potatoes (about 4 pounds)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced yellow onions
8 cloves of garlic minced garlic *
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

*My family loves garlic. You may want to add less

Preparation

Wash and peel the potatoes, chop them into about ¾ inch cubes. The chopping can be irregular and rustic looking. Place the chopped potatoes in a roasting pan. Set the butter aside and add in all of the other ingredients. Toss the potatoes until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Chop the butter into bit sized pieces and distribute on top.

Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Halfway through the baking process toss the potatoes and return them to the oven. Keep the potatoes warm in a chafing dish and serve on the buffet.

Key Lime Trifle

A great trifle needs a spectacular display. The bowl should be clear, about seven inches deep, straight sided and with a footed design. Viewing the layers of fresh fruit and creamy goodness is almost as good as eating it.

Ingredients

2 pound cakes (I like Sarah Lee’s or Entenmann’s)
3 (14oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 Cup Key Lime juice
12 oz mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
24 to 30 to 15 Key limes or 6 to 8 common limes *
Lime zest from 2 or 3 Key Limes
1 cup Grand Marnier
2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 tbs. superfine sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

* There is always bottled Key lime juice if you are not ambitious

Preparation for Key Lime Filling

Combine the 3 cans of condensed milk with 1 cup of Key lime juice and the mascarpone cheese in a mixing bowl. Blend at low to medium speed until smooth.

Preparation of the Whipped Cream

Place the 2 pints of whipped cream, sugar, vanilla, a tablespoon of Grand Marnier in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

Preparation for the Fruit

Any combination of fresh fruit can be used so you can choose your favorites. I like the visual for the blueberries, strawberries and kiwi. Clean the blue berries and place them in a small bowl. Toss in a tablespoon or so of the Grand Marnier so that all the berries are glazed. Clean and slice the strawberries and place them in a small bowl. Repeat the process with the Grand Marnier. The kiwi should be cleaned, sliced and ready for assembly.

Preparation for the Pound Cake

Slice the cakes in half inch slices. Spread them out on a baking sheet. Brush them, using a pastry brush, with the remaining Grand Marnier.

Assembly

Start with a lawyer of pound cake placed in the bottom of your trifle bowl. Squeeze in irregular pieces. Spread a layer Key lime filling, a layer of fruit, a layer of whipped cream and then another lawyer of pound cake. Repeat layering in the same order. End with a layer whipped cream on top. Garnish with lime zest. Keep chilled until it is served.

Baked Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

Ingredients

One large loaf of day old challah bread sliced 1″ thick

6 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 tub, 8oz. cream cheese
1-pint fresh blueberries
1 tbsp. superfine sugar

Topping

2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1-cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Additional warmed maple syrup for topping

Preparation

Clean the blueberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and set aside. Mix in a large bowl, the half and half, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Spray a 9X13-baking pan or chafing dish with non-stick butter spray. Line the pan with a layer of the challah bread. Dollop the cream cheese over the bread. Spread half of the blueberries over the bread and cream cheese. Top with the remaining sliced bread. Pour the half and half mixture over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Before baking the French toast, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, chopped pecans and the remaining blueberries. Spread the mixture over the top of the Stuffed Blueberry French Toast.

Place on a cookie sheet in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. The middle should be set and the French Toast should puff up a bit. When removed from the oven let it stand for about ten minutes before cutting and placing it on the buffet. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Beverages

I believe that liquor is a very important part of any party.

The bar should be stocked with pitchers of fresh squeezed orange juice for mimosas and vodka and spicy tomato juice for bloody Mary’s. Edible flowers and fruit slices should be available for garnishes. The children can have sparkling grape juice, or lemon soda with grenadine, maraschino cherries and orange slices. Give them toothpicks and party umbrellas to garnish drinks. Serve a special drink so that you can formally raise a toast to Mom.

Let me know how you like my recipes and follow me on twitter @KMKolsch