Mother’s Day Wrap-Up

I hope you enjoyed your Mother’s Day.  Whether it was celebrating with your kids or your own mom, or both.  I’m looking forward to a visit with my own mom and we’ll be celebrating then.  However I had a lovely day with my husband and kids.  We all stayed up too late the night before.  The kids had so much fun with their cousins and babysitters, they were up when we got home from a fundraiser at 11 pm!  The good thing was that it meant sleeping in on Mom’s Day.  However we all slept in so late, we barely made it to our brunch.

My husband made reservations at Left Bank in Larkspur.  The restaurant is a french bistro with great food and wine.  On Mother’s Day they even set up a special table for kids to make cards for their mom and choose a small bouquet of flowers to bring to the table and then take home.  This was so sweet.  My daughter is a crafty one, so she would’ve been happy there all day.


Whenever I go to Left Bank I order escargot.  My son ends up eating half of them.  It’s one of the few places that serves them and they are a wonderful, garlicky, buttery treat.  My kids ordered pan perdue, aka french toast on brioche.  This was yummy but so rich they couldn’t finish it.  My son still wanted to show you a before and after.  My husband and I both ordered a salmon and leek tart which was very yummy but also rich.  I realized we haven’t had such rich food in a while and maybe didn’t feel so energized after.  I explained that this was the reason I always eat oatmeal every morning.  I feel better.  It was a nice day with family.  After brunch we did some shopping, then playing, then napping, then playing some more.  What more could a mom ask for?


A Tale of Two “Egg” Salads

My family came over for brunch a few weeks ago.  I was feeling a springtime menu and decided to make vegan lemon muffins and chocolate zucchini bread, bagels with lox and all the trimmings, a fruit salad and egg salads.  My kids are always up for egg face sandwiches (a work of art below) but I forgot about my old favorite, my Sunny Tofu Salad.  This was great because my vegan sister would appreciate this eggless salad.  However I realized my recipe is not actually vegan, just vegetarian because I use yogurt.  I thought about soy or coconut yogurt but wouldn’t have the neutral taste.  Instead I discovered Vegenaise.  There’s a whole cold section at Whole Foods with vegan products, which I find very helpful (vegan sausages, cheeses, tofu, seitan).  I decided to try Vegenaise, but which one to buy?  There’s original, low-fat, grapeseed, soy free and I can’t even remember what else.  I was overwhelmed for a moment and then just decided original was the best bet.  O.K. I am not a spokesperson and no one gave me a coupon, but let me tell you I am definately a fan.  I’m not big on mayonaise, but somehow I like this.  It’s not greasy and seems a bit sweeter than mayonaise, and now I have found plenty of uses – cooking vegan and otherwise.  It’s lower in fat than mayonaise, but this still isn’t a diet product.

The egg and nonegg salads were a hit with my family, and completely finished.  I highly suggest the two “egg” salad options to try to please all kinds of diets at your next brunch (maybe Easter this week) or sandwich face party anytime.  The eggless salad is below.  You’ll find my Egg and Olive Salad as well as some hard boiled egg tips on a past Easter blog – click here.

Sunny Tofu Salad

(page 72 from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

This was inspired by a sandwich I had from Whole Foods Market. It’s the same idea as egg salad but uses tofu in place of egg. The mustard still gives the sunny color of egg yolks. Stuffed into pita bread or rolled into lettuce leaves this is a tasty vegetarian option for those not eating eggs. It is also is a nice addition to a party platter.


Makes about 1½ cups


8 ounces organic extra-firm tofu, drained

1 tablespoon organic whole-milk yogurt (or Vegenaise for Vegans)

1 tablespoon chopped green onion (optional)

1½ teaspoons prepared mustard

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or ¼ teaspoon dried

1/8 teaspoon salt


Place tofu on a cutting board lined with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Gently squeeze tofu between towels to remove excess liquid.

Put tofu in a medium bowl and crumble apart using a fork. Add yogurt or Vegenaise, green onion (if using), mustard, lemon juice, dill, and salt and mix to combine.


Go Green!  Be sure to buy organic tofu.  Non-organic tofu is more than 84 percent likely to be genetically modified.


Happy Mother’s Day! (Chocolate Dipped Strawberries)

Happy Mother’s Day to you, yours and mine (especially mine).  If you’re lucky enough to celebrate with your mom, head to the farmer’s market for some fresh, organic strawberries to dip in chocolate.  What mom doesn’t like chocolate?  And if you’re the mom being celebrated, pass this hint on to dad and the kids.


Chocolate strawberries always seem so fancy.  You see them in chocolate shops and bakeries during strawberry season.  They are actually easy to make and make quite an impression.   Unfortunately this is difficult recipe for children to assist, as much is done over a double broiler and water can spit and burn if not careful.  Let them help by arranging strawberries on a special platter once chocolate is cooled and hardened.  These would look great on a Mother’s Day brunch table and they were recently a big hit at my son’s school potluck too.


2 pints organic strawberries (18 – 20), washed and dried
with leaves on

6 ounces dark chocolate, chips or chop into pieces

1 tablespoon shortening

Place a baking rack over two glasses or pans to allow rack to sit above counter. (Alternatively line a baking sheet with waxed paper). Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Turn down to simmer and place chocolate in top of double boiler over boiling water. Be sure water from bottom pot does not boil or spit into chocolate mixture.

Once chocolate has melted add shortening and stir until combined. Insert toothpick or skewer into top of strawberry and carefully dip and swirl into chocolate.

Place toothpick side down through hole in baking rack so strawberry sits on leaves, upside down,   and chocolate can solidify.  (Alternatively place dipped strawberry on waxed paper to dry)

Arrange strawberries on platter and serve.



