Mother's Day has become nearly synonymous with breakfast in bed, a late morning repast prepared by loving children and served, stickily, with a side of blossoms. And if that breakfast spread includes blackened toast or strangely crunchy eggs ... well, it's the thought that counts, right?
Of course, there's no reason all that tender affection and well-intentioned effort can't be accompanied by something delicious. Who better to deliver advice on that score than a trio of chefs and moms with families adept in the art of eggwork?
For Jodi Liano, the director of the new San Francisco Cooking School and author of "Eggs" (Weldon Owen, 2011), the breakfast tray answer is easy. Her 11-year-old son makes great scrambled eggs and French toast, but his specialty -- and the dish he makes every year for Mother's Day and Liano's birthday -- is baked eggs, nestled in nests made of prosciutto and sliced brioche. It's a family favorite.
The dish may look sensational, but it's an easy one. Thin slices of prosciutto and brioche are baked in ramekins or custard cups -- or muffin tins, if you're feeding a crowd -- until the bread turns golden brown. Then an egg is cracked into each "nest" and topped with chives and lemon zest before returning to the oven to finish cooking. It's perfect as is, but Liano's son knows how much his mother loves hot sauce, so he always includes a bottle on the breakfast tray.
For pastry chef Lori Baker, breakfast is all about scones, filled with dried fruit and drizzled with icing, but this Mother's Day may prove particularly memorable for Baker and her husband, Jeff Banker. The chef duo behind San Francisco's Baker and Banker restaurant are expecting their second son any moment, so this year's celebration may end up involving someone yelling, "Push!" Normally, though, Baker's idea of perfect breakfast-in-bed fare includes those scones, softly scrambled eggs, hot coffee and perhaps a fizzy mimosa, made with blood orange juice.
"I always like something sweet and something a little savory, and my husband makes the best scrambled eggs," she says. "Don't try to do too much from scratch. Go to a bakery and buy a few things; make an egg dish to complement it. When I was a kid, I tried to make breakfast in bed for my mom. It ended up being a big project. She didn't get breakfast till 12."
And if you're one of those people who loves his or her mom but scoffs at the idea of Hallmark holidays, take heart. The James Beard award-winning chef behind San Francisco's Foreign Cinema may be the queen of brunch -- Gayle Pirie wrote "Country Egg, City Egg" (Artisan, 2000) with longtime partner John Clark, and Foreign Cinema is known for its glorious weekend breakfast fare -- but she loathes the commerciality of Mother's Day.
"I'm the weirdo in your story," the mom says. "I'm always uncomfortable with Hallmark holidays. Every day is Earth Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, so I don't feel gracious about receiving something on that one bloody day. Treat me better all year!"
Pirie may not want Clark and their kids making a fuss over her on Mother's Day, but she's all about "making a beautiful moment" to help other families celebrate. Having her own mother come to brunch at the restaurant is "my dream, my ideal."
Good-quality eggs and a Teflon-coated nonstick pan are key, Pirie says, whether you're making a Dungeness crab omelet or "custardy French toast." But the easiest and most forgiving breakfast fare is a frittata or a Spanish-style torta, made with eggs and potatoes.
"You start it on the stove and finish in the oven," she says. "It's a celebratory dish that can rest and be served at room temperature. An omelet would have to be served immediately, but a frittata or torta can be done ahead of time. Pop the Champagne, slice the strawberries and serve."