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Seasonal ingredients bring fresh flavor to Mom’s favorite menu choices

Photo: Jonathan Farber/Unsplash

Spring is here, and Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 12. The AJP asked some local chefs to spill the beans on their favorite spring ingredients, ideal dishes for mom, and other culinary convictions.

Chef McKenzie Taylor, Forty Niner Country Club

Describe one new dish for spring:

Our new spring entrée menu will feature a great variety of fresh and light spring inspired menu ideas. I am especially excited for the new Primavera Pasta with cremini mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled asparagus, fresh basil, penne pasta and a vodka cream sauce.

This spring, I’m excited about working with …

I’m excited for fresh berry season! I love to use fresh blackberries to make beautiful wine reduction sauces for meats; I use fresh blueberries in our salads; and pair them with lemon curd for our cheesecakes too. Fresh berries when they are sweet and ripe are the best.

My ultimate comfort food:

My ultimate comfort food is so super simple, buttered noodles. As a kid whenever I would stay home sick from school, my mom would make me buttered noodles and to this day after a long day, or when I’m not feeling great, I crave them. However, as a chef, I now prepare campanelle or orecchiette pasta and toss it in European butter, then season with Himalayan pink salt. It’s a classic comfort food for me with a culinary twist!

Andreas K. Delfakis, Athens on 4th Avenue

Describe one new dish for spring:

My sister, Fotini, used to make one of my favorite salads — fresh romaine, spring green onions, fresh dill, feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

This spring, I’m excited about working with

Green beans, eggplant, figs, lettuce.

The best cooking tip my mother ever gave me:

Don’t overcook the green beans!

My ultimate comfort food:

Youvetsi, a traditional Greek stew. Families would take the ingredients to the community commercial stove on Sundays. My father, who owned a butcher shop, would add chunks of meat, pasta, tomato paste, herbs and mitzithra cheese. We would take it to the stove for baking and ride our bicycles around 1 p.m. to pick it up. Amazing.

Susan Fulton, Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery Bistro

If I could cook for my mom or another woman in my life on Mother’s Day, this is what I’d serve:

Herb encrusted roast rack of lamb, grilled asparagus, lemony rice pilaf and for dessert, almond cake with fresh fruit compote.

This spring, I’m excited about working with

Lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar (from Alfonso’s Olive Oil) and fresh organic vegetables from the Heirloom Farmers Markets.

My ultimate comfort food:

Fried chicken, corn on the cob and cole slaw.

Jason McCarty, Eclectic Café

Describe one new dish for spring:

Spring is salad season. Fresh mixed greens with local pears in a balsamic glaze with bleu cheese crumbles, walnuts, cherry tomatoes, and poppy seed dressing.

The best cooking tip my mother or grandmother ever gave me:

More butter.

My earliest cooking memory:

Making biscuits with my grandma in Texas. She always had a giant can of Crisco on the counter.

Rebecca Wicker, Dedicated Gluten Free Bakery & Coffee Shop

If I could cook for my mom or another woman in my life on Mother’s Day, this is what I’d serve:

I would make sauerbraten for my grandmother, complete with gingersnap gravy!

The best cooking tip my mother/grandmother/other person ever gave me is:

Always taste test everything, even if you have made that recipe 100 times. Besides, tasting everything is fun!

This spring, I’m excited about working with

All the berries! Especially strawberries this time of year — nothing’s better on delicious gluten free angel food cake, or turned into buttercream frosting for brownies and cakes.

Daniela Borella, Caffe Torino

Describe one new dish for spring:

We have a dish that we serve in the restaurant called “Checca” that’s very popular in the summer. It’s basically a pasta dish with Roma tomatoes, garlic, extra olive oil, and we usually add shrimp but you can order it vegetarian. Then we finish it with fresh diced mozzarella and fresh basil; it’s a nice light dish for the summer.

If I could cook for my mom on Mother’s Day:

She used to love lamb chops; I would pound them a little and bread them with panko, served with a glass of red wine, of course.

This spring, I’m excited to be working with

I love fresh herbs like thyme and basil. I don’t use any dry herbs in my restaurant.

Qais Esar, Opa’s Best

If I could cook for my mom or another woman in my life on Mother’s Day, this is what I’d serve:

Moussaka.

My ultimate comfort food:

Moussaka, lamb shank or lamb kabob.

My earliest cooking memory:

It was about eight years ago and I cooked roasted lamb for my family on Thanksgiving.

Claire Johnson, Claire’s Café and Art Gallery

My ultimate comfort food:

Stuffed peppers that my sister makes.

The best cooking tip my mother/grandmother/other person ever gave me is:

“Use your instincts, don’t follow the recipe to the T. You inhibit your
creativity.”

Massimo Tenino, Tavolino Ristorante Italiano

Describe one new dish for spring:

Spaghetti alla Liguria — Spaghetti pasta with fresh salmon, capers, kalamata olives, and cherry tomatoes, in a white wine garlic sauce.

If I could cook for my mom or another woman in my life on Mother’s Day, this is what I’d serve:

I would serve one of the dishes on our Mother’s Day menu — the Bistecca alla Griglia, a grilled ribeye steak and chimichurri, with roasted polenta and colored cauliflower.

My earliest cooking memory:

Is with my Nona in Italy. She had a wonderful kitchen. The aromas always drew me in and I loved to cook with her.

George Ferranti, El Cisne

Describe one new dish for spring

Chile relleno, Anaheim chile stuffed with Jack cheese, pan fried with egg and topped with chile verde, queso fresco and cilantro.

This spring, I’m excited about working with …

Herbs and spices from our own garden — rosemary, basil and chiltepin peppers.

My earliest cooking memory:

Baking bread with my mother at 7 years old.

My ultimate comfort food

A cowboy dinner with red chile, beans and flour tortilla.

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