May 11, 2014

Mother’s Day Brunch: Lemony Whole Wheat-Almond Muffins, Asparagus Scrambles + Mixed Greens

About two years ago I made a brunch/lunch for my mom, aunt and grandma in my mom’s kitchen, and we ate it just the four of us before going to the movies. The fare was simple and minimal yet varied enough to feel special and something I will always remember and hope to repeat. The ladies in honor were glad to just not have to do anything, but the food was good, too, if I don’t say so myself.

When it comes to something like Mother’s Day, you’re most likely to be remembered by thought and ease, not grandiosity.  So today, I’m sharing an ideal little meal you can enjoy in the midday with your mother, your grandmother, aunts, or all of the above. Brunch is pretty much the ideal meal to enjoy both a little something savory and sweet on the plate, so I’ve re-created a version of what I made that day here. Delicious but not too-sweet muffins, an egg dish and mixed greens.

First make the muffins, and while they cool, set out out some honey and butter for spreading. Then drop your arugula in a bowl, put out the dressing, and make your asparagus scrambles using the quick trick I’ll share below. Put the coffee on. And lastly, cut some avocado over the salad (ShopRite always has them), put a flower on the table and sit down together.  Then go to the movies if it’s muggy, or on a walk if it’s sunny.


These lemon muffins are made of a batter I find myself turning to over and over again.  Based off a different recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, it’s hand-mixed, honey-sweetened, yogurt-butter moist and perfectly lemony.  I’ve added some flaked almonds and raw sugar for crunch.  Make sure to use whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill), easily stocked at ShopRite. You’ll be amazed by the tender results from whole wheat pastry flour, I promise, and it’s useful to have around for other baking.


Now about the eggs: a few recent episodes of accidentally stirring a would-be omelet into more of a soft scramble have made me realize it’s actually the way I most prefer eggs. Asparagus is in season and stocked at ShopRite, and though I usually always roast it, I recently discovered a quicker and even more delicious way of cooking the stalks for accompaniments to things like these scrambled eggs: sliced in half lengthwise, tossed in a little olive oil and salt/pepper and stuck under the broiler in a skillet for a few minutes. Since you have the control, you can easily check for just-tenderness this way and it only takes about 5 minutes total. Just wear a mitt!


And because it’s always nice to include a little balance to bring the “unch” into brunch, I’ve included a side salad here that includes my favorite dressing. You can make a batch with ShopRite Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil and keep it in the fridge for several days. Enjoy and have a happy Mother’s Day : )




Adapted from Super Natural Everyday. Makes a dozen muffins (Halve it for a smaller group)

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

2 large ShopRite eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter

1/2 cup ShopRite honey

Grated zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

2 Tbsp toasted, sliced almonds (toasted on a baking sheet 5-8 min at 350 and cooled)

Sugar in the Raw (optional)

Set oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the top third. Butter or line a standard 12-cup muffin pan (I butter). Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool. Meanwhile whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, half the almonds and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, cooled butter, honey, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until the flour is just incorporated. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, spooning a heaping 1/4 cup batter into each one, filling just to meet the rim. Sprinkle on remaining almonds and a pinch of sugar to each top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the muffin tops are browned and just barely beginning to crack and a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Scrambles

5-6 ShopRite eggs, depending on your table count

Sea salt + pepper

1 Tbs butter

Heaped Tbs crumbled goat cheese

Snipped fresh herbs

Small bunch of asparagus or 8-9 spears, rinsed, dried, trimmed of woody bottoms and sliced lengthwise in half (it doesn’t have to be perfect : ))

Start with the asparagus. You can use the same pan you intend to make the eggs in. Preheat broiler and toss asparagus with a glug olive oil, pinch salt and pepper, in a broiler-safe pan, any stainless steel one will do. Shake pan to get halved stalks coated and in an even layer. Place under the broiler for two minutes.  Using an oven mitt (!) remove pan and shake, tossing with spatula. Place back under for another two minutes, until the stalks have shriveled a bit more and give tenderly to the pierce of  a knife.  Set aside to cool a little.

Crack the eggs into a bowl, add a pinch salt and pepper, a drop milk or half and half, and whisk well. Melt the butter in a skillet on medium, after it foams add eggs and stir to form curds a few times. Lower heat and cook a few minutes. When they are almost set, add the goat cheese and give it another stir. Top with the snipped herbs and another pinch of salt. Nestle a bit of the asparagus on top of  a generous spoonful eggs on plates, or serve family style.

For the  Salad

Big handful of Arugula

1/4 an avocado, diced or sliced

3 or so heaped Tbsps of *Balsamic Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Slice or two of  a garlic clove

In mixing bowl measure honey, mustard, salt, pepper and  garlic. Add balsamic vinegar and stir. Gradually oil, whisking to incorporate. Stir until fully emulsified. Store in jar, can do ahead.

Spoon dressing over greens, lightly mix and top with avocado in the center.


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