Mother's Day is fast approaching, and homemade food gifts really are the way to go. This year, let's graduate from macaroni art to something a little more delectable. From breakfast baskets to all things chocolate, Salon Food has something to cater to every mom's tastes.
For the mom who still reminds you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day
One of my fondest travel memories — back when traveling was a thing — was visiting a bed and breakfast in Asheville, N.C. Instead of cooking a full breakfast on weekdays, the owners would provide guests with "breakfast baskets" in their rooms. These included some local granola and yogurt, a few fresh-baked blueberry muffins and a little pot of honey.
I always thought the gesture and presentation was really just lovely, and I've adapted it for both houseguests and housewarming gifts. If you're putting one together for your mom, think about this as the grown-up version of making her breakfast in bed (sans the poorly scrambled eggs).
If you want to take advantage of springtime produce, consider making a strawberry-rhubarb jam the centerpiece of your breakfast basket. You can make a simple stovetop recipe with 1 cup chopped rhubarb, 1/2 cup chopped strawberries, 1/2 cup of water, 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Place the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to a very mild simmer.
Stir occasionally, until the jam thickens — about an hour — and then allow it to completely cool. You should have enough to put into a cute half-pint jar, and it will last about three weeks in the refrigerator.
Package it up with some bakery-fresh bread, or if you're feeling ambitious, homemade. Our recipes for Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread and Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread would make for some delicious pairings.
For the mom who unwinds with an occasional (or, let's be honest, nightly) bowl of ice cream
Give your mom the gift of a personalized sundae bar. Pull out some more cute jars, and fill them with some delicious toppings. Check out The New York Times' recipe for salty hot fudge, which is delicious and comes together in about 15 minutes; it pairs perfectly with David Lebovitz's two-ingredient Dulce De Leche.
Fill a small jar with some spiced nuts. In a small saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons of water, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper. Stir over medium heat until the butter is melted and mixture is completely combined. In a large bowl, place 1 cup of your choice of nuts (I'm partial to crushed pecans), and cover it with the melted butter mixture.
Spread the nuts on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and place in a 350-degree oven. Bake until the nuts are slightly sticky, but toasted — about 8 minutes.
Oh, and for a finishing touch, candied cherries are always a stellar sundae topping. This recipe from King Arthur Baking is the best.
For the mom whose favorite book is "Eat, Pray, Love" and whose favorite movie is "Under the Tuscan Sun"
If your mom is forever mentally in Italy, consider a pasta night-themed basket. Mom deserves a fun pasta shape — maybe the internet-famous cascatelli? — so grab a box and fill a jar with one of the delicious pasta sauces found on Salon Food. Check out Lidia Bastianich's Ragù alla Bolognese or consult our pesto matrix. Complete the package with a nice bottle of wine (especially while prices nationwide are exceptionally low).
For the mom whose favorite Instagram account is @CheeseByNumbers
If your mom has discovered the joys of charcuterie-as-dinner during the pandemic, consider giving her something that can round out her plates. Marinated cheese travels well — again, cute jars to the rescue — and is really easy to make. Check out Salon's guide to making homemade infused olive oil, then let rounds of goat cheese, feta, and mozzarella bathe in that flavorful oil.
For the mom who loves all things chocolate
Chocolate is always a good choice. If you want to make something simple, check out this recipe from Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams for depression cake — a lush, decadent dessert made without milk, eggs or butter. If you're in the mood for a project baking, try my recipe for dark chocolate and sea salt babka knots. One of my favorite recipes featuring chocolate on Salon Food is Sarah Kieffer's tri-colored Neapolitan cookies.