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A Mother's Day Feast

Plenty of people rustle up toast and juice to serve Mom in bed on her special day, but if you really want to treat Mom, author Wayne Brachman suggests taking over dinner duty. Even a man who never enters in the kitchen will be able to make the meal Wayne demonstrated on The Saturday Early Show. As a matter of fact it's so simple, even the kids can help. You'll "cheat" a bit for the dessert, using a brownie mix, but that's okay.

The menu includes:
Mozzarella & Tomato Salad
Shrimp Oreganata
and Half-Scratch Brownies

Brachman is the author of "See Dad Cook," and his kitchen side-kicks are daughters Violet and Isabella. A one-time junior high school orchestra teacher, Brachman is a self-taught cook who has been pastry chef at Tapika restaurant and Michael Jordan's Steakhouse, and executive pastry chef at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill and Bolo. In 1998, "Chocolatier" magazine named Brachman one of the "Best 10 Pastry Chefs."

FOOD FACTS
Fresh Mozzarella: This cheese is usually packaged in whey or water and is sometimes labeled "Italian Style." It's generally made from whole milk and has a much softer texture than processed mozzarella and a sweet, delicate flavor.

RECIPES

MOZZARELLA AND TOMATO SALAD
(Serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:
2 large tomatoes
1 pound mozzarella, preferably fresh
1 small bunch of fresh basil, leaves only
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Method:

1) With a paring knife or "shark," cut the little stem end out of each tomato. With a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/3-inch-thick slices.

2) Slice the mozzarella about 1/4 inch thick

3) Alternate slices of tomato with slices of mozzarella and basil leaves, fanned out like playing cards on individual plates. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the top and season with salt and pepper.

SHRIMP OREGANATA
(Serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp (26 to 30 count)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (preferably canola)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup chicken broth or 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
Salt and pepper

Method

1) With your fingers, pull the soft shells off the shrimp. With the tip of a small knife, make a shallow cut down each shrimp's back. Scrape out and discard any dark vein or gunk. Rinse under cold water, and then pat dry.

2) Toss the shrimp in the flour just to lightly coat. Discard any excess flour.

3) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and let it heat up for 30 seconds. Add as much shrimp as will fit comfortably in one layer. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until they curl up, turn pink, and are barely cooked through. (You may have to do this in two batches. If so, you'll also have to add another tablespoon or oil before adding the second batch.) Remove the shrimp to a large plate.

4) In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 1/2 minutes, or until softened. Add the chicken broth, lemon and lime juices, and oregano. Cook together for 2 minutes, scraping up all the gunk from the bottom of the pan.

5) Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute to heat through and coat with sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over pasta, with a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese if you choose.

HALF-SCRATCH BROWNIES:

NOTE: Brownie mix generally comes in two size groups. The 19.5 to 21 oz size is made to fit in a 9x13 rectangular pan. The 15.5 oz size is designed for an 8-inch square pan. If that is what you have in your cupboard, follow the instructions but use only 1 egg, 6T butter, and 2oz chocolate. It will make 9 to 12 brownies.

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
One 19.5 or 21 ounce package brownie mix
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water

Method:
1) Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray.

2) Put the chocolate and butter in a completely dry bowl or in the top of a double boiler and set it over barely simmering water. Stir occassionally, until melted. (You could also melt it in the microwave for 1 minute.)

3) In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the brownie mix, eggs, and water. Mix in the chocolate and butter.

4) Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until barely set but still moist in the center. Let cool for 30 minutes, and then cut into squares.

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