The Vegan Weekend – Part II, Brunch

Easter Pie ready for the oven

I enjoy entertaining for brunch on the weekends.  I think it’s a great time to visit, without worrying about getting the kids to bed on time, like hosting a dinner party.  We’ve been hosting lots of brunches lately with other families.  It’s a chance for the kids to play as well as have some adult leisure time.  Brunch is more casual.  No need to dress up or even bring a bottle of wine (although I never turn away some sparkling wine and orange juice for mimosas).  

Brunch is also great for menu planning.  There are many dishes that can be made ahead so you can enjoy your company.  There’s also a wide variety of foods, looking at both breakfast and lunch options, that appeal to all ages.  When having kids at brunch (or really any meal) I like to have something they can put together themselves.  Whether it’s spreading bagels with cream cheese, making a yogurt parfait, or decorating fruit faces on pancakes, kids like to be creative and involved.  And if the kids are not already familiar with everyone at the table, it’s a fun ice breaker to get to know and laugh with each other.

We’ve been fine tuning the brunch menu, and here;s kind of our set menu (with first time guests) and our favorites right now.  As you’ll notice these are all great menu items for any time of day.  And most of these ingredients are pantry and refrigerator staples (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, bagels) to prepare quickly and easily:

  • · Savory Bread Pudding if making ahead, or a simple egg and vegetable scramble made just before eating.
  • · Platter of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers, with a basket of mini bagels and English muffins.
  • · Arugula salad with avocado and toasted almonds with balsamic vinaigrette.
  • · Maple yogurt over mixed seasonal fruit, and topped with granola or Energy Bark (recipe follows).
  • · Juice sparklers (bubble water with a splash of juice) for kids, and mimosas for adults.

However I was hosting brunch with family for 14, while my sister was in town.  Remember she’s vegan and I can’t just make my usual brunch and hand her a plate of raw veggies.  Plus she wanted to help and we were hoping to discover some new tasty vegan brunch options together.  I printed off quite a few recipes from poppy seed muffins to  eggless scrambles.  However I was intriqued by an Easter Pie recipe.  My sister wasn’t too sure, and really didn’t want to be responsible for “ruining my brunch”.  

It’s so funny how people think all will be lost if the meal doesn’t succeed.  I’m cooking for family, not for paying customers.  If it doesn’t come out well, can’t we just all laugh over a bowl of granola?  Or just order something at a deli and visit in the park?  No one wants good food more than I do, especially when hosting, but let’s be kinder to each other and give our hosting families a break.   

Anyways the Easter Pie was great and I will make it again, for vegans and omnivores.  There’s lots of ways you could change it as well – adding roasted veggies, changing spices, etc.  There were plenty of other things to eat at the table, including food brought by other guests, but the pie was gone.  And nope my sister didn’t eat it all.

Here’s the recipe….You may even want to make it for Easter.

Easter Pie

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan “butter” sticks 
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. vegetarian sausage, crumbled
  • 1 lb. organic firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup soy Parmesan cheese (I used daiya brand) 
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, combine the flour, margarine, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. With the machine still running, add the water to form a dough ball. Divide the dough into two balls and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetarian sausage, tofu, soy Parmesan, parsley, remaining salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and fennel seeds.

Roll out the dough into two 11-inch circles. Place one circle in a 10-inch pie plate and spread the filling mixture over it. Cover with the other dough, pinch the edges, and prick the center with a fork.

Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and cooked in the center.

Easter Pie, going fast

Happy Mother’s Day! (with Organic Greek Frittata Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

There seems to be three camps of moms on mother’s day…one that likes to celebrate with family, one that likes to celebrate without and one that tries to juggle both.

The first like to be surrounded and reminded of their children and their own parents – getting multiple generations together for usually brunch or dinner. Then there are those (usually with young children) who like to take the day off from being a mommy. Many I know do a relaxing spa day alone or with other mom girlfriends and then go to a romantic dinner with their spouses. The ones that like to try to fit everything and everyone in (like their daily life) tell me they’re doing a lunch or spa without children in the morning and then are joined for a family celebration in the evening.

If you’re a Dad – ask your wife what she’d prefer. One year I celebrated mother’s day by shopping by and for myself. I thought it would be nice and relaxing but it was so depressing. I watched families going into restaurants for brunch and missed my husband and kids (they had a fun day without me!) and also missed my own mom who doesn’t live close by. I came home and said I never wanted to do Mother’s Day alone again. Of course I like the alone time – just give me the day off before or after.

Anyways if you’re lucky enough to celebrate with your own mom and family, here’s a lovely and easy fritatta recipe to make at home. And if you’re in the mood for someone else to make brunch, make reservations fast ( can help). If you live in the Bay Area I would suggest Foreign Cinema. They have a wonderful brunch, excellent mimosas and bellinis for mom, and a great 3 course children’s menu.

Happy Mother’s Day! (Here’s a photo of my mom with my daughter)

Organic Greek Frittata
A frittata is an easy, yet elegant dish, to serve for friends and family – perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch. Adding couscous to the frittata makes it heartier, and gives the eggs a bit of a crust. Cut the frittata into wedges and your children will think it’s an egg pie.

1/2 cup water, plus 1 tablespoon water – divided

1/3 cup uncooked couscous

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

5 cage-free, organic eggs

2 teaspoons expeller pressed canola oil

1/3 cup slivered oil packed sun dried tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped nicoise or kalamata olives

1/4 cup diced organic onion

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan bring ½ cup water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in couscous, remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff and separate with fork.

Combine the 1 tablespoon water, salt, pepper, and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk together. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, olives, and onions and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in couscous and egg mixture. Level mixture with rubber spatula. Sprinkle cheeses over top. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, or until set and cooked through. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges with knife or pizza cutter.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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