.. recap mother's day 2010 with food! ..

(Beautiful shot by Mara and/or Thi!)

We had quite the Mother's Day celebration. It was so much fun!! Esther and I cooked together on this occasion!! Everyone was there, except my little brother Brian. He's still stuck in school out of state, so he missed out, but we'll make him something special when he comes home for summer break.

Here's what we had on the menu |
Italian Bread with Brie and Garlic Compound Butter
Mixed Green Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Linguine and Clam in a White Wine Butter Sauce
Braised Short Ribs with Hazelnut Mushroom Parmesan Risotto and Grilled Broccolini and Asparagus
Buttercream Cake with Strawberries

Good, right? Usually, we're not used to coursing out meals at home, but we decided to go fancy for Mother's Day. Also, you're in luck, because we took some pictures to share with all of you. Here's some rough guidelines on how to make this meal at home for you and your family. Email or comment me (or Esther) if you have questions, since I don't have recipes for these dishes, I just kind of cook by taste/experience/mood.

Here's the table all set up. I love it because we had so many different types of flowers on the table, the buffet, and the kitchen. It was so pretty! Many of the flowers came from the garden, which my dad tends to with such care.

Then it was on to the prep work!

The beautiful salad still yet to be dressed (still needs the feta and vinaigrette), but so pretty and delicious.

For the braised short ribs, sear them first and then put them off to the side. Saute and cook down the mirepoix with the fat from the short ribs and olive oil, adding more vegetables and some flour. Add the meat back in, braise it with beef stock, red wine (Bordeaux), and tomato paste. Add fresh herbs and spices, and some honey to cut the acidity. Cook for many, many hours, and add a touch of cream at the end. So good! The meat comes off the bone in the cooking process and is super succulent and tender. Remember to skim the fat off from the top of the stock/braising liquid. Continue to taste and adjust seasoning for a deep and balanced flavor -- herbs, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, chili pepper, honey, wine, tomato paste, etc. On this occasion, I also used a little bit of smoked sea salt for extra flavor and depth.

For the risotto, render down some bacon (on this occasion, I used ancho chili bacon), once crisp, put it off to the side to drain excess fat. Use some of the bacon fat along with some olive oil to saute onions garlic, and mushrooms. Add arborio rice and stir to coat the individual grains of rice with oil/fat. Season with salt and pepper, herbs and spices, and add ladle fulls of simmering chicken stock to risotto. Continue to stir and add more stock as the the liquid is absorbed. Then, add some dried wild mushrooms that have been soaking in warm water along with some of the mushroom liquid. Toward the end of the cooking, add parmigiano reggiano, bacon pieces, hazelnuts, and more fresh herbs and a touch of lemon juice. I put whatever suits my fancy into risotto each time I make it. Just have fun!

For the linguine and clams, cook the pasta as directed with a generous amount of salt in the cooking water. Drain pasta, but save some of the cooking liquid. Clean clams well and make sure they're alive (if slightly open, tap the clam to make sure it closes up). In a large saute pan, add butter and oil to saute onions and tons of garlic, then add white wine and clams. Season with salt, pepper, herbs, spices, and some lemon juice. Cover the pot to cook, and when clams open, you're ready. Add the pasta to heat through and serve!! You can finish the sauce with a touch of butter or cream, and of course the pasta water.

This is great to make at home and not too fussy, but still impresses the masses! Sorry, I didn't capture the main course all put together. Next time, for sure :)

Oh, I forgot, here's the cake!! We didn't have time to make a dessert, so Thoai picked up this very delicious cake. My mom thought it looked like a party of boobs.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Here's my mom waiting patiently to dig in ;)


  1. These photos are so drool worthy :) The flowers are absolutely beautiful! I bet your Mom had a lovely dinner <3


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