Since last Mother’s Day I’ve lost both my mother and my mother-in-law. Mom was 88, and my mother-in-law was an amazing 103. Both of these women had strong, but totally different, influences on how I cook and view food, but both loved the process of feeding their families.
My mother-in-law always hummed while she was in the kitchen, happy tones that always made you feel the joy she took in the process. My mother cooked in that great Southern way that promised you’d never leave her table hungry.
Both of them kept the dinner table a sacred place where family came together daily. I’ve been blessed by that time around the family table, that time of real family interaction and really good food. No, I didn’t like everything that was put in front of me (what kid does as we develop our taste buds?), but that table and the food spelled home and love to me.
My daughter’s mother and I kept that tradition alive in our home until she left for college. Since we both worked, we shared responsibilities so we could re-create that important part of our upbringing. I’m thrilled when my daughter calls me from a grocery store and asks, “Daddy, where can I find this?” because I know she’s making an effort to cook for real and continue the tradition of a family meal, even as a single parent. We should salute single working parents of either gender. It’s a tough task, and they can use all the help we, as a community, can give them.
More than likely you’ve already made meal plans for Mother’s Day. But if not, here’s a quick and easy side dish.
Haricot Verts are nothing more than baby green beans. They were once difficult to find, but most major grocery chains carry them now; they cook so beautifully and have a great texture. Regular fresh green beans can be substituted.
I love chive blossoms and don’t let a one from my garden go to waste. This is chive blossom’s moment, and certainly someone in your neighborhood has a plot of chives to share. The blossoms are oniony with a hint of garlic and pepper. You pluck them like “he loves me, he loves me not.” If you can’t get any blossoms, plant some chives in a pot for next year, and add a tablespoon of finely chopped chives to the recipe.
This creamy mix adds spunk to these baby green beans. You will have more dressing than you need, so use it for grilled fish, poached shrimp or just as salad dressing. It also can become the base for a brilliant pasta salad. It’s so good you’ll find a way to use it.
So I send out a hearty thank you to all mothers and hope that by the end of the day you will feel as special as you truly are.
Haricot Verts with Chive Blossom Dressing
4 cups water
1 pound haricot verts
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped and minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
10-12 open chive blossoms, leaves picked
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pour the water in a 3-quart saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and chill with cold water. Spread on paper towels to dry.
In a medium bowl blend the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, a generous pinch of salt, and several grindings of pepper. Fold in the chive blossoms and refrigerate for an hour so the flavors will meld.
When ready to serve, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, throw in the green beans and quickly cook them, almost like a stir-fry, for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a serving platter and pour 2-3 tablespoons or more to taste of the dressing over the green beans. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Serve with: Grilled or roasted chicken or fish and some homemade mashed potatoes.
To drink: A dry Riesling would be a good choice, but a sparkling wine to toast Mom is worth considering.
Yield: 4-6 servings.